28.2 Revelation – A gift for us

Our questions today regard heaven in the “then and there” sense.  Without doubt, heaven will be an amazing place, something unparalleled in all of current creation.

But, stepping back from all of that we realize it is even more amazing.  We first need to remember that God created both heaven and earth, both the old heaven and earth and the new heaven and earth of Revelation 21.  Secondly, we need to remember that God is eternal.  By being eternal God has no beginning and no end, stretching forever in both directions.  That means God existed before creation, before there was an earth and before their was a heaven.  Not only did God exist, but by the definition of eternity, He existed for an eternity before creation.

Where I am going with this mind-blowing thought is that heaven does not exist for God.  God lived for an eternity before their was a heaven.  He does not need a place as we do.  He does not need a physical home.

So, then, where is there a heaven?  Why is there a physical home?  The answer is for us.  All of creation, both old and new, is a gift God created for us.  The beauty and splendor we see in the views of heaven throughout scripture are not simply views of something that was designed for God, but something that God designed to live with us.

This is true of all creation on heaven and earth.  We tend to think of amazingly wonderful places as places that exist and that we see and are awestruck.  But, the fact is that the reason they exist is not an accident, it is not because God needed a mountain here or a valley there or a sea or beach or planet system or galaxy or anything else.  They exist for you and me to be able to see, to be able to experience, to be able to be amazed at the wonder of God’s creation – because God chose to bless us with them.

 

My Answers:

3.
I see fully being in the presence of God.  There is beauty all around, but the beauty pales in comparison to the majesty of the most sovereign.  I feel peace and joy, a joy that surpasses anything on earth.  There is no worry or pain, no sorrow or fear, no greed or lust.  Things simply fit.  There is perfect harmony.  On earth heaven is often portrayed as a bunch of people milling around aimlessly and mindlessly in white robes doing work for a slave master.  Of course this isn’t accurate, it is not heaven.

4.
J14: It is a physical place, many rooms, with a place specifically prepared for me.  I’m a guest, a loved one, someone wanted and appreciated.  I am going with Jesus at the invitation of Jesus God Savior King

1Cor: there is a fullness in heaven, in body in spirit, that is unknown on the earth.  Today we see only shadows, only reflections, only hints, but the real thing will be right in front of us and with us

Rev21:It is a Holy place, a big place, a new heaven and a new earth and on it a city, dressed as a bride for her husband, perfect and beautiful, no more tears, death, mourning, crying or pain because sin and all its tendrils are gone, all is made new.

28.2 Revelation – A gift for us

27.5 Revelation – Patiently Restored

I’ll confess, I struggle with God’s timing.  I pray and I patiently wait for God to answer prayer, through guidance, through direction, through provision, through an open or closed door.  And, I wait very patiently for about 20 minutes.  Sometimes I can stay patient for a day, sometimes even a couple of days. Waiting is hard.

Yet, as I confess and whine about how hard it is to wait on God’s timing, I’m struck by God’s patience revealed in Revelation 21.

At the fall of mankind, at the first sin of Adam and Eve, and actually before Adam and Eve were even created because of God’s omniscience, God knew exactly how He would restore the relationship.

God had created mankind in His image to live in harmony and communion with Him.  Through sin and disobedience we rejected God.  If Adam and Eve, or any descendants, had been allowed to earth from the tree of life, they would not have died, meaning they would have lived in a state of eternal separation.  Without death, there could be no repayment of the original gift of God (life), which Adam and Eve had rejected.  Without repayment, there could be no fairness or justice.  Without fairness and justice, God would not be God.

But keep in mind that God is totally in control.  He could have prevented the sin in the first place.  He could have immediately sent Jesus, died, resurrected, defeated death, banished satan and  produced Creation 2.0.  But He waited.

God has waited patiently for thousands of years.  God’s waiting has allowed you and I to have life.  God’s waiting has multiplied and magnified the body of faithful followers.  God continues to wait until every last human who would ever be born who would have chosen to accept the gift of grace and faith and mercy would be born and make that choice.

And that time of waiting, those thousands of years of the history of mankind and of all creation, in the timeline of eternity, is less than the blink of God’s eye.  The next time I’m impatient and whining about waiting on God’s timing, I need to remember this and blink and take to heart the admonishment of Jesus in Matthew 28:6 to the apostles on the boat in a storm (a good description of what my life feels like sometimes), “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

My Answers:

12.
the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal.  John 7:27-28, rev 21:6 To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

13.
a.
Because of Sin, separated from God, but if  ate of the tree of life then wouldn’t die and no restorative payment by death

b.
perfect communion with God in perfect peace and without sin – paradise

14.
Heaven

27.5 Revelation – Patiently Restored

27.4 Revelation – Communion

The original and future relationship of God and man is perfect communion.  In the garden of Eden, God and man lived together, walked, talked.  In the New Heaven and New Earth this will come again.  Today in our churches we participate in communion, as directed by Jesus at the last supper.

But what is communion?  What does the word mean?

The english word we use comes from a Latin root that commonly is thought of as joined together.  Augustine referred to it as com (with) – unus (together, unity).

But the greek word that is translated to communion in the bible is actually much simpler.  The greek word simply means sharing.

When the apostles and the early church came together break bread, there wasn’t a mine and yours, there was open sharing.  Everything belonged to everyone, if only for a meal or a day.  No one was “taking away from” someone else, since all was freely given and open to all.  There were not givers and takers, haves and have notes, there was just sharing.

This is the relationship that God invites us in to.  Think about that for a moment.  This is the relationship that the creator of us and of everything invites us into.  A relationship of continuous and forever sharing.  There is no guilt or bartering, no taking or wanting, no cost, no payback, no debt.  There is simply open continuous forever sharing.

This is the same relationship that God has as the trinity, the Father, the Son, The Holy Spirit, three in one, full, complete and open sharing of love and of everything.  This is the relationship that God originally had with and for man and it is the relationship we will again have one day.

(for a good discussion on communion see: http://web.stanford.edu/group/religiouslife/docs/sermons/2003/sermon_09-14-2003_McLennan.pdf)

My Answers:

9.
a temple, the sun, or moon, to close the gates

10.
a.
1K: Continuation of tabernacle, God’s temple, His glory filled, a place for the covenant of the Lord
J: Jesus’ body is the temple of the Lord (the place where He lives), raised up again in 3 days
1C: Our bodies are the temple of the H/S, who is in us, not our own, but of God

b.
Ex: by day, God went ahead in a pillar of cloud, by night in pillar of fire to give them light
Ps: God’s word is a lamp for our feet, a light to my path
J: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows will never walk in darkness, always light”

11.
a.
In the new heaven and earth we will always be in the presence of God, always open to be with Him and He, like light, will be w/us

b.
God is and always has been present, but in different manifestations.  None or more or less God, but some are more physical and visible than others.  But God is always visible in His creation and He is always real and accessible to us through prayer and His word.

27.4 Revelation – Communion

27.3 Revelation – Built by God

There is one God and one new Holy City.  There is one dwelling place where those chosen and called will live in daily communion with God.  There is a New Heaven and a New Earth, but no separation between them.

Creation is new again, but God and believers come forward into the new existence. There is not a new God, God is God, unchanging and eternal.  The God of the tribes of Israel is the God of the apostles.  The God of the old testament is the God of the new and the yet to come.  Man is born again, in new bodies, free of sin and pain and tears.

But mankind has no dowry for the wedding day.  Mankind has nothing old, for all the old is gone.  Mankind has no possessions or deeds, because all have been judged and burned away.

But Christ, as the groom has beautifully ordained and dressed His bride.  As we read through the size and magnitude of the city.  As we view the beautify of the jewels, the emerald, the ruby, the sapphire, amethyst, pearls and gold.  As we see the names on the gates and on the walls, we need to remember one important thing:  All of these are from God, not for God.  The new Holy city is not built by human hands, it is built by God and descends from heaven.  These are not things that God owns, to show off to others or to display His wealth.  These are not things made valuable because of scarcity.  These are things presented simply because they are beautiful and simply for the joy of the bride.

One thing that is interesting to keep in mind is that, in the dark, these are simply rocks.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They are no greater or less than any other rock made by God.  But in the light the reflect the light in beautiful brilliant ways.  They reflect a rainbow of colors.  They reflect shine and depth, they reflect the love of God, the presence of the Lamb.

My Answers:

6.
a.
Jasper Sapphire Agate Emerald Onyx Ruby Chrysolite Beryl Topaz Turquoise Jacinth Amethyst Pearls Gold

b.
Old and New Testaments – No kingdom or castle on earth has ever compared – gold is nothing but paving stones, but all creations

7.
12. On the gates were written the 12 tribes of Israel
14. The wall of the city had 12 foundations, and on them were the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb

8.
a.
Glory: shone, brilliance, precious, clear as crystal, great, gem covered
Security: walls thick and of stone (precious), gates, wide and high as it is long (cube)
Perfect: dimensions are perfect, jewels are perfect, Gold is transparent as glass,

b.
It is real and measurable.  It has substance and beauty, it is sufficient as a city

c.
The beauty – it is not necessary, but it is right.

27.3 Revelation – Built by God

27.2 Revelation – Bride

In Revelation 21:9, an angel, one of the seven angels with the seven bowls of the seven last plagues told John, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  He then takes John, “in the Spirit” and shows him the Holy City, Jerusalem.

We know that the church is the bride of Christ, the Lamb of God, so how is this city also the bride?

The designation of the bride of the Lamb is not in the identity or person of the individual but in the relationship with Christ.  These are represented both in the image of the bride and the dwelling place of the bride and groom.  Let me phrase that another way.  In the same way a husband and wife may own a house, but their relationship creates a home, the bride and groom are not simply individuals but the manifestation of the committed relationship they share.

The discussion of the bride is a beautiful analogy throughout Revelation.  In 18:23, the final judgment of Babylon was given and, in that judgment, the voice, the presence of both the bride and groom were permanently removed from the city.  No more Jesus, no more church, just doom and destruction (note: I know that doesn’t sound beautiful, but look at the fact that Jesus completely rescues His bride from the enslavement of this wicked city, never to return).  In 19:7, there is a call to rejoice because the bride of the Lamb has made herself ready.  In 21:2, we are introduced to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed. (This refers back to Isaiah 61:10, “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”) and in Revelation 21:9 we are shown the bride from a different vantage point, a high mountain.

This imagery of bride and groom to explain the relationship helps us understand the depth of the commitment that Jesus makes with us.  The two shall be as one, joined together, til death they won’t part and since there is no more death, it is an eternal commitment.  Jesus will live with His people, in His people and His people will live in Him.  The two that were separated by sin, will be separate no more, but shall be one, for all eternity.  The rebellious roaring lion of sinful humanity will lie down with the lamb, at peace.

This is in such stark contrast to the relationship of the woman and the beast.  This is the image of mankind in a relationship with wickedness and evil.  This is the collective of those who reject Christ, the “anti-church”, the non-believers.  This woman is degraded, calling herself the mother of prostitutes and abominations.  She is profane and drunk.  Instead of being honored by her husband, the beast, whom she believes she controls, she commits adultery and is used by the kings and the beast.  Instead of being loved and cherished, she is hated and killed and consumed.

None of us leave this life alone.   Our time on earth is for us to choose our relationship, with Jesus or against Jesus.  There is no undecided or agnostic.  A failure to choose is, in itself, a relationship choice.  There are only 2 relationships available, which relationship do you desire?

 

My Answers:

3.
Angel said: I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb and he carried me and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem

4.
a.
1. behind me: loud trumpet voice: write and send to the 7 churches – purpose
4. before me: throne of heaven with someone sitting on it – author
3. wilderness: woman sitting on a scarlet beast covered with blasphemous names – evil
9-10: to mountain great and high: see a holy city, Jerusalem, the bride, the wife of the Lamb

b.
prostitute vs bride, the drunk on blood blasphemous adulterer vs the bride made pure and dressed in white by her husband, the one consumed by the beast vs the one honored and loved by the lamb

5.
Any temptation of today pales in comparison – gold is simply paving stones

27.2 Revelation – Bride

26.5 Revelation – Completely Saved without Separation

I loved the question in our study today of the three completions of God.  We have the completion of creation in Genesis.  We have the completion of the payment of redemption by Jesus on the cross and we have the completion of the death of the old creation and the origin of the new creation, the new heaven and the new earth.

Everything from the first creation is dead and gone, passed away.  The entire earth and all physical things, the spiritual world, even death and Hades have been cast into the lake of fire, something that was part of the first creation.

But God makes a new heaven, a new earth and a new holy city.  The only thing, other than God Himself, that comes into the new creation are the saved, those whom Jesus bought out of the old world and its death and gave a home in the new creation. If not for the completion of the payment of redemption on the cross, we, too would be part of what passed away.

I also love the things that John emphasizes in Revelation and the things he just says in passing.  Time and again he discusses facts around Satan’s demise and Jesus’ victory.  For weeks of our study we often had questions that sounded very similar to the questions from the previous week or a couple of weeks ago, because he loops back into the story, telling things in more depth or from a different angle or perspective.

But, then, in passing, in a single sentence, he just happens to mention that the new earth won’t have a sea.

No sea?  The sea is a real thing, we can see it, feel it, touch it, taste it smell it, etc.  But it is also a metaphor, a symbol, a stand-in for the message of separation from God.  The lands are separated by the sea, not the other way around.  The sea is unforgiving, it rages, it produces storms and waves, it swallows lives.  All water ultimately flows to the sea and the sea is filled with death. The waters of the sea are inhospitable.  More men have walked on the moon than have been to the bottom of the sea.  The beast rises out of the sea.  While evolutionists want to claim the sea as the origin of life, we know there is one greater than the sea, who is the true author of creation.

Jesus walked on the water of the sea.  Jesus spoke a word and the sea was calmed.  The sea obeys God.  God commanded the sea to rise up in the flood of Noah.  God prevented Jonah’s death in the sea and delivered him to dry land.  Jesus called many of his apostles out of jobs of making a living from being in the sea to being alive in Him.  One of the first things He did with his apostles after his resurrection was to prepare a meal for them on the shores of the sea and called them out of it to fellowship with Him.  In Daniel and Revelation we read of the angel of God who stands over both land and sea.

While there won’t be a physical sea in the new creation, there also will not be a symbolic sea either.  There will be no more separation from God.  The water we drink will all be of the spirit and our thirst will be quenched.

 

My Answers:

10.
No sea, no tears, no death, no mourning , no crying, no pain, no sin – everything is being made new – comforted and encouraged because of my confidence that I and my loved ones will be present there.

11.
Gen: completed work of creation – a day of rest as a model for His creation and as a sign of completeness
John: Jesus’ death on the cross, it is finished, the payment for sin (a perfect life sacrificed) was done
Rev: A/Z Beginning and End, to the thirsty I give spring of water of life – The completeness of judgement and the time for the new creation, replacing the other corrupted by sin, with eternal life for all believers without cost.
John 7:37-38

12.
a.
He grants people their desire – they desire to be eternally separated from Him and all that He gives and stands for

b.
the decision is one of eternal consequence

26.5 Revelation – Completely Saved without Separation

26.4 Revelation – Permeated with sin but Present in Peace

In Genesis 1, again and again we read that God’s creation was good.  But, then sin entered and, like a virus, it spread into every part of creation.  Every part of creation.  It spread into man’s DNA, our very existence, our nature.  But it also spread into the soil (blood), into the plants (weeds), into the rocks and streams and waters and air.  It spread into space, into the universe.  It spread into everything animate and inanimate.  It spread into the spiritual realm with the serpent and demons and fallen angels.  It is so invasive and so corrosive that the ultimate proper response is not to control or manage it, but simply to remove it.

In Revelation 21, we read that is what God does.  Every part of creation dies.  The living and the inanimate.  The mortal and the spiritual.  The earth and the cosmos.  All of it simply goes away and exists no more.  And, God starts a-new.

A new heaven and a new earth.  A new existence that in which God is fully present, where there is no more hurt or pain or sadness or separation.

We get fleeting glimpses of this in our present day.  The joy and innocence in a child’s eyes.  The shiver of the spirit when we feel God move in our life.  The peace that comes in the midst of prayer in a dire situation.  While we long for these flickers to light into raging fires, they are too quickly gone, smothered in the sin of the world.

But these glimpses are not mirages, they are real.  They are embers of the fire that burns in our God’s heart that He wants to place in ours for eternity.  It is the warmth and peace and joy that surpasses all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds on the truth, on the Word, on Jesus Christ.

The challenge for us, as believers, is not in finding the words to say to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is not in finding the spirit and conviction to talk to others.  It is not in our prayer lives.  The challenge is in our witness for Christ.  All of those others things impact it, but our loudest witness is in living a life noticeably different than the rest of the world.  A life that, despite the trials and tribulations, the pain and persecution, still shines with joy and assurance and peace.  Too often the witness that people see is one of hypocrisy of lip-service and compartmentalization of our faith to an hour on Sunday morning.  We are sinners and do not have the ability to shine this living witness on our own, but through prayer, reading the word and the power of the Holy Spirit, the reflection of God’s holiness can shine through us.

My Answers:

7.
Our current existence – because it has been corrupted by sin –  all of creation, not redeemed directly by the saving power of Jesus Christ, must suffer death and destruction

8.
During the time in the garden God walked and talked with man daily.  In isolated instances after He did the same (Enoch, Moses).  He spoke to and through the prophets.  He revealed himself in visions and direct signs and through angels (Lot, Daniel).  He became man and dwelt among us (Jesus).  He is coming again to reign for 1000 years after which time all creation will be purged and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth and only those who have committed their lives to Him will live for eternity in peace.

9.
a.
God’s answered prayer – Also that God has revealed Himself through circumstances that simply cannot be described in any other way than divine intervention.

b.
Because of the peace of the presence of the Holy Spirit – it is a feeling, but also a comfort and consolation and contentment that can be described in no other way than “from God”

26.4 Revelation – Permeated with sin but Present in Peace