What Is Heaven Like Revelation 21a
Stephen Caswell © 2003
Our Move Into Our New Home
As you would probably know we moved into our new home last Monday. I want to tell you that we were excited. But the welcome we received was unexpected. So many came to help unload. Everyone was so kind and friendly. At once we could see just how much thought and hard work went into preparing our new home for us. And we want to thank everyone here for their kindness and generosity. Our home is beautiful and the view across the valley is wonderful. But it got me thinking. If arriving at our home in Tent Hill is this wonderful, how much more so will be our arrival to our heavenly home. Just imagine how glorious our Lord will be when we see Him for the first time. Just imagine how beautiful New Jerusalem will be. An eternal city whose Builder and Maker is God. A city untainted by sin.
Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler of the thirteenth century, when he lay dying, was urged by his priest to recant - to withdraw the stories he had told about China and the lands of the Far East. But he said, I have not told half what I saw. I am sure that's the way John felt after he saw the glory of heaven. Today we will look at life in heaven. The Apostle John describes heaven as a place where eight things won't be present. There will be no more sea, no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain, no more night, no more curse and no temple. The Lord will remove the things that plagued the first creation.
Firstly, No More Sea
21:1-3: 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. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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.
What is really significant about the new earth having no seas? A number of things. Firstly, the seas separate people. The seas like sin separate us from God and from each other. Secondly, they are uninhabitable. More than Three quarters of the earth's surface is covered by the oceans. Thirdly, they remind us of God's judgment upon sin. God overflowed the earth with water to destroy man from the face of the earth. Therefore the seas speak of sin, separation, and judgment. The new creation won’t be spoiled by these. A divine pronouncement is made in verse 3 that from now on God will dwell with men. For God to dwell with mankind He must first remove all sin for God will not fellowship with sin.
All Singing In Harmony
This is a true story from the American Civil War. The rival armies were camped on the opposite banks of the Potomac River. At evening the Union's band began to play one of its patriotic tunes. The Confederate army responded with one of their own favorite tunes. Then one of the band's started to play Home, Sweet Home. The musical competition ceased, and the musicians from the other army joined in. Soon voices from both sides of the river could be heard singing, There is no place like home.
In a similar way the Church with its many divisions is bound together by one strong link. We’re all going home, to the place where our Father is waiting. Everyone who has been born again of the Spirit longs to go home.
Separation, sin and disunity between people will be replaced by perfect fellowship. Revelation 21:24-27: 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. And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 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.
The Lambs Book of Life contains the names of the saints from all the ages. These are the citizens of heaven. No unrepentant sinner will enter into heaven. Revelation 20:15: says, Anyone not found in the Book of Life was cast into the fake of fire. Only the saved are welcome there. For believers, sin and separation from God will be replaced by perfect fellowship. God intended to share His glory with man from the beginning but sin spoiled it. Have you been saved from your sin? Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book Of Life? Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Do you long to be in your heavenly home with its perfect fellowship?
Secondly, No More Death
Revelation 21:4a: 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.
The first consequence Adam and Eve suffered after the fall was death. The day that they ate of the forbidden tree they died spiritually. 930 years later Adam died physically. Spiritual death inevitably leads to physical death. This shouldn't surprise us because God told them it would happen. But praise God, Jesus Christ has conquered this cruel enemy. Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The amazing thing is that God planned to save man even before the world began. That's grace. 2 Timothy 1:9-10: God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Moody More Alive
Realizing that he would soon be gone from this world, Moody said to a friend, Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all - out of this old clay tent into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.
Christ conquered death by dying and rising again. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. In verses 25 & 26 Paul goes on to say that Christ will conquer all His enemies, the last enemy is death. Death will be swallowed up in victory. Eternal life is the order of this new creation because God makes everything new. The old corrupt world will be replaced by a new incorruptible world. God will sustain us for all eternity. Perhaps the river of life and tree of life will assist in this. Both seem to possess life giving characteristics.
Revelation 22:1-2: And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
There are Christians of a certain tribe in Africa who never say of their dead who die in the Lord that they have departed! Speaking, as it were, from the vantage point of the Glory world, they triumphantly and joyously say, They have arrived! What joy, even in sorrow, to be able to say with confidence, Absent from the body — Present with the Lord!
Thirdly, No More Sorrow, Or Crying, Or Pain
21:4a: there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain.
Sorrow was a result of the fall. Sorrow is an emotion that expresses the pain felt by the loss of someone or something. Sin and death inevitably bring sorrow. When a loved one dies we are sorrowful. Both Adam and Eve were sorry for disobeying God. The consequences of sin were only too clear. But it was too late to change it. God increased Eve's sorrow in bearing children because she disobeyed God. God caused Adam to eat his bread in sorrow because he sinned. Through out the ages sorrow has plagued mankind. In the new creation God removes this cruel tyrant that robs us of joy and peace. Instead of regretting what we lost or can't obtain, God will fill His people with joy. Our lives will be fruitful and fulfilling. They will be marked by purpose and meaning. There will be no regrets or sorrow in heaven.
Another consequence of sin and death is crying. Crying is an outward verbal expression of inward sorrow and grief. When a loved passes away we miss them and cry over them. Tears allow us to express our grief and let it out. God will comfort His people by wiping away every tear. Believers won't grieve over the suffering and trials they experienced on earth, because God will comfort them. Yes crying will be a thing of the past. It will be replaced by rejoicing. Crying will give way to praise! Isaiah 51:11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Pain is an inevitable consequence of sin. Pain is the physical suffering that results from sin whereas sorrow is the emotional suffering of sin. Pain is involved in the aging process and often present at death. Praise God, He removes this enemy from us. 2 Corinthians 5:4: For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. The new bodies we will receive will not age nor deteriorate in any way. They will be incorruptible, immortal, invigorated. Believers will live forever in their prime. We will enjoy good health continually. Revelation 22:2 says that the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations.
Death, sorrow, crying and pain can all be done away with because God has removed sin with its consequences. The old world corrupted by sin has been abolished and the new creation is complete. The Lord makes everything new. Revelation 21:4b-5: For the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.
Fourthly, No More Night
Revelation 22:5: And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
In the first creation night is necessary for us to rest and recuperate. Each day we spend about 7 or 8 hours sleeping so that our bodies can be renewed for the next day. This would be a waste of time since we will have powerful new bodies. The Bible also uses night in a negative sense because night and darkness are associated with sin. Nothing that corresponds with sin will be allowed into paradise. On the contrary heaven will be glorious and full of light. Light also speaks of purity and holiness. In heaven it will be eternal day. The sun and moon won't be required for light. God will lighten the new heavens and new earth. This isn't surprising since God is Light. Jesus said, I am the Light of the world. God will provide light for His people to walk in.
Revelation 21:23-25: And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. Isaiah 60:19: prophesies this too: The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
I believe that the glory of God will cause the New Jerusalem to shine forth in glorious light also. Revelation 21:10-11: And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; The city will project the glory of God like a lantern emits light from the candle inside it. Can you imagine the kind of light that would come from a city made of pure gold, precious stones and pearls? In fact throughout the ages believers have referred to heaven as the Glory Land. This title is very fitting. Scientists have placed the 12 precious stones listed in Revelation 21:19-20 together and found that they emit the most beautiful light. Yes God's glory will be reflected in His creation.
Furthermore the citizens of the New Jerusalem will shine forth like stars. Daniel 12:2-3: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. I believe that the amount believers shine for Christ on earth will be reflected in how brightly they shine in heaven.
Shinning For Jesus
Our eternal reward reflects the amount of God's glory that we have allowed to shine through us on earth. It is something like a chandelier that has many different light bulbs in it. Some are 25 watt, some 50 watt, and some 75 watt and some 100 watt. The light bulbs all shine and contribute light to the room. But the ones that shine the brightest for eternity are the ones that shone the brightest for Christ on earth! How brightly will you shine in heaven?
Daniel 12:3 and 1 Corinthians 15:40-42: both imply this: There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. Romans 8:18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. In heaven the Lord will shine, the New Jerusalem will shine and believers will shine. Heaven will truly be a glorious place.
Fifthly, No More Temple
Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
On earth temples are simply buildings set apart for the worship of God. In the New Jerusalem there will be no physical temple as such. This is because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. In other words wherever God is present will be the temple. It might be easier to ask where God isn't present? The word translated temple here is nao" and refers to the holy of holies. The entire New Jerusalem will be like the holy of holies was in the earthly temple. What is the main emphasis of all this? The main point is that there will be no separation of sacred and secular. All that we do in heaven will glorify God. There won't be any secular activities. Self won't get a look in. Everything that takes place in heaven will be like an act of worship. Christians will live in God's presence like pillars remain in a temple.
Revelation 3:12: He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. In Psalm 23:6 David says, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. What will we do before God's throne? Revelation 22:3-4 tells us: And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. We will see the Lord and we will serve the Lord. The word serve latreuw means to worship, to offer up sacrifices, to render religious service and homage. This word has the connotation of priestly service. Verse 5 says that we will even reign with Christ.
Peter calls believers a royal priesthood in 1 Peter 2:9. Our service around the throne will be one of worship and adoration. We will offer up praises to our God. Revelation 5:8-10: is a good example of our service: Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth. Are you serving the Lord today? Are you interceding for others? Are you conducting yourself as a royal priest?
Sixthly, No More Curse
Revelation 22:3: And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth He blessed His creation. He told them to be fruitful and multiply. He gave Adam and Eve dominion over all the earth. It was only after they sinned that God reluctantly cursed the earth. The serpent was cursed and forced to crawl on its belly. The ground was cursed and brought forth thorns and thistles. God did this to show Adam and Eve the gravity of sin. But the Lord never cursed man because He planned to save Him. This is what Christ has done for us on the cross. He bore the curse for us so that we might obtain God's blessing. Galatians 3:13-14: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are truly blessed. Ephesians 1:3-4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. God says that those who are called to Marriage Supper of the Lamb are blessed, and so they are. To live in God's presence forever and see His beauty. To hear His wonderful words as we worship Him. To enjoy His fellowship face to face. To walk through the golden streets and drink from the river of life. To eat of the tree of life and experience perfect health forever and ever. Could we be any more blessed than this? How should we respond?
1 Peter 3:8-9: Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. Is your life a channel of Blessing? Do you bring the blessings of God to the lost?
Speaking Of Heaven
Charles E. Fuller announced he would be speaking the following Sunday on “Heaven”. That week he received a beautiful letter from an old man who was very ill. I will read a part of it:
Next Sunday you are to talk about Heaven. I am interested in that land, because I have held a clear title to a bit of property there for over fifty-five years. I did not buy it. It was given to me without money and without price. But the Donor purchased it for me at tremendous sacrifice. I am not holding it for speculation since the title is not transferable. It is not a vacant lot. For more than half a century I have been sending materials out of which the greatest Architect and Builder of the Universe has been building a home for me which will never need to be remodeled nor repaired because it will suit me perfectly, individually, and will never grow old.
Termites cannot undermine its foundations for they rest on the Rock of Ages. Fire cannot destroy it. Floods cannot wash it away. No locks or bolts will ever be placed upon its doors, for no vicious person can ever enter that land where my dwelling stands, now almost completed and almost ready for me to enter in and abide in peace eternally, without fear of being ejected. There is a valley of deep shadow between the place where I live and the place to which I shall soon go. I cannot reach my home in that City of Gold without passing through this dark valley of shadows. But I am not afraid. The best Friend I ever had went through the same valley long, long ago and drove away all its gloom.
He has stuck by me through thick and thin, since we first became acquainted 55 years ago, and I hold His promise in printed form, never to forsake me or leave me alone. He will be with me as I walk through the valley of shadows, and I shall not lose my way when He is with me.
I hope to hear your sermon on Heaven next Sunday from my home down here, but I have no assurance that I shall be able to do so. My ticket to Heaven has no date marked for the journey, no return coupon — and no permit for baggage. Yes, I am all ready to go and I may not be here while you are talking next Sunday evening, but I shall meet you there some day.
Do you have the same assurance of going to heaven as this elderly saint or these African believers? Have you reserved a place with Jesus Christ the Saviour? If you aren’t ready for eternity can I encourage you to speak to myself or Alan today! Please don’t put this decision off. Jesus calls us today, you don’t know if you will have another chance.
Perhaps you have already made a reservation in heaven. Are you laying up treasure there? Are you sending it ahead of you or are you investing all your time talents and money down here? What will your heavenly mansion look like? How brightly will you shine in eternity?
Revelation 22:7: Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.