Revelation 068 – God’s Specialty

Dr. Andy Woods | Jan 19, 2020 | Revelation 21:1-3 | Revelation

Andy Woods

God’s Specialty   Revelation 21:1-8

Lesson 68

Good morning everybody.  Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 21.  The title of our message this morning is God’s Specialty.  You say well what is that?  Well, just in case we don’t get to the verse that covers that title God’s Specialty is making all things new.  That’s what he specializes in.  And in our passage this morning, Revelation 21:1-8 we see that he is making a new world consistent with the new identity that He’s already given us in Christ Jesus.  Did you know that if you’re in Christ Jesus you’re a new creation?  How many of you know that?  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that and it would be fitting, would it not, for God to put us as new creations, not in the current world but in a new world.  So there’s a new world coming.

If you’ve been tracking with us in our studies through the Book of Revelation we’ve finished talking about the judgments that come to the earth during the great tribulation period.  Jesus has returned to the earth and now the Book of Revelation highlights four things: Kingdom, Great White Throne Judgment, Destruction of the Earth, and then a New Heavens and a New Earth.  You can see all of those sort of portrayed on a graph form when you go to the Second Advent there and hang a right and you should see them.

But the kingdom we’ve talked about, the thousand year reign of Christ, a thousand years with Jesus.  Revelation 20:1-10.

[Revelation 20:1-10, “I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. [2]  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; [3]  and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. [4] Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. [5] The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.

[6]  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.  [7] When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, [8] and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. [9] And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. [10] And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”]

And then what follows was a horrifying description of what awaits unbelievers in what is called the Great White Throne Judgment.  Revelation 20:11-15 we talked about that last week.

[Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. [12]  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. [14]  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. [15]  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”]

And now we come to, as we are getting near the end, I mean don’t count my word too much on that but sort of near the end of the Book of Revelation where we’re going to see two other things introduced today.   Number one, the destruction of this earth, verse 1.  And then number 2, it’s going to be replaced by a new heavens and a new earth.  That’s really what the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation are about.

So we can take this remaining section that we have, just two chapters, and divide it into three parts.  Number one, the new heavens and new earth, chapter 21:1-8.  Number two, the city called the New Jerusalem that will be part of this new heavens and new earth, chapter 21:9 through chapter 22:5.  And then finally the very end of the book gives what we would call an epilogue, chapter 22:6-21.  The book began with a  prologue and it’s fitting that it would conclude with an epilogue.

But this morning we are just focused on verses 1-8, the new heavens and new earth that’s coming.  Here’s sort of an outline that we can follow:  A New Creation. (1)  B.  A new  city  (2} C. A New Fellowship  (3) D. A New Order (4-5)  E. A New Satisfaction (6)  F. A New realization (7)  and G. A New Holiness (8).  You get the impression that God wants to make all things new… Amen!  That’s what He’s already done in us as Christians, He’s made us new creatures in Christ Jesus and so now we see the home that we will one day indwell that is consistent with our newness in Christ.

But notice, if you will, verse 1, A New Creation.  Look if you will at Revelation 21, notice verse 1.  John says as he is receiving this vision from the Lord, “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.”  There’s sort of a debate, if you will, amongst  people that study intently the Book of Revelation, when does this old earth dissolve?  Some would place it back in Revelation 20:11 we saw that last week that heaven and earth had fled away.  [Revelation 20:11, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.”]

Others would say no, it’s going to happen not before the Great White Throne Judgment but after the Great White Throne Judgment.   I guess if you had to push me on that  I would probably say it dissolves after the Great White Throne Judgment, but that really isn’t something worth starting a new church over.  We’re the first church of the new heavens and new earth after the Great White Throne Judgment Church, that would be cutting the truth a little thin there I think.

But the important thing to understand is that this earth that we’re in is temporary.  God has a plan, a program in place where He’s going to take this earth and dissolve it.  Verse after verse in the Bible speaks of this.  Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away.”  Paul, the apostle, in 1 Corinthians 7:31 says, “The form of this world is passing away.”   1 John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away and also its lusts.”  It’s interesting how the Bible portrays this earth that we’re in, this world, not only is it going to be dissolved it’s actually in the process as I speak, the passing away.

Hebrews 1:10-12 says, “And you, Lord in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hand; [11] They will perish, but you remain, and they will all become old like a garment,  [12]  And like a mantle, you will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed.  But you are the same, and  your years will not come to an end.”  God never changes but the world that we’re in is destined to change, which brings up a very important application for us.  If this world is going to be dissolved, and it is, why are we clinging so tightly to it?  Why are we looking at this world for our identity and our security?  And why aren’t we investing our lives better?  You know, in the movie, The Titanic it mentions or shows the Titanic going down and it shows people sort of foolishly playing violins, maybe they were doing that just to calm the fear in people, rearranging the deck chairs.  Why would I risk my life rearranging the deck chairs on something that’s going down?

The truth of the matter, and we’ve mentioned this from this pulpit many times, there’s only two things that are going to make it from this world into the next… only two!   The first is the souls of people because God, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man.”  People are designed to live forever somewhere; that’s what it means to be made in the image of God, or part of the meaning.  And the only other thing that will last is God’s Word.  Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.”  Everything else will go!  Everything else will disappear!

And so when I make an investment… you all are making an investment this morning, there are many other things you could be doing but you’ve chosen to come and worship the Lord and sit under the teaching of His Word.  The time that you spend doing that, trying to understand the Bible, seeking to live according to the Bible, every single ounce of energy that takes is an investment that you just put into something that’s safe.  You know in our unsettled times everybody is talking about save investments.  I really only know of two, the Word of God and people.  And the more you invest in a person, evangelizing someone, discipling someone, ministering to someone, investing in your own children and grandchildren, husband, wife, spouse, etc. you’re making an investment into something that will stand the test of time.  Everything else will be dissolved.

A lot like the illustration I’ve used before on this of the person at the restaurant carving out of a block of ice something attractive, an Easter basket, a Thanksgiving display.  I remember as a very young person being taken to restaurants like that, watching them kind up front chiseling away, making something attractive out of giant block of ice.  And the work that they did was very good.  And if we were seated close enough we could see the perspiration on the person’s face, chipping and carving and working and crafting, and yet there’s always that sense of frustration as  you watched them work because you know that they’re working with ice which will melt, meaning everything that they’ve invested themselves in is perishable; it only is going to last a certain amount of time.                       And I think that’s how many of us have our lives wrongly ordered and organized.  We’re so invested in the things of this earth and the things of this world, whether it be any number of things that we’re pouring our hearts and souls into not understanding that those things are destined to be dissolved.  And we ought to be not rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic but investing in the things that will actually matter, and survive the test of time, people and God’s Word.

And so John says here in Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away….”  Now this is after the thousand year kingdom, and so a question is raised, well why does God dissolve the earth now, after the thousand  years subsequent to the return of His Son?  Why didn’t Jesus just come back at the end of the seven year tribulation period and take the earth and dissolve it and replace it with a new heavens and new earth and bypass the thousand year kingdom entirely?  That would have been much more speedy, it would have been much more efficient.

The answer to that question actually relates to the Book of Genesis, chapter 1; the better  you understand the things that happen at the beginning of the Bible the better you under­stand the things that will take place at the end of the Bible.  God took our forbearers, the first man and his wife and He vested them with authority.  They were to rule over creation for God.  You see that in Genesis 1:26-28, let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky  Verse 28, they are to “subdue it; and rule over” the things that God has made.

[Genesis 1:26-28, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” [27]  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. [28] God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”]

And we know how that story ended, our forbearers began to listen to creation, in particular a talking snake and they began to rebel against the Creator.  What God had established at the beginning in Genesis 1 became corrupted by the time you get to Genesis chapter 3.  And so the goal of human history is to restore what was lost in Eden.  God the Father will rule over a man one day, it won’t be the first Adam who failed, it will be who?  The last Adam, and the last Adam, along with his wife, now who would his wife be?  That would be the church wouldn’t it, will govern creation for God for a thousand years.

And God cannot allow the earth to go out of existence until this is accomplished.  And if the earth goes out of existence before this is accomplished then God Himself loses. God must be triumphant in the same arena where He was seemingly defeated.  He originally wanted Himself, God the Father, to govern the first Adam along with his wife and they would govern creation for God.  That failed, Genesis 3, and the goal of human history is how that structure is brought back.  God the Father will rule over the last Adam, Jesus Christ, along with his wife who will govern creation for a thousand years and if that doesn’t take place or transpire you have no final victory for God.  That’s why the earth as it exists cannot and will not go out of existence until this thousand years is complete.

Charles Ryrie puts it this way: “Why is an earthly kingdom” that’s the thousand year kingdom, why is it “necessary? Did not He” that’s Jesus, “receive His inheritance when He was raised and exalted in heaven?  Is not His present rule His inheritance? Why does there need to be an earthly kingdom? And here’s the answer: “Because He” that’s God, “must be triumphant in the same arena where He was seemingly defeated.  His rejection by the rulers of this world was on this earth.”  God’s authority in Genesis 3 was challenged, not in heaven somewhere but on this earth.  So His exaltation must be on this earth, and so it shall be when He comes again to rule the world in righteousness.  He has waited long for His inheritance and soon He shall receive it.

Dwight Pentecost puts it this way,  he says, “Apart from the reign of Christ…here on earth…And apart from this rule, God’s purpose for man would never be brought to a conclusion. God’s purpose for the earth would be unrealized and the problem generated by Satan’s rebellion would never be resolved. Thus the physical, literal reign of Christ on the earth is a theological and biblical necessity—unless Satan is victorious over God.” [J. Dwight Pentecost,  Thy Kingdom Come, page 316.]

See, there’s a reason theologically and there’s a reason biblically why the old earth will not be dissolved until the thousand years runs its course.  God has to rule over a man over this planet.  That’s what the thousand year kingdom is about.  But with that purpose solved, with that tension alleviated the thousand years now being over now God is free to take the world that we are living in now and destroy it and replace it with a new heaven and a new earth.  You’ll find this teaching all over the Bible.  In fact, when Noah got off the boat after the flood God said this in Genesis  8:22, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night” oh my goodness, what does it say there, even “cold and heat,”  shall not cease.’”  In other words, God Himself has established this earth, whether it be seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, day and night, oh my goodness, what does it say there, even “cold and heat,” to continue in its normal rhythms, to continue in its normal cycle.  God has established it this way and that cycle will not be interrupted until Jesus is victorious over planet earth.

Now I know everybody’s gone out and seen the new Star Wars movie and we think about the death star and we think about laser beams coming out of the death star and just destroying entire planets.  And we have politicians today saying unless we fix climate change or global warming or whatever it is they’re talking about the earth is going to be destroyed, we’re always on the precipice of destroying the earth.  That’s not what the Bible says.  God cannot and will not let this earth go out of existence until the thousand years are complete and in the meantime in His covenant with Noah He is established certain cycles or rhythms in nature which really have nothing to do with whether I just bought an SUV or not, quite frankly.  The cycles of cold and heat, summer and winter, harvest, seed time, etc. those are going to just naturally occur.  That’s why we had global warming actually in the days of the Vikings.  That was long before I got my SUV by the way; you can’t blame everything on the SUV.

So these cycles are going to occur and the cycles will not be interrupted until it’s time; once the thousand years runs its course God is victorious over what was lost, now it’s time to dissolve the earth and replace it with a new heavens and a new earth.  You see folks, there’s a reason chapter 21 comes after chapter 20; are you all in agreement with me on that?  You have chapter 20, the thousand year reign of Christ, then you have chapter 21, the new heavens and new earth.  There’s a theological reason why the new heavens and new earth will be subsequent to the thousand year reign of Christ.  You’ll find a lot of your answers to those questions in Genesis chapter one.

Now one of the big questions that comes up here in Revelation 21:1 when it says “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,” the question is this: is this really a new heavens and a new earth, because a lot of people will treat this as kind of a fixer-upper, kind of a facelift, a makeover.  In other words God just sort of takes the existing earth and slaps a coat of fresh paint on it and it’s just the exact same earth, it’s just kind of fixed up a little bit.

I can’t tell you how many very big names that people that you know and that you listen to and hear will teach that.  And I’m here to tell you that I don’t think that view is correct.  I don’t think this is a renovation at all.  I think this is an ex nihilo new creation, ex nihilo simply means something out of nothing.  Why would I think that?  Well just a few reasons.

First of all you’ll notice the word “new,” what does John say in Revelation 21:1?  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth;” that’s the Greek word  καινός [kainos] and it is same word used to describe the new man of the church in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 2 and verse 15.  Ephesians 2:15, “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man,” what is that one new man?   It’s the church.  The church is not a renovation of Israel’s program; the  church is a brand new man that came into existence on the day of Pentecost.  That same word, kainos is used here to describe the new heavens and the new earth.

Beyond that what does it say in verse 1?  What happens to the old heaven and old earth?  It says it “passed away.”  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth passed away,”  Now that is the word  aperchomai which is used right down there in verse 4.  Just drop down to verse 4, it says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there will be no longer any death, mourning, crying or pain, for the first order of things has passed away” that’s aperochomai.  Now are all of these things mentioned in verse 4 just going to be renovated?  Not at all, they’re going to be completely done away with.  So just as all of the things mentioned in verse 4 are going to be completely and totally done away with the old heavens and old earth will be completely and totally done away with.

There’s another reason why God has to not just fix up this earth but after the thousand years destroy  it completely is because sin contaminated the entire universe.  What Adam did in Eden affected everything.  We know this from the Book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 19-22 which says: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. [20] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”  Look at verse  22, “For we know that the whole creation” it doesn’t just say creation there, it says “the whole creation.”  “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”  Adam’s sin affected everything in this universe.  And what does God have to do to prepare things how He wants them given sins universal impact?  He’s got to take everything and dissolve it and replace it by a new heavens and a new earth.

Did you know that even in the thousand year kingdom, you look at the eternal state and then you back up to the millennial kingdom, the thousand years that we’ve studied over about three sermons, did you know that even sin will exist during that thousand year kingdom?  We’re told in verses 7-10 that there’s a rebellion at the end of the thousand years.

[Revelation 20:7-10, “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, [8] and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. [9] And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. [10] And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”]

Other verses you might jot down to show you that sin in some form will still exist during the thousand  years:  Isaiah 65:20 talks about death.  [Isaiah 65:20, “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed.”]

Ezekiel 45:22 talks about the priest who will have to offer up a sacrifice for his known sin.  [Ezekiel 45:22, “On that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.”]

And then Zechariah 14:16-18, people aren’t going to want to go to Jerusalem to worship.  For the sin problem, although it’s certainly curtailed through the righteous reign of Jesus Christ has not been totally eradicated during the thousand years.  [Zechariah 14:16-18, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  [17]  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. [18] If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.”]

So the sin problem exists even into the thousand year kingdom. So how can God take our current world and just sort of fix it up a little bit, since sin affected everything?  Well the answer is He can’t and He won’t, His purpose is to destroy it completely by fire and replace it with a brand new creation, not a facelift, not a fixer upper, but something brand new.  Something that would fit who you are because “in Christ” you are a new creation.  Now how could a new creation fit well into sort of a fixup renovated environment?  Because you are brand new in Christ your destiny one day is to dwell in a brand new universe as God intended without sin.

Something else worth considering as we look at this subject is the world that’s coming has within it profound changes in the topography.  So it has to be replaced with something new.   (By the way, there’s a nice little picture there of what our current world is like, suffering under bondage.)  But the world that’s coming is going to have some very profound changes in the topography of it which leads me to the conclusion that it can’t be the same world that we’re living in now.  When you look at verse 1, the end of the verse, it says, “there was no longer any sea”   [Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”]

Our world, going all the way back to Genesis 1:9-10, has sea or ocean within it.  In fact, Genesis 1:9-10 describe the land coming out of the sea.  [Genesis 1:9-10, “Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. [10] God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.”]

And according to what folks say 57% of the earth’s surface is ocean and what this says, God says I didn’t see a sea any longer.  I have no reason why sea can’t be interpreted literally.  So he’s obviously describing a world that is pro family topographically, different than the one that we’re all in.  Now I was teaching a Bible study in southern California many years ago, I used to have this surfer guy, he would come into the Bible study literally off the beach.   So he would come off the beach, sand everywhere, wet suit, went right into my shower, I never invited him to go in there by the way, (but that’s another story), and then we would go into the Bible study.  And he was a very eager Bible student.

But when I got to this part here about there was no longer any sea I could see the disappointment on his face.  And so my remark to him that sort of comforted him was look, whatever God has taken away it’s going to be replaced by something so much better than you can possibly ever understand.  And that kind of consolidated him at least momentarily.

But this is a topographically different world and what’s interesting about this is if you look at  Revelation 21:23 it says, this creation “has no need of the sun or of the moon.  [Revelation 21:23,   “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”  And if you look at chapter 22:5 it says, “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”

In other words you don’t need a sun, s-u-n, because you have the son, s-o-n radiating everything.  And  you don’t need the moon because the moon reflects the sun so the moon is no longer necessary; the sun is no longer necessary because we have the Son, S-o-n!  Is this literal?  I don’t see why it can’t be; this is a completely different situation, no ocean, no sea, no sun, no moon.  Well how are we going to get light then?  Well God is the light.  Doesn’t 1 Timothy 6:16 say God “dwells in unapproachable light”?  [1 Timothy 6:16, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”]

Pastor, are you telling me that God doesn’t need the sun, s-u-n?  That’s exactly what I’m telling you.  How do I know that?  Because in the beginning it says this:  “Then God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.”  [Genesis 1:3]  Now that’s on day one of the creation week.  The sun, s-u-n wasn’t created until day four; the sun, the moon and the stars, the luminaries were not created until day four.  You mean to tell me that we had light before the sun, s-u-n ever came into existence?  That’s exactly what I’m saying.  So if that could exist in early creation why can’t it exist at the end of the Bible in what is called the eternal state.  In fact, I believe this: I believe God did it this way on purpose.  There’s no need to rewrite the Bible to make it sound like the sun existed at the beginning; the Bible is very clear,  you’ve got light before the other source of light, the sun was created on day four, why did God do it that way?  Because God knew something about human nature that people throughout the ages of time would worship the sun, not the s-o-n son but the s-u-n sun.

Deuteronomy 4:19 says, “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”  God knew the idolatrous potential of human beings, how they would worship the creation rather than the Creator.  And throughout human history you have groups and people that worship the sun, s-u-n, and God says check the record book, check the beginning and check the end.  There was a time when light existed without a third source, an intermediary, and that time is coming again in Revelation 21 and 22.  God is saying worship Me, these other things are just creations.  And so we’re starting to see a lot of reasons why I think the destruction of this old heavens and old earth is going to be replaced by a brand new heavens and earth.

And one more fast point, is if you think this is just a renovation… it’s completely and totally contradicts the Apostle Peter’s description of how this world is going to be destroyed.  In fact, you might consider hanging out with us on Wednesday nights as we’re going through verse by verse the little Book of Second Peter.  But Second Peter 3:7, verses 10-11, and verse 13 makes it very clear that God has a plan and a program for this earth.  It is to destroy it by fire.

2 Peter 3:7,  But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.   2 Peter 3:10-12 says,  “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, the heavens will disappear with a roar and the elements will be destroyed by fire, and everything in it will be laid bare.”  I wish the passage wouldn’t talk so much about prophecy because prophecy has no relevance to our lives.  Ooops, look at verse 11, “Since   all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be” if you know the Titanic is going down it causes you to rearrange your priorities.  “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as  you look forward to the day of God, the day of God being what?   The destruction of this old heavens and old earth only to be replaced by a new heavens and new earth.

So as I like to say, global warming is coming to planet earth.  Everybody today is really upset about the Big Bang, where are you going to get the Big Bang?  Where do you put the Big Bang?  My point is the Big Bang is at the end, not the beginning.  You know, the poor evolutionist has the whole thing backwards; they’ve got their big bang at the beginning when the Bible says it actually happens at the end.  “The day of the LORD will come like a thief in the nigh in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”  It does not look like renovation time; it looks like new creation time.

Some people will camp on 2 Peter 3:6, which says, “ through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”  And they’ll say aha, the flood never destroyed the whole earth.  But wait a minute, “world” could be the world of the people, the flood did a pretty good job of destroying all of them.  Sometimes world doesn’t refer to the cosmos, it can refer to humanity, John 3:16, “For God so loved the” what? “the world,” that’s the same word, cosmos.

So the fact that the flood didn’t destroy the entire world is no indicator that God will not one day destroy the entire world via fire as He destroys the old heaven and old earth and replaces it with a new heavens and replaces it with a new heaven and a new earth.  What is coming is not a renovation!  What’s coming is not a facelift!  What’s coming is not a fixer upper!  What’s coming after the thousand years is something completely and totally new.

Now if you want your renovation you don’t look at Revelation 21 for your renovation, you look where:  Revelation 20.  Revelation 20 is your renovation; Revelation 21 is your new creation.  So we need to keep the millennial kingdom, Revelation 20, completely different than the eternal state, Revelation 21 and 22.  In the millennium sin is restrained; in the eternal state sin is removed as we’ll see.  In the millennium the curse is restrained; in the eternal state the curse is removed.  In the millennium there’s death, Isaiah 65:20 talks about it, amongst the survivors of the tribulation period who enter the kingdom in mortal bodies and begin to repopulate the earth.  [Isaiah 65:20, “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed.”]  We’ve done prior lessons on that.  Not so the eternal state, no death at all!

The millennium, as we’ve talked about, you’ve got mortals and resurrected people dwelling together.  Not in the eternal state!  Resurrected people only!  In the millennium you still have to evangelize, there’s still going to be unbelievers.  Not in the eternal state!  Evangelism is over.  Millennium, renovation,  the new eternal state a brand new creation.  The millennium is temporary, it only lasts a thousand years.  How long does the eternal state last for?  Look at the title, eternal… eternity.  The millennium is transitionary, it’s transitioning us from the tribulation period into the eternal state.  The eternal state is not transitioning anything.  It’s God’s creation as He intended it before Adam sinned and corrupted it.

Boy, these are exhausting details, I’m glad you’re finished with that chart.  Don’t celebrate  yet, here’s another one.  In the millennium there’s time, a thousand years.  The eternal state is time­less, it lasts forever.  In the millennium there are luminaries, in fact Isaiah 30:26 says, “the sun,” s-u-n, is going to be seven times brighter than what it currently is.  [Isaiah 30:26, “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.”]

The eternal state there is no sun, s-u-n because we have the Son, S-o-n.   In the millennium death; the eternal state no death.  In the millennium you have Satanic activity, at least at the end when Satan is let out of the abyss.  But no influence or activity of Satan at all in the eternal state.  In the millennium there’s going to be rebellion of some sort; at the end no rebellion in the eternal state.  So I don’t know, I’m looking forward to this eternal state, aren’t you?

So that is our new creation that’s coming and the new creation is going to be inhabited by a new city.  Look at verse 2, John says, “I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”  And so we have the fancy graphics today of the New Jerusalem descending to the earth, and I was so proud of that, then I thought well wait a minute, that earth there has ocean on it, that whole thing has to be redone.  But you get the idea.  What John sees is a city descending to the earth.  Now if I really wanted to be biblically accurate I’d have that city landing on Texas, which I don’t, it’s there in the Middle East.  But he sees the city descending and it comes down to this brand new earth that God has created.

And I’m of the opinion that that city exists right now; it’s in heaven right now as I speak and I get that from Galatians 4:26, speaking of the New Jerusalem, it says, “ But the Jerusalem above is free….”   Now when you study that in the original language what you’ll find is the linking verb “is” is in the present tense.  In other words, the city currently exists. Well why doesn’t it come down?  It’s not fit to come down yet because the earth hasn’t been dissolved  yet.  This city is holy,  you can’t have a holy city coming down to an unholy earth.  And so the city is in heaven as we speak, waiting for the descent and the descent won’t happen until God takes the current heavens and earth and dissolves them by fire and replaces them with a new heavens and a new earth.

The pastor sure has some weird ideas… I like to quote people so you don’t realize that I’m just coming with new stuff, some of the great scholars of the past believe exactly what I’m speaking of here.  My mentor, J. Dwight Pentecost says it this way: “It is generally agreed by interpreters…that the city seen in Revelation 21:10 is suspended over the earth…”  In other words, it’s going to be suspended over the earth even during the thousand year kingdom.  Christ will return to the earth at the second advent and He will reign on David’s throne. The center of that authority is to be  recognized to be earthly Jerusalem. That does not necessitate the presence of Christ on that throne constantly. Christ may still reign on David’s throne over David’s Kingdom, but make the heavenly Jerusalem His place of residence with His Bride

I’ll tell you what I see happening.  I see Jesus making a lot of trips back and forth, from the New Jerusalem descended in heaven to His throne on the earth.  And by the way, does not 1 Corinthians 15:49 say we will also bear the image of the heavenly.  [1 Corinthians 15:49, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”]  Doesn’t 1 John 3:2 say, “…We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, [because we will see Him just as He is.]”  His resurrection body is sort of a pattern for our resurrection body.  And Jesus, in His resurrection body was not limited by certain laws.  For example, in John 20:19 it says this: “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Well wait a minute, how did Jesus get into the Upper Room there when the doors were shut?  He walks right through the wall because at this point He is in a resurrected body which is not limited by the natural laws that govern non-resurrected bodies.  That’s why in Acts 1 He just descended back to the Father’s right hand.  They could see Him going, He was in a body but obviously He wasn’t bound by the same laws and limitations that govern a normal body.  That’s what’s called a resurrected body.  And if I’m reading my Bible correctly what it says in 1 John 3:2, “We know that when He appears, we” that’s little old me and little old you, “will be like Him,” in other words His resurrected body is sort of a pattern of our resurrected bodies.  Just as His resurrected body was not limited by certain laws, neither will ours be.  So as He makes trips back and forth from the earth to heavenly Jerusalem, which hasn’t yet descended to the earth, and won’t descend to the earth until this earth is destroyed by fire and replaced by a new heavens and new earth, throughout that thousand years He’s kind of making trips back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  And guess who’s there with Him?  We are also.  We’re traveling up, doing whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing, traveling back down.  Some of you are looking at me like this is just the weirdest church I’ve ever been involved in.  [Laughter]

But I think these are natural inferences from the text; in fact, doesn’t Jesus in John 14:1-4, the promise of the rapture which takes us out of the world before the seven year tribulation period even begins.  Didn’t Jesus say this, ” Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. [2] In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. [3] 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. [4] And you know the way where I am going.”

Have  you ever stopped and asked yourself well where is this “Father’s house” exactly?  I mean, where did He go for two thousand years to prepare dwelling places for us?  Could it be that He left the earth to go to heavenly Jerusalem, which hasn’t yet descended to the earth and won’t even descend to the earth during the thousand year kingdom and that’s where He’s preparing these heavenly dwellings?  You mean our destiny for seven years can be between the rapture and the second coming.  Could it be that heavenly Jerusalem?  I’m just saying it’s a possibility.  It’s something worth thinking about.

Charles Ryrie commenting on this verse, says, “This heavenly city will be the abode of all the saints (Hebrews 12:22–24), the bride of Christ (vv. 9–10), and the place Christ is preparing for His people (John 14:2).  During the Millennium the New Jerusalem (described in detail in Revelation 21:9–22:5) apparently will be suspended over the earth, and it will be the dwelling place of all believers during eternity (as is emphasized in 21:1–8).”

You see the reason I like to throw these quotes at you is not to bore you with footnotes and biblical geographical data; it’s for this simple reason: I realize that some of the things we talk about in this church you’ve never heard before and because you’ve never heard them before  you’re thinking that we’re being novel or we’re just making things up.  I like to use the quotes to show you that the ideas that are reflected in this pulpit are ideas that you will find in the pages of scholarship if you know where to look for it.

And so really I’m not making anything new  up at all; it just seems new.  And the reason it seems new is nobody else deals with these subjects.  So when someone hits you with it  you think they’re making things up when in reality all I’m taking is old truth, neglected truth, ignored truth, truth pushed out of the church for whatever reason, and bringing it back front and center.  No novelty here folks!  Just bringing old truth that was once established and recognized back where we can see it and appreciate it.

And so we see very clearly here that this city is coming to the earth after the thousand years have run their course and the old heavens and old earth have been destroyed.  That’s our home.  Hebrews 12:22-23 says this: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, [23] to the general assembly and church” that’s us, “church,” ”and of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,” your name is enrolled in heaven in that  city.  In fact, it’s interesting that when you study the life of Abraham in Hebrews 11:9-10, what does it say there?   It says, “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; [10] for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is” who? “is God.”

Two thousand years before Jesus showed up Abraham was looking for that city.  Abraham, according to this verse, wasn’t even so much focused on the thousand years which precedes this city, he wanted to be in the city.  That’s not a denial of the thousand years; the thousand years will be a reality, a glorious reality, a wonderful reality, but Abraham was looking for the city.  He knew that’s where his home was.  He knew that’s where his destiny was.  Is this not why Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is” what? “in heaven,” citizenship, doesn’t that [can’t understand word] of city in heaven called the New Jerusalem, it currently exists and won’t descend to the earth until the fulfillment of the thousand year kingdom.

What are you living for exactly?  Vacation?  Retirement?  Pleasure?  If we live like that we don’t  understand who we are, we don’t understand our destiny.  We don’t understand our future in God.     I frankly will show up and vote with every single one of  you I’ll show up and vote, every single time, but let me tell you something, I’m not looking for any current crop of politicians to solve this world’s problem.  The fact of the matter is the more these people get their hands on things the more they seem to wreck them.  My hope is in a heavenly city whose builder and maker is God; that’s my heart, that’s what I want.

So we have a new creation, we have a new city, one more verse, maybe we can squeeze this in, a new level of fellowship.  Look at verse 3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “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.”  You’ll notice that word “tabernacle.”  That goes back to the time of Moses, the Book of Exodus.  What was the tabernacle?  It’s where God lived.  In the days of Moses you would say where is God?  Where does God live?  Everyone would point to the tabernacle.  The tabernacle was something that God instructed the nation of Israel to build at the foot of Mount Sinai.  They built that, probably around 1446 B.C. or so, and they took it around with them wherever they went; they unpacked  it, went to the next stop, packed it up, unpacked it, on and on disciples went.  It was like a mobile temple.

In fact, that structure wouldn’t even be replaced till the days of Solomon, 1446-966 B.C.  That’s a long time.  1 Kings 6:1, when Solomon finally built a permanent structure in the land of Israel called the temple.  [1 Kings 6:1, “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”] Before that that’s always where God lived and God dwelt.

And so Revelation 21:3 says, “Behold the tabernacle of God is among men.”  [Revelation 21:3, And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘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,”’]

The dwelling  place of God has become a reality in this eternal state.  Jesus, in John 1:14, it says of Jesus, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Do a word study on that word “dwelt” or lived.  It’s the verb eskēnōsen, coming from the root eskēna which means tabernacle.  Literally what John 1:14 says is “the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us” in the incarnate Son of God.

This word “tabernacle” is rich with meaning.  Exodus 40:34 says, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”  And that’s why it talks here about how God, we will be His people.  And He, in that time period, will dwell among us. It’s sort of a roll back to the Garden of Eden where Genesis chapter 3:8 speaks of how God walked with man in the cool of the garden.  [Genesis 3:8, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”]

I mean, think of it as eternity where you have uninterrupted, unobstructed, moment by moment fellowship with God. You say well don’t we have that now?  To some extent we do but there’s a little problem, it’s got three letters in it, it’s called what? Sin, which separates us from God.  Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.  [2]  But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

Even as a Christian we can get out of fellowship with the Lord.  Your position in Him never changes but I’ll tell you something, you can get out of fellowship with Him to the point where the heavens itself seem like wrath.  Deuteronomy 28:23 says, “The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron.”  It’s just like an argument in your marriage, you’re still married but the moment by moment enjoyment that you have with your spouse is severed until apologies are made, sins are confessed, etc.

This is why 1 John 1:9 is so important for the Christian.  “If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive  us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  People say that’s the gospel.  That’s NOT the gospel, the gospel is for the unsaved, this is a provision for the saved, to restore broken fellowship with God.  We understand a little bit about what this issue of tabernacle and young men, fellowship, what it means but we don’t have the full realization of it; we’ll never have a full realization of it as long as we have a sin nature.  It’s just ours until death or glorification  or the rapture of the church or whichever comes first.  But imagine living in a world where sin doesn’t exist.  And therefore you can never get out of fellowship with God; you start to experience a level of walking with God, a level of fellowshipping with God that you’ve never experienced before.

So a new creation, a new city, a new fellowship and then next week we’ll pick it up in verse 4 with a new order.  As the old order dissolves and is replaced by the new order.

Getting into a city is dependent upon having the right passport.  When you travel internationally    you start to figure out real fast that your driver’s license means nothing, it has no power, it’s not recognized.  Your driver’s license will not allow  you to pass through international barriers but     your passport will.

So the question becomes what’s the passport into the new city?  There’s only one passport in; it’s   the transferred righteousness of Christ.  If you’re trying to get into the city through your own righteousness that’s a driver’s license but if you receive by faith what Jesus has done for you two thousand years ago and His righteousness is transferred to you at the point of faith, we’re not   dealing with the driver’s license anymore, now we’ve got a passport.  And how do you receive this transferred righteousness of Christ.  You don’t work for it, you can’t work for it.  You receive it as a gift.  The only way you can receive a gift from God is by faith.

We don’t get into the city based on the good works we do, we get into the city based on the good works He has done for us two thousand  years ago, through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.  Through His final words on the cross “ It is” what? “finished!  The passport is secure but until you receive it as a gift it’s of no value to you.  So our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church as the Spirit of God convicts you of your need to do this is to receive what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross two thousand years ago.  It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Spirit places you under conviction and you respond in your heart of hearts by way of confidence to what Jesus has done.  In other words,  you trust or rest in what He has done.  That is your passport.  It’s not something you raise a hand to do, walk an aisle to do, join a church to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, where you respond by way of faith to this wonderful free gift of salvation.  It’s something you can do right now as I’m speaking.  You don’t have to leave here with the ambiguities about your passport; you can get it secured right now  by way of faith.  I would exhort you, encourage you, anybody listening to do that, and if it’s something that you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray.  Father, we are grateful for these three verses that we covered today and the things they reveal to us and the future that You have in store for us.  Help us to leave here with attitudes of optimism because the future in Christ is very bright.  We’ll be careful to give  you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!