To The Book of Revelation August 8-9, 2015 ******* Text: Rev. 21:1-22:5

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1 To The Book of Revelation August 8-9, 2015 ******* Text: Rev. 21:1-22:5 Turn to the very end of your Bible, to Revelation 21 and 22. Throughout this summer we ve been in a series on the book of Revelation. If we tried to cover everything, it would take years! But we have highlighted some of the book s major themes, and now we come to the finale. I m going to read the first five verses of Revelation 21, and then we re going to talk about it. I invite you to stand as we hear the reading of the Lord s word today. Revelation 21:1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth disappeared, and the sea vanished. 2 And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared and ready, like a bride dressed to meet her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne: Now God's home is with people! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. 4 He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared. 5 Then the one who sits on the throne said, And now I make all things new! He also said to me, Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted. A couple of years ago an 80-year old Spanish woman unexpectedly made headlines around the world. She attended a church in northeastern Spain that contained a priceless, one-of-a-kind 19th century fresco by the Spanish painter Elias Garcia Martinez. Because the painting us was so old, it had faded. The elderly woman felt it was a shame that a painting of Jesus had faded, so one day she decided she was going to fix it. She got some paint, slipped into the church when it was empty and painted over the original masterpiece like it was a paintby-number. Click this LINK to see result. She felt that she had done a great job, but everyone told her she had ruined the fresco. All she had tried to do was restore something she loved! It s not just old paintings that need to be restored. There always seems to be something around that is broken that needs to be repaired, whether it is the leg on a chair or a project at work. Sometimes, it s a friend s hurt feelings or a family relationship that need to be restored. Or we re trying to keep our bodies from falling apart! Life can seem to be a scramble to keep things we care about from falling apart. 1

2 The end of the book of Revelation has some great news for us. Rev says that Jesus will renew what got ruined. He is going to restore things to the way they were intended to be in the beginning! In this chapter God showed John what would happen at the end of time. Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. Now Revelation 21 says that at the end of time God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Why? Because the original earth became flawed -- parts of it got ruined. Genesis says that God created everything and it was good in the beginning. People got along with each other. There was no disease, no death, and no drought. Crops grew without a problem. But everything didn t stay good. People chose to disobey God, and from that moment on, the world became flawed. It was still beautiful, but it was also broken. So today we celebrate the birth of each new baby, knowing they are made in God s image, but we also attend funerals because people get sick and die. Death was not God s original plan; it ruins the gift of life. People love their friends and families, but some people walk into movie theaters and shoot others for no reason, and start wars for reasons of their own. Conflict marred God s original design of harmony. The beauty of a sunrise over the ocean or the brilliance of the stars can cause us to stare in awe of the beauty of creation, but violent hurricanes and tsunamis kill and destroy. Creation was flawed. Revelation 21 tells us that in the end, God will create a new heaven and a new earth in order to restore and renew what got ruined. Revelation 21:5 Then the one who sits on the throne said, And now I make all things new! Jesus says, Watch what I m going to do! The time has come and I m going to restore what got ruined, and make all things new! I m going to list four things that verses 3 and 4 say will happen when Jesus renews everything, then we ll look at why they matter today. First, when Jesus renews all we will know God personally. The most amazing thing about eternity is going to be that you will see God and you will know that you belong to him. Revelation 21:3 Now God's home is with people! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. The reason God created people in the beginning was to know them personally. Genesis says that Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the garden -- what a picture of the connection. However, sin broke that connection, and so, sometimes today it can seem to us that God is distant. But when Jesus makes all things new, that 2

3 relationship is fully restored. You will be in the presence of God and see him in all his glory. In these chapters, heaven is represented as the new Jerusalem. The most important feature of Jerusalem was the temple. But the new Jerusalem won t have a temple. Rev. 21:22 I did not see a temple in the city, because its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. There is no need for a temple, because God the Father and Jesus are visibly present! You won t go somewhere to worship, he is present everywhere! This chapter tells us the new Jerusalem is 1,500 wide and 1,500 high - it s a cube. Why a cube? That s the shape of the Holy of Holies -- the place in the temple where God s presence dwelt. The whole city is where God dwells. When you are in heaven, you will be in the full, unfiltered presence of God. Think of the time you felt closest to God ever in your life -- multiply that 1,000 more and you get the idea. It will be overwhelming. Revelation 22:4 They will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. You won t need faith anymore, because you will see him face to face. He will look you in the eye, and it will be overwhelming. He will know you by name. He will know you personally. Because he is unlimited, you will experience a personal relationship with Him. God won t feel far away, you will live with him. Now God's home is with [you]! He will live with [You], and [You] shall be his people You won t worry about whether you are worthy -- you will see that Jesus sacrifice has paid the price for your sin and whatever has ruined our relationship with God will be restored. Second, we will have no pain (v. 4). Since sin ruined the world, we experience all kinds of pain: physical pain in our bodies; emotional pain when someone we love dies, or our dream dies, or our hopes are crushed; and the pain of guilt, regret or missed opportunity. But pain was not part of God s original plan for us. So verse 4 tells us that in the end he will remove it. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes..no more grief or crying or pain. God himself wipes away our pain - he will comfort us. No matter what pain you have endured here, you will find peace and joy. Third, we will have perfect health (v. 4). There will be no more death Just because we all die, doesn t make it natural. We fight against death because it is not what God intended in the beginning. In the end, death will be wiped out. In eternity, we don t live forever as spirits without bodies. Philippians 3:21 tells us we will get new bodies, like the body Jesus got when he rose from the dead. These new bodies won t get sick, cause pain or die! We will live forever in the new earth with a resurrected body. Just knowing this can be a great source of hope. 3

4 Joni Earickson Tada was paralyzed in a diving accident when she was 17 years old and has been in a wheelchair ever since. She has gone on to be a great encouragement to people, especially to those in wheelchairs like herself. She says that she looks forward to the day she will run and move in Jesus presence; that thought gives her hope. If your body has limits, you know that one day it won t. Jesus will restore our bodies to the way he originally intended them to be. Finally, Creation will be restored. When sin entered the world, creation itself became flawed. It didn t just affect people and our relationship with God, it affected the way animals act, weather patterns, and the way crops grow. In the end, a new heaven and earth means that the earth, sky and beyond will be restored to its original character. Romans 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to frustration in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. What s really exciting about Revelation 21 is that renewal begins now and will be completed soon. God isn t waiting to accomplish his purpose of restoration -- it is starting now. That s what Jesus meant when he announced that the kingdom of God has come. Some of what will happen in the end is already starting to happen now. It s a kind of preview of coming attractions. That means we can experience now a part of what we will experience in full in eternity. So, when will Jesus return and make these fully reality? Soon, he said in Revelation. That doesn t give us a date, though. Time is relative. What seems like eternity to a 4 year old seems like a moment to a 70 year old. It s even more different to God. But we know what is coming, and what is already starting to happen. Since Jesus is renewing all, get to know God more deeply. I met my wife Linda in college during freshman orientation. We were both music students, both new Christians, so we were hanging around the same circles. But I had a lot to learn about her. I have shared before that when I brought her to Pittsburgh to meet my family for the first time, I wanted to show her the highlights of the city, so I took her to a Pirate game. At the time I didn t know that she hated baseball; so much so, that when she was in 5 th grade in Chicago she stayed at school rather than go on her class field trip to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. So, not only do I take her to a baseball game, but it was a double-header! She didn t complain, though, so I didn t find out until later. We kept getting to know each other, and we got engaged in our sophomore year. As a student I had no money, so buying rings presented a challenge. Once, when we were at a 4

5 music teachers convention, I saw a sign in a jewelry store that was relocating. They were having a big moving sale and I jumped on the deal: an engagement ring and two wedding bands for $150. Now, you have to look real close to spot the diamond in that ring, it s more like diamond dust. But we ve been married over 35 years now, and we still have those rings, so I guess they worked! Here s the thing: when we got engaged, I didn t stop hanging around with Linda. I didn t say, Well, we re going to be married and I ll be with her for decades, so I ll wait until then to get to know her. I didn t just put the ring on her finger and say, See you at the wedding. No! I pursued getting to know her as much as I could. If you are a follower of Jesus, your future is secure. You know that you are headed to heaven thanks to the mercy of Jesus. But don t wait until heaven to get to know God. Get to know God now. You don t want be a stranger when you meet God! You have the chance to know him now! And when we love, we want to get to know the person we love. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings One of the main ways we get to know God is to team with him on his mission in the world. It s no coincidence that the Apostle Paul wanted to know Christ, and was also giving himself to Jesus purposes in the world. I was a new Christian when I went to college and I grew a lot during those four years. Looking back, I can see that one of the reasons I grew as I did was that I got involved with Jesus mission. For example, I volunteered to be part of a team that led a youth retreat for a local church. I remember sitting in a circle with those students at one point trying to explain what it meant to follow Jesus and why they should do it. I was trying my best, but their eyes were glazing over and I could tell I wasn t connecting. So after I got back, I got busy learning exactly what I believed and why. I learned to explain the basics of the Gospel. I was also playing in a Christian band at that time. Once we were playing at an outdoor street festival and the guys said to me, Steve, when we hit the break, you say some stuff to the crowd. It was my first time speaking publicly, and the people were not even sitting down, they were walking. I prayed about what I should say and felt led to explain to the people why we were playing by reading Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor I doubt anyone really listened to me, but in that moment I realized deep within what it is that God cares about: He wants to help people find there way back to him. 5

6 The way you find Jesus mission will be different than mine or the person next to you. Here at Crossroads, however, we want to help you grow in your ability to join Jesus in your mission. That s why we developed the set of classes called the Equipping track. The first one is Following Jesus, and you can sign up for it today on the Communicator Card. Another key reason I got to know God better in college was the people I hung out with. I had Christian roommates and just lived life together with them. Along the way I watched them as they prayed, so I learned to pray. I asked them questions about the faith. I watched as they navigated college life and I learned from them. At Crossroads, we are intentional about Small Groups because they allows us to be in community with each other and learn from each other. We can t follow Jesus alone, so I encourage you to invest time in a Small Group. Take your pain to Jesus. The day is coming when God will Wipe every tear away. God is also starting to do that now. We need to know that, because pain has a way of alienating us from God if we let it. When life hurts, some people assume they are being punished by God. They say, This pain is my fault and it causes them to be distant from God. Other people get bitter. They say, This pain is God s fault and they drift from God. When we know that God will strengthen and comfort us when life hurts, it causes us to lean into Him. Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. We still walk through the pain, but we re sustained on the journey. One of the main ways God will comfort us is through others. So don t cut yourself off from others when you are hurting. Resist the temptation to pull in on yourself; let God s people be there for you. And incidentally, be aware that God will want to provide comfort to someone else through you some times! Ask for healing. Someday there will be no more death, but we can see evidence now of God s intent. Why did Jesus heal? It wasn t a trick to gain attention or simply prove He was the Son of God. He healed to demonstrate the Kingdom of God; because where God has his way, people are not sick. That s why he healed. So, when we are sick or hurting, we can pray for healing and have confidence that it is in the will of God. Jesus told his followers to share the Gospel and to heal. So, we want to learn how to do that well. That s why we ve invited Robby Dawkins to come to Crossroads on August 22 nd and 23 rd. He s very gifted in helping believers learn how to do what Jesus did. It s a tremendous opportunity to have him with us, and I trust you ll 6

7 make it a point to be here. If we pray and God doesn t heal physically, we understand that the Kingdom has not yet fully come. Someday, God will completely renew us, but for now, we keep moving in His direction. Revelation is not the easiest book of the Bible to understand, but over these last few weeks we ve tried to look at the main themes and understand what they are saying to us. Here it is in two words: God wins! Then the one who sits on the throne said, And now I make all things new! He also said to me, Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted. We don t know the future, but we trust Him. We won t understand all the details of Revelation until we re in heaven, but trust what He makes clear. God wins, and so do we. 7

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