Dr. Andy Woods
When the Valuable Becomes Common
Lesson 71 Revelation 21:18-27
Good morning, everybody. Let’s take our Bibles this morning and open them to the Book of Revelation, Chapter 21:18. The title of our message this morning is “The Valuable Becomes Common.” I want to thank Gabe Morris for filling in last week. I trust you all enjoyed his ministry. If you didn’t then don’t tell him that. [Laughter] And if you don’t enjoy my ministry don’t tell me either, Amen! [Laughter]
Revelation 21:18. We continue on in the Book of Revelation. Look at this, we’re getting very near the end of the book; can you believe that? Jesus has returned to the earth, chapter 19; four things are featured following His return to the earth, the kingdom which will last a thousand years, the Great White Throne Judgment, those are both found in Revelation 20 The destruction of the older, chapter 21. And then there’s something called the new heavens and the new earth. As we get into the whole subject of the new heavens and the new earth we see in Revelation 21:1-8, what we see is the eternal state, the new heavens and the new earth.
And then after that we get beyond the eternal state. Following the new heavens and the new earth we have the new Jerusalem, chapter 21:9-22:5. This is the city which is in heaven that finally comes down to the earth. And the last time I was with you we were looking at the details of this city. You say well I’m tired of details. The reality of the situation is we’re going over details because they’re in the Bible. I mean, apparently God thinks details are important for us to learn or else He wouldn’t have wasted time spilling ink. He wants us to learn about our true home. We’ve seen the four titles of the city, verses 9 and 10. The construction of the city, verses 12-14. Then the actual measurements of the city are given, verses 15-17.
And what we move into here is the materials used in this city. And I’m really glad it was Ed Jones that read all of those names because I can’t pronounce half of them; he did a much better job than myself. So, when I get to a complicated name I can’t pronounce, I’m just going to defer to Ed Jones. Is that okay with you guys?
But if you look at verse 18 you see the city’s materials; we’re actually given some information here on the wall of the city. And notice what it says there in verse 18. It says, “The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.” The color is given: jasper. And here is sort of a picture of what the different colors will probably be like, jasper there in the upper left corner. And then it talks about how the wall is made of pure gold. And that’s why I titled this message “When the Valuable Becomes Common.” In fact, we’re going to learn a little bit later so I’ll make a later reference to this, that gold is so common that it’s going to be under our feet.
And it’s interesting that things that people have craved, the things that people have lusted after, the things that people pursue outside of a relationship with God, materialism, in heaven those things of value that we covet so much are going to be so common that they’re actually underneath our feet. And it’s interesting to me how we deceive ourselves into assuming things without God. And we alienate God in the process. Jesus, of course in Matthew 6 said “No man can serve two masters: for either he will love the one and hate the other; or cleave to the one and despise the other.” No man can serve God and mammon” or material wealth. [Matthew 6:24]
It’s interesting to me that if we just stuck with God in the first place we would have a relationship with Him and in the end, we get all the wealth anyway. As we’re in a time period now, Revelation 21 and 22, where commodities of the earth are so common that we’re actually walking on top of them. And I just think of that because I think of the foolishness that we deceive ourselves into where we’re pursuing things without God and God wants to give us all of those things in His timing and in His providence later anyway. What a deception we put ourselves in.
It’s interesting that this wall is made out of clear glass. I find that interesting because there’ll be nothing to hide in this eternal city. John in his other book, The Gospel of John, writes this in John 3:19-21. He says, “ This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
It’s interesting that when we move into sin, we have a tendency to stay away from the light, spiritual light; we don’t want to be uncovered. We don’t want what we’re doing to be unveiled. We don’t want it to be disclosed and so we can commit sins even as Christians outside of the purview of other people. But what we’re learning about here is this city that’s holy, in fact, if you’re not holy through the transferred righteousness of Christ you can’t even get into the city. And since we will be in resurrected bodies without sin natures, without even the opportunity or the appetite for sin at that point in history, there’s nothing to hide, there’s no graft, there’s no corruption, there’s no backroom deals, everything is in the open, everything is transparent. Isn’t that what everybody is talking about today? We need transparency in Washington D.C. Well sadly we’re not getting too much of that but we’re going to have transparency in this city; it’s pure glass, you can see everything. Nothing to hide, a statement about the holiness of this particular city.
We go on in verses 19 and 20 and we learn about the foundations of this city. You’ll notice what it says here, and here come the difficult names. “The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;  the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.” You say well these are just really strange colors, I’ve never seen anything like this before. I thank you Charles Ryrie for some help. The first color he says is probably greenish blue; the next color red and white, the next color Sardis, bright red, the next color, golden in color, the next color sea green, the next color yellow green, the next color apple green. Wow! The next color blue, the following color purple, back to our graphic or our chart again, you have all of the transparency of the rainbow there; that’s their minimum.
It’s interesting to me how God is a God of color. God is a God of art. God is a God of design. You get into the tabernacle that Moses constructed in the wilderness in the Book of Exodus and you see there’s sort of mind-numbing detail about design and color, the priest’s robe and everything else associated with that tabernacle. Of course God is the God of the rainbow, Genesis 9:12-14, “God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;  I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.  It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud.”
We have a tendency to think that the pagans are the ones that have invented art and color, I mean, they claim the upper hand every time one of these transgender, same sex laws or ordinances pass they want to light up the Empire State Building or the White House or whatever, in the rainbow as if it’s their rainbow. It’s NOT their rainbow; it’s God’s rainbow. All the pagans do is they take something that God has designed in beauty and they corrupt it for their own purposes.
And I’ve used this example before of people, it’s interesting to watch them on TV, they have these sort of shows where somebody receives their sight for the first time or they get the right glasses where they can see things as they’re supposed to be seen. And you’ll notice that when the live camera is on such people they immediately start to weep because they’re seeing things as they’re supposed to be seen and they figure out how all of their life they’ve been cheated of what they’re looking at. And I think that largely is what this city is going to be like. I mean, it’s going to be arrayed in such beauty that you see things and you say well this is how it’s supposed to be; it’s the intention of God as now the effects of sin have been completely done away with. And things are how they are actually supposed to be, and it’s sort of a breathtaking sight. And I think this is why John is receiving this vision and describing these colors in such infinite detail.
He goes on from the wall and the foundation and he begins to describe the gate and the street. You’ll notice there in verse 21. He says, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold,” again it says “like transparent glass.” You’ll notice these twelve gates, we talked the last time I was with you about how this city is most likely laid out like a cube. And the foundations are named after the apostles and the gates are named after the twelve tribes and so God is never letting go out of existence His two great programs. His program of Israel as a tribe and His program that we are involved in now called the church; the church, Ephesians 2:20 was laid on the foundation of the apostles. [Ephesians 2:20, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”]
And so you go all the way around this city and twelve tribes, twelve apostles, so I would envision it as three gates on each side of this cube, and this is what you see every time you go in and out of that gate. You see that giant pearl, and you see above that particular gate a Hebrew name and each of those gates is a remembrance of the cross, the last time I was with you, verses 12-14, of the twelve tribes of Israel. It looks to me to be very, very Jewish in orientation. And it also looks to me to be very much church truth in orientation. And you’re reminded of what God did through Israel and what God did through the church to regain humanity and to get us to this place where we enter and exit these various gates with this pearl in remembrance of what God has done. Apparently, there are twelve pearls, each has a single pearl.
And then you see also in this same verse a reference to the street; the street itself is made of pure gold, not just gold but pure gold. It says, “And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. [Revelation 21:21] And this gold is very similar to the wall that we studied in verse 18 just a moment ago. The wall is connected to pure gold and now the street itself that we’re walking on, will actually not be in the street, the streets are paved in this pure gold. In other words, the very thing that everybody is trying to get their hands on, the very thing that’s most valuable, the very thing that people are grasping on for safe investments, this limited commodity called gold, it’s so what the world desires, it becomes so common in heaven that you wonder why we desired it and lusted after it at all.
I found this very interesting quote, and I have no idea where I got this from, it’s in my computer, and it’s got no name on it, but apparently, it’s part of a sermon and this is what it says. Verse 21, it says, “The streets are made of” what? “gold.” “When a man heard he was about to die he desperately gathered up his life’s greatest accumulation, gold bars. When he finally did enter heaven toting the heavenly load of gold bars that he was carrying one angel poked another angel in the rib and said hey, look, that guy brought in the pavement.”
1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and have pierced themselves with many griefs. I mean, is the chase for a buck, and I’m not against obviously, nor is the Bible against wealth, against making a living, but isn’t a materialistic life style really worth it? Is at the expense of your family, at the expense of your marriage, at the expense of God. So many people make that decision that chasing the money is more important than chasing a relationship with the Lord. I think of Judas every time I read 1 Timothy 6:10 who sold out Jesus Christ for what? Not even gold. Something that most consider less valuable than gold, thirty pieces of silver. [1 Timothy 6:10, “1 Timothy 6:10 [1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”]
And I think frequently about the American lifestyle and the desire to keep up with the Joneses and we live our lives pursuing these things at the exclusion of God when God says you can’t serve both. And we literally at the end of the day end up with egg on our face because God’s going to give us all the silver and all the gold anyway. Why not just surrender to the Lord now? Why not just take the path of least resistance; Lord, I’m not going to pursue a career ahead of You anymore. I’m going to pursue You and whatever station in life You put me in I’m going to be content wherever You put me. There’s nothing wrong with ambition and nothing wrong with a desire to grow a business; the issue is are we doing those things at the expense of a relationship with the Lord. Is business and investment so dominant that we really have not cracked open the Bible the way we used to?
We really haven’t fellowshipped in a local church the way we used to. We really haven’t sought the Lord in prayer the way we used to because I’m out doing the American thing and trying to make a living. So we have to monitor this very carefully in our lives, this God of money, this God of gold and silver, and ask ourselves do we own our possessions or do our possessions own us? There’s nothing wrong with owning things; the Bible, I believe is very pro private property.
But we always have to look at the expense; I mean, how’s this thing that I’m chasing? Has it become so overwhelming in my life that God has sort of played second fiddle. And the fact of the matter is God is God, He’s not interested in second fiddle; He’s not interested in second place. He’s really not interested in being string in your heart. He’s interested in being number one! And isn’t interesting that the Bible says “But seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” [Matthew 6:33] What things? The things the pagans want, what are we going to eat, what are we going to drink, what are we going to wear, what are we going to put on?
And Jesus says is life not more than raiment? Look at how God takes care of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. Will He not take care of you oh “You of little faith.” [Matthew 6:30, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!”] “But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and all these things” these material things, “will be added to you anyway.” [Matthew 6:33, But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”]
Maybe not in this life but certainly in the eternal state where gold is so common it’s underneath our feet, some are walls, no longer even something that needs to be clung to and stockpiled. And there’s an awful lot of people out there that say well, you know, pearls and gold, you don’t take all this literally do you? This is today what pastors for scholarship in evangelicalism. This man writes, “Perhaps the absence of oysters large enough to produce such pearls in the absence of sufficient gold to pave such a city (viewed literally is 1380 miles squared and high,)” that’s how I view it because that’s what the Bible says, “is sufficient reason for not taking these images as fully literal! Exclamation point! “The proceeding discussion serves to warn against a ‘hyper–literal’ approach to apocalyptic imagery…” [David L. Turner, “The New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:1-22:5, Consummation of a Biblical Continuum,” Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church, ed., Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992, 277.]
Isn’t it interesting that if you want to take God at His Word they name call you; you’re a hyper literalist. Well that’s not what a hyper literalist is. A hyper literalist is somebody that comes to the Bible and does not recognize basic figures of speech. Jesus says, “I am the door,” we don’t see Him as a squeaky door with hinges, He’s giving a metaphor. But if there’s no figure of speech in play and God reveals something that’s plain why not just believe it? Well, I can’t do that because there’s not enough oysters large enough to produce pearls of this size. And we don’t have enough gold on planet earth to create streets of gold and walls of gold. And my question in response is: Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”
You know, it’s like Abraham and Sarah long after their child rearing age, child bearing and child rearing ages, God made the promise to them that they were going to have a child. And Sarah laughed at it and God says why is she laughing? Is there anything too hard for God? Why not just believe what God says? But Lord, what if this doesn’t fit into my understanding of things? Well, God never asked our opinion, did He? He just discloses things, and He says to believe it. The Book of Hebrews tells us, chapter 11, verse 6 that without faith it’s what. “And without faith it is” what? “it is impossible to please God.” [Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”]
And I believe this, that God will put these kinds of things in His Word that really don’t add up to us completely, because they don’t make sense to us because we’re trying to examine it through limited intellect. And I believe God puts these things in His Word largely to test us, to see if we really believe what He says in literal fashion.
You know, it’s interesting, you go back into the Old Testament and you see all of these passages about how the nation of Israel is going to come back into their own land in the last days. And of course we believe that that process started May 14, 1948 but there’s an awful lot of church history before 1948. And it is so interesting to go back and look at the commentators and how they treated those passages and how they said you can’t take that literally. You mean the Jews are going to come back into their own land after two thousand years? Obviously, that’s not literal! Obviously if you believe that you must be a hyper-literalist. Obviously, that doesn’t mean exactly what it says? And they come up with all these explanations as to what that means when the Bible says what it means and it means what it says.
And so, the majority of commentators just dismiss the idea. But every once in a while, you’ll run into a guy, maybe 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, when Israel was a barren swamp land and they will say, you know, I believe what it says here. One of these days God is going to bring His people back into the land, the people of Israel. And it’s interesting to watch the theological community gang up and beat up on such a person, you know, with these sorts of digs and hyper literalism, and all of these kinds of names that people throw around. They know how to call names if nothing else!
But you run into a minority of people saying I believe it’s true; tell me whatever you want, I’m just simple enough to take God at His Word. And then all of a sudden God moves His hand in history and the Jews are back in their land. And the people with egg on their face are all the people that just dismissed God’s Word. And so I guess my question is when we get to heaven what group do you want to be in? Do you want to be amongst the people that are sort of embarrassed, mocking and scoffing and sort of laughing these things off? Or do you want to be amongst that minority that just trusted in the power and the character of God who cannot lie?
And so this is the kind of thing that’s happening in this city, whether we understand it or not, whether it fits into the dimensions of our present world or not, God says it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen. I don’t know if God all of the time is asking us to understand everything. It’s interesting to me that the first book of the Bible, the Book of Job, deals with this whole issue, the limit of human understanding. And how everybody, Job’s counsellors, even Job himself, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and another counsellor shows up late in the book, a guy named Elihu, and they all think they know everything. And yet the point of the Book of Job is you don’t know anything.
The reason you don’t know anything is you can’t see into the spiritual realm and you’re unaware of a conflict that was taking place in heaven between God and Satan. We have privy to it because we’re readers of the Book of Job, but Job didn’t have any privy to that knowledge, counselors had no knowledge of it and so we’re going through the Book of Job, we’re actually supposed to be laughing at these people because they’re all so bold and certain about everything. And yet they don’t know anything and that’s sort of the point as you get to the end of the Book of Job. You don’t know anything so you ought to just humble yourself in sackcloth and ashes and rather than trying to understand every little nook and cranny just believe what God says.
I don’t know if He calls us to understand everything as much as He calls us to believe it. And this is sort of the era of modern-day apologetics; we’ve got to present to the lost a reasonable case for Christianity. Well, the truth of the matter is there’s some things in Christianity that are unreasonable. You want to follow the scientific method on everything? What do the scientists say about people rising from the dead? Ridiculous! And yet all of Christianity hinges on the event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, it’s going to be a spectacular city related to its gates, related to its streets.
We continue on and we see the city’s relationship to God Himself. You’ll notice in this particular city there’s no temple in it. Notice, if you will, Revelation 21, verse 22, “I saw” John says, “no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Now the temple in Judaism is a big Deal, with a capital D. The nation of Israel there in the Sinai Peninsula as they were wandering around were given specific instructions for the tabernacle which was like a mobile temple. They weren’t in their land yet and they broke it down at night and they put it back together in the morning and they took it with them wherever they went. And that scenario takes place from around the time of the Exodus, 1446, and goes all the way to the time of Solomon, 966 B.C. which is a big chunk of time.
And finally, according to 1 Kings 6:1 God allows Solomon, because he was a man of peace unlike his father, David, who had blood on his hands, He allows Solomon to build that first temple in Judaism. And we know that that temple was destroyed about 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar but God never allowed the nation of Israel to live long without their temple because when they came back out of the Babylonian exile they got to work, the Book of Ezra, a little bit of Nehemiah to rebuild temple number two. And so, there was a temple that was in existence at the time of Christ that He interacted with. And then we know what happens to that temple; it was destroyed by the Romans.
And we know that the Jews today want to rebuild temple, number three. And according to Bible prophecy, they’re going to get their wish, not understanding that it’s the temple that the antichrist himself will desecrate. In fact, when you go to Israel today–you can go to Jerusalem, you can go to the Temple Institute–and you can see the whole thing, the blueprint of it, the priestly garb, and the vessels that they’re going to use in it. They are absolutely confident that temple three is on the horizon.
And that temple itself will most likely be destroyed in the seventh bowl judgment, the greatest earthquake in human history, and it’s going to be followed by this glorious millennial temple during the thousand-year kingdom of Jesus Christ. And so, the temple has always been a dominant concept in Judaism. If you ask people where does God live, everybody would point either to the tabernacle, pre-Solomon, or they would point to the temple.
Let me ask you a question. Right now, where does God live? The Bible says in the age of the church, our period of time, that the body is the temple of the what? The Holy Spirit. God lives in you! This is why we are to glorify God in our body because it’s the place where God Himself lives. That’s a different way of looking at sin, isn’t it? We move off into sin and we are dragging God into it because my body as a Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
So the temple today is even a big deal and yet there’s coming a period of time, verse 22, where there won’t be any temple at all. [Revelation 21:22, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”] Why is that? Because the Book of Revelation, chapter 21:3, which we read earlier in our study, says, “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, they will be His people and God Himself will be among them.” God’s permanent forever presence in this city makes a temple in the city no longer required.
I mean, we’re headed for an eternity where the presence of God is so profound and so strong that there won’t be any physical visible temples, even though the physical visible temple was such a dominant theme in prior revelation and in Judaism, and even today. By the way, there’s a picture of the millennial temple, pre-eternal state; you see how big it is compared to the temple that the Jews rebuilt following the exile. And so, it’s an amazing time period that will last forever that we’re moving into.
And also we learn that there are no luminaries, sun, moon or stars in this eternal state and in this city. Look at verse 23, it says, “The city has no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it for the glory of God has illumined it and the lamp is the Lamb. [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.”] No sun, s-u-n, necessary because the city is illuminated by THE Son, S-0-N, Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity.
Look over a chapter to Revelation 22:5 it says the exact same thing. “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.” Apparently, God wants us to understand because He mentions it here in Revelation 21 and He mentions it again in Revelation 22, but there’s not going to be luminaries, sun, moon and stars any longer because of the brilliance and the glory of God.
This makes the eternal state very different than the millennial kingdom which precedes the eternal state, because in the millennial kingdom there will be a sun (s-u-n). In fact, Isaiah 30:26 says, “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter.” So all the way through the thousand year kingdom you’re looking at the sun (s-u-n) and it’s seven times brighter than its current rate. And you say well that’s scientifically impossible! Well fine, you stick with your science and I’ll stick with the Lord, not that the Lord is against true science but He’s asking us to believe things that we can’t necessarily fathom.
And if you want to talk about science, okay, let’s talk about science; Jesus says in Matthew 24 that “the sun will be darkened” in the tribulation period “and the moon will not give its light.” [Matthew 24:29, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”] Now I want you to understand how advanced that statement is scientifically because everyone thought throughout the ages of time that light came from two independent sources, light was generated by two independent sources, the sun and the moon. And yet Jesus says in the tribulation period that the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
It doesn’t say it the other way around. And it gives you the clear impression that the moon simply reflects the light of the sun. Well low and behold we have the Hubble telescope and all of these technological innovations and guess what we’ve discovered? Jesus has it right… what about that! I mean, you get the idea that Jesus actually designed this universe. I mean He’s telling people all the way back in the first century, those are not two generating light sources, one generates light the other reflects the light.
And you’ll find this over and over again in the Bible, that it makes statements far beyond its time period. For example, God takes Abram outside and He says count the stars, ha ha ha if you’re able. God is giving Abram the impression that the stars can’t be numbered. Now go through history and you’ll find that all the historians, all the so-called scientists, all the philosophers, thought that you could number the stars, there was a finite number of stars comprehensible to the human mind. And now we learn in this universe that we’re in with the Hubble telescope that there are so many stars from the human perspective they’re innumerable. Why didn’t I just believe God at the beginning. Why do I have to wait two thousand years for technology to finally catch up to what God says?
And it’s interesting that the eternal state you’ve got this sun that’s illuminating seven times what we would consider normal, and yet in the eternal state there is no sun, and there are no moons, and there is no stars because God is the source of light. Should that really surprise us? Doesn’t 1 Timothy 6:16 describe God “who alone possesses immortality and 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.”]
I mean, if that’s who God is of course we don’t need a sun nor a moon or stars, we’ve got the direct presence of God; we’ve got light all of the time. God doesn’t sit there wringing His hands saying oh my goodness, I’ve got to create a source of light through a secondary source, as if God needs a secondary source.
And so we have a description here of no luminaries. And I’m reminded of the Book of Genesis; it’s interesting how the Book of Genesis in the beginning of the book interprets the end of the Book of Revelation, and the end of the Book of Revelation interprets the beginning of Genesis. The Bible is symmetrical. Genesis 1:3 says, “Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light.” And boy, the critics have a field day with that… how could that be? Don’t you understand that God didn’t bring the sun into existence until day four? If the sun, s-u-n, doesn’t exist until day four then where does the light come from, as if I’m supposed to fold my Bible, go home, get under my bed and cry for two hours, as if there’s no end to that.
And yet there’s a very simple answer to it: God, as clothed in unapproachable light doesn’t need a secondary source. And I think actually the Genesis story reads that way because God knew throughout history that people would worship the created thing rather than the Creator. Isn’t that what the end of Romans 1 says, “they exchanged the glory of God for the incorruptible image of man and animals and four-footed things, and God knew that people would worship the sun, s-u-n, instead of the Son, S-o-n.
In fact, there’s a verse in the Book of Deuteronomy that speaks of this. It says, “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars and all the host of heaven and be drawn away and worship and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” [Deuteronomy 4:19]
Sun worshippers have existed throughout history. In fact, when I take my trips back to southern California I see them all there on the beach not that going to the beach is wrong but it’s this obsession with light and the sun and the tanning when all that stuff just turns you into a prune anyway.
And so God says so humanity never loses sight of who I am I’m going to do something unique in creation, I’m going to allow light to come into existence, Genesis 1:3, and I’m going to allow the secondary source of the sun to come into existence not until day four. [Genesis 1:3, “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.:] So any time humanity is tempted to worship this created thing I want you to remember something that I don’t need that created thing. I created it out of My own sovereignty but I don’t need it, I’m capable of generating light, that’s my very nature, without the use of a secondary source.
Isn’t it interesting that things that we will worship instead of God, when God lays out a blueprint very clearly early on the Bible that He wants the worship from it. He wants the adoration and He wants the respect. And so since the Bible is symmetrical, since humanity began that way is it any wonder that it would end that way, with no luminaries present in the eternal state and yet God is the source of light.
We continue on and we see this city’s relationship to the nation, and look, if you will, at Revelation 21, and notice verse 24. It says, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” It’s interesting to me how the nations began with corruption at the tower of Babel and how God took the peoples of the earth coming together at that particular point in history to build a tower in the heavens so that they might make a name for themselves. And the people spoke the same language and God scattered the language, He prevented the builders from talking to each other. And how from that singular event the different languages came into existence, the different ethnicities came into existence, the different cultures came into existence.
Why did God do that? Because Genesis 11:6 says, “Now nothing which they purposed to do will be impossible for them if I don’t disrupt man’s first attempt at globalism. [Genesis 11:6, “The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”] Man’s first attempt at the new world order, man’s first attempt at building a system of economics and politics and religion which excludes God. God is against the whole subject and topic of world government unless He Himself is running the world government. And that’s quite frankly the only new world order I have any interest in being a part of. But lost man, man even politicians today, they can’t even get through their speeches without saying “global” or “universal” or “global neighborhood” or “act willfully and thing globally” and all of these kinds of things.
Man thinks that he can solve problems by coming together as one; God says that’ll be a total disaster and so the nations, the doctrine of the nation state comes into existence in Genesis 11; the nations owe their origin to the corruption that was taking place at the tower of Babel. But isn’t it interesting how these nations which have been so corrupted are now in the eternal state in a state of holiness. It’s almost as if their baggage, their lineage has been removed. And now they’re not rejecting God, they’re not pushing God out, they’re seeking God. That’s not what the nations are doing today. Read Psalm 2, you’ll see it very clearly. The psalmist says why do the nations rage. “Why are the nations in an uproar? And the peoples devising a vain thing?” against God and against the one that He has installed on His holy hill?
What does God do with these nations as they plot against Him. Psalm 2 says He just sits in heaven and laughs; He laughs and laughs, look at the little minutions with their sand castle, do they really think that they’re going to push Me out of My universe? And now we’re reading in a time where the nations are made right and they’re entering the holy city; the kings, the nations, their corrupted lineage is gone. And it’s interesting to me how God created nations at the tower of Babel and that concept continues right through today. It will even exist in the millennial kingdom itself, Zechariah 14:16-18, there’s references there to nations.
[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.  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.  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.”]
Revelation 12:5 says in the millennial kingdom Jesus will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron,” the nations are still there. And the nations continue on, Revelation 21:24; Revelation 21:26. [Revelation 21:24, The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.  “and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;”]
It’s only this though that now they’re righteous. And so the precedent that God established at the tower of Babel concerning the innovation of the nations is something that was a permanent precedent that continues on today, continues on throughout the ages or the eons of time and even continues on into the eternal state.
We come to verse 25, Revelation 21:25, and notice if you will verse 25 where we continue to get more information about the nations. It says, “In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;” we saw a little earlier the pictures of the gates around the city and it’s interesting to me that the gates are never shut. The gates are never closed. People can exit and enter the eternal city at will and how different that was from the Garden of Eden. You’ll notice Genesis chapter 3 and verses 22-24. Remember what it said, following the fall? It says, “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—  therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.  So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”
After the fall in Eden man couldn’t get back into the Garden of Eden if he wanted to because there was this fear that he would eat from the tree of life and live forever in his fallen state and so the entrance was barred. He could be exited but he couldn’t reenter. And that’s how the fall affected the world. The barrier to God now existed; we call that the sin barrier. People can’t just get to God any way they wanted; they’ve got to come through His provision or they can’t come. And so humanity without Christ is separate from God, alienated from God. And here in Revelation 21:25 towards the end of the verse it speaks of the perfect state when sin doesn’t exist anymore, and so the barrier to God is taken away. It’s removed. Any time you want to go into the city you’re free to do that. Anytime you exit the city you’re free to do that. But wait a minute, I left my cell phone at home, I need to go back into the city to collect my cell phone (I don’t think there’ll be cell phones in heaven, at least I hope not). [Laughter] If that’s true then how can heaven be heaven if you’ve got your cell phone? Some of the happiest days of my life is when my e-mail doesn’t work and my cell phone doesn’t work. I have the most peace I’ve ever had but we won’t go there.
But you want to go back in, fine! You want to go out, fine! The barrier is gone. And I think that’s there to juxtapose what it’s like with the fall and how the fall created this barrier. It talks there in verse 25 how there’s no night there. [Verse 25, “In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed.”] You know in the Garden of Eden there was a sun and moon and stars, there was a division between light and darkness. But in the eternal state there is no night. And this sort of chart shows us that the destination where we’re going is not back into Eden. Oh, it looks an awful lot like Eden but it’s very different. Well, why doesn’t God just put us back into Eden? It’s very simple, in Eden man was on probation. Eden, as wonderful as it was, was never intended to be the final destination because man through free will hadn’t had an opportunity to exercise his will against God if he wanted to do that.
We are made in God’s image which is a very powerful thing. I have to have the ability to choose God or reject God. And so, in Eden you’ll see a tree of knowledge, which you don’t have in the eternal state. Why a tree of knowledge? There has to be an opportunity to reject God if I want to. But by the time things roll over into the eternal state everybody’s made their choice and so man, humanity, is no longer on probation the way he was in Eden.
You see, the theologians today, many of them are trying to dismiss free will, they’re camping in some of their mindsets so heavily on the sovereignty of God that they allow man no choice whatsoever and I’m here to tell you that’s not biblical. If God denies the choice of people He is denying how He has made people in His image. We are nothing more but computers and robots saying beep, beep, beep, yes Lord, I love you, when there’s no real love relationship in that at all, because it’s programmed, it’s not a choice.
So the choice has been made, probation is over, and now we’re into a completely new environment and so the story of the Bible is as follows: from a garden to a city with a cross in between. And even as I speak as some of you are thinking about where am I going to go to lunch, and I think that sometimes up here myself [laughter]. God is giving you a choice! If you’re unsaved God is giving you a choice; He’s not going to force it on you. If you, as a Christian, if we as Christians are walking in sin God is giving you a choice right now; He’s respecting your free will, He’s giving you grace, giving all of us grace, but the free will is not something that God overrides.
Isn’t our relationship to the Lord analogized to husband and wife, Ephesians 5? Those of you that are married, we can ask this question, did you choose your wife or did your wife choose you? I hope the answer to that is yes or you might need some marriage counselling. I mean, yes God chooses us, but the choice of God to us is not so overwhelming that it overrides our choice to God. And this is why we preach the gospel and teach the gospel, because we want to give people an opportunity to believe the gospel and be saved.
Verse 26 is a description, if you will, of the headquarters of the millennial kingdom. You’ll notice what it says in verse 26, “And they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it,” into what? “into the new Jerusalem,” the capital over the whole earth. Just like in the millennial kingdom, Zechariah 14:16-18 the nations will have to go to Jerusalem to worship the King, you have the same kind of reality taking place in the eternal state, Revelation 21 and 22.
And you’ll notice as we close here with verse 27, the holiness of this city. Verse 27 says, “Nothing is unclean,” this is why it can be made of pure glass, there’s nothing to hide, “Nothing is unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying will ever come into it but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” This reminds us of what we studied earlier, a few weeks back, Revelation 21:8, a generic description of the eternal state. It mentions this, nothing abominable will enter, nor will liars. Same words here in Revelation 21:27. The only people that get in are those, verse 27, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Now this Lamb’s Book of Life has been mentioned four other times, at least, maybe five as I’m thinking about it, I’d better stop thinking or the sermon will get longer. But it’s mentioned in
Revelation 20:12, it’s mentioned in Revelation 20:15, those that participate in the final judgment are those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. [Revelation 20:12, “
The beast worshippers, Revelation 13:8, Revelation 17:8, are those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But those entering the city are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. So, what’s the Lamb’s Book of Life. It’s a record book of everyone who has trusted in Christ for personal salvation. It is the most important book that I can think of in world history. Jesus, in Luke 10, as the disciples came back and were so enthralled with the fact that the demons were in submission to them, Jesus specifically said do not rejoice that the demons are in submission to you, but that your name is recorded in heaven. Do not rejoice in the fact that God is using you but rejoice that your name is recorded in heaven. Do not rejoice in your ministry but rejoice that your name is recorded in heaven. Do not rejoice in all the people that you’ve won to Christ, but rejoice that your name is recorded in heaven.
Of course, we rejoice at those other things but Jesus specifically said if you really want to rejoice, rejoice that your name is in that Book, the Book of Life, because that is your passport. You know, it’s interesting that when you travel domestically your driver’s license is a big deal; you think you misplace your driver’s license? You’re in a lot of trouble. You can’t enter or exit. And then when you travel domestically the driver’s license is irrelevant, your passport is everything. And so the question always becomes why is the Lamb’s Book of Life such a big deal. I mean, why does he say don’t rejoice that the demons are in submission to you but rejoice that your name is recorded in heaven” because that’s the passport. If you don’t have the passport you can’t get in.
Philippians 3:9, Paul says, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own” aha, it’s not my righteousness that gets me in. It’s His righteousness transferred to me. “…but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God” you mean my passport in is not based on what I do. NO! It’s based on the righteousness not derived from self but comes from God and it’s transferred to us. What does it say here? “Through faith,” there’s your passport. You trust in Christ your name is in the right book. Your name is in the right book, you have full access to this. Your name is not in the book then you’re judged by your own righteousness which is always unclean. Our righteous acts, Isaiah 64:6 are as filthy rags, you can’t get in. [Isiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”]
And so our exhortation at Sugar Land Bible Church is to exhort people to receive this passport; it’s very clear here, it’s received through faith and once you receive it through faith, which means dependence upon, reliance upon, confidence in, you’re no longer standing in your own filthy rags, you’re standing in a righteousness that comes from God. God looks at you as if you’re just as righteous as Jesus. You say well I’m not! That’s why it says here it comes from God on the basis of faith. What else can we say about this other than to receive your passport. And you can do that without raising a hand, walking an aisle, joining a church, giving money; it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, when you hear this offer of grace and you just receive it by faith. Another way of saying it is you trust in it, you’re no longer trusting in self, you’re trusting in Christ; you’re no longer trusting in works, but His works. That’s how you become a Christian. And you can do that even as I’m speaking. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, it is exciting having come to the end of Revelation 21 and if my math is right that leaves us one chapter left. I know, Father, when we get to the end of the book everybody is always asking me what are we going to study next and here’s my prayer, we won’t have to study anything next because You’re going to come for us before we finish the book. Can I be so bold, Lord, as to ask for that. And if not, we will continue to be Your representatives here on the earth as we live for You through Your divine resources, but help us to cut these things deep into our hearts. 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!