Stephen Caswell © 2007
Moody Saw Heaven
A few hours before entering the Homeland, D L. Moody caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from a sleep, he said, Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go. His son who was standing by his bedside said, No, no, father, you are dreaming. No, said Mr. Moody, I am not dreaming: I have been within the gates: I have seen the children’s faces. A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle he spoke again: This is my triumph; this my coronation day! It is glorious!
We have lots of questions about heaven. The Bible does give us many of the answers. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10: But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. God showed John a glimpse of heaven on the Isle of Patmos. Today we’ll see 3 different aspects of heaven; God’s City, God’s House, God’s Temple. All 3 speak of perfect unity; One Celestial City, One Family Home, One Holy Temple.
1. God’s City - Citizens
a. The Builder
Revelation 21:1-2: Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. So it shouldn’t surprise us that He makes the New Heavens, the New Earth and the New Jerusalem. Isaiah 65:17-18: For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. In Revelation 21:5 we read that God makes all things new. I believe we will see God make these things new.
God is the Architect and builder of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. God planned to make this city a long time ago. The Lord promised Abraham that he would live in a city that He made. Hebrews 11:9-10: By faith Abraham dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Abraham was waiting for the New Jerusalem. He longed to live there. Now he does.
b. The City
What do you normally find in a healthy city? You have city limits marked out by walls or fences for protection. You need a water supply and food. You need government, streets, lighting, trees, buildings and houses. God has provided all of these in the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:10-12; 14; 16; 18; 21; 23; 22:1-2: And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
God Himself will rule as king over the city. The city is secure having high walls made of jasper stone. God makes the city secure. There are 12 gates made of pearl. The city and its streets are made of pure Gold. God Himself lights the city. I personally believe the whole city will shine. John says that it has the glory of God and reflects light like a precious stone. A city made of gold, precious stones and pearls will naturally radiate any light within it. God is that light. The river of life proceeds from God’s throne providing pure water. There will be no water shortage. The tree of life provides 12 kinds of fruit for the citizens. The leaves of the tree of life provide good health for the people. There’s no pollution, disease, sickness or overcrowding in the Holy City; About 1600 miles square.
c. The Citizens
Revelation 21:24-27: And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day, there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Only believers will enter the New Jerusalem. The citizen’s role is the Lamb’s Book of Life. Isaiah 26:1-2: In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. No unbeliever will ever see the glory land; their place is in the Lake of Fire. Anyone who defiles himself through lies, idolatry, immorality, or unbelief won’t be allowed to defile heaven. Heaven’s citizens bring their glory and honor into the city. What does this mean? I believe that it refers to their good works. Heavenly citizens walk in the light. Abraham looked for the heavenly city and lived righteously as a stranger on earth. Lot looked at Sodom and compromised.
Philippians 1:27: Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. The words let your conduct be worthy of, πολιτεύω, literally mean to conduct yourself as a good citizen keeping the law, a heavenly citizen. Phil 3:20: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you living like a heavenly citizen? Is your conduct like Abraham a sojourner or lot a settler in Sodom?
2. God’s House - Sons
Revelation 21:3-7: And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
a. The Father
John 14:1-3: Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Jesus calls heaven His Father’s house. This is a very intimate description because families live together in a home. The Father’s house will be our eternal home. God will dwell with His children. Jesus Himself has prepared rooms or dwelling places in His Father’s home. Christ went back to heaven to prepare a place for you and me. God will live with us forever; for we are His children. Ephesians 3:14-15: For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. We will carry His name on our foreheads. Revelation 22:4 says so.
Our heavenly Father will provide for all of our needs. We will share family meals and talk together often. We won’t grieve over loved ones that are not in heaven. For there will be no more crying, sorrow, pain, suffering or death. He will comfort us and wipe away every tear. The things that spoiled the first creation will be removed. Our Father’s home will be a place of joy, laughter and blessing. Death will never take anyone from God’s family. God is the Everlasting Father, Who gives us resurrection bodies. Our resurrection bodies won’t wear out, grow old or get sick. This is immortality, eternal life.
b. The Children
You ask, how do we enter God’s family? Through faith in Jesus Christ. John 14:6: Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 1:12-13: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The new birth enables us to become God’s children. Jesus told Nicodemus that He must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God; or put plainly get into heaven. This new birth is a spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives us new life when we believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. We must believe He died for our sins and rose again. Forgiveness of sins, eternal life, entrance to heaven and becoming a child of God is all gained through Jesus Christ.
By admitting that we are sinners and believing that Jesus Christ died for our sin we become children of God. The moment we believe we receive these things; although the completion of God’s work awaits Christ’s return. We have the guarantee of the Spirit to prove He will come for us. 1 John 3:1-2: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.
c. The Inheritance
Parents leave their belongings to their children when they die. We write a last will and testament to insure this. So too, God has willed His children an inheritance. Revelation 21:7: He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. How do we overcome? By believing in Jesus Christ. The Father is so satisfied with the work of His Son that He blesses us beyond all measure. Romans 8: 16-17; 31-32: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Residence: John 14:2: Tells us that Christ has prepared a dwelling place for us.
New Garments: Revelation 3:5: He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments. Glory: Some believers will shine brighter in glory. See 1 Cor 15:41-42 and Daniel 12:3.
Food: Revelation 2:7b: To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Rev 2:17a: I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. Rev 22:17b: Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Rewards: Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when they persecute you for my sake, for great is your reward in heaven.
The Martyrs Crown is promised to those who die for the Lord. James 1:12:
The Victors Crown is promised to those who exercise self control. 1 Corinthians 9:25.
The Crown of Rejoicing is a Soul Winners Crown. 1 Thessalonians 2:19:
The Crown of Glory is promised to faithful pastors in 1 Peter 5:1-4.
The Crown Of Righteousness is for all who love Christ’s appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8:
A White Stone. Revelation 2:17: This is a memorial pillar inscribed with worthy names.
A Pillar. Revelation 3:12a: A position of honor in the Lord’s presence.
A New Name. Revelation 3:12b: Our new names will relate to our Christian life. A bit like the names John Bunyan gave to the people in Pilgrim’s Progress.
Treasure in Heaven. Matthew 6:20: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
Rule: Revelation 3:21: To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.
Authority. Revelation 2:26-28: And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations — He shall rule them with a rod of iron.
Christians are God’s children. Are you reflecting your Father’s nature? Do others see Jesus in us? There will be no fighting in our Father’s House. Shouldn’t we live together in harmony now? Shouldn’t we bring others into the family through a faith in Jesus Christ? Why not tell the lost that they can be born again into a new life, eternal life?
3. God’s Temple - Servants
a. The Lord & The Lamb
21:22: But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
What is a temple? On earth temples are simply buildings set apart for the worship of God. Today people worship many different gods in many temples. Not so in heaven; in heaven people will only worship the true God, the Lord God Almighty. In the New Jerusalem there will be no physical temple as such. This is because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. God will be the One we worship and the place we worship. What is the main emphasis of all this? Idols or false gods won't be tolerated. The Lord will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The word translated temple here is ναός and refers to the holy of holies. The entire New Jerusalem, perhaps all of heaven itself will be a holy place. There will be no secular activities, all will be sacred. All that we do in heaven will glorify God and only Him. Christians are commanded to present their bodies as living sacrifices. We are to live for the glory of God. So often we fail in this. We make sacrifices for self, not for God. We live for our own will and our own glory not God’s will and God’s glory.
There won’t be many temples, churches denominations or religions. There won’t be Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans and Methodists in heaven. There will just be the people of God. There will be one temple, the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. We will have one faith in one God. There will be one people who worship one God, not numerous denominations. Every one that has believed in Jesus Christ and has been born again of the Holy Spirit will worship in this one new temple.
There’s so much disunity in Churches and denominations. This will be changed. Christ’s prayer that we might be one will be answered. There will be true unity around the throne of God. Everything that takes place in heaven will be an act of worship. Christians will live in God's presence like pillars in a temple. Jesus told the woman of Samaria that the place of worship wasn’t as important as our attitude and our relationship with God.
John 4:23-24: But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
b. The Servants
Revelation 22:3-4: And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.
In verses 3 and 4 believers are referred to as servants. This is right and fitting. Even though we are God’s children we are still His servants. He is our God, our King and our Master. When God called out to Samuel, he replied speak Lord your servant is listening. This is the appropriate response for believers. Today, too many Christians say No Lord. Those words should not go together. When the Lord asks us to do something we should say yes Lord I will obey your command. In glory we will do this. We should do it now as well. In heaven God’s will shall be done quickly. His servants will obey.
c. The Service
Revelation 22:3-4: And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.
How will we serve the Lord? What will this involve? Standing, Singing, Serving, Seeing.
Standing. Firstly, I believe there will be times when we will stand before God’s throne. In the ancient world the king was attended by many servants and advisors. We will wait on Him as attendants. There may be a roster where we are called to serve the Lord at certain times like the different courses served in the temple. Revelation 3:12a: He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. In Psalm 23:6: David says, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Seeing. Secondly, Verse 4 says that we will see the Lord face to face. We will behold the glory and the beauty of our God. We will marvel at His power and perfection. We will hear His majestic voice. He will teach us His ways and we’ll be astounded by His wisdom. Recognizing God’s greatness will also glorify Him. As we will learn of His mercy and grace we will love Him more.
Ephesians 2:4-7: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Singing. Thirdly, We read in the Book of Revelation that believers will sing before the throne. We will praise God with words and songs. No doubt as we learn more about God we will sing new songs that praise His greatness. Some will play harps while others sing.
Revelation 15:3-4: They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.
Revelation 5:8-10: Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.
Serving. Revelation 22:3-4: tells us his servants shall serve him: The word serve, latreuw means to worship, to offer up sacrifices, to render religious service and homage. This word has the connotation of priestly service. Our songs and words of praise of course are a part of this service; but not all of it. Throughout the Book of Revelation we find living creatures, angels and men bowing down before the throne. They fall on their faces and some cast their crowns before the Lord. The word serve embraces all of these things. Peter calls believers a royal priesthood in 1 Peter 2:9. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
In Heaven the Lord will be worshipped. No false gods. In heaven all worship will be sincere & spiritual. Let’s mean what we say, sing and profess now! If we are God’s servants shouldn’t we exalt His name? Shouldn’t our lives bring praise to the Lord, Who called us from darkness into light? If we are all going to serve the Lord in heaven why can’t we have unity now? Let’s work together for the Kingdom of God!
Tonight we have seen 3 facets of our lives in heaven. Firstly, we are Citizens of Heaven. As such we should conduct ourselves as such living worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Secondly, as Sons of God we ought to honor and love our Heavenly Father and all His children. Finally, as Servants of the King we ought to obey our Gracious Master. He is worthy of our service and praise. Let’s serve Him now!
Revelation 22:20-21: He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming quickly. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.