In 1516, Sir Thomas More wrote a book titled, On the Best State of a Republic and on the New Island of Utopia— or just Utopia. Ever since then, utopia has conjured up in people’s minds the idea of an ideal land with no crime, sickness, or natural disasters.
The word comes from a combination of two Greek words: ou, which means “not,” and topos, which means “place.” In other words, utopia is a fictional land that does not exist. That’s what Thomas More intended in his book, and we still sometimes use the word utopia in the sense of a “pie in the sky” dreamland.
However, there’s another way to think about utopia. The Greek letters eu mean “good.” The Greek eu preceding topos would mean “good land.” While that’s not what Thomas More meant by the word utopia in the title of his book, we nevertheless use the word to refer to a good land, even if it doesn’t exist.
Trying to Create Utopia
And, indeed, in our imperfect world such a land never will exist. Not that people haven’t tried. President Woodrow Wilson called World War I a “war to end all wars.” He envisioned building a basis for lasting peace among the world’s nations that would prevent future armed conflicts that kill people and destroy societies. A planet without wars might not be the most ideal world, but it would be far better than anything we humans have known since the fall of our race in Eden.
An interesting effort at creating utopia here on earth was a state-of-the-art greenhouse built several years ago on three acres in the Arizona desert. This sealed, computer-controlled environment was planned to be a miniature version of the much larger biosphere we call Earth.
Completed in 1991 at a cost of $150 million, Biosphere 2 had five ecosystem areas, ranging from rain forest to desert, and it was stocked with several thousand plants and animals. Eight scientists, called Biospherians, were supposed to learn how to live off of this land, physically isolated from the outside world—but allowed communication via phone and e-mail.
The designers envisioned humans creating a perfect, self-sustaining environment. But the project met with unforeseen environmental and human complications, requiring outside intervention. Oxygen levels dropped so low that emergency oxygen had to be pumped into the complex. Crop production was so poor that it was at times supplemented from outside.
Some of the animal species died off, but one kind of ant thrived to the point that outside help was required to exterminate it. This proud vision of man making a utopia on earth became a joke.
Fortunately, God has a much better “Biosphere 2” planned for your future and mine—a world that truly will have no wars, crime, or natural disasters. Let’s find out what He’s told us about it.
John the revelator saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” He also saw “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven [God’s dwelling place] from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:1, 2).
The name Jerusalem means “city of peace.” The old Jerusalem on this earth today is anything but a city of peace. Three major religions— Jews, Muslims, and Christians— each claim it as a holy place, making it the most fought-over piece of real estate in the world. The walls of old Jerusalem are riddled with bullet holes! But God’s New Jerusalem will truly be a city of peace.
Perfect Food and Water
One thing we know is that this city will have an absolutely perfect water supply. John said that his accompanying angel showed him “a pure river of water of life” (Revelation 22:1, NKJV). In today’s world we have to add chemicals to kill the bacteria so people don’t get sick. That won’t be necessary in God’s New Jerusalem.
Revelation also says that “on each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2).
I propose that this means spiritual healing. When we all gather together as one family under the tree of life, our divisions will be healed. We will be a united people. This verse doesn’t mean that people will get sick and use the leaves of the tree as an herbal remedy.
Isaiah gives another description of God’s new earth: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. / Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:5, 6). Blind people will see, deaf people will hear, and crippled people will walk! John adds that “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
In heaven there won’t be any need for doctors, hospitals, or funeral homes!
So what will you and I do in that new earth that Jesus is preparing for us today? Isaiah gave us a glimpse into that, too: “ ‘They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit’ ” (Isaiah 65:21). Isaiah’s readers would have found that to be good news.
Back then, warring nations or marauding tribes could invade your country at any time and take over the house you’d built and the orchard and farm you’d cultivated. Then someone else would live in the house you’d worked so hard to build and eat the food you’d labored so long to grow. In that context, Isaiah’s promise is meaningful: “ ‘No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat’ ” (Isaiah 65:22).
Even today, other people enjoy the product of our labor: our houses get left to children or grandchildren when we die. Someone else gets to live in the home we worked so hard to build. But not in God’s new world! If you build it, you’ll live in it! If you grow it, you’ll eat it!
People have many misconceptions about heaven. Some people believe that when they die, they’ll turn into little cherubs who sit on clouds and play harps all day. No wonder so few people want to go to heaven— they think hell will be much more interesting! They don’t realize that in heaven they will have real bodies and do real things.
The Bible says that when Jesus comes, He will “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). So what is Jesus’ body like today?
When He rose from the dead, He walked through a locked door where His disciples were gathered in an upper room. They were sure He was a ghost, so He said to them, “ ‘Look at my hands and my feet. It is I, myself!’ ” He invited them to touch Him, because, He said, “ ‘A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ ” Then, to emphasize that He was real, He said, “ ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ ” Someone gave Him a piece of fish, and He ate it in front of them (Luke 24:36–43). Jesus wanted them to know that He had a real physical body.
So that’s the kind of body Jesus has today, and the Bible says that in heaven our bodies will be “like his glorious body.”
Will You be There?
Shortly before He left this earth, Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving them to prepare a place for them. Then He promised, “ ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’ ” (John 14:3).
I want to be with Jesus in that utopia where there’s no sickness or death, where there is no pollution, and where terrorists can never frighten me. Do you?
If your answer is also Yes, then there’s a key question we need to ask ourselves: What does it take to get there? It’s actually very simple. Accept Jesus as your Savior from sin. Tell Him you want to serve Him as a citizen of His new world. He’ll see that you get there!
I’ve done that! I invite you to do it too. Let’s make an appointment to meet in the real utopia!