That first breath you took in the delivery room, or in the back seat if your dad didn't drive fast enough, or wherever, that was pierced, followed up quickly by a cry, the shock of your entrance into the world. And ever since that time, till the day you die, you will never experience one moment of perfect peace, perfect freedom, perfect satisfaction, certainly not perfect sinlessness, but you will experience it here as Paradise is regained. Ever since humanity fell into sin in Genesis 3, we've all been born into an imperfect world. You know that intuitively, because you've had plenty of experience with pain and trial. God created Adam and Eve to live in perfect peace, in a perfect garden.
Doesn't that sound great? Well, in the future, that will be what you experience. Not in the Garden of Eden, but in heaven, as God recreates a perfect environment. Stephen Davey has been teaching about heaven in his series, Heaven on Earth. Today he concludes the series with this message called Paradise Regained. I have enjoyed hearing from many of you over the course of our study on heaven, chapters 21 and now today into chapter 22. It's been especially encouraging to know that young people are listening and I've gotten a few comments back from parents and that's especially encouraging and thrilling to know that young people are engaged in this study. One of our moms wrote me about their nine-year-old son, Will is his name.
He was home last Sunday with a hundred and two fever. She wrote me saying, my husband set up the computer so that we could listen to your sermon live on the internet. Towards the end of the sermon, you were listening bad things that would not be found in heaven. And my son was two steps ahead of you.
As you said, no more pain, no more suffering. And he said, no more homework. She wrote, I guess you forgot that one. And she added a PS. Will is informing you can share this with the congregation next Sunday, which I am now doing. Thank you, Will.
You're exactly right. One Sunday school teacher wrote me a few weeks ago. She's been teaching her five-year-old class on the subject of heaven as well. And she decided to test them a couple of weeks ago about how to get into heaven.
And so she asked them a series of questions. She said, if I sold my, my house and my car had a big garage sale and gave all the money to the church, would that get me into heaven? And all the five-year-olds said, no. She said, well, if I cleaned the church every day and mowed the church lawn and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?
Again, the answer was a resounding no. She wrote, I was starting to smile. They were, they were getting this. She went on, if I was kind to animals and give candy to all the children I met and love my husband, is that what I've got to do to get into heaven? And they all shouted, no. She wrote now that she was bursting with pride.
They were learning so well. And she asked, well, then what do I have to do to get into heaven? And one five-year-old boy shouted, you got to be dead. Well, he's right. You know, he's right. Well, as we go back to the vision of John, we're given a few more descriptive phrases of this place called heaven. Heaven, as we have learned is a, is a word or term for the eternal state, which literally incorporates the newly created universe, the city of gold, which is the father's house and a new earth. All of this, all of this heaven is ours to enjoy in the glorious presence of God forever. The truth is the more you study the texts of the eternal state and the descriptions we've been given, the greater the mystery, isn't it? It's as mysterious to me in many ways as it was when we began. In fact, there are more questions in my mind now than there were before we got to Revelation chapter 21 about this new world and what a world it is. It's a world that staggers our imaginations and leads us to want to know frankly, a lot more than we're given.
And that's good. In fact, that pursuit is spiritually healthy. One British author from the 1800s wrote it this way. He said, the man who's about to sail for New Zealand as a settler is naturally anxious to know something about his future home, its climate, its employments, its inhabitants, its ways, its customs. It would be strange indeed to not desire information about your new abode. Now surely since we plan to dwell forever in that heavenly country, we ought to seek all the knowledge we can about it and become acquainted with our eternal home. God evidently wants us to think about it. In fact, it's almost as if he wants to blow our minds about it and literally stagger our imagination.
We've encountered a house, the Father's house that makes Mount Everest look like a little foothill. We've been given the colors of gemstones as large as freight trains. We have seen pearls through the descriptive phrases that fill stadiums. We've been struck by the pageantry of the parade of nations that we looked at in our last study as the opening ceremony of heaven is taking place. We've had difficulty even at the very beginning viewing the city that descends as a sparkling, flawless diamond reflecting and refracting the brilliant light coming from God himself. In fact, we've learned that gold is just so common.
In fact, it's one of the more common elements inside this city of gold, just common stuff. Reminds me of the story of the man, you know, all the legends of people who go to heaven and get to the gate. Well, this is one about a man who got there and the angels are stationed at the gate and they said, I'm sorry, you can't come in here with that. And he said, well, why not? He said, as he strained at the handle of this bulging suitcase, he said, I've worked all my life for this and I'm sure it'll be okay. So the angels conference together a little bit and they said to him, well, we'll let you, but first you got to open it up and let us see what it is. And so he laid a suitcase down and he opened it up and he displayed for them that his suitcase was filled with gold bars, solid gold bars.
The angels looked at each other somewhat puzzled and then said, finally agreeing, okay, I, you can go on in with it. And as the man left struggling with his suitcase, one angel said to the other, imagine that this man is intent on bringing into heaven a suitcase full of pavement. John has informed us that the streets are of gold.
Keep that in mind, would you? It's a reminder to me as we're tempted to dedicate the best of our energy and the best of our planning and the best of our hopes and the best of our dreams to the simple acquisition of something which in heaven will be nothing more than pavement, asphalt. Now in John's vision in chapter 22, he gives us several final snapshots of the eternal city. He moves us deeper as it were into the Father's house and we discover that it is in many ways a beautiful garden, reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. In fact, let me simply read verses 1 to 5.
You follow along as I read. Then this angelic tour guide showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming down from the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it and his bondservants will serve him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads and there will no longer be any night and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun because the Lord God will illumine them and they will reign forever and ever.
Now don't miss this. The beginning of human history was a story of paradise lost. And the end of human history, as the eternal state is about to begin, is a story of paradise regained. Human history began in a garden with a river flowing through it and a tree of life. History wraps up with a garden and a river running through it and a tree of life.
Now don't be mistaken. This isn't some kind of new age circle of life. It's actually more like a spiral because the paradise of Eden is only a fraction of what the paradise of heaven will be like. The first paradise was lost because of sin. The eternal paradise is one again for us, even greater and grander than ever because of our savior. And what a paradise it is. John's already shown us it's a city with gemstone foundations and walls of jasper and gates of pearl and streets of gold and now he takes his insight and shows us some things that we can more easily connect with and yet they're going to be very unique as he shows us water, a river, trees, fruit.
So let's take a look here as we tour. I'm going to give you three or four snapshots of John's vision and under each snapshot we can just write a little caption, a very simple caption taken from John's photographic word pictures of heaven. The first caption would be the river of life is flowing forever. Back in verse 1, John is shown by his angelic guide a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God. Now John is struck by two observations, the river's color or its sight and the river's source. He tells us here that the river was as clear as krystalos, that Greek word gives us our transliterated word crystal.
It's a word that refers to that sparkling, shimmering brightness that seems to John to be like light refracting off a flawless diamond and we've already seen this description as he's at a loss for words to speak of the brilliance and the light reflecting everywhere and now you look at the river, this river and he says it's the same thing, it's crystal clear, it's reflecting in its brilliant light as it flows along. John also notes that it originates with the throne of God and of the Lamb, the latter part of verse 1. Now in the Garden of Eden a river flowed through it. In the millennial kingdom a river will flow through the New Jerusalem and it will come from the temple mound but here in the eternal city the river is literally flowing from the throne of God. What that means is it is not flowing up to and through the throne of God, the throne of God is its source. It is flowing from it which lets us know then that God is forever creating it. He is forever creating the river that flows and I believe it will break as well into tributaries flowing north, south, east and west. The systems of our planet much like today there will be evaporation but he continually creates it.
It is the symbol of our everlasting life. David the Psalmist predicted centuries earlier that this river, there would be a river whose streams make glad the city of God. Joel the prophet said there will be a fountain flowing out of the house of God. So these are literal waters.
It is literal wet H2O yet the nature and quality of it is something we have never seen before. Just as the city is literal, there are literal elements but it is a nature and quality of something that we have never seen before. You imagine this grand river coming from the throne of God. Maybe you have stood at the banks of a great river.
Maybe the mighty Mississippi or the Colorado or some of you have traveled and you have seen the Nile or the Ganges. It is awe inspiring to see the massive river running by and maybe hearing it as it rushes over rapids and certainly the sound of a waterfall as perhaps it drops several feet into the air to a level below. Now if my understanding of this pyramidal structure of the Father's house is correct with its 12 floors, each one perhaps a mile high, what you would have then is a river traveling from the throne of God which I believe would be at the top level. It would run through the city and then drop in a massive waterfall. The roar of it heard for miles around and then it would flow through the garden and then it would drop again until finally it breaks perhaps into four tributaries as in the Garden of Eden and heads out of each gate into the new earth. All the while it's this flowing, shimmering, glimmering, cascading, bright, sparkling river as the lights of the gems that are the foundations of each level sparkle off of it and as the light of the golden hue of the city sparkles off of this.
This one thing, this one element will be spectacular. I can't describe it and what little we've been given at least informs us that it's amazing. God has created a place for his beloved and we will be enraptured by the beauty of this new paradise.
People travel for miles around to go to a nature preserve or to see a waterfall or a national park. God's people will be living in the midst of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. Now John informs us that this river not only has literal properties but it has symbolic meaning. He calls it the river of the water of life. It symbolizes life. In other words, the river flowing from the throne of God will symbolize eternal life which originates in the person of God and the promise delivered by God incarnate, Jesus Christ, who said, if you come to me and drink of the water that I give you, you will have rivers of water flowing out of you. In other words, you're going to have eternal life, John chapter 4. And here it's typified.
It's literal. It's something we can see and yet it symbolizes that we on earth at some point in our lives said we want to drink of the gospel. We want to accept the water that Jesus Christ gives us, his gift to us, and we drank. And now we will see the river which symbolizes our everlasting security here as it rushes through the eternal city. There is a river flowing forever. Secondly, there is a tree of life flourishing forever. Look at verse 2. In the middle of its street on either side of the river was the tree of life.
Now stop a moment. Doesn't that object sound familiar? The tree of life appeared, perhaps you remember in Genesis chapter 3 where Adam and Eve because of their sin were barred from eating the fruit of this tree. God assigned cherubim with their flaming swords. As Adam and Eve are exiled, they are barred from reaching out for this fruit which would have brought them immortality in the midst of their sin. So it is in fact a gracious act of God's protection knowing atonement will come. But there are no cherubim here in Revelation chapter 22.
In paradise regained, there is an invitation to come. In fact, in Revelation chapter 2 verse 7, the Bible has already promised that the beloved will one day eat from the tree of life which is in the garden of God, the paradise of God. Now perhaps you've noticed John uses a singular word translated tree here in verse 2. Greek scholars take this as a collective singular given the fact that John tells us in this verse, if you'll notice, that they are located on both sides of the river.
This is then a collective singular. It is one species of tree and yet there are many of them on either side, both sides of the river lining as it were the river of life as it moves throughout the eternal city. You don't have then even a row of trees. What you have then with this fruit is effectively an orchard. But what an interesting tree. Would you notice that John describes it as that tree that bears in verse 2 12 different kinds of fruit every single month. So not just one tree, not just a row of trees, not just an orchard, but trees in that orchard that are always bearing fruit. And the fruit is always right. What kind of fruit will it be? Your favorite. I'm fairly confident.
Well, we don't know for sure. It could be peaches. It could be apples. It could be dates, plums. It could be figs. For you Floridians it could be guava, banana. But 12 kinds every month.
In fact, as I studied men who did language work here, the Greek scholars are not unanimous in their understanding of this. It could be 12 different kinds each month. So you'd have 12 each year. Or perhaps it's 12 different fruit on each tree, which could give you the potential of 144 different fruit throughout the year. Each month.
That's right. We're going to have months, which imply years. Henry Morris, a believing scientist, wrote this in his commentary. He said the fact that months are identified indicates that the orbital and rotational motions of the earth will go on in the new creation as God established them in the very beginning, and the moon likewise will continue orbiting around the earth. Now we've already been told we don't need the moon or sun in the celestial city.
We aren't told they don't exist. The continuity between the old creation and the new would indicate sun and moon, even seasons orbiting moons and suns. Be that as it may. Many things here are going to be remarkably different and unusual. Perhaps only this species of tree will symbolize eternal life.
That seems to be the implication. They're going to bear a crop of fresh fruit forever, and based on an earlier promise, we're going to be able to eat from the tree of life, which allows us then to know that we're going to have mouths to eat the fruit. We're going to have tongues and taste buds to savor the fruit, and I would certainly hope we have teeth to chew the fruit. I don't ever want to use a juicer, do you? I don't want strained peaches. I want to bite into it.
I want to bite into that crisp apple. Now John also tells us in verse 2 that the leaves of the tree of life are symbolic. They are for the healing of the nations. Now the word for healing is the word therapeutic, which gives us our word therapy. Why would the nations, why would the peoples of the Father's house, why would that one new nation now that is assembled, why would they need healing if all evil and all sin has been eliminated? Well, John is not telling us that there would be illness in the new earth. In fact, he's actually emphasizing that this is the permanent condition of the beloved reflected in the presence of this evergreen, this species which bears fruit whose leaves never fall off. So the leaves of the tree symbolize the fact that now in the kingdom of heaven there is perpetual refreshment and the river of life and the trees would imply perpetual food for enjoyment, perpetual healing as it were.
There is no room for any disease ever here. This is literally therapy for the people, the redeemed of this new paradise regained. That word therapy is a comprehensive concept that incorporates healing that is mental, emotional, spiritual, physical.
It incorporates it all. The beloved will be in every way healed forever is what he's saying. Think of what that means emotionally. No more wounds, no more sorrow, no more haunting dreams or dashed hopes, no more regrets. Think of what that means spiritually. No more failure, no more confusion, no more struggle with imperfections, no more wishing you could serve better, more faithfully, no more resisting, no more battling with the flesh and the world and the devil.
Think of what this means physically. We can more easily understand this. John informs us that the presence of this tree is God's way of saying forever there is no possibility of ever any illness again of any kind. Joni Erikson Tada, a quadriplegic, many of you are familiar with her ministry, told of speaking to a class of mentally handicapped Christians. They thought it was great when she said she was going to get a new body, but when she added pointing to them and you are going to get new minds, they broke out into applause. They understood something of their limitation and their frustration and heaven for them offered unique healing.
Joni went on and wrote a little bit more of her testimony. She said, I can still hardly believe it that I with shriveled bent fingers, gnarled knees, no feeling from the shoulders down will one day have a new body, light, bright, clothed in righteousness, powerful and dazzling. She asks, can you imagine the hope this gives someone like me or someone who is cerebral palsy, brain injured or who has multiple sclerosis?
Imagine the hope this gives to someone struggling with manic depression. No other religion, no other philosophy literally promises new bodies, new hearts, new emotions and new minds only in the gospel of Christ to hurting people find such incredible promise. Beloved, this tree is going to symbolize the fact that all of the hurts of humanity are forever healed, forever healed.
The truth is, we've never known. We have never known one moment of this on your best day, your best hour, your best minute. You've never experienced all of this at first breath you took in the delivery room or in the backseat of your dad didn't drive fast enough or wherever.
That was pierced, followed up quickly by a cry, the shock of your entrance into the world. And ever since that time, till the day you die, you will never experience one moment of perfect peace, of perfect health, perfect security, perfect freedom, perfect satisfaction and certainly not perfect sinlessness, but you will experience it here as paradise is regained. I'm sure you long for that day and I hope that studying this passage today has encouraged you. Stephen Davey is working through a series on heaven called Heaven on Earth. He'll bring you the final message in that series on our next broadcast. It'll actually be the conclusion to this message called Paradise Regained. Until the day that we see Jesus face to face, we live on earth with occasional pain and sorrow.
For some of us, the pain and sorrow feels like it's not occasional but a regular companion. Stephen has a resource called The Healer of Broken Hearts. It's an easy to read booklet that provides hope to those who are hurting. We're sending this booklet to those who make their first contact with our ministry today. If you've never introduced yourself to us, do that today and we'll send you this booklet as our gift. We can give you information over the phone if you call us today at 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-48-BIBLE and I hope we hear from you. That's all for today but be sure and join us next time for more wisdom for the heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-03 00:47:49 / 2023-03-03 00:57:19 / 10