Sun, Oct 25, 2015
Part 02
Revelation 21 by Colin Retief
Series: Heaven

Heaven Part 2

A number of years ago, a movie was released called “What Dreams May Come”, it starred Robin Williams and had it’s own interpretation of what heaven would be like.

Now that movie was based on a novel that was written by Richard Mattheson. And in his introductory notes to the novel he says that this was based on extensive research. Although I’m not sure that much of that research involved the Bible.

Tonight we want to get a Biblical idea of what heaven is like.

So the first passage I want us to go to is Revelation chapter 21. And we’ll read from verse 1 to 4.

The book of Revelation is a vision that John had. And at this point it’s nearing the end and John sees the new heaven and the new earth.

Now remember last week we spoke about the intermediate heaven or the present heaven. Today we’re talking about the new heavens and the new earth. God is going to restore earth into something amazing. He’s going to reverse the effects of sin.

(1) 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. (2) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (3) 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. (4) 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.” (5) He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

So what is this passage telling us about heaven? Now I do feel that before we even start looking at this passage I need to give you some background. We need a bit of a history lesson. Heaven needs a context.

So when you read through the Bible, as some of you have done, you’ll see that God has a relationship with a people group called Israel. We see that in the Old Testament. And you’ll see that it was to Israel that God made his presence known. He dwelt amongst them.

After the Exodus, when they left Egypt and travelled through the dessert, God’s presence was with them in the form of a cloud that travelled wherever they went. Then when they built the tabernacle and the temple that’s where God’s presence was.

And the way that you accessed the presence of God was, through sacrifices and through a priest.

Then we get to the New Testament and we see Jesus pay for our sins.. And he makes it possible for sinful human beings to enter into the presence of God.

This whole big picture of God dealing with his people, shows that there is something in the way that we were created, that finds it’s fulfilment in being in a relationship with God. Being able to enter into God’s presence.

This is happening in Revelation chapter 21.

(3) 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.

A number of times, when you look in the Old Testament, you see this phrase that is used by God. He says this regarding Israel. “I will be your God and you will be my people.” And his dwelling was with them.

God is all about relationship with his people. God is all about restoring relationships with his people. And here it is. 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.

So here’s the first fact about Heaven. We will be in a perfect relationship with God. We will be in relationship with God the way it was designed to be. We will be in relationship with God the way that God has planned it and intended it.

As Christians. As people who know and love God. This amazing fact about heaven, should be what excites us most. If this fact about heaven does nothing for you, then you need to take a long, hard look at your relationship with God. You need to get to know God better by opening up the Bible and reading it. Maybe you need to read a book like Desiring God by John Piper. Because that will be the most amazing thing about heaven. We will be united and restored into a relationship with and experiencing that relationship with God the way it was meant to be.

The second most amazing thing about heaven is that there will be no more reason to cry.

Look at verse 4.

(4) 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.”

Just because you don’t see tears in someone’s eyes doesn’t meant they’re not experiencing any kind of anguish. Well, the amazing thing about heaven, is that there will be no pain, no anguish.

That bullying that you’ve had to endure at school, or at work. There will be no more of that. That anguish that comes from wondering whether the company that you’re working for, will actually still be around in a few months because of financial stress. There will be no more of that. That gut wrenching feeling when your spouse or someone close to you tells you that they’ve been diagnosed with some terminal disease. There’ll be no more of that. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when your girlfriend or boyfriend says, “we need to talk…” there’ll be no more of that. That feeling of failure, when you’ve let someone down. There’ll be none of that.

There won’t be poverty. There won’t be corruption. There won’t be injustices,

In Chapter 22 verse 3. Look at what it says:

No longer will there be any curse.

Again we need to give this a bit of context. The curse is the result of man sinning against God in Genesis chapter 3. The curse is the result of our rebellion against God. The curse is what we experience while living on this earth. The frustration we feel. It’s a result of the curse. The insecurities that we have about ourselves. It’s a result of the curse. The terrible mistakes that we make everyday. It’s a result of the curse. The way that our bodies get sick. It’s a result of the curse. But Revelation chapter 22 and verse 3 has these amazing, mindblowing, lifechanging words. No longer will there be any curse.

A very popular past time nowadays is escapism. I think many people in our society live for escapism. And escapism takes on many different forms. For many of us sitting here it’s some form of device. Nothing like a bit of Candy Crush, or catching up on facebook. Or there is nothing like escaping the problems of the day, by putting on a series on your flatscreen. And nowadays you can binge watch various series, they’re just so available in the dvd shops and online. For some of us it’s watching a rugby game.

For some of us, the best form of escapism is taking some form of substance that helps you forget, even though it’s just for a little while. Why do people like to escape? I mean what are we trying to escape from? We’re trying to escape from the curse.

There will come a day, when we won’t want to escape our troubles, because there will be none, because there will be no more curse.

And throughout the Bible we read about God’s promise to reverse the effects of sin, in other words, reverse the effects of the curse and establish a new heavens and a new earth.

So the second fact about heaven is that there will be no more reason to cry.

The third fact about heaven is that it will look more spectacular than any place you’ve ever seen.

Think of the most amazing building you’ve ever seen. The most impressive architecture. The tallest skyscraper. A place that is surrounded by brilliant landscaping that is pleasing to the eye. If you had to think of the most aesthetically pleasing building you’ve ever seen. If you were to think of a building that you walked into and you just thought “wow, this is amazing”.

Well, this vision that John is having, is a vision, although symbolic, and apocalyptic, wants the reader of Revelation to know that heaven is going to be better than any piece of work done by human hands. Look at verse 15 of chapter 21.

(15) Then angel who talked with me had a measuring-rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. (16) 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 in length, and as wide and high as it is long. (17) He measured its wall and was 65 meters thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. (19) The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone ………..

And so it goes on and on, about how amazingly spectacular this city is going to be. It will look more spectacular than anything you have ever seen.

The fourth Fact about heaven is that we will never thirst or go hungry. Ie. we will always be satisfied.

Have you ever been really thirsty? I mean really thirsty? I remember back in my army days. During basic training. We would have these waterbottles. They probably held about 500 ml’s of water. They would take us on to the parade ground for marching. And it was never just marching. You would spend more time running than marching. This was in Heidelberg, just outside of Joburg. So it was very dry. I remember building up a thirst, the likes of which I’m not sure if I will ever again experience. But we had these waterbottles. And even though the water had been in these bottles for a while, and wasn’t exactly cold. I remember just enjoying sipping it down. It was amazing.

It didn’t take long until we were thirsty again, and we had to find a tap to fill up those waterbottles. You see, when we’re thirsty, we satisfy our thirst, but only for a little while. In heaven, you’ll have that thirst quenching satisfaction continuously. You’ll never thirst, you’ll never go hungry. You will be satisfied. It really is beyond our comprehension.

Look at Revelation 22:1.

  1. (1)Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb (2) down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.

We will never go hungry. We will never go thirsty. We will have everything we need. Our thirst will be quenched and there will always be plenty. And notice how the tree of life is there. Back in Genesis chapter 3, that was one of the big things about being banished from the Garden of Eden. It also meant that they were not allowed to eat from the tree of life.

          So that’s fact no. 4. You will never hunger or thirst. You will always be satisfied.

          The next thing we need to look at about heaven is what will we be like in heaven? Well, here’s fact no. 6.

Fact #5. We will have resurrected bodies in heaven.

          So last week I mentioned that we after the intermediate heaven. When Christ returns again. When he comes to judge the living and the dead. I mentioned that the dead in Christ will rise. 1 Thessalonians talks about it. And when that happens we will have our resurrection bodies.

          So what will those bodies be like? How can I get excited about a resurrection body when I’m not too sure what it’s going to be like. And plus if it’s going to be my body given back to me. I’m not sure if I really want that.

          Philippians chapter 3 vs 20-22:

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 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.

          So my lowly body will be like his glorious body. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is, you’ll get your body. The body that you have now is the body that you’re stuck with for eternity. The good news is that your body will go from being a lowly body to being a glorious one.

          It will be like Christ’s glorious body after he rose from the dead. And if you read through the accounts of Jesus after his resurrection. He was human, even after he rose from the dead. There are times when he ate with his disciples in John 21. He was with them in the flesh. He wasn’t this hologram or ghost. He was real, he had skin, he even still had the scars on his hands. Of course he did walk through walls at times. But he wasn’t a ghost. It wasn’t like the sixth sense where only someone who saw dead people could see him.

          Will we be able to eat? I’m sure we will. Let’s remember that heaven will be a place where we get to experience the pleasures that we were created for in the greatest possible way. In the way that God intended.

          Now this does beg the question, which you may be too shy to ask if we had to have a q and a afterwards. Is there going to be sex in heaven?

          Because you may sit there thinking, well if there’s not going to be sex, then, is it really going to be that great.

          The Bible doesn’t really say. But we do know that God has designed sex for marriage, and there won’t be marriage in heaven, the way it is on earth. Jesus says that. In Matthew 22:30. You can go and look it up. The only marriage will be between Christ and his church.

          But I think CS Lewis put it best when talking about our disappointment at the fact that there may not be sex in heaven.

I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, when he was told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure , immediately asks “Do you eat chocolates at the same time?” On receiving the answer ‘No,’ he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. So you try and tell the boy that they don’t need chocolate during sex, because they’ve got something much greater to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position.

Sex is great! God designed it. But be assured, that whatever awaits us in heaven is far far greater. Beyond our knowledge, beyond our imagination.

          So we will have resurrection bodies. And we will get to appreciate a lot of good things that we appreciate here on earth. And our bodies will be improvements.

          Fact #6. Not everyone will be there.

John 3:16 tells us that not everyone will be given the gift of eternal life.

John 3 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Bottom line, we need to have the attitude that Paul had. Where he felt torn between this world and the next. The longer he stays here, the more time he has got to tell others, so that they can know about a place and a time, where they will be in a perfect relationship with God.

          A place where there will be no more reason to cry.

          A place that will look more spectacular than anything they’ve ever seen.

          A place where they will never thirst or go hungry, they’ll always be satisfied.

          A place where their lowly earthly bodies will be transformed into heavenly bodies.

          If you’re here tonight and you know you’re not going to heaven. Why not put your trust in Jesus.

          And if you are a Christian. And you know that you’re going to heaven one day. Let that future hope determine the way that you live now. We can look forward to a day, when Christ will return.