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#47 A New Beginning

September 4, 2008

I would like for us to begin our lesson by looking at (2Pet 3:13) which speaks of that which creation longs for; a new beginning. Peter begins reminding us of a promise that has come from the lips of Him who cannot lie saying, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. The context of this statement by Peter is the destruction of this world of sin and corruption. He tells us that all we have come to know as reality will collapse with a thunderous bang! Isn’t it sad that people, even Christians, spend so much of their time here on earth trying to store up our treasure here and now? But as the wise man once said, “Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

 

Jesus told us to labor for fruit that endures; to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can corrupt and where thieves cannot break in and steal. Corruption is a characteristic of this wicked world. But in heaven there is no sin, therefore, there is no corruption. Thievery is a sin and since no sin will enter eternal life, there will be no thieves in heaven to steal. Indeed, there will be no desire to have more for we will be filled as we stand before the LORD of life who is our all in all!

 

As Christians, we must have the attitude of Job who said, “Naked I came into this world and naked I shall depart. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And remember this truth; Jesus Christ Himself is our treasure, our exceeding great reward.

 

I put this question to you to consider: Can you, with all of your heart, say these words with the Psalmist, “(Ps 73:25) “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. 28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.”

 

Do you believe this; is your heart with the Psalmist in his belief of the ever-present-ness of God? Listen to what he said in verse “23 Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. Do you believe this? Is God your hope and your life? With whom do you consult for wisdom? Remember what God has said through His servant James, “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given!” Asaph, the author of this particular Psalm declared his dependence upon God saying 24 With Your counsel You will guide me, He will look to no one else for guidance. God is the strength of his heart.

 

And He is Asaph’s eternal great reward. The LORD is his salvation “And” he trusts that after this life is over “afterward receive me to glory.” The question remains before us and should continually come up before our faces: “In whom or in what have you placed your trust? Is it money, or things, or friends, or this world…?

These things are “wood, hay and stubble and will burn up in the fire. But to love the Lord with all your heart should be your one desire!”

 

This is exactly what we have been seeing throughout our time in this wonderful book that so many believers fear. But they fear for no reason! What we have seen unfolding throughout the book of Revelation nothing short of the salvation of God, the deliverance of His chosen ones from the jaws of death, from the grip of the devil and from the hands of wicked men who are sold under sin.

 

Believers should rejoice in this, so great a salvation. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, the unveiling of His glory is a wonderful event in which we will be called home to be with Him in the air and the scriptures tell us that so shall we ever be with the Lord. Hear the word of the LORD and rejoice in our great God who has had so much mercy upon mere worms, exceedingly vile sinners.

(Ex 15:2) “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him.

(Ps 118:14) The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.

(Isa 12:2) “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.”

 

This wonderful, magnificent Almighty God has demonstrated such great love, such great mercy; is not your heart humbled into the dust. We were his enemies and He made us His friends. We were evil, but He has clothed us in the righteousness of His own dear Son whom He sent to be the salvation of all who will come to Him by faith. He promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He declared that He is our ever present help in time of need. And He has prepared a place, many mansions, for His children to dwell with Him for all eternity. There is enough for all of His elect.

 

In our study today we will see a picture of our heavenly resting place and it is too wonderful for words to describe. John is telling us what he sees, but understand that when we arrive in glory and are ushered into our heavenly rest, we will say with Job, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” (Job 42:5)

 

Let us look into these marvelous things of which, eye has not seen nor, ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him! Our text begins in Revelation chapter 21 and verse 1 where we read “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away…

 

Now there are some who say “the old earth will be refurbished, renewed.” I don’t think that is the case for we heard Peter say that the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? And then he tells us that we, according to His promise, are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. This world will be destroyed. Let’s go further: what does it mean when you say someone has passed away? Does it not mean that they have died, that they are gone, never to return to this sphere of existence unless God resurrects them like he did Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, or the son of the widow of Nain.

That’s the idea here; the first things have passed away and are gone! Go back for a moment to the picture of the last judgment. In (Re 20:11) we read “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, (The Greek word here is pheugo which means to vanish and no place was found for them. The old things have vanished, never to return. The first heaven and the first earth passed away…and a new heavens and a new earth have come, wherein righteousness dwells. It is a picture of salvation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new! Not only is there a new heavens and a new earth, but we read also…“and there is no longer any sea.” In the earth as we know it now, 3/4ths of the earth are covered with water. But in the new earth the seas will be gone. Old things will be done away with; the sea will be unnecessary.

 

And now notice what verse 2 says: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Here is where we will live for all eternity. Verse 3 tells us that we will be with our God; we will be able to walk with Him in unbroken fellowship. There will be no more barriers for sin will have been eradicated.

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, We who are poor in spirit will receive the kingdom of heaven as our inheritance. We who have mourned in this life will be will be comforted for we will be able to worship Him in sweet personal communion 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” We who have hungered and thirsted after righteousness will be filled. We shall inherit the earth, receive mercy and most glorious of all we shall see God and shall be called the children of God!

 

The Hymn writer said, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see, and shall look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace. When He takes me by the hand, and leads me to the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be!  

 

Listen to verse 5 “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” In other words, you can take this to the bank. God who cannot lie has spoken and His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish exactly what He purposed when He sent forth the command. He has declared the end from the beginning and from ancient time’s things that have not yet been done saying, “My purposes will be established and I will accomplish all my good pleasure.”

 

Rest assured that evil will not continue forever. Its days are numbered. On the appointed Day, God will speak and all things will become new! Hear the word of the LORD from His very lips. 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. God is the beginning of all things and the ending of all things. In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.

And one day, He will speak those things out of existence. And then a new heavens and a new earth, wherein righteousness dwells will be created. And then the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and there we will forever be with the LORD. Therefore while we live in this world of woe we can comfort one another with these words. (1Th 4:18)  

 

In (Isa 55:1) we hear these marvelous words, “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come; buy wine and milk without money and without cost. And now in our text we read the same words as Jesus says to us: “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 “He who overcomes (he who endures to the end, who does not cave in to worldly pressure to conform to its sinful ways and in doing so rejects the salvation of the Lord, he who through perseverance and dependence upon God for life and breath and all that pertains to life and godliness) will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

 

The nature of the believer is one of perseverance, dependency upon God, trust in His promises, love for His Son, His word, and His people. And the only reason he exhibits such characteristics is because he has been given a new heart; a new spirit and a new nature. He loves because God first loved him. He lives for God by the power of God. And by the power of God he perseveres to the end, thus proving, by a life characterized by the practice of righteousness, that he belongs to Jesus. He doesn’t merely ‘say’ “I love God” but he obeys His commands and so proves by his actions that he is one of His! This is not so of sinners. They hate God, His Son and His righteousness. They love the darkness rather than the light and will not come to the light lest their evil deeds be exposed. They scoff at the notion of salvation; they need none. The wicked believe, as their father the devil does, that they are their own gods, that they will persevere, that they will defeat Jesus. But their end is fixed. On the appointed day, their foot shall slide. 8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

 

The wicked, unrepentant of this world, those who loved darkness, will be able to dwell in darkness for all eternity. Look with me to Mt 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It will be a place where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Hell will be a hideous place of unending agony and misery, where the screams and shrieks of anguish and woe will be a continuous reminder of price of sin.

 

In stark contrast to this is the place of everlasting bliss; heaven! For the remainder of this lesson we will go with John and hear his description of our eternal home. We begin at verse 9 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God.

How does one describe the glories of heaven? The scriptures give us glimpses. Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on the throne of His glory, high and lifted up, the train of His robe filling the temple. Jacob saw the heavenly Ladder. Ezekiel saw the Throne of God as did the elders of Israel (Ex 24:9-10) “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, (the two guys who shortly after offered strange fire and died) and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.

 

John will give us a lengthy description to which we can only bow and wonder. As to the new Jerusalem, “Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

 

15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. Someone has said that this is roughly the same area as the moon in circumference except that the New Jerusalem covers an area of 1500 miles as an enormous cube. And the whole city is inhabitable. There are no hostile places. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, or 216 feet, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

 

Then we come to appearance. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; or diamond and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The gold is so pure you can see through it. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; diamond the second, sapphire; blue the third, chalcedony; sky-blue agate stone with translucent, colored stripes. the fourth, emerald; green 20 the fifth, sardonyx; red and white the sixth, sardius; red the seventh, chrysolite; a stone with a transparent golden or yellowish tone, the eighth, beryl; light green the ninth, topaz; yellow-green the tenth, chrysoprase; apple green the eleventh, jacinth; blue or shining violet in color the twelfth, amethyst. faint purple tint to an intense purple.

 

This city is an intense rainbow of color and I believe that the colors here will be so pure and intensely vivid as to defy human description, except to say WOW!  But wait, there’s more! You’ve heard of pearly gates and streets of gold no doubt. Well, here is where that comes from. John first describes the twelve gates of the city saying, 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. I can’t even imagine. Pearls are beautiful, lustrous stones but a pearl so big that it can be used as a gate? And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Pure and perfect for the Lord has made it for His own glory. 22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

We will all worship in the very presence of God! I believe that Heaven will be one long, glorious worship service. There will be no distractions. No one will feel he is missing out on Monday night football or the basketball playoffs of March madness. Old things will have passed away just as the old heavens and earth. Gone and forgotten will be the things of earth. The hymn ‘Until Then’ says, “The things of earth that caused the heart to tremble, remembered there, will only bring a smile.” I think the past will be all but forgotten in the light of His glory and grace.

 

It is interesting that here we have the sun for the day and the moon for the night and in our houses we have lights and nightlights and flashlights and headlights and all these type of things. But not in heaven! 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. His light will be like nothing we have ever experienced before. Remember Saul on the road to Damascus. The sun was shining that day but when Jesus visited Saul, the light of His glory shone ‘brighter than the noonday sun.’ The lights we rely upon now are dark compared to what’s going on up there in heaven.

 

John says that 24 “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” All that they consider as constituting their glory, treasures, crowns, scepters, robes. The idea is that all these will be devoted to God in the future days of the church in its glory, and will be, as it were, brought and laid down at the feet of the Savior in heaven.

 

(Isaiah 60:1-14) closely parallels what John has described and here we see the clear and plain unity of the scriptures. God, through His prophet says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. 3 The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 “Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together, they come to you; Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. 5 Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you. 6 The multitude of camels shall cover your land, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the LORD. 7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall ascend with acceptance on My altar, and I will glorify the house of My glory. 8 “Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their roosts? 9 Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me; and the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, to the name of the LORD your God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He has glorified you. 10 “The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, But in My favor I have had mercy on you. 11 Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession.

12 For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined. 13 “The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the pine, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I will make the place of My feet glorious. 14 also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

 

25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. This is the real safe haven, the real city of refuge. Heaven will be a place of perfect peace, perfect rest and perfect love. Here we will bathe in the holy presence of the Holy God of the universe. Here we will see face to face. Here we will know even as we are known. Here we will worship Him whom our souls love in a way that we cannot know here and now. For in the New Jerusalem, in the heavenly kingdom there will be a new beginning that will never end!

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