An exposition of Revelation 21:1-8. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 23, 2008.
Have you ever wanted to start all over? Have you ever wished that everything would just go away and you could start fresh? I’ve had that feeling many times. Sometimes in the middle of a sermon! There is something in the heart of man that longs for a second chance. The opportunity to do it over. The chance to begin again. Haven’t you said, “If I just had it to do over again?” But life doesn’t work like that. Our actions have consequences. But there is coming a time when everything will be made new. Life will begin again. That is the hope of the child of God. And that is what John catches a glimpse of in Revelation chapter 21.
Text: Revelation 21:1-8
Since the time of Plato philosophers and poets have pondered the ideal world. Wondering what the ideal world would be like. What institutions would it have and how could such a world be achieved? Sir Thomas Moore spoke of “Utopia.” He referred to it as a world free of trouble, anxiety and need. It would be a world in which laws were no longer needed as each citizen cared about the welfare and happiness of his neighbor. All would freely share with any who were in need. It is interesting to note that the word “utopia” is a compound word from the Greek language. “Ou” meaning “no” or “note” and “topos” meaning “place.” Utopia is no place – no such place exists! Yet the heart of man yearns for it. The Old Testament prophets fanned the flames of our desire through passages like Isaiah 25:6-8, and Isaiah 65:17-19, 25. John, the beloved was exiled to the isle of Patmos. The Church of Asia Minor was the victim of intense persecution. One Lord’s Day John was caught up into heaven and given a vision of what must take place.
In chapter 4 he saw the throne of heaven and someone sitting on that throne. He experienced the worship of the elders and the heavenly beings.
He heard the same song Isaiah had heard hundreds of years before. Then he beheld the Lord Jesus – the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. Again there was a spontaneous explosion of worship and celebration around the throne.
He witnessed the intense struggle between the forces of God and the devil. In chapter 20 John sees the destruction of Satan and the judgment of the dead. Chapter 20 ends with the horrifying reality that those whose names are not found written in the “book of life” will be cast into the lake of fire. Those who have spurned the gracious offer of life must stand on their own merit. Because all sin and fall short of the glory of God, their fate is sealed. Death. Eternal death. As the smoke and fire of chapter 20 clears John is given a glorious vision of a new heaven and a new earth. Let’s look at it.
This passage reminds us of a glorious truth:
Thesis: Heaven is a place of new beginnings.
There are three great truths in this passage that I want us to note this morning.
I. In the eternal state the earth will be gloriously transformed. (21:1-2)
Chapter 21 marks the beginning of the eternal state. John sees a new heaven and a new earth. Earth was originally created to be man’s permanent home. It was there in the Garden of Eden that Adam walked with God. It was a Paradise. It was a perfect environment.
But then sin and death entered the world and transformed the earth into a place of rebellion and alienation. The earth became enemy-occupied territory. But God has been working in redemptive history to reverse all the effects of sin!
There are two words for “new” used in the New Testament. “Neos” = new in time. That is the latest version of something. The word used in Revelation 21 is “kainos” = new in quality. It means fresh, renewed or renovated.
John did not witness the birth of earth 2 – but the renovation of the earth.
What earth is John talking about? The Greek word is “ge” – geography, geology. A transformation of this physical earth (so much for gnosticism).
Verse 2 announces the arrival of the New Jerusalem. God’s gift – given to his people – not earned or deserved. A bride – beautifully dressed (you never see an ugly bride). The earth will be gloriously transformed.
II. In Heaven sinful man will be fully restored in his relationship with God. (21:3-4)
As beautiful and wonderful as I think heaven is going to be the real beauty and the thing that makes it heaven is the presence of God and our being united with him!
21:3-4 = this is the goal of redemption. The word “dwelling place” = tabernacle. This is the fulfillment of Lev 26:11-13. What did God give to Moses at Mt. Sinai? The Law and the tabernacle! To dwell = to be at home with. This is not just co-existence. This is sweet communion. Heaven is a place of restored relationship.
III. In Heaven we will enjoy a blessed reward. (21:5-8)
Again the voice of God thunders from the throne, “I am making everything new…it is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
This is an affirmation of His sovereignty. He is the originator and the concluder. The creator and the finisher.
21:6-7 promise a great reward for those who are faithful conquerors. But note 21:8 – the news isn’t good for everyone. Cowardly = the fearful, those who make a profession but prove to be false professors. The faithless/the unbelieving = those who deny the faith The detestable = those polluted by sin. Murderers = especially those who have persecuted The sexually immoral = all forms of sexual perversion Sorcerers, idolaters and all liars Their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur – the second death. Forever excluded from the enjoyment of God’s presence and grace.
Who will be in heaven? The humblest sinner who repents and trusts in Christ and Christ alone.
In the eternal state the earth will be gloriously transformed. In Heaven sinful man will be fully restored in his relationship with God. In Heaven we will enjoy a blessed reward.
Because – Heaven is a place of new beginnings.