The Believer’s Hope – Revelation Ending


Before we even get into our text this morning, I want to tackle 2 subjects which will then lead into it.

These grow out of some questions I’ve received, and rightly deserve some attention.

The first is: Is the New Jerusalem merely figurative, or is it a real, material place?

There is no question there will be an astounding difference between life as we know it now and what it will be like when Heaven and Earth are joined together this way – but yes, we must say that the New Jerusalem is not figurative. It is not just a state of being but actual – in the sense of being an actual location. It is the capital city of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

It will be a material place. 

Jesus addressed it as a literal place a number of times – see: John 14 for 1.

John 14:2–3 CSB

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.”

With all of the symbolic language and descriptions we’ve been looking at in this study, it is tempting to spiritualize everything. To make it totally symbolic, not referring to anything concrete.

But this isn’t the case.

Just as we live now on a real, material earth, so we will live in a real, material location called the New Heavens and the New Earth, and more specifically – the New Jerusalem.

The 2nd question – but tied to the first is:  What state will Believers be in while dwelling in this New Jerusalem?

We get help understanding this in several places:

1. When Jesus was resurrected, He was in an actual body that the disciples could see, hear and feel. Yet with some new properties. Luke 24:36-43

Luke 24:36–43 CSB

“As they were saying these things, he himself stood in their midst. He said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. “Why are you troubled?” he asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Having said this, he showed them his hands and feet. But while they still were amazed and in disbelief because of their joy, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” So they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.”

So notice:

a. He was able to just appear where they were.

b. He was NOT a ghost. He said so.

c. He still had the scars from His crucifixion. As different as He was, there was still some kind of connection with the body He was crucified in.

d. They could touch Him.

e. He could eat with them.

2. Added to this, we have Paul’s remarkable discussion about our resurrected state in 1 Cor. 15:35-55.

We can’t unpack that entire passage here, but let me get to just a few of the salient points.

Corinthians 15:35 CSB

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?”

1 Corinthians 15:37 CSB

And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the body that will be, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain.

a. The way a planted seed has a connection with the fullgrown plant it eventually becomes – so it is with our present bodies and those we’ll possess at the resurrection. They are organically connected, but also radically different.

As radically different as an acorn and a full grown oak tree.

You will still be you, and I will still be me – but radically, wonderfully, magnificently different.

1 Corinthians 15:38–40 CSB

But God gives it a body as he wants, and to each of the seeds its own body.

Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones.

b. The bodies we have now are designed to live in this environment. Just like fish have bodies suited to live in their environment of a water world, birds are uniquely suited to fly through the air, and our bodies are now suited to live on this present planet earth –  our bodies then will be designed to live in that new environment. This is God’s normal pattern for doing things.

1 Corinthians 15:42–44 CSB

So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;

sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power;

sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

c. Our new state will be Incorruptible, glorious, powerful and spiritual to match our new habitation.

1 Corinthians 15:47–49 CSB

The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.

And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

d. Our new bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrected body the way our present bodies are fashioned after Adam’s.

1 Corinthians 15:50–53 CSB

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption.

Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed,

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.

For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality.

e. Our new bodies will be INCORRUPTIBLE – meaning they CAN’T be corrupted in any way. AND, IMMORTAL. Eternal. Everlasting. Cannot die.

Summarizing: Those Believers who have already died before Jesus’ return, along with those living when He returns – will both receive these new, glorified bodies at the same time: When He comes.

And we will live through the Millennium in these new bodies, and then on into eternity.

This is how we will live in this New Jerusalem, from the return of Jesus till the end of the Millennium, and on into eternity.

Those 2 things said, let’s take another run as these 2 chapters to tease out what WILL be there, even as we have looked last time at 13 things we know will NOT be there.

Revelation 21:3 CSB

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.

God dwelling with His people.

Now this beloved is nothing other than the most complete definition of what Heaven is – in this New Jerusalem. Nothing can say it more clearly or profoundly.

God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them.

I know I have beat this drum numerous times before, but we simply must pause to consider it once again.

If someone is hoping to go to Heaven some day, but that hope is not supremely rooted in being with, dwelling with, God and Jesus – then Heaven would in fact be Hell. For this is Heaven’s highest, best and sweetest good.

God can give us nothing greater, nothing better, than Himself!

Those who want little or nothing to do with God and Jesus now, certainly would not be delighted to live where God is all in all as 1 Cor. 15:28 says.

Yes, we will also be joined together with all of those who are also Christ’s.

Of course we want to know and love and enjoy eternal life with those of our loved ones especially who have gone on before us if they are in Jesus.

And yes, we look forward to meeting Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, David, Daniel, Elijah, Rahab, Isaiah, and then Peter, Paul, James and John, Mary and John the Baptizer.

Then add to those, the saints throughout history from ancient days forward: The likes of Polycarp, Athanasius, Augustine, Justin Martyr, Chrysostom,  Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, Spurgeon, Edwards, Flavel, Carey, Hudson Taylor, Corrie Ten-Boom, Blandina and the millions of previously unknown brothers and sisters in Jesus .

It is all rather staggering isn’t it?

Yes, I want to see my Mom and Dad in their glorified state. Bob Collier, Bill and Beth Rhodes, Chester Gretz, Ivan, Cecil Van Houten and countless others who were dear to me in this life.

And I am ever so grateful God grants – as part of our reward there – to enjoy them IN HIM for eternity.

But to see Jesus! To walk with the One who gave His all that we might be purchased back from sin and ruin. This, is Heaven!

Yes, we’ll see this..

Revelation 21:10–14 CSB

He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a precious jewel, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. The city had a massive high wall, with twelve gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; the names of the twelve tribes of Israel’s sons were inscribed on the gates. There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. The city wall had twelve foundations, and the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb were on the foundations.

Yes, we’ll see this…this spectacular walled city with 12 angels at its 12 gates (each named for the tribes of Israel) and 12 foundation stones bearing the names of the 12 apostles.

Sky and I had the privilege of touring the Washington National Cathedral this past week. And it is truly magnificent. The 6th largest cathedral in the world we were told. 

It took 83 years to build. Jesus has been preparing this place for us for 2,000 years.

It cost $65 million dollars to build, but it still doesn’t have gold streets, jewels as foundation stones or gates made out of single pearls.

It’s “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” tower is 301 feet high. The New Jerusalem is 1,500 miles long, wide AND high.

Helen Keller and President Woodrow Wilson are interred at the Cathedral – but everyone is eternally alive in the New Jerusalem.

In the New Jerusalem – 12 angels stand at its 12 gates (each named for the tribes of Israel) and its 12 foundation stones bear the names of the 12 apostles.

And whatever else this may mean, it surely implies we will grasp then how it is God’s plan from the very beginning was carried all the way through human history and how it all fits together in perfect symmetry.

The Old Covenant and the New Covenant not at odds- but as part of a continuous plan unfolding.

Both connected, but each holding primary importance in its day.

Jonathan Edwards once wrote: “There is perhaps no part of divinity attended with so much intricacy, and wherein orthodox divines do so much differ as stating the precise agreement and difference between the two dispensations of Moses and Christ.”

But now we see it all comprising one grand plan.

Not only that, this City is a cube!

Revelation 21:15–16 CSB

The one who spoke with me had a golden measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out in a square; its length and width are the same. He measured the city with the rod at 12,000 stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal.

Such a concept is wholly unknown here – people living in some sort of cube like environment. Not just long and wide, but equally high!

In all of Scripture, there is only one other perfect cube mentioned – the Holy of holies in the Tabernacle and the Temple. 1 Kings 6:20

It is another way of demonstrating how we will dwell with Him where He is.

As Ezekiel’s wheels demonstrated that however God moves, He is moving straight ahead, so in the NJ, no matter how a citizen moves, up, down, backward, forward, left or right, they are still in the city with their God.

Man can only build his cities with length and width. No matter how he tries, he is earthbound. Not so God. The failure of Babel could not be more profoundly demonstrated.

And yes, it is a City of incomparable beauty, symmetry and wealth.

Revelation 21:18–21 CSB

The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold clear as glass. The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of jewel: the first foundation is jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates are twelve pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. The main street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

Clearly, some of this is meant to be symbolic, but it is also actual.

For each gate to made out of one pearl, one would also have to imagine oysters gigantic enough to produce such pearls.

This can only be meant to convey to us that the sight is truly unimaginable and beyond our comprehension.

The largest pearl ever found on earth is 2 feet long and a foot wide. It weighs 75 pounds. That’s nothing compared to what we see here.

But the real essence of Heaven – of Heaven and earth joined together in the New Jerusalem is rooted in our first observation –

Revelation 21:3 CSB

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.

It is here we need to make one more observation before going on or we might miss what is happening in these closing chapters.

We are all well aware of Ps. 19 and how it reminds us that all of creation is meant to reveal God in various ways to the redeemed mind.

The heavens – the creation – declare the glory of God. The very expanse and order of the universe proclaims the work, the genius and power of His hands.

That is no less true – in fact even more so now that we see something of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

So that is what needs to contol our thinking now. If we are only looking at the magnificence of this City as an object, and not as a more exalted means of seeing and comprehending God in Christ Jesus – we miss it all.

And this, gets teased out in 4 key observations John makes.  Taken together, opening to us the magnificent glory of Jesus Christ in very special ways.

  1. Revelation 21:22-23

Revelation 21:22–23 CSB

I did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

LIGHT

The Lord God and the Lamb are its temple, and its light.

We are instantly reminded of key passages of Scripture that drive this reality home.

1 John 1:5 CSB

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.

And 1 Tim 6:15-16 He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power.

John 8:12 – Jesus

Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.

And then – so as to magnify what it means that Believers are in perfect union with Him we hear Jesus speak in Matt 5:14

Matthew 5:14 CSB

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.

John 12:46 CSB

I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness.

And above all: 

2 Corinthians 4:6 CSB

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

1. LIGHT!   Catch it! Where is the light of the glory of God to be found? IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST!

LIGHT No darkness. No fear. No mystery. No doubt. Nothing hidden. Nothing to be ashamed of. No sin.

No darkness – even still hidden in our own hearts.

God and His people redeemed by the blood of the Lamb perfectly joined together in eternal, glorious, pure and holy light.

And the redeemed, all sharing this most essential wonder of God’s own being – having been united to Christ by faith!

The light and glory of that City is the wonder of seeing the face of our dear Redeemer – without any hindrance whatever. Imagine!  

Rev 21:23-24

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

1. LIGHT

2. THE RIVER OF THE WATER OF LIFE   22:1-2a

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the city’s main street.

Besides being essential for life, water imagery is prolific throughout Scripture as typical of so many things.

Of Judgement: The Flood;

Of Salvation: The Flood;

Of Purification: Washed with the Word in Eph. 5; Washed by the Spirit in regeneration: Titus 3:5;

Of Identification with Jesus’ Death in Baptism and His identification with us in His baptism;

Of God’s supply for us under all circumstances: As in The Rock which followed the Israelites through the Wilderness.

Jesus Himself in His satisfying and life giving capacity as He spoke with the Woman at the Well and told her how those who drink from Him, have a well of eternal life. 

And Jesus’ powerful declaration in John 7

 On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me,ak and drink. 38 The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” 39 He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

All these images find their final fulfillment as Believers are joined together in the New Jerusalem.

At last, the fullness of the promise of Christ, that all of His would receive the Spirit He and the Father would send. For it is by the Spirit that He joins us to Himself.

1 Corinthians 12:13 CSB

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink.

And so flowing from the Throne – from Jesus – is all that satisfies what the human soul was created to thirst for above everything else as we share in His own Spirit.

And this, not just a drop, a sip, nor a cup or goblet nor even a stream – but a river.

Ever flowing.

Ever satisfying.

Ever cleansing.

Ever refreshing.

Jesus – The very River of Life – the fullness of God’s supply for our deepest thirsts and desires.

1. LIGHT

2. RIVER OF THE WATER OF LIFE

3. TREE OF LIFE  22:2b

The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations,

The Tree of Life. This is what was principally lost in the Fall in the Garden.

And you’ll remember that after the Fall, an angel was stationed outside the Garden to prevent us from getting back in, and partaking of the Tree of Life and thus living forever in our sinful state – leaving us forever sinful.

But as Jesus promised in the 1st of the letters He wrote to the 7 Churches in ch. 2 – to Ephesus: Rev 2:7

Revelation 2:7 CSB

“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Nothing less than eternal life is promised to all who overcome the World in Jesus.

And isn’t the Tree of Life in the Garden then transposed into the Cross itself?

Even in the Garden there was the symbol that something had to die in order for man to live – though there, in the form of fruit, it was not a substitutionary or sacrificial death.

Nevertheless it showed our life must be sustained by another life – not our own.

And now, looking to Jesus’ death in our place, we come to another Tree of Life. Jesus, hung on a tree in the place of sinners, that all who put their trust in Him as their substitute – taking our just due upon Himself, for our sin – are granted everlasting life.

So even in the New Jerusalem, our life is still sustained by none but Jesus alone.

But look at how He is painted for us here.

Different fruit every month of the year. This is like nothing in the natural order.

I think the old divine Robert Hawker said it right when he commented in this passage: “JESUS is the Tree of Life. He is so, to both Churches. Here on earth, and there in heaven; being on either side the river. He bears twelve manner of fruits, that is, all variety. He hath pardon, mercy, peace, grace, love, strength, comfort, deliverance in temptations, recoveries in backslidings, helps in times of need, preparation for ordinances, and blessings in the use of them. And every month, yea, every day, the LORD brings them forth. And even the very leaves of providence shall have a somewhat in them to heal. Oh! thou dear LORD! give me to sit down, day by day, under thee, as the Tree of Life; and ere long, sure I am, I shall sit down, to rise no more, under all thy wide-spreading branches of all fullness, in thy paradise for ever!” 

Lastly: Rev 22:3-4  The Throne of God and of the Lamb.

Revelation 22:3–4 CSB

and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

1. LIGHT

2. RIVER OF THE WATER OF LIFE

3. TREE OF LIFE

4. THE THRONE OF GOD AND THE LAMB

All that went wrong in the Garden, was owing to man wanting to usurp the place of God.

We wanted to sit on the throne of our own lives.

As we have visited and revisited over and over in this study – man makes himself God, and takes the mark of the Beast, when we say:

I will serve myself, above God.

I will worship God as I invent and desire.

I will determine right and wrong for myself.

I will find my happiness and security in what this present life can offer.

And until all challenge to Jesus’ right to rule to reign over us is restored – there can be no Heaven for us.

But in the New Heavens and the New Earth, in the New Jerusalem – Christ rules and reigns with His Father – and their throne, their rule, their government the writer to the Hebrews can sum up this way: Hebrews 1:8-9

Hebrews 1:8–9 CSB

but to the Son:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
and the scepter of your kingdom
is a scepter of justice.
You have loved righteousness
and hated lawlessness;
this is why God, your God,
has anointed you with the oil of joy
beyond your companions.

And as it was revealed in Eph. 1:9-10

He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.

Oh to live in His Kingdom – where all is righteousness, justice, peace and all that is good forever more.

Come quickly Lord Jesus!

What will we see and experience there?

1. LIGHT – The unveiled light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2. RIVER OF THE WATER OF LIFE

3. TREE OF LIFE

4. THE THRONE OF GOD AND THE LAMB

Final words:

1.   Rev 22:10  This NEEDS to be preached. All of it!

Revelation 22:10 CSB

Then he said to me, “Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.

Every warning, every prediction, every promise and every revelation contained in this book needs to be proclaimed, and to become part of the fabric of the Believer’s thought process.

The command here is clear: DON’T SEAL UP THE WORDS OF THIS PROPHECY, BECAUSE THE TIME IS NEAR!

As John is not to shut them up but publish them to the Church, we need to remind each other of the reality of this as our reward and it is just before us.  It is meant to help us persevere in the darkest and hardest of times.    

2. Rev 22:11  Secondly, we note that by the time we reach this point, all is irreversible.

Revelation 22:11 CSB

Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy still be filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; let the holy still be holy.”

Once Christ has returned, it is too late for anything to be altered.

The redeemed will be forever the redeemed, and the lost, forever lost.

So Beloved, we must take heed to what has been revealed to us here – and act upon it while there is still time.

Christian – continue to battle sin and refuse the mark of the Beast, the mindset of the world – serve Christ!

And if you are not a Christian yet today – flee to Jesus now while there is still an opportunity.

Today is still the day of grace. Don’t squander it.

There is forgiveness for all your sin. Cleansing from all your guilt. Restoration to right relationship with God the Father and eternal life to all who come by faith, forsaking their sin and looking to Jesus as their sin bearer to make them right with God.

3. Rev 22:12-14  Jesus is coming! And He emphatically calls our attention to that fact in this text.

Revelation 22:12–14 CSB

“Look, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

Jesus is coming.

Jesus will judge.

Blessed are those who are His.

Who can possibly unpack all the wonders that await those who are His?

Christian – hold on!

4. Rev 22:17 The time is now to publish and proclaim the Gospel.

Revelation 22:17 CSB

Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.

The Spirit is calling.

The Church is calling.

COME!

No one is preventing you. The time is now. Come!

5. Rev 22:18-20 Jesus Himself reiterates how true and in process all of this is.

Revelation 22:18–20 CSB

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, which are written about in this book.

He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

And our only appropriate response is: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

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