The Final Heaven
Text: Revelation 21:9-27
Proposition: The center point of the final heaven, the New Jerusalem, is everywhere reflective of the glory of the presence of God among His people.
Introduction: Have you ever heard someone calling out to you saying something like, “This is incredible, you’ve got to see this…”.
Perhaps what they were about to show you could be intense, an infants heart in an O.R. , a child caring for a child, something amazing that was important to see. It’s one thing when you hear this from an acquaintance, it’s another when you hear it from God, when God says to you… “You’ve got to see this…” That is the essence of what God says several times in the concluding chapters of the book of Revelation. The wording is a little different, it sounds more like, “Write, for these words are faithful and true…”. What is it that God says these words about, what is it that we need to see? Turn with me to Revelation 21:9 as we seek to answer that.
I. The All Present, Reflective and Essential Glory of God. Look at what the angel says that he is about to show John in verse 9 , “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” Who’s that, well it is a phrase that we’d recognize as referring to the church, to all those who are saved from sin through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is you and I, and it is there in heaven, it is what it will finally look like. The angel invites John to come and see the church in the eternal heaven. So what would you expect to see next, I know that my mind is searching for how he will describe people, what is it we are doing, what does the bride, the wife of the Lamb, look like? Instead John is taken to a high vantage point and what he is shown is the architecture of the New Jerusalem, the center piece of heaven and the dwelling place of God on the new earth. Consider what is described: the material with which things are built, stone, gems and gold; the form of the structure of the New Jerusalem, it’s foundations, it’s walls, it’s gates, it’s shape. The extent of the city, unlike any that has ever existed in the history of mankind, massive in dimension and staggering in its engineering as it towers higher than any tower man could have built. As your mind is distracted to the architecture you wonder what is it that is being symbolized through this amazing structure? Before we get into the various aspects of it’s construction, consider the prevailing quality of the material, it is all either translucent or reflective so that light either penetrated or reflected off everything, emanating everywhere. This is no ordinary light, it is the light of the glory of God, the radiance of His presence that not only shows Him present but directs His people in the midst of His presence. The glory of God is the focus of the nature of the materials that the New Jerusalem is built with, it emphasizes His glory, it enables His glory to accomplish what God would want. It bathes His people, the bride, the wife of the Lamb, in His glory, constantly. Consider verse 11 as giving us the first clue to this and verse 23 as a greater explanation. It kind of reminds us of John 1: 4, 9 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…the true light which coming into the world enlightens every man.” Is it possible that the architecture of the New Jerusalem points to the importance of the glory of God as that which not only evidences His presence, the holiness of His person, the wonder of His attributes but also directs us to how the recognition of God’s glory is meant to guide us in our relationship with God. What is the greatest purpose of God’s glory? Jesus spoke of it in prayer to the Father just before the cross, “Father I desire that they also whom Thou hast given Me, may be with Me to see My glory.” –John 17:24. What do you think will happen when that comes true for you? What will be going through your mind when you behold the glory of the risen Christ? Will you be wondering about issues of your well being, enough money, food, security, health, love? Gone are these things as the glory of the Christ takes your breath away like a million Grand Canyons. Our greatest happiness, our greatest joy is found in God. His glory draws our hearts to the reality that joy is only to be found outside of ourselves. The glory of God is here and now inviting to that same conclusion. It is why we are to be zealous for the things that reflect or glorify God and zealous against the things that would tarnish that. “Be ye holy even as I Am holy!”, that was the direction wasn’t it. In all you do this week, reflect God. So what was being symbolized in the various aspects of the architecture of the New Jerusalem?
II. The Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Bride of Christ, the Church.
Just consider what the New Jerusalem will look like. It’s wall is 72 yards high, say 20 stories in height. What’s really impressive is that the wall runs around a city that is 1500 miles square, a distance comparable from Edmonton to Toronto in East/ West and Edmonton to L.A. North /South. Three gates on each side give access, each gate being like a massive round portal. John says that each gate is a single pearl… ‘He the pearly gates will open!’ Each gate has the name of one of the tribes of Israel on it, and the massive wall has twelve foundation stones each with a name of one of the Apostles on it. So one day you may go through the Ephraim gate which has the rock of Peter next to it. And as you do, you go past the gate, the pearl of massive presence and the angel that attends it. You see that the city is as a cube, it’s height and width and length are all equal, as amazing as the lateral dimensions are, the vertical dimensions stagger our imaginations. You would certainly see the radiance of this city from a long way off as it reflects the brilliant light of the glory of God from a height of 1500 miles. This strange architecture is a picture of the bride, the wife of the Lamb. It pictures one body that is now the Israel of God as they go in and out of the gates, it pictures a body that has been built upon the rock of ‘Petros’, the final revealed truth of the gospel heralded by the Apostles. It pictures our access to this presence of God through the gate of the single pearl, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The pearl of great price in the parable, the pearl that was formed in purity and pain, the pearl of infinite worthiness, Jesus Christ, He is our gate. The cubed dimensions of the city are closely reminiscent of the dimensions of the Holy of Holies, the sacred place where only the High Priest could go. It too was a perfect cube in dimension according to the book of Exodus, about 15 feet or 10 cubits in each direction. It represents the identity and role of the bride as those who are eternally chosen to be before Him, living as a people that have no land but have access to all land, who are dependent on Him for all things and who move with the main purpose of representing Him. The New Jerusalem is the Holy of Holies for all eternity and the church serves in that place.
The church also moves outside of the walls of the New Jerusalem, into all the regions of this New Earth. They move in the wonder of exploring His creation and in the discovery of the diversity that He yet plans. This is the final heaven.