The Glories of Heaven Infinitely Surpass This Present Age (Revelation Sermon 43 of 49)
April 15, 2018 | Andrew Davis
My kids know that I cannot stand computer upgrades. I just checked — attached to my App Store, there is this little number 52, meaning there are 52 upgrades for apps that are on my phone, to enable my phone to do clever, interesting, beneficial things. But those software people think I need them continually — so generous of them to provide these upgrades. Microsoft also thinks about me continually, and they have coming up with new ways that my operating system can improve. They hijack my computer for a while to make the computer better, but it has been my experience that not all of the upgrades are an improvement. Perhaps you agree.
In contrast, as we study the new world that is coming, described in Revelation 21 and 22, we find an upgrade, if we can use that low word, that will be infinitely perfectly satisfying to us. We will in no way be disappointed. Romans Chapter 8 says, “Hope does not disappoint.” We will find that what we have hoped for is vastly small compared to the reality we will inherit; we will be overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of the place. The more we have a sense of that now, the more energetically and courageously and fruitfully we will live. The more heavenly-minded we are now, the more we will put sin to death by the power of the Spirit, the bolder we will be in evangelism and missions. In every way, it will be better.
We have a sense of this in Philippians 1. The Apostle Paul was incarcerated for the Gospel, facing the possibility of his own execution for Christ. He weighed his preferences to the two options of, on one hand continuing to live and serve Christ and his people on earth; or on the other hand, to die, to be executed, to depart and be with Christ. As he evaluated, he was torn between the two. It is remarkable that he wanted to wait to go to heaven so that he could benefit his brothers and sisters in Christ and benefit lost people by preaching the Gospel. Paul was imitating Christ’s attitude, how Jesus left Heaven to come to earth to save us. Paul imbued that attitude, wanting to stay on earth as long as he could, “…but to depart and be with Christ is better by far.” We will not be disappointed in that upgrade. It will be better by far.
That is a heavenly world that is in some mysterious sense incomplete. The world we read about here in Revelation 21 and 22 is better by far than what we would go to today if we were to depart from the body. The New Heaven, the New Earth, the New Jerusalem, are better by far than the present reality of where the saints dwell now. Absent from the body means present with the Lord. That is better by far than this. But we will be so deeply, richly, fully satisfied with Heaven.
The first half of Revelation 21 describes, first, the New Heaven and New Earth generally in broad terms. There will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain in that new universe. Then it zeroes in on the New Jerusalem, the capital city of that new empire of God. The city is described in architectural terms, telling of the heavenly architecture and layout of the city. We learn about its gates and foundations and dimensions and building materials. The remainder of Revelation 21 describes the New Jerusalem in mostly negative terms, what will not be there — no temple in the city, no sun, no moon, no lamp, no exclusions from the kings of the earth, no shutting of the gates at night for indeed there will be no night, no wicked persons, nothing impure at all — all that will be filtered out or changed in the world.
Earthly Temple Fulfilled in Heavenly Worship
The Ultimate End of the Temple
We begin with the observation in Revelation 21:22: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” The earthly temple will be fulfilled in heavenly worship. Here, the history of the tabernacle and the temple, and of what God intended for those structures, reaches its final destination and fulfillment.
The tabernacle, then the temple, represented the idea of an earthly place where God would dwell in the midst of His people, where He would put His name. That would be the place where people would go to meet with God. The mystery is that because God is omnipresent, in some sense no more in one place than He is in another. But amazingly, He has chosen in this present age to reveal Himself more in some places than He has in others.
When Jacob fled for his life from Esau, he came to a certain place, Bethel, where he lay down and had a dream in which he saw a vision of a stairway to Heaven with angels ascending and descending. Genesis 28:16-19: “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’ Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel (which means house of God).” He looked on that as a holy place. When God called Moses from the burning bush, God said, “Do not come any closer” but told him to take off his shoes, for the ground on which he was standing was holy ground. The place where Jacob met with God was an awesome place, the gateway to heaven. And the place where Moses met with God, at the burning bush, was holy ground. So in the Old Covenant, God chose to reveal himself more in certain places than in others.
Jonathan Edwards, in his marvelous sermon “Heaven is a World of Love”, said, “Heaven is the palace or presence-chamber of the high and holy One... Of course, God ...is everywhere — he fills both heaven and earth. But yet he is said, in some respects, to be more especially in some places than in others. He was said of old to dwell in the land of Israel, above all other lands; and in Jerusalem, above all other cities of that land; and in the temple, above all other buildings in the city; and in the holy of holies, above all other apartments of the temple; and on the mercy seat, over the ark of the covenant, above all other places in the holy of holies. But heaven is his dwelling-place above all other places in the universe; and all those places in which he was said to dwell of old, were but types of this. Heaven is a part of creation that God has built for this end, to be the place of his glorious presence, and it is his abode forever.”
Exodus 25-40 lays out how God ordained a tabernacle, or tent, where He would meet with the people. It was movable because the nation was out in the desert at that time, moving around. God gave Moses the details of the tabernacle — its building materials, how it was to be built, its dimensions — in a heavenly vision when He met with him on the mountain. The tabernacle was a representation of that heavenly vision. When it was built, God descended in a cloud of glory cloud and filled the tabernacle. This was symbolic of God’s desire to dwell together with His people. He wanted to be with His people so that they would be where He was and see His glory. The tabernacle was only a type, or a shadow, as the author to Hebrews makes it plain in Hebrews 8:5: “The [Levitical priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.”
In the tabernacle, the Levitical priests poured out the blood of animal sacrifices, showing that it was only by the atoning blood of sacrifice that God would meet with sinful people like us. While the tabernacle was still standing, the way into the true most holy place was not yet disclosed because it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. It was a type and a shadow of what was to come.
Later, after David was settled as king over Israel, he lived in a beautiful aromatic palace of cedar. He began to be jealous for the glory of God and said, “Here I am in a palace, in a building, a structure, but God is in a tent.” Nathan the prophet told him, “Do whatever is on your heart.” But then God, a few moments later, had a different message for Nathan to give to David: “Are you the one to build a house for me? No, I will build a house for you.” 2 Samuel 7:5, 12-13 says, “Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? … When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
David’s own son, his biological son Solomon did build the physical structure of the temple. He dedicated it in 1 Kings 8:10-13: “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.’” But Solomon did not really understand the future, that the real temple would be built by David’s greater Son, the Son of David. Jesus would build the eternal tabernacle, or temple. Solomon did realize the insufficiency of that wood and gold box that he had made called the temple, saying in 1 Kings 8:27, “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
In the course of time, the Jews desecrated the temple by their wickedness and sins, their perversions and idolatries. God took the prophet Ezekiel on a secret journey in the Spirit through the guts and the basement of the temple where the elders of Israel were worshipping crawling things and defiled things and bowing down to idols. Because of the wickedness of the Jewish people led by their leaders, the cloud of the glory of God departed from the temple. Soon after, the Babylonians destroyed the place because of the wickedness and the sin. After 70 years, the Jews returned from exile in Babylon. Under the prophets Ezra and Haggai, they rebuilt a smaller, less glorious temple. The animal sacrificial system was re-established and ran until the time of Jesus.
As Jesus began His public ministry, he cleansed the temple, and did so again as he ended his public ministry. The first time, he made a whip and drove out all who were buying and selling, as well as the money changers, who were all trying to make money wickedly in the temple. His enemies approached and tried to stop him, saying, “‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’ “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body.” [John 2:18-21] He decisively redefined the temple.
In his spiritual discussion with the woman at the well in Samaria, he brought up her sin concerning her husband, so she changed the subject. In witnessing situations, people will often deflect like that — “Since you’re talking about my sin, let's talk about the proper place of worship.” That is a smokescreen. Amazingly, though, she took the conversation in the direction Jesus wanted it to go. The Samaritans believed that the proper place of worship was Mount Gerazim in Samaria. The Jews argued that it was Mount Zion, in Jerusalem. Jesus soared far above both of them, telling the Samaritan woman in John 4:21-24, “Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.’” He was saying that the time was coming when there would not even be a specific place to worship God, but that believers would worship anywhere and everywhere by the Spirit.
Furthermore, Jesus predicted the destruction of the last temple of the Jews. Matthew 24:2 says, “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” On the cross, he shed his atoning blood, forever ending and making obsolete the animal sacrificial system, as well as the need for a Levitical priesthood, a tabernacle or a temple. Jesus fulfilled all. Matthew 27:50-51 says, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” Now a way was opened for us. We are no longer excluded, but invited to come into the very presence of God by the atoning blood of Jesus. Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”
The Romans confirmed this in AD 70 by destroying the building in direct fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction. The Jews have not had a physical temple since. Paul, in his ministry among the Gentiles, saw very clearly that not only was Jesus’ own body the temple, but the church had become the body of Christ. He used an architectural image of the church in Ephesians 2, as the Gospel was spreading not only to Jews, but now to Gentiles too, every tribe, language, people and nation. People were coming to Christ, and he saw this vision of a holy temple, Ephesians 2:19-22: “…God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Peter adds to that image in 1 Peter 2:5: “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
For 20 centuries, this spiritual temple has been rising. Living stones have been rescued out of Satan’s dark kingdom and put in the walls, so to speak, as this temple rises and becomes more beautiful and diverse and glorious and magnificent as people from every tribe and language, people and nation are being saved. Elect from every nation are being brought into this marvelous structure. It is a glorious building project. It is not finished yet but it is getting close.
No Temple in Heaven
Why is there no temple in heaven? Revelation 21:22 says, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” The reason is clear: God’s atoning work through Jesus is fulfilled and we are perfectly cleansed of all of our sins, so there is no need for sacrifices any longer. Furthermore, God will be so present everywhere that we will not need a special place. Every place will be special, an encounter with the radiant glory of God. It will be impossible to look any direction north, south, east or west and not see the glory of God. We will have an immediate experience with the glory of God. There is no need for a special place to assemble. It is the fulfillment of the vision Jesus gave to the Samaritan woman — not a place, but together, intimately connected with God by the Spirit.
John speaks of the Lord God Almighty, God the Father, who rules over everything, God is the temple, and so is Jesus the Lamb. Again, this is clear indication of the deity of Christ. The city will be the Holy of Holies, a perfect cube. Solomon’s Holy of Holies, also a perfect cube was 20 cubits by 20 cubits by 20 cubits, 1 Kings 6:20. The new Jerusalem is 12,000 stadia by 12,000 stadia by 12,000 stadia, massive. Every place in the city is perfectly holy, because we will encounter the living God.
Earthly Light Fulfilled in Heavenly Glory
Light in the New Jerusalem
Second, we see earthly light fulfilled in heavenly glory. Revelation 21:23 says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” When God created the heavens and the earth, the first thing he said after that statement was Genesis 1:3: “And God said, 'Let there be light,’ and there was light.” The sun and moon and stars were not required on the first and the second and the third day of creation — they did not exist. God does light very well. He did not need the sun or the moon or the stars. He delegated the job of light to them on the fourth day, and now He will take the job back.
The Sun and Moon Will Disappear
The awesome sun will be obsolete. It will be fulfilled. This incredible burning ball of nuclear reaction is 93 million miles from us, 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface, 27 million degrees Fahrenheit at the center. No probe has gone to the center of the sun to tell us, but it is hot, and its light has given us the light of day throughout creation, but now God will reclaim the task.
The moon will also disappear — the softer gleam of pale reflected light. There are aspects of the description in Revelation 21 that some people regret, like no sea and no moon. One night, I rented motor scooters with a friend of mine from college. We rode out to see the full moon on Nantucket Island. The moon and the sea, two things that we will not have in Heaven, were spectacularly beautiful, the shimmering light of the moon on the pretty quiet sea that night.
Another time, the night was not so peaceful to me. Every year I ride up to Lake Gaston on my bicycle, 72 miles. On this ride a year and a half ago, I got a late start. I could have done simple mathematics: it was in October, and I started around 3:00 for about a four-and-a-half-hour bike ride. The sun was going set during that time, but I had no lights on my bike and no reflection on me. I was riding up there in northern North Carolina or southern Virginia. The shadows were getting longer and the light began to fade. I was momentarily struck by the realization, as though I had never seen a sunset before. Then suddenly it was dark — there was no moon that night, and no stars. It was one of the scariest nights of my life. I had to dismount my bike and walk it for long distances. There were barking dogs and probably some Remingtons to protect the property from people like me out walking at night when they should not be doing that. I wondered if I would survive the night. I could not see the left side of the road or the right side in the pure, scary, inky-black darkness. Light at night is beautiful, but there is nothing beautiful about night itself without light.
In the Bible, frequently, we have the images of the light, but it seems like God is going to fulfill that. There will be no more night, no more darkness.
Isaiah 24:23 says, “The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously.” Why would the sun and moon be ashamed? Because they cannot do anything compared to God’s glory. It is like bringing a little flashlight to a spotlight party, and you want to hide the little thing you brought. The sun and the moon will be like that; they will be ashamed compared to the glory of God. Again, as it says in Isaiah 60:19, “The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”
Earthly Exclusions Fulfilled in Heavenly Openness
No More Dangers
Third, earthly exclusions will be fulfilled in heavenly openness. Revelation 21:25 says, “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.” This is speaking about the exclusion of people kept outside the city. Look ahead in Revelation 22:15: “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” These are all the wicked, the sinners. God will weed all of them out, as well as all the dangers of the night which now prowl around.
Day = “Good”; Night = ?
God called the day good, He did not say anything about the night. Though there is a beauty to a star-spangled night sky and a softer gleam of the moon, there is no beauty in pure darkness, so darkness is frequently used as a metaphor for evil. 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” Or John 3:19: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” In John 8:12, “Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
This happened the night that Jesus was arrested. He predicted that one of his disciples would betray him. It was the one who took the bread that Jesus dipped, took it out of his hand. In John’s Gospel, Jesus dipped the bread and handed it to Judas, and Judas took it. When he took it, Satan entered into him. John 13:30 says, “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” That is not an accident. Jesus said to his arresters and his persecutors in Luke 22:53, “…this is your hour — when darkness reigns.” So darkness is an image of rebellion against God.
In the new universe, there will be no darkness at all. There will be a universal light of the glory of God. There will be no shadows in the New Jerusalem, like a stage lit by brilliant spotlights in every direction — no shadows anywhere.
Furthermore, it says the gates will never be shut. In the ancient world, gates were shut to keep the dangers on the outside — wild beasts, marauding invading armies. All of the wicked, rebellious people and all the demons and Satan will be in the Lake of Fire, so the gates will stand open all the time.
Earthly Sacrifices Fulfilled in Heavenly Diversity
Earthly sacrifices will be fulfilled in heavenly diversity. Revelation 21:24-26 says, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.”
The Light of the New World
This is the light of the new world — the new Jerusalem, the New Heaven, the New Earth — a pervasive brilliant beautiful light of the glory of God. The nations and the kings of the earth will walk by that light. The light by which we will operate and do our things will be the light of the glory of God, not the sun, the moon, the stars, or the lamp. More than that, it means that we will walk by the principles that flow from the character of God. The moral law of God will be perfectly fulfilled in us. We will walk by God’s character, by his nature — that will be our rule, the way by which we will live our lives.
Isaiah 2:2-5 says, “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Many commentators say that passage refers to the millennium. I can say only that all of that will be perfectly fulfilled in Heaven. The law will flow from the heart of God and we will resonate and glow with it and walk by that light.
Who are these nations and kings of the earth? There are many speculations, some connected with the millennial reign. Keeping it simple, let us say they are, together with the Jews, all of the redeemed from the earth, from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Revelation 7). They are recognized by their expressions of amoral ethnic cultural diversity. They will be identified as trophies of God’s grace from every tribe and language and people and nation.
I have worshipped with African brothers and sisters in Nairobi, primarily from the Kikuyu tribe. They love rhythmic worship, lots of drums, they love to clap and sway and sing. That worship is beautiful. They are mostly modernized in their dress and attire, but their culture is very clear. On that same mission trip, I also worshiped with Maasai tribespeople in the Rift Valley. They are herdsmen, tall and graceful. They put red ochre in their hair and on their face and wear a lot of beads and jewelry. The Maasai were some of the most violently opposed to British rule and among the last to be pacified when the British ruled that colony. The Maasai tribespeople we worshiped with were Christians and had been kicked out of their tribe, ostracized by their other Maasai, but they maintained their culture. What an unforgettable time of worship that was, under a tree, sitting on rudimentary wooden benches.
I have worshipped in a Lutheran Cathedral in Dresden with Calvin a couple of summers ago, listening to baroque music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. The German people worship in a different style than the Kikuyu people do. Though they are different displays, those who are born again and love the Lord, worshiping the same triune God, celebrate in the same redemption.
I worshiped in a cell church in Shanghai in China, in a high rise. They used a boombox with a CD to play Western praise and worship songs. They spent a lot of time in prayer. I have worshiped with Indian believers in Pune near Mumbai. I was there during the Hindu festival, the Diwali, the Festival of Lights, These believers had broken off from their false religion of Hinduism and come to faith in Christ. There were thousands of them there listening to me unfold the book of Philippians. Many thronged to me afterwards to say they had been hungry and thirsty for the Word of God. These Indian believers maintain their amoral cultural distinctions. I have attended an Easter sunrise service, overlooking the Pacific Ocean with Japanese Christians. We were convinced that we were the first Christians on earth that year to celebrate Easter in the Land of the Rising Sun. It would have been about 1:00 a.m. here. It was sweet to be with those Christians in Tokushima.
In the New Heaven and New Earth, we will see all of that cultural diversity in some marvelous way. They will bring their riches and treasures into the New Jerusalem, so we can at least simply say that they themselves are converted and they bring their uniqueness into worship Jesus.
Heavenly Work Produces Heavenly Riches
To take it a step further, we will be in resurrected bodies with resurrected minds, hands and feet, and we will have limitless strength and energy in an entirely new earth. We will surely have work to do — things to work on, projects to make, there will be no more curse on our work. Work was not the punishment, but work was cursed. Our efforts crumble, and thorns and thistles come after plowing and watering and planning and waiting. In Heaven, we will work and it will come to full fruition. We will have limitless time to work on projects. As things are finished, the kings of the earth will bring their glory into the New Jerusalem to show Jesus what they made by their creativity and strength.
“Kings of the Nations”
Why will they be kings of the earth? There will be different, smaller kingdoms in the Nw Heaven and New Earth. Jesus will be the King of kings and Lord of Lords. This is clearly taught in Scripture in Daniel 7:27: “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” Luke 19 tells a parable of a man who gains 10 minas, an amount of money like a talent, through his stewardship of resources given by his master. He is therefore given ten cities to manage. There will be kings of the earth. They will stream into the capital city of New Jerusalem to honor and worship Jesus, the true King of kings.
Earthly Impurity Removed for Heavenly Purity
Earthly impurity will be removed and replaced with heavenly purity. Revelation 21:27 says, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” The New Jerusalem will be perfectly pure. Modern cities are patterned after wicked Babylon. Revelation 17 depicts the great horror of Babylon drunk on a cup of immorality, drunk on the blood of the saints, rich and prosperous through sin and idolatry, but she will fall, as predicted in Revelation 18:2: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!”
Imagine landing by plane at night at JFK. You can see the beautiful, spectacular side of New York City in all the lights — the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, other landmarks; the headlights and tail lights of the traffic like diamonds and rubies and jewels. But once on foot in the city, you need to be careful all the time and especially at night, when wicked forces are prowling and at work. They will not hesitate to trade your life for their next fix.
In the New Jerusalem, all of that is gone. There will be no impurity. Best of all, our impurity will be gone. Our hearts will be purified, we will be glorified, we will perfectly love righteousness and perfectly hate wickedness forever. We will have our robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and we will have the right to enter the city and eat from the Tree of Life.
Only the Elect Can Enter the City
Only those whose names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the foundation of the world will be allowed to enter. That is election, or predestination. Every single one of those named by name before the foundation of the world will most certainly be in there. Each one of those elect has ratified it, confirmed in space and time when they heard the Gospel of their salvation. Having believed, they were marked in Him with a seal and crossed over from death to life. But their names were known before they responded; before the foundation of the world, they were called and summoned to follow Christ, and they will enter.
Hear and Believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ
First and foremost, hear and believe the Gospel now. If you are on the outside of all this looking in, I ask you to let the fear of the Lord be the beginning of wisdom for you. Realize that you do not know how much longer you have in this body, how much longer you will be alive. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation. I am begging you, as though God Himself were making His appeal through me, be reconciled to God, acknowledge that you have sinned, that you have violated God’s laws. Acknowledge it. Be honest about it. Ask Him for the forgiveness that Jesus provided by shedding his blood on the cross, one atoning sacrifice for all time. All you have to do is trust in Him, not by works, but by faith. Trust in Him and you will be welcomed into the New Jerusalem when the time comes.
Help Make Heavenly Diversity a Reality
For the rest of us who have done that some time ago, recognize your responsibility to speak a version of what I just said to a lost person this week. We have a responsibility to reap now into the New Jerusalem, a responsibility to share the Gospel. We are surrounded by people who are without hope and without God in the world. We have an evangelistic responsibility.
Let us be faithful to it this week. Do something bold for Jesus, invite someone to church. We will be celebrating the resurrection and salvation every week.
The Future of Worship
Understand the future of worship in Jerusalem. We will all be bowing down and worshiping. The more you can do that now, the better. I urge you to spend more time personally in worship this week. Find a sweet Psalm or a hymn you like, and sing it to God, sing it to Jesus because you love him.
Look forward to heavenly work!!
Finally, look forward to heavenly work and do your work as to the Lord this week. Yes, the work is cursed now, but it is a foretaste of the work we will do in Heaven. Work with all your heart as working for the Lord. Do the projects God gives you so that people sit up and take notice and wonder why you have such an energy and a zeal for your work. Work as unto the Lord, because some day you will be in the new world and your works will not be cursed then. Do them as much as possible now for the glory of God. Share why you work that way, that you are looking forward to that future day.
Father, thank you for the time we have had to study today. Thank you for the good things that we have learned. Thank you for the joy and the delight that is waiting for us at the upgrade, a word that does not capture what will be infinitely satisfying to us. Oh God, fill us with hope, and help that hope to energize us to do the good works. I pray for any who are lost that are here, that they would hear Jesus calling to them, crying to them, saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Trust in me and I'll forgive you of all your sins.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.