If you have a destination you plan to attend, it is best to gather information that will help you understand how to get around the area. You will want to know who to see, where to go, what life is like there.
Can you imagine astronauts at NASA preparing for several years to travel on mission to Mars. After a period of extensive training, the launch date finally arrives. As the rocket lifts off, one of your fellow astronauts says, “What do you know about Mars?” Can you imagine shrugging your shoulders with ignorance? Unthinkable isn’t it?
My family recently had the privilege to travel and experience Disney World in Orlando, FL. My wife, along with her sister and their mother planned for over a year the details of the trip, the itinerary of daily activities – where we stayed, what activities we’d do each day (even to each hour), where we would eat and more.
illus Job travel
If your job causes you to travel to various cities or even countries, then you no doubt will research the best hotel to stay in and places to eat or shop.
Whether you travel to a destination for your job, personal vacations, mission trips, it is to your benefit to know as much as possible about such location.
Likewise, as believers it is to our benefit to know and understand about our eternal home in Heaven. The more we learn about it the more we will love it; and the more we love Heaven will be the more we have our hope fixed on what is eternal rather than what is temporary.
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, said: “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
Christians today are lacking influence in today’s world because we do not understand Heaven and the kingdom of God. We fail to realize that what we do on this world will echo in eternity (Gladiator). Our lives are making investments into the future and rather than viewing Heaven as an eternal bank account we see it as a boat on the lazy river or a luxury resort destination. We have flipped the ultimate life question from “What can I do to glorify God” to “How will God gratify me?” Therefore, churches and Christianity are filled with consumers or spectators rather than contributors and participants.
EXAMINE Revelation 21-22 Heaven’s Homecoming
The book of Revelation is a book of mystery and majesty. A quick outline
- Jesus is Champion. He’s the Risen (dead, now alive) Savior, King of kings and Lord of Lords. Rev 1
- Jesus is Coming. He’s coming visibly for every eye to see and unexpectedly to gather believers.
@wedding… it’s the kissing of the bride.
Rev 19:7 “for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come and his Bride has made herself ready”
- Jesus will Conquer a millennium reign where at the end there will be the battle of Armageddon and Jesus will conquer all evil with every unbeliever experiencing a “great white throne judgment,” including satan (Rev 20:11).
- Jesus will Commence the new heaven and the new earth (Rev 21-22).
Today I want to overview the final 2 chapters of Revelation to celebrate the hope of Heaven’s homecoming.
The Christian’s hope is in God’s promise of restoration (Revelation 21:1-7)… with four realities.
God is restoring beauty (Rev 21:1-2)
The book of Genesis tells the creation story. God took great care to create, spending 4 days creating the earth along with one day animals and another day humanity. Adam & Eve enjoyed the greatness of walking with God in the Garden of Eden for untold amounts of time. At some point, humanity sinned (Genesis 3), and God’s creation began a process of decaying and dying. While the book of Genesis tells the story of Paradise lost, the book of Revelation tells the story of Paradise restored. The entire Bible is God’s story of working to reverse the curse; reconciling humanity to Himself and redeeming the earth.
Acts 3:21 “He (Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”
John sees a “new (καινός; new in quality not chronology) heaven and new (καινός) earth… the holy city coming down prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” This is the place that Jesus has been preparing (John 14:3). Since God is a God of creative beauty and goodness (Genesis 1 “and it was good”), there is no doubt the past two-millennia in God’s eternal mind, that He will produce an even more beautiful creation. God’s redemption is for more than humans and includes the skies & seas – removing smog and pollution, restoring plants & other organisms, and renewing all life.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in pains of childbirth until now” – awaiting this final resurrection (Romans 8:22).
Restoration is not making something different but remaking what already exists. Jesus’s resurrection was a glimpse of restoration with a new body where people recognized him, he ate food, but he didn’t have the same limitations of location boundaries (enters a locked room; travels quickly; ascends into heaven and one day will return to earth; never dies again). The resurrection of Jesus is just a glimpse of greatness to come.
The best things we love in this life are simply a brief preview of the greater things to come.
- God does not frown when we enjoy good food… imagine a restored pb & choc with increased intensity of taste buds… or imagine that eating several of them won’t make you gain weight… or that vegetables actually taste good!
- God isn’t perplexed when we find joy in relationships; He made us that way.
- God doesn’t grumble when we enjoy great games of football or any other sport.
- God’s nature is filled with perfection, favor, blessing and hope. Once we view God in terms of how the Bible speaks about Him and reveals about Heaven then we can stop chasing contentment in the world and start pursuing happiness in things that will last for eternity.What is it that you need to STOP and START??
Colossians 3:1-4 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
God is restoring our bodies (Rev 21:3)
John hears a voice saying the “dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people.” Jesus’s resurrection gives us the hope and promise to crush and clear away the sting of death. God will remove the veil of separation between heaven and earth for believers, so there will be a glorious reunion. For the Christian, death is merely a doorway before becoming clothed in a heavenly body and being able to see Jesus and all our loved ones.
1Corinthians 15:53, 55 “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable and this mortal body must put on immortality… Death is swallowed up in victory, where is your victory and sting?”
Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
Isaiah 25:7; 49:22 “[God] will swallow up the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations… Behold… they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders”
Rev 1:18 “I was dead, I am alive forevermore.”
- If faith in Christ grants family in heaven, shouldn’t that be your focused investment on earth? #WhosYour1
- Heaven is for sinners who have repented of sin and refocused their life according to God’s word.
Hell is for sinners who never surrender to Jesus.
Revelation 21:8 “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
God is restoring the broken (Rev 21:4-6)
John says, “he will wipe away (ἐξαλείφω exalifo; erase entirely or to obliterate) every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new. Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
The entire curse of sin is removed so that sin’s debt is paid, satan is destroyed, pain is massaged (scars now tell a story of redemption), shame and fear are overcome so that we can rest and revel in the presence of God. We will feast from the tree of life (cf Rev 22:2 the tree of knowledge of good and evil is absent bc its been defeated) and it will bring constant healing (θεραπεία) to the profound brokenness we previously experienced.
No tears = no sadness, stress, uncertainty, doubts, depression, heartache or heart-break. regrets, fear
No death = no cancer or incurable diseases, no hospitals, homicides, funeral homes
No mourning = no grief from cancer, disease, dementia, physical or mental illness, no suicide, no injustice, etc.
No Pain = no aching parts, no injuries or accidents, doctor visits, shots, wheel chairs, nursing homes, no more slow drivers in the left lane, no more bills & debt payments, no more long sermons… the pain is gone.
God’s restoration of brokenness is not that our memories will be erased, but that our perspectives will be newly educated and elevated with the Author of life from beginning to end. The brokenness of earth will become the building materials of heaven. We will understand life’s circumstances from God’s perspective and see purpose to make us become whom He created us in Christ Jesus.
- Think of/write the weight on your mind and worries of your heart and make today the moment you begin to trust God has a purpose and remember that the hands that writhed in pain on a cross will be the same hands to lovingly wipe away all your tears.
God is restoring the bride (Rev 22:4, 12—14, 16-17).
John’s vision is climaxed with the promised return of Jesus. The Savior promises to come soon and bring his reward for all those who have washed their robes and have the right to the tree of life.
The second coming of Jesus is promised 2.5x more than the first coming of Jesus.
- Jesus warned the disciples to be ready for His return is coming unexpectedly (Mt 24:27-51, 25:13; Lk 12:35-40).
- Angels promise Jesus’ return at His ascension (Acts 1:11)
- Apostles promise Jesus’ return
PAUL – 1Thess 4:16 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
PETER – 2Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief , and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
JOHN – 1John 3:2 “we know that when he appears we will be like him”
HEBREWS – 9:28 “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
as well as other Scriptures speaking to the imminence of the second coming (Titus 2:13; 1Thess 5:6).
Many future signs Jesus predicted to happen before His coming have occurred or seems near in process; except the galactic events of the sun & moon darkening and with the stars falling from the sky (Matt 24:29-31). Yet, if you watch news from NASA that these sort of meteorological phenomenon are bound to happen and can happen quickly.
The blessings for the church are
- matchless mercy and generous grace to fully forgive all sin (22:14).
- escape from eternal judgment (22:15)
- affirmation from Jesus (22:12, 16)
- “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21)
- 1 Cor. 9:25 (imperishable crown); 1 Thess. 2:19 (crown of ministry joy); 2 Tim. 4:8 (crown of righteousness); James 1:12 (crown of life); 1 Pet. 5:4 (unfading crown of glory)
- perhaps these crowns are rewards for future responsibility and capacity to glorify God (Matt 25:14-30)
The church is the priority of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus walks among (and not just over) the lampstands (Rev 1:21).
- Jesus gives letters to the churches of instruction and correction (Rev 2-3).
- Jesus ransomed with his blood, people from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev 5:9)
- Jesus listens to the prayers of the saints (Rev 6:10).
- Jesus engraves a name on our foreheads that seals us forever as belonging to Him (Rev 2:17; 22:4).
- Move from casual to commitment in church, and becoming catalysts for God’s kingdom in reaching others with the gospel…
- Today is one day closer to heaven…
- God is restoring beauty.
- God is restoring our bodies.
- God is restoring the broken.
- God is restoring the bride.
- When John finishes writing Revelation, what does He do with his time?
- He lives on Patmos on account of the word of God, and gathers with believers on the Lord’s day. (Rev 1)
- John (Scripture) uses two words for time
- Chronos – measured with clocks and calendars
- Kairos – measured with moments; falling in love, leaping in faith
- The coming of Jesus Christ has a chronos that we know not, but there is a kairos of God’s presence that must be experienced daily. He is, was, and is to come. Don’t miss Him.
- Believers who have the hope of heaven should do all they can to bring that same hope to the hopeless. We must inspire others to the splendor of Heaven as much as warn about the suffering of hell.