Unrivaled Glory

An exposition of Revelation 22:1-5. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 7, 2008.

They were a young, struggling business but through hard work and determination they were making a go of it.  After a couple of years their business took off.  Business was so good they expanded opening a new branch on the other side of town.  On the day of the grand opening a business associate sent them a flower arrangement.  When the arrangement arrived the young couple was a bit perplexed.  Finally, convinced that something was wrong they called the florist.  “Yes you just delivered an arrangement to our new store…”  “Is something wrong?” came the reply.  “Well, we’re just confused the ribbon says, ‘our deepest sympathies.’”  The voice on the other end of the line in panic cried, “Oh, no.  That means the one I sent to the funeral says, ‘congratulations on your new location!’”

If that was a funeral for a child of God – that would be an appropriate sentiment.  Heaven is a grand and glorious place.  That is one of the reason why John declares, “Blessed are they that die in the Lord.”  To be envied.  To be congratulated.  That sounds strange – but it is a glorious truth.  For the last few weeks we have been considering some of the great truths about heaven.

Our guide has been John the beloved apostle. On Patmos – the prisoner of Rome the captive of Christ. He has written his vision to encourage and strengthen us.

I don’t want you to miss the purpose of John’s description of heaven.  It is not just to give us hope for the future but also to encourage us to live for him now!

Text: Revelation 22:1-5
After the demise of Satan, following the final judgment, we will enter the eternal state.  As we consider the message of Revelation 21-22 we are reminded that:

Thesis: Heaven is a place of unrivaled glory.
Nothing even begins to compare with it. No description is adequate – words cannot do it justice. But the real beauty is not the architecture, the sights or the sounds – but the presence of the Lord Jesus.  In our text we find three reasons for why Heaven is such a glorious place.

I. Heaven is a place of gracious and abundant provision.  (22:1-2)
John begins with a description of the River of Life promised earlier (21:6). From this stream we will be fully satisfied, fulfilled and blessed. Here is a crystal-clear, flowing stream gushing out of God’s throne and flowing down the middle of the street of gold.

The image is clear – God is the source of this blessing. Those who drink from it find exhilarating ecstasy. The psalmist sang – “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” (Ps 46:4).

We are told in Genesis that at the dawn of human history there was a river in the Garden of Eden that brought life.

Ezekiel saw this same flowing river along with Joel and Zechariah. Jesus said, “He who believes in me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” In Rev 7:17 – we read “The Lamb shall guide them to springs of the water of life.” We will drink as much as we want for as long as we want. Our bodies will find strength, our souls will find satisfaction and our spirits will find fulfillment forever.

But John goes on – along the banks of the river we’ll find the tree of life. It is a bit confusing – “on either side stood the tree (singular) of life…” How does a tree stand on either side of the river? Most likely a collective word = park or forest. These trees yield an abundant supply of fruit. This is certainly a different kind of tree – 12 kinds of fruit?

And not, in heaven growing seasons will be a thing of the past! Continuous bumper crop.
The trees will provide “healing” for the nations. Healing = therapeutic
The point – God is the source of this great abundant, overflowing, gracious provision.

II. Heaven is a place of freedom and unhindered service.  (22:3)

Look at the opening word of verse 3 – “No longer will there be anything accursed…” In glory the curse placed upon man will be removed – completely gone! God will reverse the effects of sin. No more contending with Satan. No more pin or sorrow. No more death or separation. No more ruthless tyranny by godless men. No more hostility. No more disease or illness. Only peace and health, comfort and pleasure. We’ve never even known a day like that!

But this will be the environment of heaven!!!

What will we do with that freedom? Serve the Lord without ceasing. We will be free to humbly walk in obedience. We’ll be busier than ever. But no burnout. No mid-life crisis. No retirement.

III. Heaven is a place of glorious transformation.  (22:4-5)

In heaven we will see the greatest of all sights – the Lord Jesus. We will behold him – face to face. This divine vision is the greatest glory of heaven. Theologians call it the “beatific vision.” Just the sight of him will provoke instant and profound joy.

Imagine it – Our eyes will behold him who died for us. The crucified one The one who gives life

This vision has been the hope of the people of God throughout the ages.  Job said, “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another.  My heart faints within me” (Job 19:26-27).

David, in Psalm 17 said, “I shall behold thy face in righteousness.”

R.C. Sproul said, “There is no more difficult problem that attends the life of faith than that we are called to serve and worship God who is utterly invisible to us.  As long as we are tainted by sin, we cannot see God.  Presently, we cannot look upon a holy God and live.”

But there is coming a day when we will see him face to face. In that very moment – we will be glorified – transformed into his likeness. His name will be upon us – proof of ownership. We will be like him.
There will not be so much as a hint of our fallen nature. Glorified bodies will house the spirits of righteous men made perfect (Heb 12:23).

The glory of heaven is beyond compare.  Its size is staggering.  Its beauty, breathe-taking.  Its glory unrivaled.  It is a place of gracious and abundant provision.  It is a place of freedom and unhindered service.   It is a place of glorious transformation.

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