"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth (Col 3:1-2 NLT). John Eldredge says in his book on heaven, The Journey of Desire, "We can only hope for what we desire." If we are hoping for earthly things more than heavenly things we have a sub-Biblical understanding of our Christian faith. As Paul says, "If only in this life we have hoped in Christ we are the most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19) Future hope can give us present joy and courage to follow and obey the Lord even as a child has joy today as he looks forward to "Santa Clause coming to town" or adults can be encouraged in the midst of trials as they think about an upcoming dream vacation. Heaven is better than any toy or vacation spot. Let us continue to pray for a heavenly perspective, an eternal perspective, as we study the realities of heaven.

"I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." God continues to show John aspects of the New Jerusalem. Now we see the absence of a temple because God Himself will dwell with man face to face (see 22:4). The word for temple is naos and it means "God's dwelling place. "From the tabernacle in the wilderness to the temple in Jerusalem and even a temple in the Millennial Kingdom, man has always had to approach God through a mediator because of sin. Here in the Eternal State in the New Jerusalem there is no sin (see 22:5) and man can now have direct personal communion with God. As the song says, "I can only imagine" how glorious that will be; to actually see God (who, because of sin "no man can see and live" Ex. 33:20) face to face and at last embrace the One we have only seen and loved by faith all these years. (1 Peter 1:8-9)
"The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." As we saw in our study last week, God's blazing shekinah glory will shine throughout the entire new heavens and new earth including the New Jerusalem spoken of here. (See Gen.1:3; John 1:3, 8:12, 12:35 and 1 John 1:5) God's light seen throughout the OT and NT is so bright that even the sun's light will disappear in its brightness. (There may still be a sun and moon in the new heavens and earth but it will not be needed even if it exists). God's light is contrasted to man's sin (darkness) in the Scriptures as a source of spiritual truth and direction and spiritual power. In heaven we will be filled with spiritual power and clear direction to love and serve the Lord.

"The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it." {"Nations is the word ethne and it means, "the peoples". In the broadest sense all the peoples from every tongue and tribe and nation and the world will all be walking in its light…this is going to be the eternal capital where everybody is welcome. There will be no more divisions as we know them, no race, no culture, no one left out." J. MacArthur} In Scripture we see three groups of people, the Jews, the Gentiles, and the bride of Christ, the church which consists of saved Jews and Gentiles. But in the Eternal State there will be "one new man" (Eph. 2:15) Also, as my friend Steve Griffith points out, the kings shown here are the ones who left everything and followed Jesus. "Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." (Matt. 19:27-30) The splendor, glory and honor they bring into the New Jerusalem will be the gold, silver and precious stones (Christlike character) they received through humble and faithful obedience to the Lord. (1 Cor. 3:10-15). Yet even as the elders seen in Revelation 4 cast their crowns before God, all the glory of the redeemed will redound to the glory of God for all eternity. Man's highest eternal reward will be to reach our full capacity to worship and glorify God.

"On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there."  Open gates symbolize continual access to God and the fact that all of God's enemies are eternally banished, confined to the Lake of Fire forever. Night/darkness symbolizes sin and evil and once again we are assured of the absence of sin and evil forever as the next verse shows us. "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city." Water of life: This is a word picture of the Holy Spirit. {"This is the water of life. It's a symbol of pure, holy, eternal life flowing down through the city from the throne of God and of the Lamb. That's one throne. Water symbolizes salvation. Water symbolizes eternal life. You must be born of the water and the Spirit, it symbolizes washing and regeneration. John really understood the meaning of water in terms of its reference to salvation for it was John himself who wrote down the words of Jesus, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he can't enter the Kingdom." ( John 3:3) It was John who wrote down the words of Jesus, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst. But the water that I shall give them shall become in him a well of water, springing up to eternal life." (John 4:14) So we know it's not H2O, that's in chapter 4 of John's gospel. In John 7:37 it was John who recorded the words of Jesus who said, "If any man is thirsty let him come to Me and drink. "He who believes in Me as the Scripture says from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." John understood the symbol of water, the symbolic character as it pointed to salvation cleansing. It is the symbol of the constant flow of everlasting life from God's throne to all the people in glory. He is the spring, He is the fountain, He is the source of eternal life and this river symbolizes that as it comes out of His throne." J. MacArthur}

"On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." The tree of life seems to span the river (possibly a stream). The twelve fruits indicate that we may eat food in heaven even as Jesus in His glorified body ate food. Yet is seems that food will not be necessary but for our pleasure thus the variety and abundance of fruit; (though this may also imply we will return to being herbivores versus carnivores). The leaves that heal the nations (ethne – the peoples) is better translated, the leaves that are "health-giving" rather than "healing" for we know that there will be no pain (Rev. 21:4) in the eternal state/new heavens and new earth. {"And so the leaves sort of symbolize the full enjoyment of life in the New Jerusalem. We don't really need any food, we won't need to be healed of anything. But there's going to be endless variety and a constant infusing of great exhilarating joy." This is what the Jews call LIFE – L'chaim!  – J. MacArthur}

"No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. And they will reign for ever and ever." This seems to be a contradiction. We are called both servants of God and yet those who will reign with God. One author entitled his book, The Reign of the Servant Kings (Dr. D. Dillow) referring to those who humble themselves before God in this life and will reign with Him in eternity. (See Phil. 2: 9-11; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6)

"They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads." This shows both the intimacy we will have with God and the security (owned by God) that we will enjoy forever and ever.


1) Here in the Eternal State in the New Jerusalem there is no sin (see 22:5) and man can now have direct personal communion with God. Night/darkness symbolizes sin and evil and once again we are assured of the absence of sin and evil forever. Can you imagine a world without sin and evil? How did Jesus live in this sinful world and what can we learn from Him to help us fight sin and evil in our own hearts and in our world?

2) Water of life: This is a word picture of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the woman at the well about living water (a picture of salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit) and He calls us as believers to "thirst for righteousness" (on-going spiritual growth and Christlikeness – Matt. 5:6). How can we be salty and encourage unbelievers to "thirst" for Christ -for salvation? Thirst is an intense desire and need. How thirsty are you to grow to be more like Jesus? What can we do to increase our spiritual thirst? 

3)  "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)  "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:5-6) How can these Scriptures encourage us to humble ourselves now in anticipation of Jesus' "well done" for all eternity? 

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

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