Summary: Around AD 95 John was exiled to the island of Patmos. It was there that John wrote the book of Revelation.
HEAVEN: OUR FUTURE HOME
“The New Jerusalem”
Scripture: Revelation 21:1
The famous explorer Marco Polo after completing his journeys went back to his home in Venice. When he got back to his home he began to describe some of the things he had seen. But his close friends thought he had gone mad. He told then about black stones that you could actually set on fire and they would provide heat for you. But they could not imagine what he was talking about ...... they had never heard of charcoal. He told them about a piece of cloth that as hard as he tried he could not set it on fire. But they could not imagine what he was talking about ... they had never heard of asbestos. He told them about large animals that were almost 20 feet long; had jaws large enough to swallow a grown man but they could not imagine what he was talking about ….. they had never seen a crocodile. Then he told them of a substance that came spewing out of the ground that if you lit it, it would catch on fire and actually provide light but they could not imagine because they had never heard of crude oil. Years later when Marco Polo was lying on his death bed one of the few men who actually believed him was there and he said tell me all of those stories again. I want to hear them again. But he refused and simply said, it’s all true ... every bit of it. In fact I have not told you ½ of what I saw.
That story reminds me of a passage in John 22:24-25. Listen. John is closing out his gospel and he says …….”This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written. Apparently the Bible wasn’t written to tell us everything; there are some things that in this lifetime we never seem to understand or figure out. Now that should never stop us from studying to learning as much as possible; Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15 Living Bible “Work hard so God can say to you, “Well done.” Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work. “Know what his Word says and means.” So daily we should be studying to know what his word says and means. There are times when I wish He had told me more about certain things; for instance from the ages of 12 until Jesus was 30 we have nothing. Luke sums it up by telling us “that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” He grew in every way possible in those 18 years but I want to know more. But we don’t have it. I have questions about so many things in scripture ….. I don’t mean that I doubt it, I just have questions. So I am constantly reminded of three things (1) it is my job to study; the knowledge and wisdom will come from God, (2) I am also reminded that this walk in this life is not a walk of “complete knowledge” but rather it is a walk of faith …. by faith we are saved and (3) one day I will completely understand. I will know as I am known.
In about AD 90, perhaps 95, John the apostle was sent to an island called Patmos. He was the last living apostle. He was sent as punishment to live in isolation because of his witness for Christ. It was while he was there that he was given a vision and he wrote down the book of Revelation, perhaps the most controversial book in scripture. In seminary we were require t read a book written by 3 different Bible scholars offering 3 completely different interpretations. But I believe if John could speak to us today that he would tell us that he has not told us ½ of what he saw. When Paul was caught up into the 3rd heaven he said that he heard inexpressible things; things that man is not permitted to tell. But from all of this, as many opinions and books as I have read on this topic there are at least 3 things that everyone seems to agree on. And I want to share them with you today.
1. Heaven is a perfect place. Listen to how John describes it. Revelation 21:1-4. For most of us when we see something for the first time which was what John was doing ... it’s what Paul was doing as well, we want to be able to describe everything we can possibly remember about it and sometimes after all of that we then share what that place had and also what it didn’t have. We used go to a place regularly that is owned by some friends in Arkansas. It is a cabin/house that sits on Spring River. It’s beautiful but the first time I went there I remember I described it afterwards by what it didn’t have. It doesn’t have a phone. No TV. No radio. No pavement on the road. No AC. But it doesn’t need it. It’s in the Ozark Mountains. It’s a great place to go to get away from it all and we have been many times. Has a huge back porch holding about 10 twin beds screened in and the breeze would blow through and we could hear the water running in the waterfall/spring all night. I often thought “I wonder if heaven is like this.”