Beyond the Door of Death: The Bible on Heaven and Hell – Heaven part 6

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Beyond The Door of Death: Heaven—Part 6

Please take out your Bibles, now, and turn in them to the very last book of the Bible—it’s entitled “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”  And I want you to turn in the book of the Revelation to chapter number 21—Revelation, chapter number 21.

Steven Lawson, in his book entitled Heaven Help Us, relates the story of the grandson of the railroad industrialist Commodore Vanderbilt.  And in 1888, thirty-three-year-old George Washington Vanderbilt III took his unlimited budget and set out to build the grandest home in America.  I want to read you part of this story.  It’s just truly an amazing one. “Vanderbilt began by purchasing large parcels of land in Asheville, North Carolina, including the one hundred thousand acre Pisgah Forest for his back yard.  He then commissioned two of the most distinguished architects of his time—the famous building architect, Richard Morris Hunt; and noted landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead—to design this superstructure and all the surrounding grounds, which were going to be called the Biltmore Estate.  The construction required over a thousand workers.  Limestone was hauled in from six hundred miles away in Indiana; marble was imported from Italy.  The delivery of such elaborate materials required a specially built, private railroad spur.  Thirty-two thousands bricks were made on-site daily.  A woodworking factory was built just to process the oak and the walnut timbers that would be used for all of the floors and the paneling in the estate.  For six years an army of skilled workers labored to create this country estate, and on Christmas eve, 1895, George Vanderbilt unveiled his prized Biltmore house, the most ambitious home ever constructed in America.” 

Now, check this out.  “The home had four acres of floor space in it, two hundred and fifty rooms, thirty-four master bedrooms, forty-three bathrooms, sixty-five fireplaces, three full kitchens, an indoor swimming pool, and a gymnasium; and was maintained by a staff of eighty people who also lived in the house.”

Now, that is quite a grand home, would you not grant that?  Indeed!  But what’s interesting is—as grand as that home and estate was—our new home in the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, overshadows that by light years.  In fact, it goes light years beyond anything that Vanderbilt ever could have even imagined.

We’ve been involved in a series of messages that I have entitled “Beyond The Door of Death: The Bible on Heaven and Hell,” and we’ve tackled the subject matter of heaven first.  And so, we come to the Bible on heaven, today, part number 6.  And we’ve been involved on accompanying the apostle John in a personal tour of heaven.  And it began in…in Revelation, chapters 4 and 5, and in those chapters seem to focus more on the persons of heaven.  Now, we’ve moved into Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, and these chapters seem to focus more on the place of heaven.  And last time we were looking in chapter 21 at the first eight verses, and we saw the emergence of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, in verse 2, coming down out of heaven from God.  And we just said this is our future new neighborhood; this is the place that Jesus talked about when He said I’m going to go and prepare a place for you, and later I will come and get you.  This is our eternal home, as we move into eternity.

What we want to do, today, in chapter 21, is pick up with verse 9.  Notice, please, verse 9.  John writes, “And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues…”—those had come from the earlier chapters of the book of Revelation.  One of these angels came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  It’s almost like the angel comes to John and says, “Hey, you’ve got to come over and see this!  You’ve really got to see this!”  And so, in verse 10, “…he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”

You know how that works sometimes when you get up on a high vantage point and you’re able to see a tremendous vista of things?  The angel says, “Let me get you up to this high mountain, and then you’re really going to be able to see the holy city, the new Jerusalem.”  And in verse 11 it describes the new Jerusalem as, “having the glory of God.  Her brilliance [as a city] was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.”  It had a shimmering radiance to the city; there was dazzling splendor with it.

Now, one of the things that we want to make sure we understand is how hard this is to describe for John.  It’s very difficult.  You know, missionaries sometimes have to go through the adjustment of learning how to describe things to people who’ve never seen them.  Some missionaries who go to primitive lands—and then they’re asked, “Well, what is your country like?”—struggle to try to describe some of the things.  I mean, can you imagine what it would be like to describe a microwave to someone who cooks over an open fire?  I mean, how are you going to describe that to them?  How do you describe a refrigerator to someone who’s never seen ice?  It’s not easy.  And so, what you have to do is, you have to use familiar terms or familiar concepts, and you have to try to use those terms and concepts to describe something that is really beyond the frame of reference of those individual people.

Well, the apostle John is struggling with very much the same kind of a thing.  He’s challenged, from a first-century perspective and his own human experience on earth, to try to describe what he sees, as he’s projected into the future.  And he has to use familiar materials and known elements in his attempt to describe what was beyond the human reference of John and, indeed, is beyond the human reference of us!  And so, there’s a struggle and there’s a reach, trying to find the terminology to describe the new Jerusalem.

Now, let me just give you the breakdown of the verses in the rest of the chapter, as it relates to the new Jerusalem and the heavenly city.  In verses 12 to 14 we have the wall of new Jerusalem.  In verses 15 to 17 we have the dimensions of the new Jerusalem.  In verses 18 to 21 we have the beauty of this heavenly city.  In verses 22 to 24 we have God’s presence in the new Jerusalem.  And then, in verses 25 to 27 we have access to the new Jerusalem.  So, we have the wall—verses 12 to 14; the dimensions—verses 15 to 17; the beauty, in verses 18 to 21; God’s presence, in verses 22 to 24; and then access to the new Jerusalem, in verses 25 to 27.

Now, you’ve got to hold onto your hat, here.  In fact, it was just interesting to think about what it would be like for George Washington Vanderbilt III to sit down, thinking about all that he dreamed of and then to see how much more elaborate this wonderful city is.

Well, let’s begin by looking at the wall of the new Jerusalem, in verses 12 to 14.  Notice verse 12 tells us, it…“It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels…”.  The city has a wall.  Now, exactly why we’re not sure, but it could be that a wall would communicate the issue of security.  A wall also communicates the issue of exclusivity.  There is some security with this wall; there’ll be no need to have a security company coming by in the new Jerusalem…not going to happen.  But, also, there’s a sense of exclusivity with the presence of a wall.  You see, not everyone is going to get to live there.  Just as we have gated communities in our culture now, not everyone gets to live in the new Jerusalem.  We’re going to talk more about that at the end of the chapter. 

Now, you notice an interesting thing.  We have these twelve gates in the wall, and it says in verse 12 that names are written on the gates, “…which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”  So, as you come to a gate, it has the name, at the various gates, of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them.  This would seem to be an eternal commemoration of Israel.  Do you remember how Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews”?  Just jot down a reference; you can look it up later: Romans, chapter 9, verses 4 and 5.  There Paul talks about the Israelites, and he says, to the Israelites belong the glory, and the covenant, and the giving of the Law, and the temple service, and the promises, and the Old Testament patriarchs are theirs; and from them—from Israel—comes the human ancestry of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus.  It’s almost just like, as you go through the gates of the holy city, there’s this eternal reminder we have that it was through Israel the Messiah came.  And it’s through Israel, ultimately, that we Gentiles become part of the family of God.

Now, it goes on to describe, in verse 13, and it mentions that three of the gates are on the east and three are on the north and three are on the south and three are on the west.  And then, it talks a little more about the wall in verse 14.  It says the wall of the city not only had twelve gates, but, notice, it has twelve foundation stones; and on these stones something else is written.  On them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  Now, do you get what’s going on here?  You have the twelve gates with the twelve tribes written; and remember, Israel was God’s tool to touch the world in the Old Testament era.  And then, we have twelve foundation stones in the wall upon which are written the names of the twelve apostles.  And you will remember that the church is God’s tool to touch the world in the New Testament era.

Now, for those of you who have your theological thinking caps in position, this morning, I want to just make an interesting observation.  What I find interesting to me is that there is a distinctiveness—even now in eternity, in the new Jerusalem—there’s a distinctiveness between Israel and the Church.  And that distinctiveness between Israel and the Church is going to continue in eternity.  Now, see, there’s a bunch of people who say, “Well, Israel and the Church, they’re really exactly the same thing.”  And to fail to see a distinctiveness between Israel and the Church in the plan of God is to create an interpretive confusion for people.  See, what happens is some people go, “Well, you had Israel, and then the Church is just sort of spiritualized and replaced Israel.”  Well, part of the problem with that is that God gave some very specific promises to the nation of Israel; and if the Church and Israel are really the same thing, or the Church is phase two of Israel, then those promises to Israel are not going to literally be fulfilled.  And what happens is that when you begin to merge Israel and the Church together, it will infect your interpretation of the book of the Revelation.  You’ll end up concluding, “Well, there will be no earthly kingdom to Israel, because it was promised to them.  But, really, Israel’s just really the Church now.  And so, there is going to be no millennial kingdom.”  Well, the Bible teaches that there is going to be such a thing, because He made a specific promise to the nation of Israel.

And so, what we really have is an interesting thing; because you have believing Israel and the Church.  And we’re co-residents together in the new Jerusalem.  Both of us are in the family of God.  We have the same Lamb, we’re going to be living in the same city; but it appears that there’s going to be still a distinctiveness, you see.  They’re not fully merged together.  Otherwise, you’d have like twenty-four gates, or you’d have twenty-four foundation stones.  But no, we’ve got twelve gates with the names of the tribes on them; we have twelve foundation stones with the names of the apostles on them.

Now, the next segment that begins to describe the new Jerusalem is–its dimensions that we find in verses 15 to 17.  And it really starts to get pretty wild here.  I mean, really, iif you look at this, this gets pretty crazy, pretty wild, pretty beyond our imagination.  Notice, in verse 15 it says, “And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.  And the city…”—he said—“…is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as its width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.  And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.”  Now, isn’t that last phrase of verse 17 kind of funny?  It’s interesting.  He says these are according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.  It’s almost as if God was anticipating when the dimensions of the city are laid out that someone’s going to say, “Wait a minute!  I want a timeout!  It really can’t be like that!  I mean, you know, we had an angel measuring it, and who knows what angelic measurements are like?  So, we really don’t know how big it is.”  But it’s almost like God goes, “Wait a minute! You don’t…it’s an angel measuring it, and he’s doing it with angelic measurements, which are the same as human measurements.”  You can count on this in other words.

Now, notice what it says there in verse 16.  You’ve got the length and the width and the height are equal, and the measurement is fifteen hundred miles, as it says in the New American Standard.  Some of you have an NIV.  It will say, “And the length was 12,000 stadia.”  Or, if you have a New King James Version, it will say 12,000 furlongs.  And we need to just pause for a moment; try to explain all these different words that are used in the various translations.  Literally, in the original text, it says, “And the measurement was 12,000 stadia.”  And a stadion, in Greek—you have to hang in here with me for just a moment; you detail guys will really like this—a stadion was equal to four hundred cubits.  Now, a cubit was a measurement…I know, that moved Dave greatly…(laughter)…OK…good, buddy.  A cubit was a measurement from the end of your elbow to the end of your middle finger.  Now, why did they have such a measurement?  Well, you just couldn’t go to Home Depot and buy a measuring tape.  So, what they did is they developed a way to measure things, and you would do a cubit, see [showing how you’d lay out your arm].  Well, then they took four hundred cubits, and that would equal a stadion, which was approximately two hundred plus yards.  Now, a furlong, which is used in the New Kings James Version, is really an English measurement for one-eighth of a mile—or, two hundred and twenty yards.  And so, when you put it all together, basically…the terms are different, but the distance is about the same.  It’s about fifteen hundred miles; or if you’re European in your thinking, twenty-four hundred plus kilometers.

Now, don’t miss what it’s really saying.  When you look at the length of the city—fifteen hundred miles.  When you look at the width, or the depth, of the city, what is it?  Fifteen hundred miles.  When you look at how high the city goes, it goes fifteen hundred miles vertically.  Now that’s…that’s unbelievable!—fifteen hundred miles straight up!  If you were thinking about sort of a condominium like that and you took twenty feet per story, do you know how many stories fifteen hundred miles is?  It’s kind of fun to get your calculator out…three hundred and ninety-six thousand stories up the new Jerusalem goes.  Now, if you’ve ever been in a tall building and you ever had to wait for an elevator…(laughter)…can you imagine being on the one hundred twenty-ninth thousandth floor…(laughter)….  I mean, elevator’s up there, you’re thinking, “Man, this is…ooh, boy!”  Well, just remember, it’s not going to be like that.  You see, there’s no longer going to be gravity; we’re no longer going to have electromagnetic forces that we’re limited by.  In fact, we’re just going to be able to travel vertically.  We’re going to be just like Jesus…right?  Remember how He, at His ascension, He just went up vertically.  So, you’re not going to have to wait for any elevators, if you’re on the one hundred twenty-nine thousandth floor; you’re just going to be able to vertically go up there.

But this is a large place.  Dr. Henry Morris has made a projection, taking all the measurements, and he said if you figure—and this is fairly conservative—if you figure that twenty billion people, in all of human history and in…in the millennial kingdom that we have ahead of us; twenty billion people end up being redeemed.  And then, you take a conservative estimate of only taking twenty-five percent of the city as residences—it will probably have parks and things like that in it—if you take twenty billion people and you take twenty-five percent of the city as a residence, you know how big the condos are going to be?  He says, “One-third of a mile, by one-third of a mile, by one third of a mile.”  Now, that is a condo!…OK?  That is a major league condo.  I like high ceilings…one-third of a mile…OK?

Now, how is God going to decorate the holy city?  Well, that leads us to the beauty of the holy city, in verses 18 to 21.  And I do want you to understand something, here.  When you come to the new Jerusalem, there’s going to be no cheap high-rises like we have in many parts of the former Soviet Union; you know, these ugly concrete things that are just thrown up.  There’s going to be no cinder block construction, you know, covered with masonite siding—not going to be that way in the new Jerusalem at all.  Look at verse 18.  It says, “…the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.”  The wall was like crystal-clear jasper.  The wall was diamond-like.  And then, it says, in verse 18, “…the city was pure gold, like clear glass.”  Can you imagine the brilliance of this?

Have you ever been in a big city, you know, where they have those big glass-sided buildings, and a little bit of light hits that and it just sort of is dazzling?  Well, the city’s going to be like that.  It’s just simply going to be crystal clear and very much like glass.  It’s kind of interesting to think about.  We’re in this giant city with all of these floors—hundreds of thousands of floors in it—and the whole thing is clear.  I mean, we’ve got nothing to hide from condo to condo—nothing to hide.  And what’s really kind of cool about it is we’ll never be out of sight of Jesus, because the whole thing’s just crystal clear.

Well, notice verse 19 goes on, and it says, “The foundation stones of the city were adorned with every kind of precious stone.”  You know, it doesn’t take a brain to figure out that God loves color.  All you have to do is look out at the world that He’s created.  You look out at the blue sky, and I…that’s my favorite color—sky blue.  I could look at it forever; I just enjoy it.  God loves color.  All you have to do is look at a sunset and you know that.  He loves color.  All you have to do is look at tropical fish.  If you’ve ever gone to a big fish tank that had tropical fish, or if you’ve had the opportunity to go snorkeling in the tropics, and the fish colors are unbelievable!  Well, God loves color.  All you have to do is look at the flowers that He has created and all the different textures and all the different styles and all the different colors.  God loves color, and there’s going to be color in the new Jerusalem.

We have a listing of these various kinds of stones that each of the foundation stones are like.  For example, one is like jasper; that is, crystal clear.  Another one is like sapphire; that is, sky blue in color.  Another one is chalcedony.  They tell me that that’s a green type of precious stone.  Another one is an emerald—like an emerald—or, is an emerald, and that is green.  Then you have a sardonyx, which they tell me is white with layers of red.  You have a sardius, which is a very fiery and red color.  You have a chrysolite, which is sort of a golden yellow color.  And then, you have a beryl, which is sea green in color.  Then you have topaz, which is sort of a golden green.  And then you have chrysoprase, which is a translucent pale green color.  And then you have a jacinth, which is a purple.  And then you have an amethyst, which is a deeper purple yet.

Incredible!  And he’s just reaching trying to describe the beauty of the city.  And he has more to tell us in verse 21.  You know, you might wonder, “Where did this whole concept of the pearly gates ever come from?”  You know, you hear all those stories…Peter at the pearly gates.  Well, it comes from Revelation, chapter 21, verse 21.  Notice it says, “…the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl.  And when we talk about the pearly gates, it’s really a misnomer.  They’re not pearly gates; they’re gates that are pearls.  Each one is a complete pearl.

Steven Lawson addresses the issue of the significance of this.  He says, “Why did God choose pearl for the gates?”  Remember we enter in and out of the gates.  “Perhaps,” he says, “because of the beauty…the beauty of the pearl comes from the pain of an oyster.  Its beauty is born out of pain.  A pearl,” you remember this, “is formed when a tiny grain of sand gets inside an oyster shell causing the oyster to become irritated and uncomfortable.  The oyster relieves its pain by covering the irritating grain of sand with a soft, lustrous solution that hardens into a beautiful growing pearl.”  Now, get this: “The more pain the oyster endures, the more layers of luster and the larger the pearl becomes.”  Then he writes, “What a picture of our salvation!  We have come into the place of God’s blessing out of the pain of Christ at the cross.” 

This is what’s cool.  As we go through the gates of pearl, guess what we’re going to think about every time we go through…we’re going to think about Calvary.  We’re going to be forever reminded of the pain and the price and the suffering that He paid for us.  And, again as I often do when I’m studying this section, I’m just going, “Wowza!  Unbelievable!  Incredible!”

Notice it goes on to say, in verse 21, “…the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”  You know, today in our culture we use concrete and blacktop because they are relatively cheap and durable.  We use gold to make our costly necklaces and rings.  But in the heavenly city gold is just paving material…alright?  It is just paving material.  And you know what’s interesting is that in ancient cities the main street would always lead to the central temple.  And you’ll notice, here, it says the street of the city was pure gold like transparent glass.  The street of the city, of course, should lead to the central temple; but notice it really leads to God’s presence, in verses 22 to 24.

And he says, “…I saw no temple in [the city], for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple.”  See, in the new Jerusalem it’s not that, well, God’s going to be up in some celestial office somewhere.  No, His presence is going to pervade everything.  We’re going to have total, unbroken fellowship with God.  There’s no walls or doors between us and God.  And wherever we go in the city, we’re going to be in the middle of the full manifestation of God’s presence.

But notice, it goes on to say something even more incredible, to me, in verse 23 it says, “…the city has no need [no need] of the sun or…the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”  In the new Jerusalem we’ve got no need for the sun.  Now, think about how different that is from now.  We are totally dependent now on the sun.  In fact, all of life, whether you’re talking about people life, or plant life, or animal life, is completely dependent upon the sun.  All the processes of photosynthesis and the exchange of oxygen and…and carbon dioxide, and the plants becoming food for the animals, and the animals becoming food for us, and so forth.  All of this is completely dependent upon the sun.  The temperature any place on this planet depends upon the proximity to the sun, and that’s why when we tilt a little farther away from the sun, it’s wintertime.  When we tilt a little closer to the sun, it’s summertime.  The sun is the source of all life on earth.  But in the new Jerusalem there’s no need for the sun, because the glory of God illumines things.  He is our source, and it says, “…its lamp is the Lamb.”

Remember how Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”?  And even in the book of Isaiah, looking ahead to the future, it says the Lord will be, in the future, an everlasting light.  He and the light of His glory will be our energy source in the new Jerusalem.

Well, what about access to the new Jerusalem.  We see that final section we want to look at in verses 25 to 27.  Notice, “…in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed.”  You can underline the word ‘never,’ because, in the original, it’s very strongly emphasized.  The gates will never be closed.  “and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  When we’re in the new Jerusalem, there’s just going to be no sin there. 

We’re going to be freed from the sinful attitudes and actions of others in the new Jerusalem.  In fact, we’re going to be delivered from our own sinful attitudes and actions.  That’s pretty exciting to think about.  In the new Jerusalem there’s going to be no more abortion clinics, there’s going to be no more pornography, there’s going to be no more missing children, there’ll be no more brothels, there’ll be no more drug dealers, there’s going to be no more wars in the new Jerusalem.  In the new Jerusalem there’s going to be no more gossip, there’s going to be no more rape, there’ll be no more arguments—those of us who are married say, “Amen!”…alright?  There’s going to be no need to apologize—those of us who are married say, “Amen and amen!”  There’s going to be no more bad habits, there’s going to be no more temptation. 

See, the reality is…the reality is that we all…we all—every man, every woman, every child—we have all been tainted with sin.  We have all been born sinners…all of us!  And yet, some get to live in the new Jerusalem.  But verse 27 says, “…but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  This is going to be an exclusive city.  Only those who have turned to Jesus Christ and have trusted in Jesus Christ are going to be there.  Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

And, again, you step back and you…you know it’s, “Wowza!  Unbelievable!”

Marco Polo, the famous explorer from the thirteenth century, when he lay dying, was urged by a number of people attending his bedside to recant…to recant and withdraw many of the stories that he had told about his visits to China and to the lands of the far east.  Marco Polo’s response: “I have not told half of what I saw.”  And I believe that if John were here with us, today, his response would be exactly the same.  “You can read chapter 21, but I have not told half of what I saw up on that high mountain regarding the new Jerusalem.”

Now, we all know, I believe, that when we come in contact with the word of God, we’re not simply to walk away from it a little bit entertained.  It’s to have an impact in our life, and so we want to talk about some life response that I believe we should have in light of our visit to Revelation, chapter 21.  And I want to suggest three life responses.  They revolve around three words that begin with the letter ‘E’—engender, elicit, and excite.  Engender, elicit, and excite: three life responses I believe we should have.

Life response number one is this.  Having looked at this section of God’s word, it should engender a sense of contentment in us now…it should engender a sense of contentment in us now.  1 Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 9—very familiar verse to many of us—eye has not seen and ear has not heard; it hasn’t even entered into the heart of man all that God has prepared for those who love Him.  That verb is the same one, when Jesus says I’m going to prepare a place for you.  Eye hasn’t seen, ear hasn’t heard; it hasn’t even entered into our heart all that God has prepared for those who love Him.  When we look at a section like this, it should engender in us a sense of contentment now.  We ought to go from being a temporalist in our orientation to be an eternalist.  And that’s different than the world around us.  The world, right now, is in a frantic scramble—you see it all the time—and they’re out there pursuing and clutching things that are temporal.  The world is out there hoarding and grabbing and trying to stack up stuff.  And when you look at a passage like this, we ought to be different from that.  In fact, we ought to have a sense of contentment in our heart, because this is what’s ahead for us, you see.  With a right view of heaven, rather than going out pursuing and clutching, we should be serving and investing—not in temporal things, but in eternal things.  And, you know, when you have a…a real sense of what heaven’s all about—you see things through the lens of heaven—then people and possessions and…and careers and pleasure can have a balanced sense of meaning to all of that. 

You know—someone said this a number of years ago—you never see a U-Haul trailer attached to the back of a hearse.  It’s just true…it’s just true.  Let me give you some verses, just for your devotional time this week, that you can spend some time with in terms of engendering a sense of contentment.  Now, let me give them to you; write them down: Luke, chapter 12, verses 13 and 15—Luke 12:13 and 15.  And then, also, look at Matthew, chapter 6, verses 19 to 21—Luke 12:13 and 15; Matthew 6:19-21.  And then, you could also add in 1 Timothy, chapter 6.  You could read the whole chapter, but verses 6 and 7, and verses 17 to 19 in particular.  Just take some time with the Lord, in light of heaven, and just simply spend some devotional time with Him over those passages.

The first life response we ought to have, when we see heaven like this is, it should engender a sense of contentment right now.  But the second life response I think we ought to have is, it should elicit a sense of awe!  I mean, look at our God.  The glory and the wealth of our God; you…you cannot even begin to fathom His majestic grandeur, when you look at this beautiful city that He creates.  And…and when we look at this, it should elicit in us a sense of awe.  We ought to love God more, when we see what He’s providing for us.  We ought to adore the Savior more deeply.  We ought to worship Him with renewed energy.  You see, this is the special place that He has prepared for us. 

And so, I believe, by way of life response, it should engender in us a sense of contentment now, it should elicit from us a sense of awe, but a third life response would be this: it should excite us about the opportunities that we have to glorify this kind of a God…it should excite us about the opportunities that He gives us, right now, to glorify this kind of a God.  As we walk onto the school campus, this week; as we come into the office, this week; as we work in our home with our family, this week;  we ought to be excited about the opportunities that He’s given us to glorify Him.  You know the theme verse—our assignment verse—is 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 31.  It says whatever you do—whether you’re walking onto the school campus; whether you’re coming into the office; whether you’re working in you’re home with your family—whatever you do, do all to the glory of God…to the glory of the One who provides such a home for you and for me.

Let’s pray together.  Father, again, we want to thank You for this word that is alive—this living book—for the insights that it gives to us.  And, Father, I would pray, as we continue with this series, that we just wouldn’t be the same men and women and young people as we were before we went into it.  Keep our eyes focused on heaven, because that makes us of great earthly good.  Help us with our priorities; help us to keep things balanced.  Let us not go with the flow and the current of the culture.  Let us be men and women who are different.  And we just want to thank You…just thank You from the bottom of our heart for the privilege it is to be called a member of the family of God and to have a place reserved for us that You’ve prepared for us in the new Jerusalem.  We just thank You, and we thank You in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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