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Heaven On Earth

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 Heaven On Earth

Revelation 22

                Unless you subscribe to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, you probably missed the story that was in the May 17, 1987 edition.  A rock hound named Rob Cutshaw owns a little roadside shop outside Andrews, North Carolina. Like many in the trade, he hunts for rocks, then sells them to collectors or jewelry makers. He knows enough about rocks to decide which to pick up and sell, but he's no expert. He leaves the appraising of his rocks to other people. As much as he enjoys the work, it doesn't always pay the bills. He occasionally moonlights, cutting wood to help put bread on the table.  While on a dig twenty years ago, Rob found a rock he described as "purdy and big." He tried unsuccessfully to sell the specimen, and according to the news paper, kept the rock under his bed or in his closet. He guessed the blue chunk could bring as much as $500 dollars, but he would have taken less if something urgent came up like paying his power bill. That's how close Rob came to hawking for a few hundred dollars what turned out to be the largest, most valuable sapphire ever found. The blue rock that Rob had abandoned to the darkness of a closet two decades ago -- now known as "The Star of David" sapphire -- weighs nearly a pound, and could easily sell for $2.75 million

                Most would see this as a treasure, something very valuable and they can’t believe that Mr. Cutshaw just threw it into his closet for all those years.  I’m sure that most would say something like, “Well, if I had something that valuable I would know it and I’d sure cash in on it.”  And yet, each and every person on this earth has been give something even greater than this stone worth 2.75 million – they have been given the treasure of eternal life, living with Jesus in a new city, the New Jerusalem.

                Isn’t it amazing that the last two chapters of the Bible are very similar to the first two chapters? In the first two chapters of Genesis we see God’s description of creation and the heaven-like conditions on the earth prepared for mankind.  In the last two chapters of Revelation we are shown the eternal heaven that God will reestablish for us.                  Found in the first five verses of chapter 22 we find six descriptions of the heaven-like earth that God is preparing.  Last week we looked at the heavenly city and the new earth, this morning we are going to look at additional details to make this state even more ideal.

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. 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. 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. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

 

                The first thing we notice is that there is a river, the river of the water of life.  We cannot live without water in this life, and since we are told that this is the water of life, it looks as if we need it in the life to come.  Mankind has always looked for water.  Fortresses were built on high points and had plenty of water available.  Many people have died and nations have even had to change their homelands because there was not enough water.  In the eternal paradise God has planned for us, an abundance of water will flow from the throne of God Himself, indicating that God will be the source of that life-giving substance.

                Then we notice, “the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month”.  Do you remember what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned?  They were forbidden to eat of the Tree of Life.  Genesis 3:22 says:

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.  He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen. 3:22-24)

                Eating of the Tree of Life makes a person live forever.  Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from this tree, but in the eternal city, we will be able to eat of it.  Its’ fruit comes year-round.  It won’t just yield fruit during the spring or fall, but month after month.  So we will be able to eat and drink without fear of want in the eternal future. 

                Now listen to this, “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”.  The curse that God placed on the earth as a result of the sin of Adam in the Garden will be partially lifted during the Millennium, but completely lifted now!!  So the unlimited potential of the planet God gave to the human race will be realized for the first time.  As proof that it will be an un-cursed earth, God will place His throne here.  We sometimes talk about how wonderful the Garden of Eden must have been – well, we’ll get to see what God had in store for mankind from the beginning!!  As a matter of fact –

                “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads”.  The seal of God on the forehead of a person indicates that he or she is the blood-bought child of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  Is this the same mark that the believers will have during the Tribulation?  It very well could be – but now – all God’s children will have this mark.  And what is our relationship to God going to be at this point?  It will be fantastic!!  For we will actually be able to see God!!  Remember, Moses was only allowed to see God’s backside as He passed by – but we will see His the beauty of His face!!

                The fifth description that we are given here was touched on last week.  John tells us, “There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light”.  In this world we are dependent on the sun for light and heat, but at that time we will not be limited to external objects, for God Himself will provide a consistent pattern of light that is perfect for us.  I like to look at it this way, right now we live by the solar sun for life, it gives us light and heat – but the true Son gives us life eternal, and will provide light for all eternity.

                If we would stop and think about what we looked at last week, about the New Jerusalem, it was a beautiful place, but it was kind of bare and cold – but these verses show us that there is warmth, water, vegetation and light. 

                “And they will reign for ever and ever” – who is going to reign for ever and ever?  Those who have taken the name: Christian.  What a wonderful name.

                When the 1960s ended, San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district reverted to high rent, and many hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. They had children and got married, too, though in no particular sequence. But they didn't name their children Melissa or Brett. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing Frisbee with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. And eventually Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school.  That's when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely apply name tags to their children, kiss them good-bye and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy's name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it.

"Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they offered. And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn't seem much odder than Heather's or Sun Ray's. 

At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. "Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?"

He didn't answer. That wasn't strange. He hadn't answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn't matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children's bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony."

                I don’t know about you, but I want to wear my name proudly!!  I am a Christian and I want everyone to know about it.  Not only that, but I have been adopted into the greatest family ever.  My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills – oh and by the way – He created the hills the cattle are on.  And my Brother!!  He has been preparing a place for me and it is magnificent!!  How do I know this?  Jesus says,

                “Behold, I am coming soon!(vs.7; and He says)  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”  In other words, happy are those who know about the prophecy of this book, those that have studied it and are ready for the Great Day when it arrives.

(Read verses 8-19)

 I hope you are ready!!  It is our blessed hope, no it is the great promise of God that we will all be reunited on that great and glorious day when Jesus comes in the clouds.  And remember, Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  And I want to repeat what John said to close this chapter –

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  Amen. (vs. 20-21)

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