Summary: Revelation gives a description of heaven that has been debated for centuries. What picture of this did God want us to receive?
TEXT: Revelation 21:1-8/22-22:5
OPENING: KNOWING HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN R.Digest 2/84 p. 153 From Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s autobiography "Treasure in Clay."
I stopped to ask a few boys for directions to the Town Hall where I was giving a lecture. They told me where the Town Hall was and then asked, "What are you going to do there?"
"I’m giving a lecture on heaven and how to get there. Would you like to come and find out?"
"You’re kidding," one boy said. "You don’t even know the way to the Town Hall."
There’s a song that goes: "Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace - I want to see my Savior’s face, Heaven is a wonderful place... I want to go there"
"Us News and World Report" commented on a 1990 survey which indicated that 78% of Americans believed in heaven - and believed they were going to get there.
APPLICATION: The picture we see in Revelation describes why going to heaven is such an exciting possibility.
ILLUS: When my boy Jonathan was 2 1/2 years old, he found a J.C. Penney "Wish Book" in the house and began carrying it around with him everywhere he went. He’d ask me to "read" it to him. The pictures alone excited him.
Now, imagine how he would react if I took him to a "Toys R Us" store, opened the doors and said, "Jonathan, we’ve come into an inheritance that includes everything in this store. It’s all yours."
That would be heaven for him.
In Revelation, the Angel is telling us - Heaven is a wonderful place - you want to go there. AND when you go there, the description you find in this Book is only an inkling of what you’ll receive.
But, there are some mysteries about heaven.
I. Mystery #1 - We’re already in heaven.
ILLUS: (true story) During a sermon a preacher stated that money wasn’t important in the afterlife, because in heaven, there is no money. A woman overheard one parishioner whisper to her mother, "Did you hear that, Mom? we’re already in heaven."
Believe it or not, it’s true. We’re already there. Ephesians 2:6 tells us "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus."
It may not be a tangible reality… but it is a spiritual reality.
Physically - you still face loss, heartache, tears, pain.
BUT you ARE in God’s presence right now.
ILLUS: The brilliant scientist Sir Isaac Newton said that he could take his telescope and look millions and millions of miles into space. Then he added, "But when I lay it aside, go into my room, shut the door, and get down on my knees in earnest prayer, I see more of Heaven and feel closer to the Lord than if I were assisted by all the telescopes on earth."
II. Mystery #2 - For a place that is to be our eternal home - the Bible says surprisingly little about it.
What you find here in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 is the most detailed "description" of Heaven in the Bible.
Streets of Gold
Gates of pearl
Walls of jasper.
And we told that the walls are 12,000 stadia long and wide (1400 miles each way).
AND the wall is 1400 miles HIGH.
ILLUS: The Sear’s Tower in Chicago is 1454 FEET tall. It would take over 50 Sear’s Towers to reach the height of that wall.
Because Revelation Prophetic, there are many of us who view this terminology as being symbolic (there are those who don’t agree… BUT they have a right to be wrong).
If the descriptions we’re given in Revelation are symbolic imagery, why might God describe it that way? Possibly because we’ve never seen heaven - or anything remotely like it. The word pictures the angel gives in this text give us something to pin our imaginations on.
ILLUS: It’s kind of like explaining to a little child what a roller coaster is when they’ve never seen one before. You could tell them it’s like a train, or like a slide. The description might be inadequate, but it will give the child an idea of the fun that awaiting them inside the park.
Whether the angels words are symbolic or are an actual depiction, there’s one comfort that’s easy to visualize and easy to embrace. Heaven will be a place of
Everything will be bright, new, refreshing, pure.
When Paul refers to his vision of heaven in II Corinthians 13 he simply says he heard things that were "inexpressible."
III. All that is great. But, the most exciting thing about heaven is this: You and I won’t be there alone - God will be there.