Last week we began an awesome study about Heaven! If you were unable to be with us, please read the newsletter or listen online for details on what we are going to quickly recap!! This is the fast-forward to our beginning today: Many people never seriously think about or anticipate Heaven, unless they are older or in poor health...Often because fairytales, myths and misconceptions have led us to see Heaven in a very different light than Scriptures describe It! And although it is better than no life, or a life in hell... It seems that we will be giving up a lot from this world when we get there...With visions of cherub spirits, clouds, harps, singing... And not much else! Most have COMPLETELY MISSED the reality of Heaven that is described in Scriptures!!
Last week, most of the service was spent showing Scriptural proof that:
Today, we will take a deeper look at the AWESOME details of this New Earth! So that we might try and answer some common questions many ask...And so that we might truly begin to imagine and anticipate what God has in store for us!!!!
At the end of the seven book series by C. S. Lewis…A small band of characters sees the destruction of their beloved land called Narnia... And they step into a new World that they soon realize is actually Narnia all over again... Narnia... But recreated NEW and unimaginably BETTER!
"The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can't describe it any better than that; if you ever get there, you will know what I mean. It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed and then cried: "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now." . . "Don't stop, cried Farsight the eagle, Further up and further in. . ." - C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle
Let's go... Further up, and further in... Shall we?! Let's see the Timeline in Mankind's History...
For that moment when Heaven is brought to the New Earth...And answer a number of questions as we go! Jesus Returns at the sound of the Trumpet, and takes His beloved Church Home! There is a terrible period of seven years of Tribulation on the Old Earth as God pours out His Wrath on the rebellious...Then God rules on this Old Earth for a Thousand Year Reign known as the Millennium...Which also ends in rebellion! This Millennium ends with the Final Judgment of all the unsaved in history... At the Great White Throne Judgment! As well as the Final Judgment of Satan and all of his fallen angels... (In which WE will play a part as Judges ourselves!)
Anytime during these periods... If you die…YOU go into Heaven above…
THEN... We pick up in Revelation Chapter 21 and 22: Let’s do a walk through from THIS POINT & explore!
Revelation 21:1 (NLT)
This includes all of the known universe! All Creation has been under the curse & will be made new!
Romans 8:20-21 (NLT)
QUESTION #1 - Why no sea? (Frequently asked- Big!) Can you imagine Paradise without a shoreline? A beautiful ocean to look out over and enjoy?! In Genesis 1:9-10 God created the seas and called them "good"! But the curse had a devastating effect on everything! Since the flood, the sea has been a place of division & destruction! Scriptures DO NOT say there won’t be large, awesome bodies of water… On the contrary, there will be...Ezekiel 47 tells of a great crystal river flowing from the Throne through the city… Out into the land! It grows incredibly wide & deep… Flowing into the SEA! Scriptures only say they will not be as this sea...Perhaps meaning as large, violent, dirty or dividing!
Revelation 21:2-3 (NLT)
Again... This is awesome...Jesus comes down to live with us, HERE! We will not live in another place...But He will come to be with us in the place He made for us!
Question #2: What will Life Be Like On This New Earth?
Revelation 21:4 (NLT)
It's amazing that science has yet to understand why the body doesn't live forever! (It has the ability to repair and refresh) Quote from: The Washington Post Online, Microbes Are Immortal, So Why Aren't Humans?, By Boyce Rensberger, Wednesday, June 10, 1998; PageH01
"Why die? Why not live forever? Such questions have a naive, adolescent quality, but they address profound biological mysteries for which scientists have no good answers." -htttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/horizon/june98/microbes.htm
Theories range from...Genes being "programmed" to live only so long... (Single cells can renew indefinitely!) To Our DNA taking on damage for a variety of theories...(Until it can no longer replicate and survive!) Both would reveal a Creator and a fallen creation...NOT an ever evolving, unguided fantasyland!
Strange that man even has the idea and the desire to live forever! Where'd that come from? On this New Earth... Our new bodies will not deteriorate or be damaged... But we will literally live forever!
And there will be none of the other things in life that cause heart-break and pain and sorrow ever again... Why?! “Do we miraculously lose the ability for these emotions?” That would be more like living on "Vulcan"...Than the New Earth! ;)
No! Stop and think about this... Is there anything that brings pain & sorrow...That does not get its ultimate root from sin & evil? (Anxiety, unforgiveness, injustice, abuse, hatred) Adam and Eve had no anxiety or fear until SIN! So if that sin and evil are taken away...Replaced by perfect love... Sorrow is erased! We will have challenges, and excitement, and struggles... But no sorrow, pain, regret!
QUESTION #3: This section of Scripture brings up a VERY IMPORTANT AND OFTEN ASKED QUESTION...
If we will have no sorrow or pain... "Does that mean we will lose memory from our previous lives?! WILL WE EVEN REMEMBER EACH OTHER?!”
Ever heard this rumor? (Mom would repeat this one) Absolutely not! WILL IT BE LIKE THE MOVIE, MIB?! This is actually a scary, horrible thought to most of us... With GOOD REASON! Let me show you why this absolutely CANNOT be the case...So that you may know that we have the same relationships and memories that we have now!
How does Revelation 6:10, show those killed for loving God ask, "How long before we are avenged?" If they do not have memory of their lives on earth? How could we possibly remain who God formed us to be before the Creation of the world... (Every day in His Book!) Without our memories, experiences, & friendships of the past?
WE WILL REMEMBER… WE WILL KNOW ONE ANOTHER!! THOSE PASSED ON NOW… KNOW EVENTS ON EARTH!
Question #4: The next obvious and good question would be... "How can it be Heaven then…IF we DO remember bad things and lost loved ones?!"
God the Father, Jesus, and the Angels all have knowledge of bad things that have happened! (Even to them!) They have knowledge of those who will not be with us in Heaven... (With more love for them than us) And they are in Heaven!! It will NOT be a memory loss that brings peace and joy...
But, a true understanding... Of God's perspective on what has happened and why! Romans 8:28 in reality! How God worked through OUR SINS to save us...How He used our bad events for ultimate good! Example: MY loss of job, move away... Great blessing! It will be a true understanding of the sinful, unrepentant hearts of those who aren't there...And what that sin would do to Heaven and us if present!!
Revelation 21:27 (NKJV)
We will know what God saved us from in His great love! Entering New Jerusalem! Now, let's get the best visual we can of the New City coming down... Our next few verses begin to focus in on details!
Revelation 21:5-8, 9-10 (NLT)
We often get the idea of this beautiful, shining City coming down in the distance... But listen closely!
Revelation 21:11 (NLT)
(EXAMPLE - JASPER) The entire City glows with the brilliance of crystal Jasper!!
Revelation 21:12-22 (NLT)
12 The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. 13 There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles. 17 Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel). 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. 19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
These twelve stones were present on the "Breastplate of Judgment", worn by the High Priest in the Tabernacle and Temple...Each stone represented a Tribe of Israel!
21 The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass. 22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
This is too AWESOME to just read through & let us miss it! Get the picture here so far...This City is a perfect cube in shape...The width, length, and height all equal! Just like the dimensions of the Holy of Holies…The Most Sacred Place in the Tabernacle and Temple, where God dwelt among His People in ancient times! In those times, the Law required that only the High Priest could enter… And only once a year on the Day of Atonement- because we were sinful and God Holy! Then Christ came, and Hebrews tells us a new story that is awesome in light of this City... Listen!
Hebrews 9:23-26 (NKJV)
Hebrews 10:19-22 (NKJV)
- Each with the name of one Disciple engraved in them! DO YOU SEE THE AWESOME FORESHADOWING OF SCRIPTURE?! (Then VEIL TORE when Jesus Died!) We are free to enter the Holy of Holies, where God dwells for eternity, because of our Lord's sacrifice! This picture has been our prophetic illustration for thousands of years! (Scriptures are seamless!) Now, let's get the picture of this City... Did you catch the dimensions? This is not just a big building we can see coming down...If placed on America, it would stretch from Canada to Mexico, and from Hurricane, WV to almost touch the California border!! (Here is where probably sit- MIDEAST) AND, it is that high as well!!!! With walls, made of brilliant, transparent Jasper that are over two-thirds the thickness of a football field!!! And if you saw it coming down…Or approached it after it was placed on the New earth... You would not be able to see the ends of it in either direction as they stretched for 1400 miles!! You would not see the top as it disappeared into clouds!! Can you fathom, in your wildest dreams, this structure on earth?! THE CITY OF GOD!! It will be sitting on twelve giant, flat, foundational stones stacked upon each other... Whom Jesus Promised would rule over the 12 Tribes! (Matthew 19:28)
A Foundation built on the Gospel of Christ! And each is inlaid with countless precious stones...
A certain type stone in each foundational platform!! Think how high the steps to the entrance will be up those twelve foundations! There will be three gates to enter on each wall, from the North, South, East, and West... Twelve in all... Each with the name of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel! 3 Tribes on each side - JUST as the Tabernacle!!! Each gate either cut from a single pearl, or made literally from a pearl! (A day’s drive between Gates!)
These gates will open through over 200 feet of crystal-like Jasper, to a city made of pure gold!!!!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE THE BRILLIANCE! All of this... And we are just getting into the Gates!! Let's go on... Further Up and Further Into the City!
Revelation 21:12-22 (NLT)
Revelation 22:1-5 (NLT)
The City's beautiful gemstones, walls of Jasper, buildings and streets of gold will be brilliantly reflected and lit up...By the MOST BEAUTIFUL, CONSTANT SOURCE OF LIGHT IN THE UNIVERSE... JESUS CHRIST!!! And... Ever seen the clear waters Bahamas? They’re nothing! The clearest, cleanest, purest river of fresh water will flow from beneath Christ's Throne!!! Flowing down the center of the City as a symbol to all of the Water of Life at its source!
QUESTION #5: These verses bring us to another big question many have... "Will there be any more night and day in Heaven? "Will there be seasons in Heaven?" "Will there even be time in Heaven?"
Because there are verse that seem to say there will be no more time...Let's start with time…And work our way backwards through these questions...There are a couple of verses that people quote to prove "no time" in Heaven... One is:
2 Peter 3:8 (NKJV)
This verse, in context is talking about God having patience while waiting for more sinners to come to Him! It is saying that to an Eternal Being…"What is waiting a thousand years in the scheme of things?!" It is as a day to Him! It says nothing about... And has nothing to do with...The ending of time in Heaven...
Here is the other one:
Revelation 10:5-6 (KJV)
Wow... That one sounds pretty convincing! The funny thing is, this is the least convincing, most misread verse about time! John was simply saying there will be no more delay!! Time for this age, for mercy... IS over! Your game clock has run out! Your ticket is punched! Get it? Other translations read a bit clearer, and ALL (even KJV here) understand this is the meaning in Greek! So, if there are no verses to say, "No time in Heaven"... Are there any that prove there is? Well, let's take a look:
Revelation 6:9-11 (NKJV)
Revelation 8:1 (NKJV)
Did these things happen without knowledge of time passing in Heaven? No!! They waited as we do... Half an hour was measured as here! God is outside of and untouched by His creation of time! But we are made within this Creation, to live in this Creation! Even the very verses we just read prove time, and even seasons! Listen again, closely...
Revelation 22:2 (NLT)
Ok, very convincing... But these same verses said there was no night, and no need for the sun or the moon! True... But, read everything closely and in context...And as always, Scriptures weave together seamlessly!!!
Revelation 21:23-25 (NLT)
Get that? The City has no need for the sun or moon, because in His Presence there is always light!
The verse says their Gates will not close AT THE END OF THE DAY, because there is no night in the City! But God clearly shows times, seasons...And even the eternal presence of the sun, moon and stars to be seen and used by the rest of the earth!
Isaiah 66:22-23 (NKJV)
Psalm 89:35-37 (NKJV)
Psalm 72:17 (NKJV)
Looks like God is saying His moon and sun are as eternal as His Name! Remember, the night and day were part of the original Creation, and considered "very good!" The sun, moon and stars are, after all, a major and magnificent part of God's Creation! Only seen in their splendor at night!
I for one, would be saddened a bit to think of no more awesome nights staring at the Creation above! Nonsense!
I Can Only Imagine... So I Will!! Every word in Scripture is there for a reason!!! What reason do you think He gave us such descriptions of Heaven and the New Jerusalem?! So we could see just how great His love for us really is...So we could get just a small taste of the effort, and splendor God has put into this world for our indulgence!! So we could see the magnitude of His creativity and power and beauty! (Yes, I DO believe God made it all for US!) HE REVEALED THIS... SO WE WOULD THINK ABOUT, IMAGINE, ANTICIPATE THE JOY AHEAD! The song by Mercy Me, says "I can only imagine what it will be like..." And that is exactly what we should be doing!!!
I challenge each of you to begin recalling these things, dwelling on them occasionally... And anticipating with eagerness, not dread! When light passes through a clear crystal or diamond, what does it do? Refracts and disperses in a brilliant rainbow!!! So imagine a crystal 1400 X 1400 miles... 200 feet thick... With the Greatest Source of Light known shining through!!!!! The entire structure of the New Jerusalem has been magnificently designed to let Jesus Christ's Presence shine unimaginably!!!!!!
What an Architect!!!! So, the next time you look into the sky on a starry night...Imagine looking towards the crystal walls of the City in the night... With brilliant rainbows flashing through as far as the eye can see up, or in either direction!!! Imagine the view from thousands of miles away in the night sky! The next time you cross the dirty old Kanawha River...Imagine walking over a bridge in the City...And looking into crystal clear, sparkling waters...Knowing they come directly from His Throne!
And then, I challenge you to do one more thing to anticipate and imagine what Christ has in store for us...Have you ever established a memory peg in your mind to tie you to a future, anticipated time... To help you through hard times? In basic training, each day I would find an anchor to come back to...Have told others, "When you get through this, we will talk about it over dinner at..."
JESUS DID THIS VERY THING FOR US with Communion...
Matthew 26:29 (NKJV)
Well, I got so excited studying this lesson that I laid in bed for ever just thinking about all of these things...And as crazy as it sounds, I established a "memory peg" for Heaven! Of all I have read about the New Jerusalem, those Walls of Crystal Jasper just won't leave my mind!!!! And I asked Christ if He would meet me at the 200ft thick Wall of Jasper, with my family... And place His Hand over mine against that Wall when I get there as a celebration moment together!!! Crazy? Maybe...Think it is arrogant? Think He doesn't have time? We have eternity... And I am His Blood-Bought Child!
I personally think it is honoring and loving to hope for and anticipate such a moment! Don't we do the same thing with loved ones here, which we long to be with?! He died to bring this to us... Imagine your time with Him in the City soon!
When I stand before Your
in glory not my own,
What a joy I'll of on that day...
No more tears or broken dreams,
Forgotten is the minor key,
Everything as it was meant to be...
I will see You as You are,
Love You with unsinning heart,
And see how much You paid to bring me home...
Not till then, Lord, shall I know,
Not till then, how much I owe,
Everything I am before Your throne...
No more tears, no more shame,
No more sin and sorrow ever known again...
No more fears, no more pain,
We will see You face to face...
And we will worship,
Forever in Your presence we will sing...
We will worship,
An endless hallelujah to the King!
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