What Most People Don't Know about Heaven - Revelation 21 - Skip Heitzig
There is no God. I mean, look at what's going on in the world.
I am my own God.
God, Allah, Buddha, whatever.
He's just waiting to destroy us all.
There's like hundreds of gods. And it's just like that bumper sticker says.
I am my own God.
Dog is my copilot.
There is no God.
There is one true God. He's all knowing, all powerful, and he loves you.
Welcome to Calvary. Hey, before we get started, we'll be in Revelation 21, second to the last chapter in the book that we read, the Bible, every week. Before we do that, I just want to offer with you a prayer for our country. You know that the election is over, that there's a new administration in the White House. And it doesn't matter who won the election. As believers, of course, everything matters. But when it comes down to it, we are to pray for leadership no matter who's in the White House.
I had the privilege of being in a little group of advisors, faith advisors, and people who would pray for the president and speak to him about faith issues. I counted that a privilege. I would do it for any president that asked. And if I ever get invited back to do that-- I don't think I will. But if I did, I would do it. And I'd happily do it.
And the Bible says that we are to pray for all of those who are in authority. So doesn't mean we cannot get involved in issues and make our dissent known on issues. But we do need to pray. And so let's do that together.
Father, we want to pray for the United States of America, in particular, Lord, our President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. We lift them up before your throne, pray that you would give them your wisdom, pray that you would give them clarity of thought as they are making decisions that impact the world. Lord, we pray that you would also allow in their presence men and women of faith and truth to be able to speak your truth into their lives to help shape and form policy. Father, we left them before you. And right here we also pray that you would remind us to do this frequently for them because we are told to do that by your word.
So thank you, Lord, that we live in this country. Thank you, Lord, that no matter who sits in the White House, you're always sitting on the throne. And so we give you glory and praise in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Revelation Chapter 21. So a cat dies and goes to heaven. Now right off the bat, I have theological problems with that. But I digress. So the cat dies, goes to heaven. There's Peter at the gate because Peter's always, in these dumb jokes, at the gate of heaven. And Peter sees the cat and asks the cat, "Is there anything I can do for you? I want to make your life really good up here."
And the cat says, "Well, you know, Peter, on Earth I as a cat had things pretty rough. I lived with a poor family. We didn't have anything soft. I was always sleeping on hard surfaces. And so, boy, it'd be nice to remedy that."
So Peter said, "Say no more. Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it." And poof! A really nice, fluffy pillow appeared. And the cat had this wonderful bed in heaven.
A few days later, a bunch of mice died and went to heaven. Now we're really off base theologically, right? I don't expect to see rats in heaven. Anyway, these mice are there. Peter is there, gives them the same offer. And "What can I do for you?"
And the mice say, "You know, Peter, we had a tough time on Earth. We were always being chased by something or someone. Dogs chased us. Cats chased us. Women with brooms chased us. So it'd really be cool if we could each have a pair of roller skates in heaven, just to get around really fast. We just think that'd be really awesome. Could you pull that off?"
Peter says, "No problem." And these cute little roller skates appeared on all their feet. And they wheeled off.
About a week later, Peter decided he would go check on how things are in that part of heaven. And he goes and sees the cat sleeping on the pillow, has to nudge the cat to wake up. Cat wakes up. Big old yawn. Oh, you know, just ah. And so Peter says, "Are you happy?"
The cat says, "Peter, I couldn't be happier. This is really an awesome bed. And by the way, those meals on wheels that you keep sending by, they are the best."
Do you know that some people are going to be surprised when they get to heaven? Somebody once said there are going to be at least three surprises in heaven. First of all, who's there that you thought would never make it. Second, who's not there that you were sure would make it. And then, number three, the fact that you yourself are there by God's grace. That's the wonder of it all.
We have heard of heaven, all of us, since we were kids, especially if you were raised in a believing home. You heard your parents talk about heaven. You heard when somebody they knew died, they would say that person went to heaven. And you were always wondering, what is heaven like? What does it look like? What can we expect if we're going to spend forever there?
And I've discovered, in listening to people describing their view of heaven, that it has become a confusing, nondescript place, a sort of a make it anything you want kind of a place filled with all of your favorite activities and all of your favorite pets because it wouldn't be heaven without them. It's sort of like Build-a-bear. You know, you go to the mall and you have a Build-a-bear. And the kid can make the bear any way he wants it. Heaven to sort of become that. You make it what you want.
So we want to look at what the Bible says we can expect when we go to heaven. Now, just some preliminary data. Our word "heaven" in English comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word "heavon." Heavon. Of course, we don't talk like that anymore. You don't say, "When I die, I'm going to heavon." But that is the original term. Heaven comes from heavon. And that means to be lifted up or uplifted, which isn't far from the biblical rendition.
The Hebrew word for heaven is "shamayim," and it means the heights or the lifted up place. Heaven is the lifted up place. The Greek word, likewise, is the word "ouranos," which means lofty or lifted. By the way, "ouranos" the Greek word is what inspired the name of the seventh planet in our solar system from the sun, Uranus. So it means to be lofty, or lifted up, or the height.
And that is because in the Bible it is often spoken of as up, right? Jesus lifted his eyes up to heaven and prayed. John 17. Revelation Chapter 4, I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Come up here."
Heaven is a word that appears 532 times in the Bible. That's just in my version. That's the New King James version. If you were to search it, 532 times the word heaven appears. Another 171 times it's put in the plural form, heavens. So about 700 times, the Bible mentions heaven or heavens. So it's a big subject in the Bible. It's a big subject because it's our final destination.
Paul even said our citizenship is in heaven. And not far after that, in the same book of Philippians, he said, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." The only reason it would be gain is because heaven was waiting for him.
But what is heaven like, exactly? This is where it gets a little murky. And this is where even the best of us and the most imaginative of us-- even reading the biblical text, it's just tough to imagine.
CS Lewis put it this way-- "Our ability to imagine what eternity will be like is like two infants in a womb talking about what they'll be doing once they're born and are 25 years old!" They have no point of reference. So heaven is going to be, as we read from the biblical text, a totally different kind of existence than we have on Earth.
I'm taking you to Revelation Chapter 21. This is our series on 2020, Seeing Truth Clearly. And we're not going through the Book of Revelation. We have done that, and I've gone into much greater depth on all of these subjects. But in this series, we're going to look at heaven from this chapter. I've taken you to Revelation 21 because this takes us to the very end of all things. And things get destroyed. And things get made and created again-- a new heaven and a new earth, as we're going to see.
But besides all the confusion that people have about heaven, it seems to me that our enemy, the devil, would like us to be confused about heaven. Randy Alcorn, who, by the way, wrote one of the best books ever on the subject of heaven, said, "Satan labors to give people an inaccurate view of heaven. Our enemy slanders three things-- God's person, God's people, and God's place. And some of his favorite lies concern heaven."
Makes sense to me. He got kicked out of heaven. He's not too stoked about the idea that you're going there by grace through faith. So confusion abounds.
So let's go through this text. And I'm just going to draw out some themes. The name of this is What Most People Don't Know About Heaven. And the first thing most people don't know about heaven is that heaven comes in phases. There are different modes of existence, distinct phases, of your heavenly experience. That surprises a lot of people. So if you were to die and go to heaven today, that's one phase of it. But in the future, there's going to be a different phase and a different phase. And I want to show you that.
But it shouldn't be too great a surprise to us. After all, on this earth, we have different distinct phases of our experience. Right? We have the gestation phase, nine months in the womb. Then the live birth. It's another phase. Then you're a baby. Then you're a toddler. Then you're an adolescent. Then you're an adult. And then you're a geriatric. And I can say I have experienced all of those phases.
Ephesians Chapter 2, verse 7. Paul the apostle said that in the ages to come-- notice it's in the plural, not singular. Not in the age to come. "In the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace toward us." So the moment a believer dies, his spirit, his soul, goes to be with the Lord immediately. His body remains, obviously. That's why there are caskets. And so their body remains. Their body is buried in the ground, typically, their soul, their spirit, enters God's presence. "Absent from the body," Paul wrote, "present with the Lord."
That's an immediate occurrence. You are with the Lord. You are with him in spirit. God is spirit. You, the real you, the spirit, is with him. It is a place of joy. It is a place of bliss. It is a place of comfort. It's interesting, however. There's not a whole lot of information about that phase.
Wilbur Smith said, "However abundant the scriptural data on resurrection and life in heaven is, the state of the soul between death and resurrection is rarely referred to." Now let me just throw this out at you. Some people refer to this as the intermediate heaven. I don't know if I like that term all that much. But you go to heaven. You're with the Lord. Perhaps it's the throne room that you see, like in Revelation Chapter 4 and 5.
But the big thing you need to know is that when you die, immediately you go to heaven. There is no purgatory. You don't get stuff burned off so that you can later be admitted into heaven. That is not a scriptural concept. And there's no such thing as soul sleep where you just sort of go unconscious, you're just hanging out, and you have no recollection of any of that, and then one day you wake up on resurrection day. The Bible doesn't teach either of those.
So absent from the body, present with the Lord. I want to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. For me, to live is Christ. To die is gain. He wouldn't say that if he was thinking of purgatory or soul sleep. So that's phase one. You die. Your spirit goes to be with the Lord.
Phase two is the rapture of the church. And that's because at the rapture of the church, you get a resurrected body. That's when you get your resurrected body, at the rapture of the church. The dead in Christ will rise first. So on rapture day, that's resurrection day. 1 Corinthians 15. You get your new body, resurrected body.
Then, as we saw last time, you will stand before the bema seat of Christ, the judgment seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians Chapter 5. And that's not a judgment for your sin. That's past. That's the cross. You get rewarded. God hands out rewards to you. This is the cool thing about heaven. Not only do you get heaven. Once you get to heaven, you get rewarded by God for things you did in his name.
Wayne Grudem wrote in his book Systematic Theology, "Heaven is the place where God most fully makes known his presence to bless." I love the idea that God's heart toward us is to bless you. So when you get to heaven, if that's not a blessing enough, he says, "Ah, but wait. I've got some gifts I want to give out to you."
So you die. Your spirit goes to be with the Lord. At the rapture, you get a resurrected body. Then there is the bema seat of Christ.
Then there is the marriage supper of the Lamb. We looked at that last time. Some think it lasts seven years. Some think it lasts for a whole 1,000 years. I can't tell you, but I'll find out. And then after the marriage supper of the Lamb, Jesus comes back and sets up a kingdom, a millennial kingdom called the Kingdom Age or the 1,000 year reign of Christ. Chapter 20 delineates 1,000 years, 1,000 years. Several times it mentions that, Revelation Chapter 20.
The Kingdom Age-- get this-- is heaven on earth. So you die. You go to heaven, right? You wait for a resurrected body. Then at some point, you come back to this earth. But this earth gets a makeover, a total makeover. And the prophets describe a renewed earth, a Kingdom Age.
And it describes it by saying there will be a tamed animal world. This is mostly out of the prophet Isaiah, but others as well. A lush biosphere, which means if you're looking for Rio Rancho, you're going to have to look for a place that's filled with palm trees, and ferns, and water. There'll be a lush biosphere. There will be longevity on the earth. There will be world peace. That'll be a new one. And there will be perpetual health.
Then there is yet another phase of heaven. And that is what we call the eternal state. And the eternal state is a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem. Verse 1 of Revelation 21. "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
So after all those events that I just talked about, after the 1,000 year reign of Christ, the kingdom age on Earth, the earth, this earth, will have served its purpose. And when that time comes, it will be destroyed. It will be obliterated. It will be, if you will, uncreated, reduced simply to energy, which brings up a very interesting point. Did you know the earth is a disposable planet? It is.
So if you're trying to save the earth, good luck because it cannot be saved. You can be a good steward of it, and you should be. We should always be a good steward of what God puts in our grasp. But God himself is going to destroy this earth. Why would he do that? Sin has polluted it. That's why.
And by the way, that's why there's not just a new earth but a new heaven in earth because heaven has been polluted as well. There was a fall that took place by a guy named Lucifer. And God will create a new heaven and a new earth.
So remember when Jesus said "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away?" You know, we usually focus on the second part of that, not the first part. But the first part says heaven and earth will pass away. In other words, Jesus announced the world is going to end.
And Peter tells us how it's going to end. 2 Peter Chapter 3, verse 10. "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat." So it is going to be destroyed. All the planets, the sun, our solar system, the universe is going to be uncreated.
You know, until this past century, until about a little over 100 years ago, the prevailing cosmology among scientists-- cosmology is the study of the origin and maintenance of the universe. The prevailing cosmology was known as the steady state theory that everything is in a steady state. There's really no beginning. There's really no end. It's just sort of continuing.
But then science caught up. And they studied things like the sun. They discovered that the sun's radiation is produced by the loss of part of its mass. So 4,200,000 tons of mass per second are lost by the sun. It burns that off every second. It's where we get our heat. What that means is the sun is running down. If the sun is running down, it means it had a beginning. If the sun is running down, and the sun had a beginning, it means the sun has an end. And it will be destroyed along with this earth. So this universe is designed to be temporary.
So he said, "I saw a new heaven, a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." So verse 1, new heaven, new earth. Verse 2, New Jerusalem.
Go down to verse 5. "Then He who sat on the throne said--" This is sort of a summary statement. "Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, write, for these words are true and faithful." That sort of sums up the universe, right? I make everything new.
Isaiah the prophet also predicted this. This is important because don't think that the idea of a new heaven and new earth just sprung up in the Book of Revelation. Isaiah the prophet writes in Isaiah 66, "I will make new heavens and a new earth which will last forever." Never be destroyed.
2 Peter Chapter 3, which I just quoted. After he talks about the earth being destroyed and melting with fervent heat, he says, "We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth." Now, a couple words about the word "new." When he uses the word new earth, new heaven, New Jerusalem, he does not use a typical Greek word, which would be "naos." "Naos" means new chronologically.
He uses the Greek word "kainos," which means a quality of freshness. It's new in quality. It's different in kind. It's a completely different kind of newness, brand spanking new. New materials, new atmosphere. I'll show you that in just a second. At least I believe that.
So what's coming up is the obliteration of the earth and the heavens. So if you're going to be up in heaven, that's going to go. The earth is going to go. And God is going to make a brand new heaven and a new earth. So you have heaven. Call it the intermediate heaven. Then you have heaven on earth for 1,000 years. Then you have the earth destroyed. And God makes a new heaven and a new earth. So you see the phases of heaven.
We love new things. I love new things. I love when I get a new phone. I love it. Say, what? Let me see how cool it is, and the features it has, and the camera that's on it. Right? We like new stuff. When you go get your car washed and they offer you, do you want lemon? No. You want lavender? No. You want spice? No, I want new car.
Oh, I'm sorry. We're out of that today. Aw. Because everybody wants the smell of a new car. One of the dumbest things you could ever say in heaven is, "Is that a new suit of clothes you're wearing?" because I make all things new. Everything will always ever be new. So heaven will come in phases.
The second thing most people don't know about heaven is it will feel unfamiliar. There are certain things that are not there that are here in our earthly experience that, because of that, will feel unfamiliar. And one of them is found in verse 1. I just sort of passed over this because I don't like this verse. And it says, "I saw a new heaven a new earth. The first heaven and earth passed away. Also, there was no more sea."
I have wrestled with this verse for years. This, to me, is so harsh, almost to the extent where I go, do I have to go there? I mean, this is heaven? A brand new world with no ocean? I mean, if I'm writing the script on heaven, it's not going to read this way. If I'm writing the script on heaven, it's going to say this. There were no more cities, but there was lots of beach and a whole bunch of ocean, and palm trees galore. But it says there's no more sea.
Now I got to tell you. I have wrestled with this so much that, over the years, I even early on rationalized the interpretive process of this. I thought perhaps sea is a metaphor for nations that are not in covenant with God, that are described in the Bible like a troubled sea.
So for example, Isaiah 17, the uproar of many peoples. They roar like the roaring of the seas. Isaiah 57, the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest. Revelation 13, the. Antichrist comes out of the sea. See, I've really researched this. Revelation 17 even says the waters which you saw where the harlot sits are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. So I thought there's hope. Maybe it's just a metaphor for lots of angry people won't be there.
But now, I've resigned myself to a more literal approach. I just think what John is saying, in a few words-- it's so short, it's profound-- is that the earth is going to be a different earth. It's not going to be anything like this earth. It's not going to be a water-based environment. It's going to have a different climate altogether. The world that we live in now is 3/4 water. 3/4 of the Earth's surface is ocean. Besides that, there's other water sources in the earth itself. We have our own hydrological cycle on this planet. We depend on that.
You're mostly water. 90% of your blood is water. 65% of your flesh is water. If you don't drink enough water, you dehydrate and you die. To offer this short little pithy statement "And there was no sea" indicates the new earth will be a completely different environment, not like carbon-based life on this earth is required to have the water that it has. It operates on a different principle on the new earth. We're in glorified bodies. We won't require the same things.
Now if that still bums you out and you're wondering, you mean there's no water at all? I didn't say that. By the time you get to Revelation Chapter 22, John said, "And I saw a pure river of the water of life." Something else about oceans, oceans are barriers. They separate people. And in the old days before jet aircraft, that was a big deal. You were thousands of miles and you were trepidous journeys apart by boat from other people. There will be no separation like that in the new earth.
Something else is unfamiliar. Because all of that to us sounds sort of weird, but this gets really good. And I want you to know, as we go on, that John had to write about heaven in the negative, not the positive, the negative. He wants you to know what else isn't there.
So verse 2, "I, John, saw the holy city New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying behold." Or check it out. "The tabernacle of God is with men. And he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death." Imagine that, no death nor sorrow. We can't even imagine that. "Nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
What John is saying is let me tell you what heaven is going to be like. It's not going to be like here. It's going to be unlike the experiences we have on the earth. So work your way through that little list. God will wipe away every tear. No tears in heaven, no Kleenex in heaven.
I think back in my life. There is a lot of days that I cried in my life, some that are very memorable days for me. It might surprise you that the first day of school, public school kindergarten, I cried like a baby. And I was the boy who, when the teacher said, "What's wrong?" cried. And I said, "I miss my mommy." Yeah, I had to live with that forever. The boy who began school by saying "I miss my mommy." That was me.
Days filled with tears. Yeah, I know. Very sad. There were other days filled with tears. The day my brother died and days afterwards. The day my father died, the day my mother died, the day my other brother died. We all have stories like that. We all have tears. Life is filled with tears, tears of misfortune, tears of loneliness, tears of poverty, tears of sympathy, tears of regret. No tears in heaven. That'll be absent.
Notice it says no more death. You know that 57 million people every year die? COVID or no COVID, that's the going rate. 57 million people die a year. That's about 150,000 people every single day. Death has scarred human existence from the beginning when God said to Adam and Eve, "In the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die." Ever since that disobedience, we have experienced that. But not in heaven. You'll never have to go to a cemetery in heaven. There are no cemeteries in heaven. There are no tombstones. There are no caskets. There are no funeral homes. There's no funerals in heaven.
And you will never age in the new heaven and new earth. You'll never age. Because if there's no death, and there's no conditions that bring death, so there's no disease. Right? There's no surgery. There's no hospitals.
Then it says "nor sorrow." Are you ever sorrowful? Are you ever moody? You ever just get in a mood? It's like somebody asks you, "What's wrong?" Oh, nothing. You just got a mood. You just got it going on all day, got an attitude going on. And I've noticed a lot of people have a lot of those this last year. Everybody does. Everybody does at some point. This is why we love the Book of Psalms so much. We read it, and we go, "I relate to that."
Psalm 6 is one. The psalmist said, "I'm weary with my groaning. My eye wastes away because of grief." We relate to that. But there's coming a day when you won't be able to relate to that. It'll be so foreign. There's no sadness. There's no depression.
Here's another stupid thing to say in heaven. Hope you never say it. You can never say in heaven, "Have a good day." That's like the dumbest thing you could ever say in heaven. Have a good day. Every day is a good day. It's always good. There's no sorrow.
And it says "nor pain." That's a big one. There's a lot of aspirin sold. I read the other day that just a little over 20% of all Americans suffer chronic pain. That's a fourth of all people that live in our country, a fourth. Over one fourth suffer from chronic pain. So much so that by the year 2023, the painkiller market will reach a $5.9 billion industry. No pain.
In heaven, you'll have a perfect body. Some of you who work out and are young, you might say, "I already have a perfect body." Just wait. Just wait a few years. Just keep looking in that mirror honestly, and things will catch up with you. It's called entropy. It's called gravity. Those things are real. But in heaven, they'll be absent.
So heaven comes in phases. And it will feel unfamiliar in terms of what we are used to here. A third thing that most people don't know about heaven is that it will have a capital city. And it's called New Jerusalem. In verse 2, he sees it. "I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem--" get this-- "coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, behold, the tabernacle of God is with men. And He will dwell with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God."
Go down to verse 10. "He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the great city, the Holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God." So John sees it coming down toward the new earth. "Having the glory of God, her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal."
John gets this crazy vision of this luminescent city coming down out of heaven toward the earth. And we discovered from this chapter and the next chapter that this is HQ in heaven. This is headquarters. This is the capital city of heaven, New Jerusalem.
There are really no landmarks given about the new earth except for one, that there's no sea. But no other characteristics are given. But a lot of detail is given about this new capital city, New Jerusalem.
And I want you to see how big it is. Verse 15, "And he who talked with me had a gold reed." That's a measuring stick. "To measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square. Its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, 12,000 furlongs." So 12,000 furlongs is between-- depending on how you reckon ancient measuring-- between 1,380 miles to 1,500 miles. So let's just call it 1,500 miles.
Its length, it's breadth, and its height are equal. So we're dealing with a cube that is 1,500 miles in all directions. 1,500 miles, that's like the distance from Maine to Florida. That's like the distance from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Dallas, Texas. That's like the distance from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Spokane, Washington.
And it's shaped like a cube. Now this is kind of weird. Why a cube? Because I think of planets. I think around right sphere I think of a new earth, I'm thinking of a sphere. But you got this square city coming down. This cube city coming down. Why a cube?
I can't be definitive, but I just have an idea. And my idea is-- do you remember right here it says, behold the tabernacle of God is with men. The tabernacle of God. In the Old Testament, there's a thing called the tabernacle. Tabernacle is where God met with people. And there was an outer court. That's where sacrifices were made. There was an inner court. That's where priests only hung out. And in the inner, inner court, it was called the holy of holies. Nobody went in there except the high priest once a year because that's where God dwelt with his people, in the holy of holies.
What's interesting about the holy of holies, it is a perfect cube, 15 feet wide, 15 feet deep, and 15 feet high. That was the Tabernacle. So it says the tabernacle of God is with men. If you have an Old Testament reckoning, you kind of go, I can see that. So it seems like you have a city that is shaped like a cube.
And I would infer from that that the streets are not just horizontal but also vertical and that you'll have the ability to travel quickly in all directions like Jesus, who, in his resurrected body, could be here one moment and there the next moment. And when he wanted to visit the disciples in the upper room didn't have to knock on the door. He just went through the wall, just showed up, just went, poof, there he is. Right? That's quite a capability. Wouldn't you love to do that? I think you'll be able to do that.
Now in going through this, inevitably somebody is going to at least think it if not say it. And it goes like this, are you sure this is literal? I don't think this is intended to be literal. This really doesn't mean an actual city coming out of heaven to the earth. Well, I guess I'll respond to that by saying if it's not literal, then I have no idea what he's talking about and neither do any of you, because at the point where you say it's not literal, you have to say I'm going to just start making things up of what I think they could mean. And then I would wonder, why would God spend the whole Book of Revelation just to tell us what's not going to happen? Right? I know Revelation is given in symbols. But the symbols point to realities, literal events.
In Revelation Chapter 1, God says here's the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show to his servant John, which he signified by an angel. The word "signified" means given in signs. So we have symbols. We have signs. But they point to a reality.
And if you start saying, well, this isn't literal or the millennium isn't literal. It's not really 1,000 years. Then pray tell, what is it? Because if 1,000 doesn't mean 1,000, then what does 1,000 mean? Because you have a lot of numbers in the Book of Revelation that are very, very detailed. You have, for example, seven churches. Maybe it doesn't mean seven churches. You have 12 tribes. Maybe it doesn't mean 12 tribes. You have 12 apostles. Well, maybe it doesn't mean 12 apostles. Right? You see the problem you have with that.
You have one third of mankind being destroyed. You have two witnesses. You have the discussion of 42 months. Then it even says 1,260 days. Why the detail? And now you have 12,000 furlongs. So if you start saying, well, I interpret the Bible literally except for prophecy, I'm going to say to you, on what basis? And what authority do you have to dissect the scripture and say, well, I believe this literally but I don't believe that's literal?
Because then you're going to start getting into other areas like salvation. Maybe you don't really have to believe in Jesus. I know it says that, but maybe it doesn't really mean that. So you go down a bad interpretive street.
However, if you look at it at face value, then you have a real kingdom in Israel, in Jerusalem, with a real Messiah on the throne of David for 1,000 years, followed by a destruction, followed by a creation of a new heaven, a new earth, a New Jerusalem, and a 1,400, 1,500 mile cube city. I can't wait to check it out.
So that's what most people don't know about heaven. Let me give you a fourth. And this is the saddest one. Not everyone will be there. Not everyone goes to heaven. The prevailing ideology among most people on earth is that all you have to do to go to heaven if there is one is get born on earth. You're born, you die, you go to heaven. That's what people do. And according to jokes, that's what cat and mice do as well.
But not everybody goes there. It's only a city of believers. Verse 7, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things. And I will be his God, and he will be my son. but the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." That's pretty clear, right?
Go down to verse 24. "And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light. And the kings of the earth will bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day. There will be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."
Not everybody goes to heaven. Not everybody will be in heaven. It says in verse 7, "he who overcomes." What does that mean? It's simply a statement of believing in Jesus. That's all it is. It's another way of saying somebody who believes in Jesus and believes all the way through, endures all the way through in that faith.
1 John Chapter 5. "Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." So you believe, you overcome the world. Listen, if you are not a Christian, you need to know the worst is yet to come. If you are a Christian, you need to know the best is yet to come. It can only be said to the believer. The best is yet to come.
If you're an unbeliever, I can't imagine anything worse than growing old as an unbelieving person. Because you get old. You go through all the typical stuff we all go through as we age-- the aches, the pains, the heartaches, the hardships. And the only thing you have are memories of your past because your future is not bright. But as a believer, as bad as it has ever been, it's only going to get awesome. No pain, no sorrow, no tears.
Something else, you notice that Jerusalem is called the holy city. People all the time say, "I want to go on one of your Holy Land tours. I want to see the holy city of Jerusalem." Technically, you have to wait till the New Jerusalem because I would tell you even in the holy city of Jerusalem today, there are places you don't want to walk at night because they feel very unholy. People will say, "Well, I don't know about a whole new earth. I'm going to miss my old earth. I'm going to miss my old home. I'm going to miss the ocean. I'm going to miss the West side."
Isaiah 65 answers that. "Behold, I create a new heavens and new earth." Here it is. "And the former shall not be remembered nor even come to mind." You will not miss it. You won't even think about it. You would say, "Oh, but I miss my cat. I miss my little garden out back." You won't miss it. I make all things new.
CS Lewis said, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." This is the world you were made for. That is the world you are going to. That's a motivation for me.
Paul said set your things on things above. Set your mind on things above, not on the things of this earth. Whoever has this hope purifies himself as he is pure. You know it's coming up for you. I know it's a glimpse. I know we see through a glass darkly. But I think we have enough information to at least go, wow. Right?
Father, I pray this would motivate us. I pray, Father, for those that don't know you, that they would. It's so easy. You've done all the work. You've made the sacrifice. So all we have to do is simply turn around. We have to repent, go in a different direction, and invite the Savior into our life. I pray that those who have not done that, would. Because of all the things that grab our attention in this life that we deem as important, none is as important as this, this eternal issue. And I pray for those who have not made the decision yet, they would say yes to Jesus.
And if you're here this morning and you want to do that, then talk to him right now. Right where you are, say to him and mean this, say, Lord, I admit it. I'm a sinner. I admit it. I've sinned. Forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe he died for me. I believe he bled for me. I believe he rose again from the dead. I believe that.
And I turn from my past. I turn from the direction I've been going. I turn to Jesus as Savior and as Lord. Fill me with your Spirit, your Holy Spirit. Help me. Empower me to live a life that pleases you. Today and every day, I pray.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.