Why Does Revelation Say There Will Be No More Sea?
By Fin Sheridan
One day I was chatting with a pastor friend who adores surfing. His eyes were glazed as he was telling me about his dreams of surfing forever in heaven and how enjoyable it will be when he spends all eternity out in the ocean, amongst the waves. He finds that God speaks to him most when he’s out in the water so it made total sense that heaven would involve that in some way.
“What about when God gets rid of the sea?” I mentioned jokingly.
His face fell. “Sorry, what?” he said.
“Revelation 21:1” I replied, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”
He grabbed a Bible, frantically turned to Revelation 21 and let out a groan. I backed out of his office as he put his head in his hands and wept (I might have exaggerated that last bit but the rest is true…).
I’ve often wondered, since that little exchange, why is the sea no more, in the new heavens and new earth? It wasn’t until, during some study, I came across something that gives us a little bit of a clue.
“What threatens to engulf and swallow us is the very thing he walks along to meet and comfort us.”
The sea, in the Jewish psyche, is not a safe place. Imagine growing up hearing the stories of Noah and the flood that covered the earth. The Hebrew word for water is the word ‘mayim’ which comes from the root word ‘mem’ meaning ‘chaos’. As any parent will tell you, chaos isn’t a good thing.
Micah 7:19 feeds this anti-sea imagination. It says that God “will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” If the sea is where our sin is stored – a place of chaos and danger then the promise that “the sea was no more” becomes incredibly comforting.
Think about John 6, where Jesus’ disciples are trapped in a storm. He comes walking on the water; the one above the chaos, to be present with them in an environment where they’d rather not be. It’s good news for us all – even my water-loving friend – that all of our sea, our ‘mem’, our chaos is under Jesus’ feet. What threatens to engulf and swallow us is the very thing he walks along to meet and comfort us. What a picture! And who knows, perhaps in that new earth, there will be a different sea where my friend can enjoy the presence of God for the rest of eternity…