C.S.Lewis once said, “Aim at heaven and you get the earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.”
Christians don’t think enough about heaven. Revelation gives us a number of glorious pictures of heaven.
Last week be began by looking at the Lamb of God who is at the centre of the throne of God in heaven, and
THE VICTORY OF THE LAMB
‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’ (Revelation 5:12)
The Lamb is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the only being in the whole of heaven and earth who is worthy to open the scroll and pronounce God’s judgment. The Lamb who is worthy for who He is, God the Son, the Word, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one who holds the keys of death and hell, the Firstborn over all Creation, the visible image of the invisible God, the radiance of God’s glory, the heir of all things. The one who is before all things and in whom all things hold together. The one in whom all the fulness of God dwells in bodily form.
Then the Lamb is also worthy because He is Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Revelation 4 11 ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’
And the Lamb is worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise because He is the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. He is worthy as the Saviour of those He has redeemed.
Revelation 5 9 … ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’
Jesus Christ is the Lamb who was slain, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World, who brings us victory over sin, victory over death which is the consequence of sin, victory over the devil and all the powers of evil. The Lamb has triumphed!
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain.
Rev 5:13 ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!’
The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has triumphed! Right now He is standing at the centre of the throne of God. And He shares that victory with all of us who put our trust in Him. When this mortal life is over we will share completely in that triumph. Until then we are living life in the overlap – in the tension between the already and the not yet of the Kingdom of God. For now we are torn between the pull of this world and the pull of the next, the battle between what already exists and the glory which is yet to come. But in the middle of the suffering and temptations of the present we can look forward to the promise of the future. Because God has promised that one day we all will all share
ALL THE BLESSINGS OF HEAVEN
Revelation Chapter 7 gives us three wonderful pictures of what heaven will be like.
Life in God’s presence
Revelation 7 15 Therefore, ‘they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They are before the throne of God. Now we see in a mirror darkly. Then we will see face to face. This prospect of being in God’s presence and of seeing Jesus face to face is at the heart of the Christian hope of eternal life. If it doesn’t fill us with joy and hope, we have missed completely missed the point of salvation.
‘they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple;
The word for Temple there is actually naos, the word for the Holy of Holies. We will still be serving God. Heaven will be filled with all kinds of purposeful activities we cannot imagine. But sometimes in this life we can find ourselves frustrated at how far we fall short of God’s glory. In heaven our worship and service of God will be made perfect.
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
Here is a wonderful echo of the Old Testament promise of Psalm 91
Psa 91 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
So we have this wonderful promise of everlasting life in God’s presence. Richard Baxter expresses the thought in these lines which I often quote at a funeral.
My knowledge of that life is small, The eye of faith is dim,
But it’s enough that Christ knows all, And I shall be with him.
Life in God’s presence – PAUSE AND REFLECT
Then we have a second picture of heaven
God will meet all our needs
Revelation 7 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat.
One 17th century author put it like this: “I am assured that though I want here, I have riches there; though I hunger here, I shall have fullness there; though I faint here, I shall be refreshed there; and though I be counted here as a dead man, I shall there live in perpetual glory.”
We have so many needs in this life. Physical needs. Mental needs. Emotional needs. Social needs. Spiritual needs. God will meet all those needs in heaven. What do you need in life? Not – what do you want? Not – what would you like? Not – what do you desire? But what do you need? God will meet all those needs! In heaven we will have reached the end of our journey.
Light after darkness, gain after loss; Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears; Home after wandering, praise after tears;
Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain; Sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast; Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last;
Near after distant, gleam after gloom; Love after loneliness, life after tomb;
After long agony, rapture of bliss; Follow the pathway, leading to this.
So we look forward with eager anticipation to the end of the journey where God will meet all our needs.
PAUSE AND REFLECT
And then we have this third wonderful picture of heaven as
A place of everlasting joy
Revelation 7 17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The Good Shepherd who leads the flock and cares for the flock and protects the flock will lead them to springs of living water. Too often Christians are satisfied with the riches of this world and are not thirsty enough for the living waters of God’s Holy Spirit.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Whatever sorrows we may face in this life, God will wipe all those tears away. Bereavements, illnesses, disappointments, hurts, fears. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. We will be in a place of everlasting joy. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis said this. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
A place of everlasting joy – PAUSE AND REFLECT
BUT WE’RE NOT IN HEAVEN YET.
One day each of us will be there in the multitude, wearing the white robes and waving the palm branches and singing in a loud voice,
‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
We will be there listening to all the angels and the elders and the four living creatures praising God, singing,
‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’
But we aren’t in heaven yet! Things will get harder before they get easier. Much, much harder!
Revelation 7 13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’
14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’
And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore, ‘they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple;
The blessings of heaven are only for those who have come through the times of tribulation. The blessings of heaven are for those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Their joy comes from sharing the victory of the Lamb who was slain, and for some that victory will only come through martyrdom.
The apostle Paul knew exactly what it meant to suffer for Christ. And he wrote in Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. (Message)
Life in God’s Presence. All Our Needs Met. A Place of Everlasting Joy. This is our Christian happy certainty of heaven. We should definitely think about heaven much more than we do!
In his classic devotional book titled The Saint’s Everlasting Rest, English Puritan pastor and author Richard Baxter (1615-1691) wrote:
“Why are not our hearts continually set on heaven? Why dwell we not there in constant comtemplation?…Bend thy soul to study eternity, busy thyself about the life to come, habituate thyself to such contemplations, and let not those thoughts be seldom and cursory, but bathe thyself in heaven’s delights.”
Life in God’s Presence. All Our Needs Met. A Place of Everlasting Joy. This is our hope!