Heaven is far more glorious than we likely imagine. You know, Titus talks about heaven being our blessed hope.
You know what it is. But we forget the word blessed and we run immediately to hope. It is our hope. It is also a blessed hope.
Makarius, that word can be translated happy, jubilant, exciting, wonderful. Heaven is our jubilant, exciting, wonderful hope. Imagine all of this and we will only scratch the surface. On our last broadcast, Stephen began a message that we didn't have time to complete. Today, we bring you the conclusion to that lesson. As believers, we live with the hope of heaven ringing in our hearts, knowing that Jesus will keep his promises to us. God has given us some glimpses of what the new heaven and new earth will be like. Stephen is teaching us about that in his series from Revelation 21.
The series is called Heaven on Earth. Today, Stephen concludes this lesson that he called a brand new world. Look at what Peter reveals in verse seven. But by his word, the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Look down at verse 10, the middle part. The heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed, literally loosed. The Greek word means that it comes apart. The atoms split, so to speak, with this intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up. The earth, as you know, is formed like a hollow ball. The outer shell or crust and eventually you get to a liquid core that is seething and boiling at the center of the earth.
Temperatures there are estimated to be as high as 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about the same as the surface of the sun. You may remember if you're old enough, on May 18th, 1980, almost said 1880, none of you are that old, 1980, Mount St. Helens in the Pacific Northwest erupted. It left an area three times the size of the District of Columbia, an utter wasteland. That volcanic eruption which lasted for nine hours spewed out 13,000 metric tons of gas and rock every single second.
Now you talk about pressure, the pressure inside this planet. Perhaps you've just seen the news recently of the volcano erupting in Iceland, right? One article that I read said that it has shut down air travel across Europe. It's sent an ash plume more than five miles into the air. World leaders have been forced to govern by phone from airport lounges, this article said. Even world militaries have been forced to alter their flight patterns.
This article said the wider fear is that the invisible microscopic particles could clog airplane engines and cancellations have become the world's biggest flight disruption since 9-11. That's just one volcano. That's just one volcano erupting. And it shuts down the business of world empires. I thought it was interesting that the same news magazine that I read this article in that of course would have scoffed at the idea that these are warnings of a coming judgment of a planet that literally is winding down. Destined for judgment.
They would probably mock at that and think that's silly and yet that same magazine, I looked over to the left hand margin and there was an article where astronomers were figuring out new ways to come in contact with aliens. Are we reverse or what? We're captivated by the wrong thing. My friend listen to this. Every hot springs is a warning. Enjoy it, but it's a warning.
Every spouting geyser of steam is a sermon. Every volcanic eruption is a reminder that this earth contains a sea of fire and God knew exactly what he was talking about when he promised Noah it would flood one day and he knows exactly what he's talking about when he promises the planet will disappear in a fiery explosion. Earth is literally a ticking time bomb. Mankind however ignores it, thinks that somehow we're going to save it, rescue it, whatever, it's going to last forever and it's all up to us.
Oh no, no, no. Mankind ignores the warning signals that creation is fallen. Nature we're told is longing for the day of redemption. It's groaning. Mankind there's an earthquake or tsunami or a volcanic eruption.
It's a message. Are we really ready to leave this planet? Think about the fact that mankind walks around on the outer crust of a planet where he lives and he works and he conducts his business and cares for a family and sends his emails and makes his phone calls and takes her vacations and all the while he's living and walking and working. On the crust of a boiling seething planet which God has actually designed into it to one day literally explode and burn away. That volcano in Iceland is just one more groan.
Just one more groan. It's one more invitation to believe the record of scripture, the planet earth will not last forever. Another one will. A new earth will. There is some friendly debate among Bible scholars as to whether or not God will destroy the earth completely or just sort of scorch it, burn the surface and refurbish it. There are some verses that can be lined up on both sides.
I would have friends on both sides of this argument. To me the determining text after studying the verses involved, the determining text is 2 Peter chapter 3 which settles the issue for me. It uses such clear and decisive language to indicate that while God may use the matter and elements of this destroyed universe to refashion a new one, he will completely destroy the universe as we know it. One author wrote, a scientist who is also a Bible commentator wrote, By the principle of mass energy conservation, nothing of the former universe will be lost. God will take the matter which by fire has been reduced to a vapor state and once again exercises mighty powers of creation and integration and the new heavens and the new earth will appear, so to speak, from the ashes of the old.
Fascinating thought, isn't it? John writes in Revelation chapter 21, go back there, in verse 1, for the first heaven, that is the atmosphere and the universe as we know it, not the city of God, heaven as we think of it there, has passed away. It's passed away.
It's gone. Peter explains how and why. Now some might suggest that we're admitting defeat, that it would be unfortunate for God to lose earth, this earth, that somehow he's lost if he needs to create a new one. One of the few Old Testament texts in Isaiah that speaks of the eternal state actually quotes creator God with a totally different perspective than that one.
Listen to what God says through his prophet, the New Living Translation paraphrases it wonderfully. He says through his prophet Isaiah, behold, look, I am creating new heavens and a new earth, so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore. Be glad. Rejoice forever in my creation.
The sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more. God's evidently enthusiastic about this coming new earth, the new heavens, the new universe, this new world. John writes in Revelation 21 verse 1 that he sees a new heaven and a new earth, new. The word used by John refers to a new kind of heaven, a new kind of earth, but it is a word that informs us that the new creation will have continuity with the old. In other words, it's going to be like the old.
Stay with me here. It's going to be different, new, but like the old. It's going to be a new earth, unique. In fact, we've already read in verse 1 there is no more sea.
I'll talk about that in a little bit. But it's going to be related to, similar to, recognizable with the old one. God's going to do the same thing with the earth that he did with our bodies. If we die before the rapture and we go to our coffins, he will one day, according to Paul's letters to the Thessalonians, he will take the dust of those coffins long inhabited by our bodies and he will reconstitute them. There will be a new body glorified, perfected, but it will have continuity with our old body. In other words, it's not going to be something totally different. We won't in our new bodies have three arms and four legs and one big eye in the middle of our forehead.
Those are the aliens people are trying to talk to here in the future. No, our bodies will be modeled much like Christ's resurrected glorified body. He had two arms, two legs, he talked, he spoke in a language they understood and he enjoyed grilled fish for dinner.
Is that perfect or what? He could, however, because he's different. It is unique, walk through a closed door, appear and disappear, ascend into the heavens. Like him, we will also be recognizable. We'll still be us, only perfected.
I'm going to have hair and I'm going to grow it really long. Now what we don't think often is this earth, recognizable, continuity. It's not going to be a square block of purple Play-Doh. It will be like the old, recognizable, but unique. But I want you to consider the fact that the new earth is going to be God's gift to you and me. He's so excited about it.
You're not even going to think about the old one when you see the new one. It's his gift to us. It will be ours to explore not only earth but the universe, to explore, to enjoy, to uniquely harness, perhaps even uniquely cultivate, discover, travel. It is a real place. It will be a magnificently, beautiful, refashioned earth.
Now let me pause there for a moment. John writes, back in Revelation 21, he uses the word earth, a new heaven and a new earth. Now there are three different words used, translated world or earth, that do give us some insight here that I think is very fascinating.
So let me quickly tell you what that is. One of the words used in the New Testament for earth is the word cosmos. We understand that word.
We use that in our English language. That refers to a world system. Typically that's a negative connotation in the Bible. John tells us not to love the cosmos. He's talking about don't love the world system. It refers to the systems of our world that have excluded God. John used that word when he said the world is passing away.
The cosmos, the world system is passing away and also its lusts. 1 John 2.17. Another Greek word for earth or world is the word ionos. It's translated or it refers to an epic, an era, a dispensation, a period of time with a beginning and an ending. This is the word the Lord used when he told his disciples as they entered and literally would see the creation of the church age, the epic of time.
He told them, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. You could translate that the end of the age, ionos. The third word translated earth or world is the word ge.
We've transliterated it g in our language. It's a word that refers to a physical earth. This is the world upon which we live. It's a reference to the dirt and the rocks and the mountains and the valleys and lakes.
It's physical. We take that word and we create words like geography, geology. We borrow the Greek idea. This is the word John uses in Revelation 21 when he says a new earth. He's referring to a physical planet.
There are going to be new rocks, new trees, new rivers, new lakes, new mountains, new everything. That helps us immensely understand that this is a real location. This is a physical planet, a physical address, a real place. Jesus did not promise his disciples in John 14, I am going away and I'm going to go prepare for you a state of mind.
He said I'm going to go prepare for you a place, a real place. We often think of our heavenly future as some floating around out there somewhere. Perhaps the golden city of God resting on nothing but here in Revelation 21 we discover that what Christ is going to do is prepare for us also a brand new earth. In fact, according to what John sees the heavenly city is going to descend and rest upon this newly created eternal earth surrounded by a new and eternal universe. Heaven has literally come down. God will exhibit his glory from his eternal city which rests upon now a newly recreated eternal planet that he has redeemed.
You know what that means? He's going to fulfill his word. Not only are we longing for the day of redemption, but we're also told that nature is longing for redemption. It's groaning. The groaning will one day cease as a new earth enjoys the glory of God in all of its perfection and beauty and systems set in motion for the glory of God and for the pleasure and enjoyment of God's redeemed people. Heaven includes earth. Maybe that's the first of our surprises as we study what John the apostle reveals in his opening words as he talks of the city coming and resting on a new earth. Frankly, the average Christian wonders what they're going to do.
Right? We're just a little too afraid to ask. What exactly am I going to do? The typical idea of heaven is that it's one long worship service. And if the truth were told, the average Christian secretly feels guilty for not being spiritual enough to look forward to that. What are we going to do after we sing through the hymnal a dozen times?
What's next? Gary Larson I thought was rather funny, the cartoonist for the far side. I don't know if he's a believer or not, but he sure pictured this typical understanding of heaven in this one particular picture and caption. He has a man with angel wings, little angel wings, and a halo, and he's sitting up on a cloud. He has the expression of someone marooned on an island with absolutely nothing to do for eternity but play his harp, which he's obviously grown tired of.
And the caption underneath has him saying, I wish I'd brought a magazine. The truth is, we in this new world, on this new planet, in the new city with the new universe can't even begin to imagine what that really means. We're going to see a little bit of it as John gives us snapshots and gives us some words, but even his words are going to defy our imagination. He's going to talk about the gates being one pearl. We can't imagine that. There's not an oyster big enough to create that. One, because he's using words we understand, and I believe it would be a literal pearl because there's no reason not to believe it, but it just goes beyond our ability to understand one that large.
It's glorious. The triune God will be there. The glory of this throne that we've already discussed, sitting upon the sea of glass, lightning and thunder and the visible expression and embodiment of God in Jesus Christ, whom we will see. We could spend eternity with our perfected minds and bodies doing nothing but standing there in his presence, right? But we're told we're going to be doing more. Millions of fellow believers are going to be there.
How does that work? How do we fellowship with him forever? Are we going to just have fellowship with a few people? Are we going to rotate through the whole directory over time? Are there going to be small groups?
Big events? I say that, and I'm tongue-in-cheek. It is kind of funny, but we don't know, do we? There are a lot of things we're told about heaven, and I'm going to enjoy studying with you, but not everything is provided, and I think the reason we're not given everything about heaven is because we, in our time-space limitations, cannot understand or even perceive.
You know, think about it. We think we're pretty bright because we talk about our species and what we're going to enjoy, but I think describing heaven, as I thought about it this week in my study, describing heaven to us, whether we'd like to believe it or not, is I think like describing the thrill of driving a car for the very first time to a giraffe. He can't get it.
He's just going to look at you. I'd be like describing the beauty of your vacation resort at five-star hotel to a June bug. I'd be like trying to describe the quality of humility to a cat. It's just impossible, isn't it?
He can't do it. What we do know is this is the place of our citizenship. Philippians 3, 20. This is the place where our names have been recorded. Revelation 20, 12. This is the place where our treasure is located. Matthew 19, 21.
This is the place where we're going to act out upon the rewards received. This is the place where serving Christ on assignments we cannot even imagine will take place and never end. Hebrews 12, 28. Now, we've got to go back and at least finish verse one. There is one phrase that I want you to see, okay? The very end of that verse. There is no longer any sea.
Let's talk about that for just a minute or two, and I'll let you go. There's no longer any sea, literally no longer sea. It's our word for ocean, our idea or concept for ocean.
Now, why would that be? We're not told, but let me offer a couple of suggestions from what we do know in the Bible, some things that we know about the sea. From what I have read, the world we now inhabit is literally a planet covered by oceans. In fact, 70 percent of our planet's surface is covered by salt water. The average depth of the ocean is about two and a half miles deep.
That's big, that's deep, isn't it? The earth, one author said, is now bathed in what we could call God's great antiseptic solution, composed of about 96 percent water, 3.5 percent salt, and then about 0.5 percent of other things like chlorine, magnesium, and calcium. God literally designed the oceans of our world to purge, cleanse, and preserve it, making it fit to live. Another author wrote, many of the pollutants and waste we produce get washed out of the soil and into our streams and rivers. Others are deliberately dumped into the rivers. The rivers wash these materials into the ocean where it absorbs, scrubs, and breaks down these pollutants. At the same time, the sun heats the ocean, causing only pure, clean water vapor to float up into the sky, forming clouds which bring refreshing rain back to the land, a continuous cycle of cleansing and renewal.
But in the new earth, there will no longer be pollution, no more decay, and no more need for this system of cleansing. Interesting thought, isn't it? Add to this the fact that the ocean has been used by God to divide nations. The continents separated by oceans have made war and invasion difficult.
But it's also hindered communion and unity. It's interesting in the Bible that the ocean is God's metaphor for evil. He compares the wicked to the waves of the sea. He uses the ocean to describe Gentile nations who are not in covenant with God. Now, I'm not saying that we're just going to take this phrase and view it metaphorically. I believe that the new earth will not have ocean. There's no reason to not take that as literally as the first phrases in this verse.
But what could this mean? I believe it means that God effectively creates an earth without a need for this kind of cleansing system. He removes the barriers from continents as the topography of earth has changed. He removes that which represents division and rebellion. But keep in mind this thought as Warren Wiersbe pointed out in his wonderful little commentary on this text.
He said this, no more sea does not mean no more water or bodies of water. Consider the fact that the throne of God sits upon a glassy sea. From his throne flows a river, Revelation 22, and that river is going to flow somewhere as it, I believe, cascades in waterfall after waterfall down from the throne of God through the glorious city of God. We think of it when we think of heaven where those who die today are going and are there.
It will change locations later as we're studying here. It will flow out of the city and into this newly created earth. We have every reason to anticipate a planet with a continuum of the old planet being populated with bodies of water. Lakes can be so large that you cannot see across them.
One believing author postulated that huge lakes couldn't act as freshwater oceans, teeming with recreated life, saltwater animals recreated and readapted to live and flourish in fresh water. Now along its symbolic lines, the symbol of evil and separation is gone. As well as the literal cleansing system of the salty oceans of our world as they will no longer be needed in God's brand new world. This is a brand new world. There is a continuation in many respects, but it is unique. Just like our bodies, there will be continuation.
You will still be you and I will still be me, but unique and new. This is a brand new universe. You know, Titus talks about heaven being our blessed hope.
You know what it is. But we forget the word blessed and we run immediately to hope. It is our hope. It is also a blessed hope. Hire us that we can be translated happy, jubilant, exciting, wonderful. Heaven is our jubilant, exciting, wonderful hope.
Imagine all of this and we will only scratch the surface of this brand new, brand new world. Here on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen is in a series from Revelation 21 called Heaven on Earth. We'll spend several lessons looking at this topic.
We'll explore in detail our future home, so please be with us for all of them. We'd enjoy learning what God's been doing in your life. You can write to us at Wisdom International, P.O.
Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Access all of Stephen's discipleship resources at wisdomonline.org. The content you'll find there will help you know what the Bible says, understand what it means, and apply it to your life. Learn more at wisdomonline.org and then join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-20 00:31:35 / 2023-02-20 00:41:16 / 10