Revelation 21:22-27 Heaven WC McCarter
Heaven is a subject that everyone likes to talk about, but what and where it is no one really has a clue. If we broaden the subject to the after-life, it gets even more confusing. Let me give you some examples:
Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) teach that people exist in heaven as spirit children of God and are sent to earth in human form. According to Mormons, most people will end up in one of three heavens with only the best joining God in the highest heaven. They go even farther to teach that a Mormon man who is lives well enough in this life actually becomes a god in the next life and rules over his own world.
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that only 144,000 “anointed” believers will go to heaven as spirit beings of the same nature as angels. Most of the rest of humanity will live on earth during a millennium and if they prove themselves worthy, they will be made perfect to live on an earth of paradise forever.
Buddhism teaches that there are several heavens and, depending on how much good karma you have gained, you will be reborn into another one. The only way to escape the cycle of reincarnation is to reach Nirvana, which is not heaven, but is the ultimate state of enlightenment.
Islam teaches that heaven is attained by religious performance; your good must outweigh your bad. It is a place where every wish is fulfilled and, for the best men, there are several virgins awaiting them.
There are also the science religions. The founder of Christian Science described heaven this way: “Harmony; the reign of Spirit; government spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul. Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal.”
A new thing that has emerged in recent years is the trend of people recounting their so-called visits to heaven. You have probably heard, even children are encouraged to describe visions of heaven so that the things can be written down and published in a book.
Is your mind spinning yet? Everyone has their own idea of heaven. Every religious cult has their own doctrine of the after life. Even evangelical, Bible-believing Christians have decided for themselves what heaven is or is not. Theologians write chapter upon chapter about hell, but only a few paragraphs on heaven! Let me tell you, the Lord Jesus talked about both places. The Bible has things to teach us about both. We need to consider what God wants us to know about heaven. We could spend several weeks on the subject, but I simply want to encourage you from a few verses in Revelation 21 this morning.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Chapter 21 of Revelation is a marvelous chapter. It begins with John saying that he saw a new heaven and a new earth. He saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven. What a magnificent thing to see. How difficult would it be to describe this vision to someone?!
God and the Lamb are
and Light (22-23) Temple
John did not see a
(sanctuary). Heaven does not need a Temple Temple
because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its . And, may I add, all the residents of
that city are priests in that holy sanctuary. Since heaven is referred to as a
temple we can assume that it is a place filled with worship of the One who has
welcomed us into His marvelous light. Notice a few more things in these verses.
First, titles are heaped up for God here as He is called Lord God Almighty.
These have been used individually for Him, but now they all come together to
make a majestic name. Second, God the Father and God the Son are both spoken of
separately in the passage and yet they are made to be equal: “Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” They
are two distinct persons, but they are so unified in essence that they are
referred to as the single temple. Third, the Lord Jesus is consistently
referred to as the Lamb in the book of Revelation. I counted somewhere around
thirty times He is called the Lamb. Why is He most often called the Lamb in the
vision of heaven? His sacrificial work on the cross to redeem people from all
over the planet throughout history will mark our existence in the age to come.
Therefore, He is often referred to as the Lamb who was slain. Temple
John did not see the sun and moon shining. Heaven does not need a sun because the glory of God illuminates it, and the Lamb is its light. Isn’t it amazing to imagine that there is no night in heaven? Darkness and night have constantly referred to sinful ways in the Bible. Thievery most often happens at night. The passages about sexual immorality are usually at night. Judas Iscariot left the Upper Room to betray our Lord when it was night. Verse 25 tells us explicitly, “There shall be no night there.” Yet, the most amazing thing to consider is that the very glory of God is what illuminates that city for eternity. There is no end to the light of the Lamb. The glory of God has always been shown to be His presence. Consider the Exodus accounts when God would come down in the glory cloud. It was His presence among the people. Let’s do some logical reasoning: if God’s glory refers to His presence and His glory illuminates the whole city, then that must mean that His presence reaches to every corner of the New Jerusalem. He will constantly be present among His people forever. Notice how the Lamb is again put on the same level with God. God illuminates the city/the Lamb is its lamp.
The Nations and the Kings of the Earth (24-26)
The nations and the kings of the earth refer to the universal nature of Christ’s redeeming work and heaven. People from all over this planet are being saved by grace through faith in Christ. The Great Commission that the Lord gave His disciples just before He ascended back to heaven was to go and make disciples of all the nations. If we are obedient to His command, we will reach all people groups with the Gospel and those who are saved from the nations will be in heaven. Kings of the earth will bring their glory and honor into that city and lay it at the feet of the One who is worthy to receive glory and honor and power and riches and wisdom and strength and blessing, who is King of kings and Lord of lords! Everyone will pay homage to the King.
Earthly cities would shut their gates at night to protect themselves. The heavenly city does not shut its doors because there is no night!
Lamb’s Book of Life (27)
Nothing impure will be in that place.
Notice that the Book of Life is the Lamb’s Book of Life. Everyone who goes into that city is welcomed in because of what Christ has done. For your name to be written in that book means that you belong to the Lamb. The only way to participate in the wonderful things of that city is to accept in this age that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Conclusion and Christian Application
In this passage we have gotten a glimpse into the heavenly city. It is one that comes down out of heaven and is filled with the glory of God. There are many things in this age that will not be in the next such as a temple, darkness, and impurities. The gates will not be closed, but that city will be wide open and bright for eternity.
Jesus told Nicodemus how to enter that city in John 3. You must be born again by the water and the Spirit. You must be born from above. Peter told the crowd on Pentecost in Acts 2 that they must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.