Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Revelation of Paradise Regained

Part 28 of a sermon series through the book of Revelation

Text: 22:1-5


PARADISE LOST

The Bible ends at the beginning (compare Rev. 22:1-15 and Gen. 2-3).

What does the beginning of the Bible tell us about the original paradise?

First, in Eden, there was a river.
Second, in Eden, there was a tree of life.
Third, in Eden, there was no curse.
Fourth, in Eden, there was fellowship with God. 

Paradise was lost because Adam and Eve disobeyed God. But Christ crushed the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15) through His death and resurrection and opened up the way to paradise.


PARADISE REGAINED

What does the end of the Bible tells us about the new paradise? 

First, in heaven, life will be satisfying. 

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city (vv. 1-2a). 

In heaven, we will not, as some people think, sit on a cloud and play a harp for eternity. Life will be completely fulfilling.

Second, in heaven, life will be endless. 

Also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (v. 2b).

Our days are limited (like grains of sand in an hourglass). In this life, there is never enough time to do everything we would like to do. But in the life to come, time will be unlimited. You can't "spend" eternity.

Third, in heaven, life will be perfect. 

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him (v.3).

When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, Red Sox fans said the “Curse of the Bambino” was reversed. Can man reverse the curse of sin? Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil thinks it’s possible. In the 2009 documentary Transcendent Man, He predicts that by 2029 humanity will solve the problem of death (because of continued progress in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics). However, the Bible declares that only God is able to reverse the curse.

Fourth, in heaven, life will be glorious. 

They will see his face, and his name will be in their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever (vv. 4-5).

It could be said that the Garden of Eden was the first temple. Why? (1) Israel’s temple was where the priest experienced God’s presence, and Eden was where Adam walked and talked with God (Gen. 3:8). (2) The entrance to Eden was from the east (Gen. 3:24), which was also the direction from which on entered the tabernacle and the later temples of Israel. (3) Genesis 2:15 says God placed Adam in the Garden “to work it and keep it.” The two Hebrews words translated “work” and “keep” are usually translated “serve” and “guard” elsewhere in the OT (Num. 3:7-8; 8:25-26; 1 Chron. 23:32; Ezek. 44:14). (4) When Adam failed to guard the temple by sinning, he lost his priestly role, and the two cherubim took over responsibility of “guarding” the garden temple: God “placed the cherubim…to guard the way to the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24). God commanded Moses to make two statues of cherubim and stationed them on either side of the ark of the covenant in the Most Holy Place. (5) The wood carvings gave Israel’s temple a garden-like atmosphere (1 Kings 6:18, 29, 32, 35; 7:18-20). (6) “God said to Adam, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it’” (Gen. 1:28). It is plausible to suggest that Adam was to extend the geographical boundaries of the garden until Eden extended throughout and covered the whole earth. This meant the presence of God, which was initially limited to Eden, was to be extended throughout the whole earth. What Adam failed to do, Revelation pictures Christ as finally having done (G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, pp. 1109-1111). 

God always wants what is best for us. Follow His will and you won’t be disappointed.