Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Heaven Bound

Text: Revelation 21:1-5

Are you looking forward to going on a summer vacation? Summer vacation is one of the highlights of most people's years. We plan our vacation activities. We save our money. We count down the days. But then once the vacation arrives, it is soon over. Excitement is replaced by sadness. The child of God has something better to look forward to than a vacation: heaven.

The Bible speaks of three heavens: (1) the sky, (2) space, and (3) the dwelling place of God (2 Corinthians 12:2).

Lies about heaven:
  • Heaven isn’t real.
  • Heaven is boring.
  • Heaven can wait.
  • Heaven is the destination of most.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).

1. God will give us new heavens and a new earth.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea (Revelation 21:1).

"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17; cf. 66:22). "But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13; cf. vv. 7-12). Acts 3:21 speaks of the "restoration of all things." "The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth" (Romans 8:22).

Will the earth be renovated or replaced?

2. God will give us a new home.

I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:2).

"Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:16).

"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal" (Revelation 21:9-11).

"The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass" (Revelation 21:21). "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life" (Revelation 21:27).

Paradise will be restored.

3. God will give us new fellowship.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:3).

God desires to be with His people:
  • "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8).
  • "I will put my dwelling place [tabernacle] among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people" (Leviticus 26:11-12).
  • "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling [tabernacled] among us" (John 1:14).
  • "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19).
  • "I did not see a temple in the city because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple" (Revelation 21:22).
  • "The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia [1400 miles, 2200 kilometers] in length, and was wide and high as it is long" (Revelation 21:15-16). The city will be a perfect cube, as was the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle and the temple.
  • "In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And 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 14:2-3). The highlight of heaven will not be the place where we will live, but the Person with whom we will live.
  • "The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face..." (Revelation 22:3-4).
4. God will give us new bodies.

"There will be no more death" (Revelation 21:4).

"Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20-21).

5. God will give us a new joy.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

How should the hope of heaven affect your life today?
  • Make sure you’re going there. The Strait of Gibraltar is the strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. On either side of the Strait of Gibraltar there are two mountains, which were known in ancient times as the Pillars of Hercules. According to Greek mythology, Hercules built these pillars to mark the edge of the world. Remember that in those days people believed that the earth was flat. The pillars bore the warning, "No More Beyond," cautioning sailors to go no further. But in 1492 Christopher Columbus destroyed the belief that there was "no more beyond" when he sailed far out into the Atlantic Ocean and discovered the New World. In the town where the explorer died, there stands a monument commemorating him. On this monument there is a statue of a lion. The lion’s paw is tearing away the word "No" from the phrase "No More Beyond," making it read "More Beyond." Columbus had proven that there was "more beyond." Whether people believe it or not, there is "more beyond" this world. Heaven is a real place. Will you go there when you die? Jesus said, "I am the way.... No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Heaven is the eternal destiny of everyone who puts his or her faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Alter your perspective on suffering. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17). "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
  • Re-evaluate your priorities. "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:20). We can’t take our earthly treasures to heaven, but we can take another person (by leading them to Christ). "I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires" (1 Peter 2:11). "Set your hearts on things above" (Colossians 3:2).