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Opening Ceremonies, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2023 12:00 am

Opening Ceremonies, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 1, 2023 12:00 am

The opening ceremony of a great event is always spectacular, but it's never as spectacular as the event itself.


Passages such as Psalm 148 and Daniel chapter 12, the early verses there imply the continuity between the old creation of Genesis 1 and the new creation of Revelation 21, which would include all of the animal kingdom, animals we've never seen before, the sun and the moon, planets and stars, and a multitude of other created things that we will enjoy forever.

We can barely begin to imagine recreated earth and all its beauty in the seasons displayed with all of their beauty. What will heaven be like? How do you picture heaven in your mind when you think about it? Well, even though heaven will be unlike anything you've ever experienced, there will be some things you recognize. For example, aspects of God's original creation will be included in his recreation of a new heaven and a new earth. Steven Davey is working through a series on the new heaven and the new earth, a series he's called Heaven on Earth. I invite you to grab your Bible and open it to Revelation 21.

Here's Steven with a lesson called Opening Ceremonies. While John the Apostle was exiled by the Roman emperor to the island of Patmos, he was given one of the most comprehensive reviews of future events ever given by God to anyone. John would write of such breathtaking scenes taking place on earth and in heaven that to this day skeptics abound and people rewrite the face value meaning of his words or ignore him altogether. John writes of the final contest between the dragon and the lamb, between sin and the Savior, between the armies of darkness and the kingdom of light. He uses terms like conquest, victory, judgment, wrath, reward, and eternal hell and an eternal heaven. And now as we get to the end of the book, John is introducing us as it were to the opening ceremony of the eternal state and we're about to witness the great pageantry of this as it unfolds.

He speaks of this magnificent heavenly city of God, the Father's house, built with gold and bathed in glorious light. And he's going to begin describing, as I reread the paragraph, what could best be referred to as an opening ceremony. For more than 700 years before John wrote this revelation, the Greek civilization had competed every four years in athletic contests, primarily foot races at first. Later on, other events were added such as wrestling, the javelin throw, and the long jump. The contests were originally held in the western region of Greece just near the Temple Olympia.

In fact, the first documented events revealed to us that the games were dedicated to Zeus, their chief god. The contests at Olympia continued over the centuries and eventually began to include other nations. The modern world now calls these games the Olympic games. The first Olympic, modern Olympic, I should say, contests were held in 1896. Fourteen countries were engaged in about 43 different competitive events.

The tradition grew every four years in cooperation and ceremony between nations. And in 1908, the games began with its first opening ceremony in London where the games were held. By the way, for those of you that care more about the World Cup, the fact that it's just around the corner, I found it interesting that soccer or football to the rest of the world, except to Americans, was not allowed to be included in the Olympics due to the restrictions against professional athletes.

And so, the Federation International Football Association, sort of in protest, began their own competitive series of events in 1930 and held them every four years, which we now know as the World Cup. The world loves all of these games, really. To put it into perspective, a little more than a hundred million people watched the last Super Bowl. Just over one billion people watched the last World Cup.

Just over four billion people watched the last Summer Olympics. The Olympics would develop into quite an extravaganza, wouldn't they? In fact, they become a national platform for pride and a display of national sophistication and wealth, especially for countries that host the Olympics. And so, this opening ceremony began to develop as well.

It always wasn't that extravagant. As I researched a little bit in light of the paragraph we're going to study today, I saw that it parallels to this opening ceremony. So I did a lot of Googling and a lot of searching, and it's interesting to me that what turned the corner in the opening ceremony becoming really extravagant was the 1960 Winter Olympics. And the games were held in California. The chairman of the Olympic Committee was a man by the name of Walt Disney.

You can imagine, right? Through his creativity and extravagance. There were high school choirs, high school bands, there were ice sculptures, there were fireworks. At one point, they even released thousands of balloons and 2,000 white doves. Then for the big finale, all the nation's flags were dropped out of airplanes that were circling low overhead.

And as they dropped, they unfurled as they parachuted down. Now, how's that for a grand finale to the opening ceremony? Well, you know one thing's obvious. Each nation has outdone the other. The last Olympics, that nation spent $100 million just for the opening ceremony alone. If you take your Bibles and turn to Revelation chapter 21, you have nothing less than the opening ceremony of the eternal state. As I read this paragraph over and over again, it struck me that here you have some wonderful parallels to what we can observe, and that helps us grasp, I think, a little better the text, because what he writes of is hard to conceive of. And so as we work through this paragraph, I'll tie it to different things related to the Olympics, which I believe will be helpful as we use these as mental hat pegs, so to speak. What you have here in this paragraph is a host city. You have a redefined Olympic torch. You have the parade of nations, and millions upon millions of people will not just be tuned in but involved. Now, this opening ceremony makes everything else that we've seen on earth so far. This opening ceremony makes everything seem like child's play. We've already seen the host city.

John has revealed it to us. It's cubed. Measurements are given, I believe, as a sum total of somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500 miles, depending on the length of a Greek stadia, which no one is really sure of today. What this would mean, then, if it's cubed is that the base of the Father's house is 11 miles plus in each direction, including its height. Compared to the capital city of heaven, the largest man-made structure, the Tower of Dubai, hardly shows up next to it.

It's a little speck. Even Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, seems small compared to the Father's house, which stretches through the atmosphere and up to the troposphere. By the way, the dimension of 12 foundations fits perfectly with this pyramid-styled structure, each foundation or level building its way up to the top, which I believe would be the place where the glory of God's throne would be.

You would ascend higher and higher into the atmosphere until you reach that top level where the glory of God is displayed. Now, keep in mind, in this city, if each foundation resting upon those massive gemstones, each one engraved with the name of an apostle, if you can imagine it, if each ascending level was spaced as evenly as perhaps it is, each level or each, you could call it or think of it in your mind, as a floor, each floor would be one mile high. Now, that Tower of Dubai, the tallest tower in the world, when you think about that height, move it in to the Father's house and you could build one tower on top of another tower and still be within the first floor. Now, that's a high ceiling, but you'll never have to change any light bulbs so you can relax.

You'll never have to climb a ladder there. One artist by the name of Janet Willis drew an interesting sketch of what amounts to be, in her mind, the first floor of the Father's house. It shows skyscraper after skyscraper on either side of the river of life. Some buildings are taller than others, but all of them have a riverside view. That sketch gives you an idea of how massive and how accommodating just one block would be on one floor. Now, the problem with showing you a drawing like that, and I debated long and hard and still not sure I should have, but the problem with that is you look at that and those of you who see it and those of you that love the city are going to go, that is magnificent, and everybody else is going to go, where's my backyard? Where are trees and parks? I was kind of hoping for a ranch.

That's the problem with it. Well, keep in mind that we have been promised a dwelling place in the Father's house, the entire structure, John 14.2. You could render that Greek word translated place, apartment, dwelling, room. You could even render it sanctuary or sacred space. We have all been guaranteed by the atonement of Christ sacred space in the Father's house.

I dug a little deeper and found that this word was also used by the ancient Greeks to refer to a meadow, a pasture, or even a territory. Some of you may get your ranch after all. Frankly, we're not told how big or small our dwelling place is in the Father's house. We're just told that we all have one as Christ promised, but keep in mind that doesn't mean you won't have a place or even places throughout the world, the newly created world, and perhaps beyond where you will one day travel and explore and enjoy as you glory in your creator God forever.

We really can't even imagine it. Now, what we are told is that John makes a special note of the absence of a particular feature as he now moves us through the city gates and into the golden city. Look at verse 22 of Revelation chapter 21. John states very clearly, and I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Now, stop for a moment. The Old Testament prophets foresaw the temple as a principal building or item in their description of the glorified city, such as in Isaiah's writings of chapter 44 and chapter 60 and in and through Ezekiel's vision in his description in chapters 40 through 48. The temple that John probably expected to see from what he knew of Old Testament prophetic descriptions was actually the restored millennial temple, which we've already studied, which is now over. And now it's as if John wants to make sure the reader understands that the prophetic description given of the eternal state will not be misunderstood. The millennial kingdom had a temple, but not the eternal state.

Well, why not? Because in the Father's house, God's presence would not be limited to some holy of holies tucked inside a temple somewhere, not here, for the presence of God is going to permeate the entire city. There will be no need in even a memorial fashion to go to a sanctuary or a temple, or for that matter a cathedral or a chapel or any house of worship. In heaven, we will worship as it were the very presence of God.

We're going to see him face to face, mediated through the Lamb of God. There in this heavenly city, he, think of it this way, he himself is the place of worship. The trouble is, for us, we tend to think of worship as a song that we like to sing or a service on Sunday morning or Sunday night. The biblical concept of worship is far more comprehensive, even now.

And here in the Father's house, we're going to get it right. The biblical idea of worship incorporates all of life. Paul would write of eating or drinking or whatever you do, doing it to the glory of God. It is worship, 1 Corinthians 10, 31. What Paul means then is that everything you do that is necessary and or legitimate in life can be considered an act of worship.

Service is literally worship. Now that's impossible for us to grasp and it is impossible for us to consistently practice here with our sinful bodies and our sinful impulses and our sinful propensities. But here in the Father's house, we are perfected in every aspect. We are sinless in every regard. We are glorified in every molecule of our being and our lives will literally become nonstop worship. As we worship face to face uniquely in this host city, uniquely before the throne of God, and certainly everywhere throughout the universe, even as now, we can worship him wherever we are.

What a future. Let me go back to the opening games for a moment. If you've watched the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, you've been struck by the tradition of the Olympic flame. Now the Greeks and this pagan origin believed that fire had been given by one of the gods and they considered it to have sacred qualities. In fact, I found it interesting to learn from secular sources that the Olympic flame is supposed to represent purity and the pursuit of perfection demonstrated by these games. We know from history that the high priestess of Olympia would use a specially curved mirror to focus the sun's rays and reflect them to create a flame and that flame would be kept perpetually burning. It was in 1928 for the first time that the tradition began to start a flame that would perpetually burn throughout the playing of the games and so that takes place today.

They would go, they still do, they go to the ruins of the temple in Olympia. They use a curved mirror to create the flame and they keep it burning until the games are over. In 1936, a new tradition was created called the Olympic torch relay.

Maybe you've seen some of that. The flame is lit at the ruins of the temple there in Olympia by a woman wearing an ancient style priestess robe using a curved mirror to create the flame. Then a special torch is lit and a long relay of runners began in 1936 for the very first time carrying the flame from Olympia to the site of the games which in that year just so happened to be Berlin, Germany. It took over 3,000 runners to bring that flame through Greece, through Bulgaria, through Yugoslavia, Hungary and more countries until it reached Berlin, Germany where the summer games were being held. It was actually the idea of Germany's chancellor leader Adolf Hitler who planned to show, to demonstrate with this idea that he had inherited from Greece the greatness of their kingdom and it now belonged to him. Hitler also planned in his humility to show the superiority of the German race to the rest of the world. If you know anything about those games you notice that he left sometime while the games were still taking place because he was deeply angered and frustrated.

Why? Because an African American named Jesse Owens beat every German he raced against. Is that great or what? Well Jesse went on to win four gold medals. If you've watched that Olympic torch relay you know that being a torch bearer is a great honor.

It's significant. Typically it's given to celebrities and famous athletes and politicians. But as it moves through countries and cities and even villages oftentimes it's planned so that that torch will be held by some local citizen who has a record of faithful servants.

Now who would be the greatest celebrity in this host city? Who would be the most faithful servant of all? John writes in verse 23, notice there, the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it. For the glory of God has illumined it and notice and its lamp is the lamb. You see Jesus Christ is pictured here, the faithful servant, the atoning redeemer. He's pictured as equal to the father.

They share in the glory of this throne. He's shown here as someone who is radiating, mediating the light of triune God, dispelling it as it were by the lamp. And the lamp isn't so much what he's holding as is what he is, who he is. Jesus Christ on one occasion pulled back the curtains and his glorious light spilled down over Saul of Tarsus who was heading for Damascus to persecute even more Christians. And that ray of light emanating from the resurrected Lord was so brilliant and powerful it knocked him to the ground and it blinded him. And as he gave his testimony in Acts 22, he's relaying it to the audience and he said, I said, who are you Lord? And he said, I heard a voice from heaven saying, I am Jesus the Nazarene. He chooses the most despicable name he'd been given.

That's who I am. Can you imagine the city of glory radiating light with all of its brilliance? It will still have to be mediated for if we saw the fullest expression of all of his glory, we would be struck blind even in our glorified state. But somehow in the new body we're given, we're going to be able to see what we couldn't see now. And it will be spectacular. In fact, the eternal city will blaze perpetually with his light.

Did you notice verse 25? For there will be no night there. Perpetual everlasting glory.

No night there. Even when the earth's rotation carries or turns the city away from the newly created sun, the eternal city will still blaze with light. Now keep in mind and you may have to rethink this in your mind that earth, the solar system, the universe will be recreated.

There will be continuity as we've already learned from scripture between old and new, but the new will be perfected to last forever by the creative handiwork of Christ in this new creation. But you're thinking, now wait a second, we're told there will be no more sun or moon. We'll go back to verse 23 and look a little more carefully. And the city has what? No need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it. For the glory of God is illuminated and its lamp is the lamb. In other words, the glory of God will be uniquely displayed in this glorious city.

There will be no night there. The city of God will be ablaze with the glory of God mediated through the lamb of God. But that doesn't mean that outside the city, throughout the new heavens and new earth, the new universe, that the glory of God will not be uniquely diffused, shuttered so to speak, just as it is now. For in all of his glory he sits upon his throne, even here, so that the new earth, the universe will continue to operate as God created it to do so with the normal cycles and patterns of light and darkness, sunrise and beautiful sunset, evening and morning. Keep in mind, by the way, that God created the day and night. He created evening and morning. He created, he separated darkness and light before sin entered the world. And after creating all of that, he actually said it was what? It was good.

It's all good, very good, in fact. Genesis chapter 1 verse 31. Passages such as Psalm 145 or 148 and Daniel chapter 12, the early verses there imply the continuity between the old creation of Genesis 1 and the new creation of Revelation 21, which would include all of the animal kingdom, animals we've never seen before, the sun and the moon, planets and stars, and a multitude of other created things that we will enjoy forever. We can barely begin to imagine recreated earth in all its beauty and the seasons displayed with all of their beauty unto the glory of God who created it this way. Let me go back to the Olympics for a moment. In 1908, the Olympic Games were moved from Rome to London because Mount Vesuvius decided to erupt. And for the first time in Olympic history, the opening ceremony included all the athletes marching into a stadium behind their nation's flags. It's quite a sight then, I'm sure.

It's certainly a sight now. I don't know about you, but every time I watch the Olympics, oftentimes I'll watch the opening ceremony until I just can't stand the glorification of evolution anymore and I'll usually turn it off. But I'll watch it enough and I love to see the American athletes coming into the stadium and the United States flag billowing.

It just gives me goosebumps. And I also happen to love to see an American athlete winning the gold who is then standing on the highest platform above silver and bronze. And in that tradition, the national anthem of the gold medalist is played.

And if you've noticed, it is uniquely the American athletes who stand there most often with tears coursing down their cheeks. I love my country and I love to see that take place demonstrated to the billions of people who are watching all around the world. What you have next in John's vision is an awesome site where patriotism for the kingdom of God is now going to overshadow any other. It'll now take precedence. Look in verse 24. The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

This is, I believe, an opening ceremony. This is a procession that will occur at some time at the beginning of the eternal state. In fact, skip down to verse 26 where it says they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. Now there are some who believe that nations will continue from the millennium throughout the eternal state as immortalized humans who live on as nations and ethnic people groups.

I believe the exact opposite is being described here. John is telling us effectively that national identities and patriotism is going to be given in that ceremony to the one who alone deserves all loyalty and all glory and all praise. So you have people from every tongue, tribe, and nation entering the eternal city as it were in a grand procession becoming uniquely demonstrating that they are now and forever one nation under God.

Don't you long for that day? It's gonna be marvelous and it is in store for you if you belong to Jesus Christ. There's more in store and you're going to keep learning about heaven as we continue this message on the next broadcast of Wisdom for the Heart. This message is called Opening Ceremonies. It comes from Stephen's series, Heaven on Earth. We're going to continue working through this series in the days ahead so join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 00:57:36 / 2023-03-01 01:06:43 / 9

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