Getting back what was lost, only better—surely that is one of the most apt summaries of the story of redemption. Romans 5:12–21, for instance, explains that Jesus restores to us the life that Adam forfeited for humanity by his sin in the garden. Yet, the life Jesus brings is far better, for Jesus actually makes His people positively righteous, and the life He gives us can never be lost (v. 19; see John 3:16; Rom. 8:28–30).
Revelation 21:22–22:5 makes the same point. For instance, 21:27 tells us that “nothing detestable” will ever enter the new Jerusalem. Were Jesus to restore creation merely to its original state in Eden, we would have to be on the lookout for the serpent, for he tempted Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3). But if nothing detestable will be present in the consummated church and new creation, we will never be threatened by Satan again. In fact, we know that when the new heaven and earth arrive, the devil will have already been cast into the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:7–10). The safety of the new creation is also conveyed by the continually open gates (21:25). Ancient cities typically had walls for protection with gates that could be closed to keep out enemies. If the gates are never closed, that means that there is no threat that the city—the people of God— must guard against.
We see in Revelation 22:1–2, the Tree of Life will be restored in the new heaven and earth, only there will be more than one Tree of Life, and it will bear twelve fruits. The idea here is the permanent fullness of the life to come in the new creation. The “river of the water of life” flows out from the city, confirming this picture (see also Ezek. 47:1–12).
Most glorious of all, there is no more night, and there is no more sun or moon either, for the Lord provides light to the new creation. Furthermore, He is the temple (Rev. 21:22–24; 22:5). Here we have a reference to the refulgent glory of God that will illumine the new heaven and earth. As long as sin remains, God dwells in “unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16), but with the full restoration of all things, sin is banished and that formerly unapproachable light now serves as the light by which God’s people will live. That God is the temple signifies the presence of the Lord. No privilege will be greater than to see God face-to-face, to experience His beauty without any intermediary (Rev. 22:4).