There isn’t an ocean in heaven.
What? I couldn’t believe what I was reading. But there it was:
Revelation 21:1 NLT
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.
Why wouldn’t there be any sea in the new heaven and new earth? When I lived in Florida the ocean was my place to go and collect my thoughts. Somewhere I could catch my breath. Something that represented tranquility.
As I began to dig a little I learned something really cool.
The Ocean Represents Chaos
To the ancient Hebrews, the ocean represented chaos. Many ancient cultures feared the sea because it was the scary, impassable source of storms, destruction, and chaos.
The word for sea in Hebrew is Yam. It means, “A large body of water, where the waves and storms are at work.”
We see this symbolism echoed through the Bible again and again. Knowing this, I have a deeper appreciation for some of my favorite Bible chapters.
The Creation Story
In the creation story, the Spirit of God hovers over the surface of the waters creating order over chaos.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
The purpose of Genesis 1 is more than a creation story. It’s a story about who God is. God is a God of order.
Unlike the gods of the Canaanite religion, who thrived in the destruction of chaos, our God is above the storm, and His Spirit gives peace, life, and truth.
In the Psalms, God slays Leviathan. The evil sea serpent that lurks in the deep waters of the ocean. By slaying the beast God prevails over evil.
You, O God, are my king from ages past, bringing salvation to the earth. You split the sea by your strength and smashed the heads of the sea monsters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan and let the desert animals eat him. You caused the springs and streams to gush forth, And you dried up rivers that never run dry.
Jesus Walked on the Waters
In the New Testament, Jesus walks on the water and calms the storm around Him. Again, echoing God’s power over chaos.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.
Of course, then, there wouldn’t be a sea in paradise. Instead, there would be rivers of life and peace.
Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 Take Aways
1. God Gives Peace in the Middle of Life’s Chaos
I don’t know if I believe Revelation 21:1 to be literal. I don’t think it matters. The point isn’t whether there is a physical ocean in the new heaven and new earth.
The point is when my life is drowning in chaos there is peace found in Jesus. Even when the metaphorical mountains are cast into the evil sea, God is hovering over the waters ready to give me peace, life, and strength.
2. Evil & Chaos Will Be Destroyed
One day, when God makes all things new, chaos and evil will not be found. There will be a new heaven and new earth where the only thing left will be beautiful flourishing.
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