Sermons

Summary: What will and won’t be in heaven

Revelation 21-22:5- ‘Heaven- the New Jerusalem’

Intro

Notions of Jerusalem

• Archaeology & the Bible. “In Jerusalem in 1880 some school boys were wading in the Pool of Siloam when one…discovered some peculiar…marks that looked like writing. When they informed their teacher, Professor Conrad Schick, he…visited the spot and copied the inscription… All authorities agree[d] that it was written about 702BC when Hezekiah was king of Judah” (Thomson Chain Reference).

• At that time Jerusalem was in a terrible state. The prophet Isaiah had been warning Hezekiah and others that “the faithful city [had] become a harlot! …Their land is full of silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures…no end to their chariots…their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands... People bow down, and each man humbles himself; therefore do not forgive them” (Isaiah 1:21;2:7,8). Sounds a bit like Britain, 2004AD.

Eventually, Jerusalem was crushed in 586BC by the Babylonians, sacked again in the 2nd Century by the Syrians; then burnt down in AD70 by the Romans. Ever since, Jerusalem has been the bloody battle site for Crusaders and Arabs, Jews and Muslims. We hear weekly reports of suicide bombers in the holy city. It’s not without some poignancy and irony, therefore, that ‘Jerusalem’ means ‘city of peace’, and it is never without relevance that the Psalmist calls us all to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (122:6).

• Where can we find a better Jerusalem, one quite unlike this uniformly unholy city?

The apostle John saw a New Jerusalem in his revelation around 1900 years ago, and the prophet Isaiah another 800 years before that. And this wonderful place is not just for Jews- no, our passage clearly states in verses 24 and 26 that “the nations will walk by its light”- that’s you and me.

This New Jerusalem no earthly place. It is heaven itself.

So what do we think about heaven?

Notions of Heaven

• Where true love is found?

‘Heaven’ by DJ Sammy-

“And love is all that I need

And I found it there in your heart

It isn’t too hard to see

We’re in heaven.”

• Pleasant but boring? “I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse” (Asimov); “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company… The secret source of humour itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humour in heaven” (Twain).

No heaven?

• Just the here and now: ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon

“Imagine there’s no heaven,

It’s easy if you try,

No hell below us,

Above us only sky,

Imagine all the people

Living for today.”

Why should we consider heaven and hell?

• If they doesn’t exist, rejection of the LORD soon follows: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We [the Beatles] are more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first- rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity” (Lennon, 1966 interview for Evening Standard).

• But if they do exist, rejection of the LORD is extremely serious indeed. Jesus says in Mark 8:38, “Whoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

What should we think about heaven?

1) What won’t be in heaven

a) Tears, sorrow, pain, death (21:4)

• Tears- impotent despair after getting a yellow card (Gazza- show pic!); wild desperation (toddler lost its mother in the supermarket); inconsolable grief of David- “The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said thus: ‘Oh my son Absalom- my son, my son Absalom- if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!’” (2 Samuel 18:33). Not because his son was a rebel, but because his son was dead

• Death. The root of our sorrow. There’s a kind of death in all our tears- the fear of separation and loss by Gazza from his dream; the fear of separation and loss for the mother and toddler; the reality of separation and loss as it sinks it for the bereaved king David.

• The writer of Ecclesiastes points out one of the most ghastly facts about death: it renders everything, even wisdom, utterly pointless. “For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!” (Eccl 2:16).

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