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The Spring and the Lake


A spring forms when water flows from an underground water source or aquifer to the surface, evidence of a greater source of water. The biblical metaphor of the spring also points us toward the source of eternal life.

The Bible’s description of the new heavens and earth reveals that a very different order will replace the old creation. One surprising feature will be a change in geography: the new earth will no longer have any sea (v. 2). This may have symbolic significance. The sea is sometimes associated with God’s enemies in the book of Revelation. The beast who symbolizes the Antichrist comes from the sea as the dragon (Satan) stands on the shore (Rev. 12:17–13:1). The great prostitute Babylon “sits on many waters” (Rev. 17:1; 18:19).

But the disappearance of the sea does not mean that there will be an absence of water in God’s newly created world. God promises to give to the thirsty “water without cost from the spring of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6). There will also be the “river of life,” which flows from the throne of God down the great street of the city that comes down from heaven (Rev. 22:1).

This image conveys more than a promise of fresh water—it is a promise of eternal life. Jesus is the source of this life (John 7:37–38). In the new order of God’s creation, all the vestiges of sin will be removed, with no more sorrow, death, crying, or pain (v. 4). All aspects of the curse of sin will be removed.

One alarming feature is included in John’s description of the new heavens and new earth. There will be “a fiery lake of burning sulfur,” which is further described as “the second death” (v. 8).

Apply the Word

If the spring and the river point to eternal life, then the lake of fire points to eternal death. The lake of fire is the final destination for all who refuse to accept Christ’s offer. These are the two choices confronting every person: Follow Jesus and receive the spring of eternal life with God, or reject Him and spend eternity in the lake of fire.

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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