Summary: At the end of time as we know it, God will restore the paradise of Eden, even richer than before. His presence will be our light and healing. God has a plan so we should trust and love our God, knowing that he will work things out.
The Curse Reversed
Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman and his family endured a terrible tragedy eight years ago when one of their teen drivers accidentally backed over their toddler in the driveway of their family home. The girl died instantly. Chapman later wrote a song about heaven, dreaming of when he will see his daughter again. Listen to some of the words:
God, I know, it's all of this and so much more,
But God, You know, that this is what I'm aching for.
God, you know, I just can't see beyond the door.
But in my mind's eye I can see a place
Where Your glory fills every empty space.
All the cancer is gone,
Every mouth is fed,
And there's no one left in the orphans' bed.
Every lonely heart finds their one true love,
And there's no more goodbye,
And no more not enough,
And there's no more enemy (no more).
Oh God, I know, it's so much more than I can dream.
It's far beyond anything I can conceive.
So God, You know, I'm trusting You until I see
Heaven in the face of my little girl,
Heaven in the face of my little girl
Today we are looking more at the heaven on earth that God has promised for those who believe. Last week we talked about how there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears; how God will be with his people; how the church will be in relationship to Jesus much as a bride is to her groom; how we will live in complete fulfillment with our God as his people, in the heaven on earth city of Jerusalem.
Last week I told you about some things that would NOT be in heaven: no ambulances, no hospitals, no Kleenex. From today’s scripture we have to add a couple more things to the list of what will NOT be in heaven: First, verse 22 tells us there won’t be a Temple there. Why not? The Old Testament Temple, like its predecessor the Tabernacle, was the residence of God’s glory on earth. The Temple moved progressively more holy from the outside in, beginning with the outer Gentile courtyard, where God even allowed room for us as non-Jews; to the Jewish women’s court, then the men’s court, then the places of prayer and animal sacrifice by the priests, and finally the Holy of Holies, the small room at the very center, where the High Priest would enter once a year, on Yom Kippur, and offer atonement on behalf of all the people. The other priests would tie a rope around his leg, so that if he died while encountering God’s holiness, the others could pull him out. That’s how holy God’s presence is.
The rest of verse 22 tells us why there won’t be a temple, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb ARE the temple. God the Father and God the Son will be living among us in this heaven on earth. We no longer have to fear his presence, because we will continually be IN his presence.
Verse 23 tells us something else that won’t be present in heaven: lights. There won’t be any flashlights, nor ceiling lights, no flood lights, no candles. Why? Because, verse 23, the glory of God will be heaven’s all-sufficient light source. We won’t even need a sun or a moon! The Lamb, Jesus Christ, is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light. Revelation 22:5 says, “They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.”
Light suggests clarity, goodness, purity, warmth, growth. Sometimes, when I’m not overwhelmed by the South Texas heat, I’ll let a sunbeam hit my face and relish in a feeling of being loved by God. Light to me represents love. God is our light!
Light also suggests God’s glory. Do you remember when the Old Testament leader Moses wanted to see God, and God said, “No, because you’re a sinful man; if you saw me you would die!” But God did allow Moses just a small glimpse of the backside of God’s glory while passing by, as Moses hid in the cleft of a rock. Exodus 33:19 quotes the Lord as saying, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
This is the Shekinah glory of the Lord. Now we can’t handle it, but someday it will be our light, all around us, in a wonderful place called heaven. NOW we get little glimpses of God’s glory as we see God’s mercy and compassion. And we extend God’s glory in this world as we choose to show mercy on and compassion to those who hurt us, instead of trying to hurt them back. Those are little previews of heaven on earth. Someday they will be the norm, as God’s glory will be our light.