REVELATION 21:1-5 – “NOW THE DWELLING OF GOD IS WITH MEN, AND HE WILL LIVE WITH THEM.’

"There is currently a New Age Movement. This latest movement hopes to bring the utopian society by expanding man's conscious levels of awareness. Throughout history man has constantly sought for a New Age. Each movement has sought to define the reasons for the problems with the world then present their solution. 1. Roosevelt promised a new deal. 2. Hitler promised a new super race. 3. Stalin was promising a new equality. B. Why would man seek a new age? 1. Recognition of the inequities of the current system. 2. Hope to free man from suffering and pain.3. There is an awareness that the current system is not adequate. Too many problems still exist. a. You must lock your doors. b. Paint your windows white. 4. Man thirsts for a better life, there's got to be a better way. C. Why hasn't  man, after thousands of years of trying, found the answers? 1. Failure to define or acknowledge the true problem. 2. We have observed the symptoms and sought to treat or relieve them.  a. Ignorance. b. Slavery. c. Poverty. d. You can never cure a brain tumor by taking aspirin to relieve the headache. 3. What is the true problem?  Sin. a. Not following God's laws. b. Rebelling against God. (Since the Fall in Genesis 3, the Bible calls this age, "this present evil age" – Gal. 1:4).  God's promise of a New Age:. A. A new earth and a new heaven. 1. Man has so badly abused and polluted this one that God is going to start afresh." (Chuck Smith – Founder/Pastor of Calvary Chapel)  

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."  (Rev. 21:1-5)

John Eldredge says in his book, Journey of Desire: "The vision of heaven many Christians have is so vague and unreal that longing and living for heaven, That Day, has no significant motivation for us." Scripture says much the same:  "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. Now if there is no resurrection (heavenly rewards), … why do we endanger ourselves every hour? If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, (rewards) what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (1 Cor. 15: 19, 29-32) So Eldredge attempts to make heaven more real to us by using three metaphors to describe heaven  1) The Great Restoration – heals the curse of a fallen creation – the decay and barrenness of "winter" in the natural creation and the decay and demise of our physical bodies – "the outer man" (2 Corinthians 4:16). We looked at this earlier. 2) The Grand Affair (or what I call Holy Love) – heals the curse of loneliness and isolation through intimacy with our Lord, the Lover of our souls and intimacy with each other. 3) The Great Adventure – heals the curse of futility and frustration of the "thorns and thistles" in our work with joyful, meaningful, creative work for all eternity. Today we will focus on Holy Love with God and each other.

Holy Love/union with God –  St. Augustine set forth an important question.  Ponder it carefully: "Suppose that God proposes a deal and says to you, ‘I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world. Nothing will be impossible for you. You will have infinite power. Nothing will be a sin;  nothing forbidden. You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want, and always have everything you do want, except for just one thing: you will never see My face.'" Did a chill arise in your heart when you heard the words ‘you will never see My face?' If so, you have the pure love of God. For you gave up everything-just for God."

Blaise Pascal says, "Happiness can be found neither in ourselves nor in external things, but in God and in ourselves as united to Him" That is, happiness can only be found in righteous relationships; with God through Christ and, in and through God, with others. If we don't believe this we will seek happiness in unrighteous relationships (self-centeredness) and in many others ways and places. So as we think about heaven as we are commanded to do (Col. 3:1-3) we must realize that the greatest joy of heaven will be the personal presence of our Lord. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them." They (we) will see His face." (Revelation 21:3; 22:4) "The union that we crave, that we were created for, is not sex but union, intimacy with our Lord. We worship sex because we don't know how to worship God." (Peter Kreeft) God calls us His bride, His delight (Isaiah 62:3-5; Zephaniah 3:17) and Jesus is called our bridegroom. Sadly, many Christians do not know the love and passion the Lord has for them and thus they have little passion for Him. (See Eph. 3:14-19) The image of our marriage to Christ as seen in Ephesians 5:25-32 and here in Revelation is the image we must capture to grow in a passionate love relationship with the Lord. Our union with God, which will only be fully realized in heaven, is the deepest longing of our hearts. But as we wait for Him to come and get us, His bride, we must not try to fill this sacred, holy place in our soul with lesser lovers, (idols – Luke 8:14). Holy longing for Him will expand our soul to its fullest capacity so when He comes we can receive all of Him and thus know Him more fully for all eternity.

Holy Love/communion with all the redeemed – Re-read Revelation 21:1-5 above and note the many references to all the redeemed in heaven; men (plural for male and female); them, they, their, and people. "And the people came together and the people came to dance and they danced like a wave upon the sea." (Yeats) Our Lord is so gracious and generous that He shares His perfect love with us by giving us others to love through the family of God – the communion of the saints, an eternal, joyful community of friends. And as the song asks, Will the Circle be Unbroken? The answer is a resounding yes; reunion and no fear of ever being separated by death again. "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8) And we shall recognize and know each other even as Peter, James and John recognized Moses and Elijah. (Luke 9: 29-31) The Scriptures speak of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Aaron being gathered to their people, a picture of personal reunion. (Genesis 25:8, 35:29, 49:19, Numbers 20:24) "Then I will know fully just as I have also been fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12) We will know the Lord and see Him face to face, no longer with eyes of faith (as fully as a finite person can know the Infinite God). And we will know each other with an intimacy that we have never experienced in the deepest most intimate relationship we have ever had on earth with anyone. To know and be known and loved is the deepest longing of human relationships. Sin, shame, guilt, pride and all the barriers of intimacy will no longer come between us. No more misfits or feeling left out. Each person's unique life in Christ (Ephesians 2:10) will be one great book of life for all of us to know and see God's glory through the story of how the Master fashioned us on His Potter's wheel. There will be dancing and feasting on the mountain of the Lord Almighty with the best of meats and the finest of wines. (Jeremiah 31:13; Isaiah 25:6-8; Luke 22:18)

"There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." No longer will there be any curse." (Rev. 21:4; 22:3) How is possible that at last we can have righteous, perfect relationships with our Lord and other people. Because that which destroys the joy and glory of righteous relationships with our Lord and other people, sin (self-centeredness) and all the effects of sin, death, sorrow and pain, etc., has been destroyed. Even the greatest enemy death, which brings the sorrow and mourning of separation from loved ones, has been cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14) and swallowed up in Christ victory over the grave. Jesus has removed every spot/stain of sin (Eph. 5:25-32) for every believer at the purgation seen in 1 Cor. 3: 10-15 and the curse that came with sin at the Fall (Gen. 3:14-19) is gone forever. This truth and the command to have this eternal, heavenly perspective as we live now in a fallen and cursed world is the victorious faith that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4) and inspires us to purify ourselves now as we live in hope of that day ."But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3) Listen to Charles Spurgeon's and Sir Richard Baker's comments on Psalm 27:13 as it relates to our hope for heaven: "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living."   "Faintness of heart is a common infirmity; even he who slew Goliath was subject to its attacks. Faith puts its bottle of cordial to the lip of the soul, and so prevents fainting. Hope is heaven's balm for present sorrow. In this land of the dying, it is our blessedness to be looking and longing for our fair portion in the land of the living, whence the goodness of God has banished the wickedness of man, and where holy spirits charm with their society those persecuted saints who were vilified and despised among men. We must believe to see, not see to believe; we must wait the appointed time, and stay our soul's hunger with foretastes of the Lord's eternal goodness which shall soon be our feast and our song." (Spurgeon)   "Alas! what a land of the living is this, in which there are more dead than living, more under ground than above it; where the earth is fuller of graves than houses; where life lies trembling under the hand of death; and where death hath power to tyrannize over life! No, my soul, there only is the land of the living where there are none but the living; where there is a church, not militant, but triumphant; a church indeed, but no churchyard, because none dead, nor none that can die; where life is not passive, nor death active; where life sits crowned, and where death is swallowed up in victory. (Sir Richard Baker)

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION  

1) What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life this week?

2) What does Chuck Smith and the Bible say is the fundamental problem with the world? How is this seen especially in

our relationships? How can we help others understand this and not put their hope in man-centered, foolish solutions?

3) Read the Pascal quote and discuss what is meant by a righteous relationship with God, and through God, with others?  

4) "You can have all you want but you will never see My Face." How did Augustine's quote hit you?  

5) "The vision of heaven many Christians have is so vague and unreal that longing and living for heaven – That Day – has no significant motivation for us."  (Eldredge) How can our lack of knowledge and belief about the reality and great blessings of heaven affect our present life on earth? (See 1 Cor. 15:19, 29-32)

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