Summary: Today, I want to be your tour guide to Heaven. Be aware, human language has its limits. And the beauty, the magnificence and the joy set before you will stretch the very limits of human thought and our communication skills.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 21:22–22:5)
In front of us is a breathtaking view of the Celestial City, New Jerusalem. Earlier, John says the Spirit showed him the beauty of the Eternal City: “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:10-11)
At a time when our nation’s capital faces persistent gridlock and persistent problems of societal justice, many are completely disillusioned and even worse, at the point of cynical despair. I want to show you a well-functioning eternal city for the next few minutes. You have a million things to do and dozen worries as you sit here this morning, but lay all that aside for the next few minutes. For the next few minutes, I want to invite you into the city planning office of heaven. On one occasion, just before Jesus left the earth during what we call the Ascension, Jesus said these words: “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
God has rolled up His sleeves as He’s been doing some urban planning. The good news is all the inspections and permits are complete. His city is compliant with all the zoning and ordinance codes. He’s accounted for urban sprawl and He’s even reduced His carbon footprint.
Today, I want to be your tour guide. Be aware, human language has its limits. And the beauty, the magnificence and the joy set before you will stretch the very limits of human thought and our communication skills. Let’s start from the outskirts of the city and move inward…
1. The Walls of the City
Fort Knox is famous for being the stronghold where America’s gold is held. And it is thought to be an impregnable fortress. The United States Department of the Treasury has held the nation’s deposit of gold bullion there since 1937. Fort Knox holds 5,050 tons of gold, worth billions and billions of dollars. Our nation’s gold vault is lined with granite walls and a blast-proof door that weighs some 20 tons. The casing for the vault is approximately 25 inches thick. In fact, to secure this valuable asset, the depository was constructed with 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforcing steel, and 670 tons of structural steel. People cannot be trusted, so “No single person is entrusted with the entire combination to the vault. Ten members of the Depository staff must dial separate combinations known only to them. Beyond the main vault door, smaller internal cells provide [even] further protection.” Several fences surround the facility, and as you would imagine they have armed guards also present. But in addition to this, Fort Knox is also protected by layers of physical security, alarms, video cameras, microphones, minefields, barbed razor wire, electric fences, heavily armed guards, and the Army units based at Fort Knox, including unmarked Apache helicopter gunships. In contrast, the Bible describes heaven as a city that it is indescribably beautiful yet “its gates will never be shut by day…” (Revelation 21:25a).