One of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin was that the earth itself was cursed (Gen. 3:17-19). So nothing in the world works the way it’s supposed to. Because of the Fall, our world is full of injustice; nature rebels against us with surprising ferocity; even good relationships are capable of inflicting intense pain; and the specter of death hangs over us daily.

Our world is so broken that the Bible describes all of creation as longing for the day when God will restore things (Rom. 8:19-23).

Rev. 21-22 gives us a glimpse at what the world will look like when that happens. It’s interesting that the picture in many respects resembles the scene in Genesis – before sin entered the world. Notice, for example, the removal of the curse; the earth’s abundant provision; the presence Tree of Life; and the absence of sin and death (Rev. 21:1-4, 27; 22:1-3).

Some see the imagery in Revelation as purely symbolic. Others interpret it literally. Either way, the point seems to be that what we lost in the Fall will one day be fully restored by God in the new creation.

Why would God want us to have this picture? Well, for one thing, it reminds us how far we’ve fallen (we’ll look at second reason next time). We’re so used to what the world looks like now that we forget it didn’t have to be this way. If sin hadn’t entered the world, there would be no pain, no suffering, no death. In that sense, Rev. 21-22 gives us a picture of what might have been.

The Tragedy of Forgetting

That image ought to heighten our dissatisfaction with the world we live in. Life was supposed to be so much more than this. Too often we forget that though. As a result, we embrace things in this world as if they had the power to truly satisfy us. We think – if we could just buy a nicer home, get another promotion, or find a new spouse – then we’d be happy. The problem is the things we’re setting our hope for happiness on are broken; they can’t bear the weight.

Instead of obsessing over what we can get from this fallen world now, we ought to set our hearts on what life will be like when God transforms this world. But too often we don’t. As C.S. Lewis put it, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” We settle for so little, because we forget the world wasn’t supposed be like this.

Living in a fallen world is a tragedy…not recognizing we live in a fallen world is an even greater one.