What on earth is going on?
George Methodist Church
12th July 2020
With Peter Veysie
Have you ever been in a place of complete bliss and peace. Maybe it was being surrounded by your family or friends, or in a forest up in the mountains or snorkelling in crystal clear waters with hundreds of fish or standing on a high point or simply just enjoying a wonderful meal with friends,or sitting in your garden surrounded by flowers,trees and grass.There are places that we would describe as heavenly. It is these memories that keep us going and alive. They wake up the senses and if we have the opportunity call us to go and enjoy them again. We are put on this earth to not just enjoy the heavenly realm, but to take ourselves out of this into the gutters of the world to bring life in abundance to others. We have heard how the thief comes to steal kill and destroy but the Lord comes again and again to bring life in abundance. So much is in the process of being stolen and destroyed through this difficult time but also so much is coming alive. Let’s not forget about how the earth has been restored even in these last 4 months.
1. The Multicultural Community
of the Redeemed
The book of Revelation assures us that God’s purpose to save people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9) will succeed. Let there be no confusion: God’s mission cannot fail!
While aspects of Revelation can be confusing for all of us at times, it clearly teaches that God will redeem a people from all parts of the earth through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. It seems the apostle John (the author of Revelation) was overwhelmed as he wrote:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10)
This picture of worship in the book of Revelation should give us confidence in our great God. All authority belongs to Him, and His plans always succeed. Therefore, we should have confidence as we reach out to the world around us. Because the Holy Spirit empowers us, we can be certain that our effort to make disciples of all nations is not futile. With God on our side, victory is assured. If God is for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)? Even when we are rejected and endure suffering for our witness, God is completely in control.
So as much as the Lord gives a picture now of a new heaven and a new earth should we sit around and just let Him make it happen or are partners in the majestic and mighty transformation of our planet and our universe.
I am proposing today that death is not what we wait for but rather what we become so that a lot more of life can live in us. Death to ourselves,our ambitions, our desires, our heavens and life to bring others into a deep and special relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is this call from our Lord to do on earth as it is in heaven. (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven)
And so as much as I bring you a picture of something awesome and amazing, let’s not lose sight of the very awesome and amazing that the Lord has already given us and let’s start thinking with Him of how this
2. New heaven and New earth is restored.
John’s vision closes with a beautiful picture of Heaven. It is in these two chapters that we get the clearest, most comprehensive picture of Heaven in all of Scripture.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”
- We see “a new heaven and a new earth,” and they begin to collide together in beautiful unity. God can once again dwell with His creation because sin and death are gone from it.
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21:5)
- God doesn’t make “new things,” he makes “things new.” He restores Heaven and earth to their original goodness for their original intent.
“God’s original creation was ‘very good’—and God is not about to act now in a way that would deny the fact. Why, even the new holy city is still ‘Jerusalem’—very different from the old one, of course, but Jerusalem nonetheless. God will make ‘all things new’—not, ‘all new things.’”
This is important to understand as we continue. This is a spiritually real place, but also a physically real place. Anything on earth that is redeemable will be redeemed by God.
“He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
The voice from the throne describes Himself as “the Beginning and the End.” We saw both God and Christ describe themselves that way in Revelation 1, and this is not new imagery in Scripture. But for the first time, the name takes on a new meaning. We are at the beginning of a time with no end, and God is greater still.
Evil and all who continue to ignore the love of God and choose not to love him will face consequences.
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
3. The Holy City comes down – so important in this imagary.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”
One of the angels with the bowls brings the message. His instruction, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” stands in direct contrast to his earlier instruction.
- John again notices God’s Holy City coming down to earth. Now he is taken in for a closer look.
“It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was 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, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.”
- The detail here screams out how perfect this city is for God’s people. There are four things we should learn:
The city is very beautiful
The city is for God’s people for eternity
- Remember the number 12 represents God’s people, and the number 3 represents completion, or eternity.
- 3 sets of 12 describe the Holy City:
- 12 gates of 12 pearls named for 12 tribes run by 12 angels
- 12 foundations of 12 precious stones with 12 apostles
Walls are 12,000 stadia in length and 12×12 cubits thick
- Remember the number 12 represents God’s people, and the number 3 represents completion, or eternity.
4, The city is large
In 21:16, the angel measures the city with a golden rod or reed, and records it as 12,000 stadia by 12,000 stadia at the base, and 12,000 stadia high. A stadion is usually stated as 185 meters, so the base has dimensions of about 2220 km by 2220 km
The city needs no protection
The gates are never closed
The walls are only 266 feet high, shorter than historic Babylon’s
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 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. 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. 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 temple was the place where God’s presence resided among the people (II Chronicles 7:1; Haggai 2:7). In Heaven, God needs no “middle man,” but instead can dwell and walk among His people as He did in the garden (Genesis 3:8).
- Notice that things from the former world are there, “the glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.” If we are remembering that New Creation is a collision of Heaven and Earth, this makes sense.
God intended for development. Consider that at creation He gave us a garden, but He returns with a city. It was always part of God’s plan for His creation to create. That is a way in which we are created in His image.
So it is not unrealistic that much of the material things of this world will be— in some way, shape, or form—part of the New Creation.