A Glimpse of Heaven

Revelation 21

THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

A new heaven and a new earth are brought into being. The question is how. There are two possible answers. The first, taken by Walvoord is that the old earth will be done away and God will create a totally new one just as he did in Gen. 1:1. There is a second view which states that the earth will be renovated as Strauss and Larkin teach. Either way it will be a new earth for all practical purposes. This is necessary this earth has been cursed by sin. In the same way as the saints will receive a new glorified body like Jesus', so the earth will receive a glorified covering which will be as God ever planned it should be.

Since man and Satan brought sin into the world, the whole creation has been under the curse of sin. Paul tells us, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; . . . For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." Rom 8:20-22 (NKJ)

In order to remove the scars of sin in our world and universe, God will wipe it all away and begin new. What a gracious God to remove every remembrance of this old sinful world.

There are various passages that proclaim that this earth as we know it is to be replaced by one that will not pass away.

Isa 65:17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. (NKJ)

Isa 66:22 "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me," says the LORD, "So shall your descendants and your name remain. (NKJ)

2 Pet 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (NKJ)

 

THE NEW JERUSALEM

{2} Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

I believe that this is the place that Jesus spoke of when He told His disciples that he went away to prepare a place for them. This is the eternal dwelling place of the bride of Christ. That does not mean that only New Testament saints will be there for we find that the 12 gates are each named after a tribe of Israel.

We notice the beauty of the city first mentioned in that it is said to be as a bride adorned for her wedding day. We think of what is beautiful, clean, pure, etc.

The city is later described in more detail.

 

GOD MAKES HIS DWELLING WITH MAN

{3} And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. {4} "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

The idea of the tabernacle is the idea of dwelling. The same term us used in reference to Jesus in John What he is saying is that God will dwell with man. There will no longer be a separation between God and man as there has been since man sinned. When we first saw Adam there was a close fellowship between him and God. After the fall, this was changed. Even for Abraham, (the friend of God) God only communicated with him sporadically. During the millennium this is partially restored in that Jesus reigns from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. During the millennium the curse will be removed partially. But all that will be changed. The idea of them being His people and Him being their God all speaks of that closeness that will exist. This fellowship with God is only now partially obtainable. John in 1 John says that our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son. But that fellowship is corrupted by sin in our lives. John lays down the pattern for removing the obstruction of sin through confession and the atoning work of Jesus Christ. But in heaven there will be no sin. The blessing of direct fellowship with God is beyond our imagination. The greatest blessing of heaven is not any physical benefit of the new creation or even of fellowship of previous acquaintances but rather a full and unhindered fellowship with our great God our Creator, who designed us for Himself.

Man can build no temple so acceptable to God as is the `contrite spirit that trembleth at His Word. ' All other temples of man's erection are merely provisional, during our present imperfect state, until the heavenly city descend from God, wherein there shall be no temple; but "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." Formalism, and scrupulous observance of outward ordinances, will be of no avail to those `who choose their own' corrupt "ways," rather than the Lord's holy ways. He will repay such men in kind; He too will "choose" to give them up to their "delusions," even as they `chose that in which He delighted not. ' On the other hand, they who "tremble" reverently, with filial love and fear, at `God's Word, ' and who have been therefore hated, mocked, and cast out for the Lord's sake, shall see Him soon appearing, to their joy, and to the confusion of their adversaries. (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)

Notice also that all the things we dread most will have no place there. No tears, no pain, no death nor sorrow and crying. I am sure that there will even be no taxes. Although many passages tell us of heaven, yet they leave us very ignorant of the details. But the one thing we can be sure of is that it will be wonderful, with no regrets. Just a place where there are no regrets will be a wonderful place.

 

ALL THINGS ARE MADE NEW

{5} Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." {6} And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

God here declares what John has been seeing. God has made all things over again. A new earth and a new heaven. For the first were corrupt and only reminders of the fall of Satan and the fall of mankind. Larkin says, "There shall no longer be thorns and thistles, no parasites or destructive insects, and labor shall be a delight. No serpents shall his among its flowers, nor savage beasts line in ambush to destroy and devour. Its sod shall not be heaped over newly made graves, nor its soil moistened with tears of sorrow and shame, or saturated with human blood in fratricidal strife. The meek shall inherit the earth, and from north to south, and from east to west, it shall blossom like the rose and be clothed with the verdure of Paradise Restored."

IT IS DONE: There is a sense of finality when we come to this phrase. It seems to echo through the halls of eternity. God's grand plan of redemption is done. He has put down all sin and rebellion and redeemed a people for His own glory. He has restored the creation to its pristine state in which He first created it. Although to us it seems that God took well long enough to accomplish this work, to God, it is as an accomplished fact.

THE FIRST & LAST: Here the one speaking is none other that God Himself. This is God the Father, Jehovah God. We find that in the Old Testament these terms of first and last are ascribed only to Jehovah.

Isa 41:4 Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? `I, the LORD, am the first; and with the last I am He.'" (NKJ)

Isa 43:10 "You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. (NKJ)

Isa 44:6 "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: `I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. (NKJ)

What is interesting is that in other places in Revelation these same terms are ascribed to Jesus Christ.

Rev 1:17-18 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (NKJ)

Notice here that one who is speaking claims to be alive but was dead and is alive forever more. These things could also be said of God the Father except for the term, was dead. For the Father is incapable of death. The importance of all this is to say that Jesus is synonymous with Jehovah God. Now in the trinity of the Godhead this is true although it is not comprehensible to our mortal minds.

 

THE FOUNTAIN OF THE WATER OF LIFE:

Notice how the water of life is connected to salvation:

Isa 12:3 Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (NKJ)

Isa 55:1-3 1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you-- the sure mercies of David. (NKJ)

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, `Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (NKJ)

John 4:14 "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (NKJ)

John 7:37-38 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (NKJ)

Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (NKJ)

 

FREELY

Hosea 14:4 "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. (NKJ)

Rom 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (NKJ)

Rom 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (NKJ)

John 15:25 "But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.' (NKJ)

 

THE BLESSINGS OF THE OVER COMER

{7} "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. {8} "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

The message does not relate as much to heaven as it does to those who read it today. The message is that those who will through faith overcome, will be brought into a close relationship to God. But those who do not put their trust in Him will be not only excluded from heaven but cast into the lake of fire.

We need to also notice that although the make up of the lake of fire is listed here it is not these things that kept them out of heaven. What kept them from the glories of heaven was the fact that they had never been saved in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul gives a similar list in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 telling them who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But verse 11 also tells us that some of the Corinthians were once guilty of those things but now they had been washed. I have often had people quote me this verse with the remark, "You will go to hell for lying." Which is true, and it only takes one lie, not many. But for those who have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

 

THE NEW JERUSALEM AS THE BRIDE

{9} Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." {10} And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, {11} having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

John is now taken to a mountain for a better vantage point of the New Jerusalem. We notice that here the city is referred to as the wife of the Lamb. This takes us back to chapter 19 where we saw the marriage of the lamb. We could go even back to the days of John the Baptist where John said of Christ, "He that has the bride is the bridegroom." For all in all the bride of Christ does not change. The Old Testament saints stand in a different relationship to God than do the New Testament saints. But here in view is that faithful bride, who had kept herself chaste and untouched by the world. That is why she is referred to as a virgin. We are told in chapter 19 that she has made herself ready. That is she has not been slothful but diligent in the persute of Christ. Here she is rewarded for her faithfulness. Here her beauty is liked to precious stones of various kinds.

As we look at this description of heaven, we need to understand that all who will spend eternity there are there because of the grace and mercy of God through His Son Jesus Christ. But we need also see that faithfulness counts for something. God "is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister." (Heb 6:10)

 

THE WALL AND THE GATES OF THE CITY

{12} Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: {13} three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. {14} Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

We are now pointed to see the wall with 12 gates. Each gate represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel. There are three gates on each side of the city, the city being a perfect square. There are also twelve foundations, each representing one of the apostles. This combination of the apostles who were from the age in which the prominant institution was the church, and the tribes represting all the Jewish Old Testament saints, indicates that there will be a close connection for the two groups.

 

THE DIMENSIONS OF THE CITY

{15} And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. {16} The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. {17} Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

John is next shown the dimensions of the city. It is laid out in a square and seems to me to be a cube, while some others say a pryamid. It is apporximatly 1,500 miles at each side. This would be about one half the size of the United States. But it also extends as high as it is wide. We cannot imangine anything this large. The earth at present is 8,000 miles in diamiter so this is very large. It would be a little larger than the moon. It also has a wall around it that is about 200 feet tall. All this, not made of concrete but of transparent gold and precious stones.

 

THE BEAUTY OF THE CITY

{18} The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. {19} The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, {20} the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. {21} The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Although we cannot be certain the exact color of these stones, we can be sure that the beauty of them is tremendous to behold. Walvoord has a very good description of these stones.

 

THE TEMPLE OF THE CITY

{22} But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

A temples was always a place were man would need to go to meet with God. But there is no temple for God Himself is there.

 

THE LIGHT OF THE CITY

{23} The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. {24} And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.

We notice also that there is no day or night there, no need of illumination there, not even a need for the sun, for God is the light of it.

 

THE ACCESS TO THE CITY

{25} Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). {26} And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. {27} But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

We notice also that the gates are not there to keep anyone out but they are open day and night. There is no fear of attack by an enemy for all enemies have been put under the feet of Christ. All rebellion has been eliminated. There is only perfect peace.

 

A Glimpse of Heaven

Rev 21:1-8

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (NKJ)

I remember hearing a story one time about a preacher who was preaching on heaven. In the fervor of the message he asked how many wanted to go to heaven. He expected an unanimous response, but there was this one man who did not raise his hand. So a little later in the message he gave it another try. How many want to go to heaven? This the man was the only one to not make a reply. After the message, as the people were leaving, the pastor asked the man why he had not raised his hand. The man responded, "Oh, I thought you making up a load for today.

Heaven is a wonderful place and I am sure that we would all want to go there, but we just don't want to go today.

One of the aspects of heaven that makes it appealing is that this is certainly not heaven. This life is filled with disappointments and sorrows. As I heard a speaker say one time, for the saint this life is the worst they will ever have it, but for the lost, this is the best they will ever have.

There are many things about heaven that we could talk on this moring. But I want to just look at three.

  1. Heaven is where God dwells with us.

SEE OUTLINE ABOVE

  1. The Alpha and Omega

SEE OUTLINE ABOVE

  1. The water of life

SEE OUTLINE ABOVE

What will we be doing for eternity? Only God knows, but the following story might help young and old have more confidence in what is to come.

Once there were two caterpillars, Spotty and Tuffy, crawling along the same green leaf. Suddenly Spotty began to moan. "What's wrong?" asked Tuffy. "Are you feeling bad?" "Oh, yes," said Spotty, "I am so worried about our next life. I can feel that it is about time for me to spin my cocoon. I just know that I'm going to hate it." "But why do you think that you will hate it?" said Tuffy. Spotty replied, "I have heard other caterpillars talking and they told me that in the next life we will not get to eat any more green leaves." "Oh, no!" said Tuffy. "That is not all," said Spotty. "We will be forced to walk on only six legs. And we will not be green any more."

With that, the two little caterpillars went on their way, dreading the day that they would be forced to become butterflies.

We smile and think how much better off the caterpillars are going to be: not eating green leaves, but drinking the nectar of the flowers; not walking about on trees, but flying gracefully through the air. Their colors will be the colors of the rainbow. Yet we understand that they could not know what lies ahead.

This is also true for us. God has provided a way for every need a man has in this life to be met. While we do not know what lies ahead in eternity, God will certainly be able to provide for us. Don't be a caterpillar; have vision.

--Chandler Bulletin

 

Missionary - Not Home yet

An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years and were returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they were defeated, discouraged, and afraid. They discovered they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions. No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President's entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, "Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us." "Dear, you shouldn't feel that way," his wife said. "I can't help it; it doesn't seem right." When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President's arrival, but no one noticed this missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city. That night the man's spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can't take this; God is not treating us fairly." His wife replied, "Why don't you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?" A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?" "The Lord settled it with me," he said. "I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, `But you're not home yet!'" Yes, there are rewards for faithfulness, but not necessarily down here. (Ray Stedman, "Talking to My Father")

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com