Have we misunderstood this passage? Do we fail to see the reality because of the figurative language used in the book of Revelation? Most of the confusion about the New Covenant is the result of people taking literal interpretation of figurative language. The Book of Revelation contains figurative language through out. It is mostly all figurative language describing things that are in the process of coming to fruition as well as things that have already come to fruition. Many scholars today, acknowledge the already/not yet tension that is in the pages of the New Testament writings. I have covered this in many blog posts. The reason is that during the New Testament times, there is a transition taking place from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. But, was the transition actually completed?
Paul equates the New Covenant with the (heavenly Jerusalem) New Jerusalem. Galatians 4:24-26 NASB "This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. (25) Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (26) But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother." Therefore it is obvious that Paul equates the new believers with the New Jerusalem. But, Isaiah also equates the New Heaven and Earth with the New Jerusalem and the New Covenant. Isaiah 65:17-18 HCSB "For I will create a new heaven and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind. (18) Then be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I will create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight." This is the same Jerusalem that Paul is speaking about in Galatians. But how do we know that Isaiah is referring to the New Covenant. Earlier in Isaiah 65:1-2 HCSB it is written; "I was sought by those who did not ask; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said: Here I am, here I am, to a nation that was not called by My name. (2) I spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in the wrong path, following their own thoughts." The reference to being sought by those who did not ask, and found by those who did not seek is pointing to the inclusion of the Gentiles in the New Covenant. All prophetic literature is somewhat figurative, and Isaiah's vision is no different. Much of the confusion that exists now is the result of not recognizing the figurative aspect of scripture. People with a literal focus in their interpretation look for a change in the space/time universe with a literal New Heaven and Earth, and a literal New Jerusalem. The reality is that the new creation that Paul wrote about... along with the "one new man" that he referenced is the same as those in Galatians four which are of the heavenly, new Jerusalem.
What are the implications of this you ask? Well, very significant indeed. This means that once the obvious sons and daughters of God were made manifest, at the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, from that time forward, God had placed his ultimate stamp of approval on the believers. No longer was there the appearance of two competing people of God. The prophecy that Jesus had made in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13 had come to pass just as it was prophesied, and even in those "so called" little apocalypses, the figurative language of the destruction of the space time continuum has added to the confusion today.
Here is the truth. Since the destruction of the temple forward, the New Heaven and Earth, the New Jerusalem, have been readily available to anyone who would believe it. However, because people continue to believe they are stuck in the already/not yet of the New Testament transition period, they do not see the fruition of the New Heaven and Earth. We have entered a new 2000 year age, and as more and more people begin to have the scales removed from their spiritual eyes, it will grow more and more like the prophecies proclaim.... This is exciting and there will be more to come on this soon.