Well, today we will be concluding our series on the Book of Revelation entitled “The Revelation.” And I expect that you have learned things through this study that have imparted spiritual blessings to you! It has certainly ministered to me as we have focused on all the positive, good things that are found in this, the final Book of the Bible, and not on all the bad, confusing things.
So, let’s quickly review what we have covered thus far:
So, as promised, today we will pick up in the final two chapters of this final Book of the Bible. And church, I want to let you know that what we will see today is God’s heart and the culmination of His will for His creation: It is to make all things new again!
Interestingly enough, when you read Revelation chapter 21 & 22, you see God essentially restoring what He created in Genesis chapters 1 & 2. In other words, He will recreate in the end what He created in the beginning. No, it will not look completely the same, having the name Eden, but it will be paradise restored, nonetheless. Glory to God!
But like the fact that these two chapters describe God restoring what He created in the beginning, as we look at these last two chapters that describe our hope as Christians, many of us will likely see that we haven’t clearly seen what our hope entails. In other words, we are going to see some things about the end of this world as we know it, and about the new one to come, that we might not have completely understood correctly. So, open up your heart and mind to believe what we will read today instead of only reading what we believe. Amen?
HOW OLD THINGS WILL PASS AWAY
Now we begin in Revelation 21:1 where the apostle John said, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.”
Now this is something that requires some explanation because I feel there are a lot of Christians that have not heard or understood what will ultimately take place with the heavens & earth at the end. I believe the apostle Peter sums it up best in his second epistle. Let’s look at it …
Peter begins by addressing the problems that scoffers either were or would be making, questioning the promise of Jesus’ Second Coming. Then he says in Second Peter 3:5-7 – “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
So, Peter compares how the heavens and the earth, which were created by the Word of God and were eventually flooded in the days of Noah, are being reserved now in our generation, not for water, but for fire.
You see, this is why we need to read our Bibles and believe what we are reading. Why? It’s because the world would have you believe that “mother earth” is in danger through things like global warming, etc. No, we don’t have to worry about global warming; the world ought to be worrying about global melting because that’s what the Bible tells us is going destroy this planet.
Peter goes on to explain this further in verse 10 – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
So, the Day of the Lord—that Day when Jesus returns—will come unexpectantly like a thief in the night. It won’t be something we will see coming through a telescope and will be able to get ready for. No, this passing away of the heavens will sneak up on us unexpectantly—and as Peter says, “with a great noise.” So, we don’t need to have a big bang theory. You know what a theory is, right? I like Brother Hagin’s definition— “A theory is a supposition based on the ignorance of the subject under discussion.” No, the difference is this great noise isn’t what will create all things, but what will destroy all things. Then Peter says that the elements (that is, all physical things from the atom to Adam) will melt with fervent heat to where the earth and all that is within it will burn up.
Church, this is what will most assuredly take place in the end. So, knowing this, what should our response be? Should we be dreading that day? NO! Peter goes on to say that it should simply change our conduct—to where we are living holy and godly lives (See verse 11). Then we are “looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of the Lord” (See verse 12). Yes, as he says in verse 13 in light of this “global meltdown”— “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” And not just look for it, but look forward to it, according to verse 14.
Church, this is indeed a Day we are to look forward to! It has been prophesied over and over of a new heavens and new earth where peace will be experienced, no more death, no more killing. Only paradise and promise will be experienced in those days!
THE HOPE OF HEAVEN ON EARTH
But here is another major misunderstanding in the Body of Christ: Where believers go when they leave their body now is not their permanent habitation. Yeah, that’s right, heaven is not our eternal home; heaven will invade earth in that Day and that is where we will make our eternal habitation, ruling and reigning with Christ on the new earth! Amen!
Let me illustrate it to you so you can be sure to understand it— One of our longtime members, Barb Scott, will be moving to Pennsylvania at the end of November and she will be traveling by air. Well, suppose her flight includes a short layover in Cincinnati, Ohio. That is a lot like what the heaven we now go to is like. It’s a lot like that layover in Cincinnati while our permanent destination is in Pennsylvania—that symbolizing the new earth that will be created in that Day. Now, of course, Pennsylvania is a far cry from paradise. Perhaps I should have used the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, or something like that. But the point is that the layover city is different than the destination city. However, the intermediate heaven and heaven on earth will not be much different as far as I know. They will both be grand and glorious and worth looking forward to!
But one thing John made sure to describe to us about what he saw is the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven to the earth (See Revelation 21:2). He described this city as a bride prepared for her husband. So, I don’t know if the wedding march will be being played when the holy city is coming down from heaven to the new earth, but what I can guarantee you is that the full measure of the same joy and excitement a husband experiences when he sees his bride coming down the aisle is going to be experienced in believers when they see the New Jerusalem descending to the earth. Hallelujah!
Then in verses 3-8, John heard a loud voice describing several characteristics of this new heavenly Jerusalem that will reign over the new heavens and the new earth:
The first thing we are told is that the tabernacle of God would now be with men and He would dwell with them. Again, God’s original and eternal plan is to come down and make His home with us! He did it in the Garden of Eden when He would come down and fellowship with man in the cool of the day, and He will do it again when Paradise is reestablished in the Millennium. This is God’s perfect will—to abide with us forever! This is undisputedly the greatest benefit of heaven being brought to the earth.
Verse 4 goes on to say that He will wipe away every tear, that there shall be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain, because the former things have passed away. How awesome is that going to be!?! All of these things that were brought on by the curse of sin will die—that is, they will not be a part of this new everlasting kingdom. Glory!
Then in verse 5, John sees where God said, “Behold, I make all things new.” This is what the Lord did for us through Jesus as it pertains to our salvation, and it is what He will ultimately do with His creation and for His creation. Amen.
For example, in Second Corinthians 5:17— “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” That sounds an awful lot like what God said He would do with His original creation, doesn’t it? Yes, all of the old things (that is, the heavens and the earth that He created in the beginning) will pass away, and yes, all these things will become new! That’s the new heavens and the new earth—where righteousness dwells!
But the fact is, this process started in each of us the day we got saved: The old creation we were born into through the transgression of Adam passed away on the day we received Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. At that moment, you and I became a new creation where Jesus made all things new in our spirit. This left us in the position to hope in the same transformation to take place in our outward man that took place in our inward man. And this will be experienced around the same time that God makes all things new on this earth! Amen.
Then, in verses 6-8, we see the Lord saying, “It is done!” Again, similar to what Jesus said when He hung on the Cross— “It is finished”—when this process of restoration and redemption began. So, we can now see that it is finished and it is done! Amen.
THE NEW JERUSALEM AND OTHER CITIES
Now in the rest of Revelation chapter 21, we have this New Jerusalem described in glorious detail. And because we see John spend some nineteen verses describing what this city will look like, we need to know that this is a big part of what we have to look forward to. So, let’s look at a couple of distinguishing characteristics of this city that is to come …
The dimension laid out to us in Revelation 21:15-16 equates to it being 1,400 miles in length, width, and height! This would stretch north and south from Canada to Mexico, and east and west from Macon, GA to Colorado Springs. If each story were a generous 12 feet high, this would give it 600,000 stories! That means that it could be anywhere from 600,000 – 1,200,000 stories, depending on the height of each story. (See illustration).
Now a building’s greatest strength is its foundation, and the New Jerusalem was said to have not one foundation, but twelve, each decorated with a different gem (See Revelation 21:14, 19-20). John names twelve stones, eight of which correspond to the stones of the high priest’s breast-piece (See Exodus 28:17-20). Church, whatever God builds will last! (See Hebrews 11:8-10).
Then, in verses 22-27, we see the glory of this New Jerusalem—that there will be no temple in this Jerusalem because the Father and Son will be its temple, there will be no need for the sun and moon there to illuminate it because the Lamb is its light, and the city’s gates will always remain open.
Now as we move on to Revelation chapter 22, we see where John was shown a pure river (clear as crystal) of the water of life that proceeded from the throne of God. He saw the tree of life there. And then in verse 3 we see something that should excite us— “no more curse.” Glory! And in verse 5 we see that we shall reign with the Lamb forever and ever!
You see, this concept of reigning with Christ is another thing not understood by many. Sure, we see Jesus as coming to reign, Him being the King of kings. But who are the kings He is king of? We are! He is the firstfruit of many brethren—so we, as sons of God, are meant to rule with Him. Yes, rule over sin, the curse, and death now in this life, but over the New Earth that will be created. Amen!
Jesus taught us things that lead us to presume that many other cities will be on the New Earth—not just the New Jerusalem. We get this through Jesus’ stewardship parable, the Parable of the Minas, where He indicates we will be given cities to rule over as we faithfully steward what He’s given us in this life (see Luke 19:11-27). It is for this reason that I believe the New Earth will contain many different cities just like we have now. There will be the capital city of the New Jerusalem, but other cities given to His faithful servants to reign over in His stead.
THE HOPE OF THE REVELATION
Now, in conclusion, I want us to end this series with the resounding message we see at the end of this Book. Again, it is not bad news, but rather good news! Let me say it this way— The Book of Revelation is a revelation of the culmination of the gospel! As a matter of fact, the Revelation of Jesus Christ is the terminology used to describe His Second Coming in other Scriptures (See First Corinthians 1:7-8 & First Peter 1:7). Therefore, the Book we call “Revelation” is ultimately a prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ at His Return. This is evidenced in Revelation chapter 22 …
In this—the last chapter of the Bible itself—Jesus repeats that He is coming quickly three times! (See verses 7, 12, 20) In fact, the very last admonition given to us by Jesus is— “Surely I am coming quickly.” So, this must be an extremely important truth for us to understand if the Lord wraps up the Holy Scriptures by giving us this admonition. Then, to establish its importance further, He repeated it three times (for in the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established). Therefore, we ought to pay close attention to these final words of Jesus by taking an in depth look at them…
In Revelation 22, Jesus said twice “Behold I am coming quickly” (vs.7&12). The word “behold” renders, “stop, look, and listen.” It is a word used to make the hearers stop and pay attention to what is to follow. When I was in elementary school, I had a physical education teacher who would use this phrase— “Stop, look, and listen” –repeatedly to get our attention. He would say this to make us quit our goofing off, calm down, and pay attention to what he was about to say. Likewise, Jesus used this word to get us to quit messing around in worldly, carnal things and to become sober and vigilant concerning the truth that was in His following statement.
In verse 20, Jesus used the word “Surely.” You know, Jesus oftentimes, during His earthly ministry, would preface some of His statements with the words, “verily, verily.” This meant that what He was about to say was absolutely true, certain, and sure. Likewise, here in Revelation when He said “surely” He was saying the same thing— “This is absolutely true, certain, and sure.” So, what is it that He wants us to heed and pay attention to and also to be certain and convinced of? It is that He is coming quickly!
Now when we see the word “quickly” we could think something like— “Now if He said He was coming quickly a little less than 2,000 years ago was He telling the truth?” This is what the apostle Peter was saying in Second Peter 3:3-13 when he said that in the last days scoffers will come saying things like— “Where is the promise of His coming because things haven’t changed in so long?” Peter then points us back to understanding how God’s time operates in verse 8. He says, “… do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” So, you see, God does not have the same timetable as we do. In His mind, since the time Jesus was resurrected, it hasn’t even been two days yet. But one thing is for sure… that we are closer than we ever have been before and, therefore, we need to “watch” (i.e. to stay awake and alert spiritually) because He is coming quickly.
Now I understand that people think they already know this. Sure, we’ve all heard that Jesus is coming back. But that doesn’t mean we truly know it.
I remembered hearing of a man’s experience of being taken to heaven and meeting Jesus. He said that Jesus told him to go back and tell people that He is coming. This man thought, “They already know that,” and Jesus, of course, knowing his thoughts, said to him, “No, they don’t! They don’t know that! Go and tell them!”
Church, let’s not let it be said of us that we don’t know that Jesus is coming back! Let’s let this truth impact our hearts to where we will live our lives accordingly! Behold, He is coming again quickly to make all things new! Be ready and watch! Amen.
THE PARABLE OF THE KING AND THE WIDOW
Now let me conclude this series by turning back to Revelation 22 and taking a look at the attitude that John described as saturating the church of the Lord Jesus Christ…
In verse 17, he says, “And the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’…” and in verse 20 he wraps up his Revelation by saying— “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” I hope you can hear the earnest, heartfelt desire in Christ’s bride pleading for Him to “Come!” In these words, I hear a desperate bride who longs for her husband who is in a distant land to come back to her that they may be together forever. This is exactly the attitude the church should have today concerning Christ’s return.
Let me paint this picture in a parable. I’ll call this the Parable of the King and the widow …
There once was an extremely poor widow woman who had been sold into slavery. Her situation was hopeless, and death seemed to be her only destiny. Then an extremely wealthy king looked from afar and spotted her. His heart was moved with compassion and he decided to do something about her poverty and bondage. So, he traveled a great distance to come to her rescue. When he arrived, he sold all that He had in order to redeem her from certain death and to purchase her freedom. Moreover, he even took her to be his bride! She marveled at the amazing grace that he extended towards her! Not only had he delivered her from certain death, but he also offered her an abundant life in his kingdom. She had never known love like this before! Her obvious response was that she fell in love with her redeemer and fiancé.
Then the time came for Him to return to His kingdom and He had to leave her behind because it was not time for her to return with Him. He did not want to leave her comfortless, so he sent her a helper to help take care of her while He would be away. On top of that, he sent her many letters that expressed his love for her and contained his promise that he would again return to her. Although she was left in the same environment that He found her in, she now had His help and the hope of his promise to come again one day and take her back with Him so that where he was she would be also.
She always kept this hope before her—anticipating Him to come back to her at any moment. She would read the love letters that He left for her in order to bring herself comfort and hope, yet she, along with the helper he had sent to her, would groan—earnestly desiring the King to return to them. In her longing, the Bride would cry out— “O, Lord, Come!”
You see, this beautifully explains what the heart-cry of every believer should be. Because of our love for the Lord, our hearts should be desirous to see Him. We should actually long for His return!
Church, this is the summarization of this, the Revelation of Jesus Christ—it is a promise that our King will return again, and He is bringing His kingdom with Him. All of us who serve Him now, will reign with Him then.
This is our hope! It is that the curse will die! His kingdom will come! A new heaven and a new earth will be created with a new capital city, the New Jerusalem. The Lord will dwell with us and there will be no more tears, only blessing! And we will enjoy what God intended in the beginning—heaven on earth. Even so, Come Lord Jesus, Come!