Friday, August 19, 2011

The Revelation of Heaven

Part 27 of a series through the book of Revelation

Text: 21:1-27


HEAVEN IS UNDER ATTACK 

There are many lies about heaven that Satan wants us to believe. Here are three. The first lie is that heaven isn't real. Stephen Hawking recently said, “There is no heaven. That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” A second lie is that heaven can wait. Gary Player once said, “If there’s a golf course in heaven, I hope it’s like Augusta National. I just don’t want an early tee time.” A third lie is that heaven is the destiny of most. But Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”(John 14:6).


A NEW REALITY

The word “new” is found four times in 21:1-8.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth (v. 1a).

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God (v. 2a).

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new (v. 5a).

“New” here means not only new in time, but also new in quality (like replacing a regular telephone with a smartphone).

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17). “According to [God’s] promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). There will be “heaven on earth”—literally.

Heaven will be much better than we can imagine. So be courageous, not cowardly. 

“For [Abraham] was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God…. But as it is, they [the heroes of the faith] desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:10, 16).

Three reasons why heaven will be much better than we can imagine: First, in heaven we will experience the presence of God. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God (v. 3). One of the great promises of the Bible will be fulfilled in heaven. “I will make my dwelling [the Shekinah] among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:11-12). God did this in different ways in Scripture:  (1) in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21-22), (2) in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle and temple, (3) in the incarnation (John 1:14). But in heaven we will fully experience His presence. (New Jerusalem is a temple city, 21:22, 15-16.)

Second, in heaven we will experience the absence of sorrow. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (v. 4). See Romans 8:18-23.

Third, in heaven we will experience the end of dissatisfaction. "To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment" (v. 6b). See John 4:7-14.


MORE BEYOND 

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 real, and it will be much better than you or I can imagine! So follow Christ courageously.