ON REVELATION - LESSON 20
Revelation 21 and 22
In 1810, a frontiersman,
John Colter, took refuge from hostile Indians in a remote corner
of Wyoming. What he discovered there astounded him. There were holes
in the ground which suddenly shot up a fountain of water one hundred
feet into the air and then quieted again. Hot springs formed vast
fields of orange and white and black that seemed like landscapes
from another world. And nearby, a huge, thundering waterfall poured
down into a deep canyon that zigzagged toward the horizon.
No one believed
John's tall tales. They thought he'd spent too much time in the sun.
In 1829, a trapper
named Joe Meek visited the region and claimed to have seen the same
unearthly formations. No one believed him either.
In 1852, Father
De Smet, a Jesuit missionary, put together a report based on the
extensive descriptions of the region by an Indian scout. This was
discredited as well.
It wasn't until
1870 that a well-equipped expedition led by Washburn and Langford
established the facts beyond dispute. Their report led to the creation
of the first national park in the United StatesYellowstone
In actual fact,
those first explorers had simply seen too much to be believed.
of the glories of heaven place him in a similar predicament. He has
seen more than human eyes ever have. In vision he has looked on a
place so brilliant, so fantastic, that he can put into words only
a fraction of what he's seen. There is nothing on Earth you can really
compare it to. Everything pales in comparison. But John the Revelator,
like John Colter, keeps trying to tell us, "It's very real. All this
really does exist."
Heaven is not
some vague spot in the clouds where spirits sit around playing harps.
Revelation presents us with a heaven that's a very real place for
very real people. It's a place of wonderful activity. John fills
us in on some important details.
The final clash
between good and evil is over. The purifying fires of God have done
their work. Now the epoch of a new heaven and a new earth
is about to begin! That's what John pictures in these verses.
Notice that John
assures us the old world of sin and death is NO MORE. God is making
everything new-just like in the beginning at creation. He doesn't
just patch up the old; He starts fresh!
What does the Bible say will be gone forever after sin and sinners
are destroyed? (Revelation 21:4.)
memory of our loved ones who have been lost; the remembrance of our past
any recollection of pain we have suffered on earth.
scars in Jesus' hands and feet from the crucifixion.
death; sorrow; crying; pain; the former things.
What a God we serve!
He doesn't ask the angels to wipe away our tears. He doesn't ask
you or me to wipe away our neighbor's tears. God does it Himself!
Why? Because He cares for you and me. He was there when our heart
broke as we buried that loved one. He was there when we were moaning
in a hospice as cancer racked our body. He was there through every
moment of sorrow and disappointment. He was there weeping with us.
He stood beside us and, through His Holy Spirit, held our hand and
supported us. But He longed to do much more. He longed to make a
permanent end of sin and suffering. Well now that work is done! Now
He can truly wipe away all our tears. Now it gives Him supreme pleasure
to personally welcome us into eternal happiness and joy.
New Heaven and a New Earth
All things become
newand yet, things that count are still recognizable. We'll
feel at home among the flowers and trees and buildings of translucent
gold. We'll still recognize our loved ones, even though they've been
transformed into perfect, healthy individuals. Just as a beat-up
roadster that someone rebuilds into a flashy sports car is still
recognizable as a car; or people can look at grandma's pictures when
she was a blushing bride and tell that this is the same personso
in heaven we will recognize one another. Other Bible writers give
us other glimpses of heaven.
- Lions will eat
straw like a cow (Isaiah 65:25).
- People will
build houses and live in them (vs. 21).
- You will be
able to plant vegetables and fruit and eat them (vs. 22).
- We will know
each other. Jesus' disciples recognized Him after His resurrection
- Even predator
and prey will get along! The wolf and lamb; leopard and goat; calf,
lion, and yearling will live together in perfect peace (Isaiah
- Heaven reverses
the results of sin. The blind can see. The deaf hear. The crippled
can walk (Isaiah 35:5, 6).
describes what the capital city of the New Earth, the New Jerusalem,
looks like and what life will be like in the city.
How does John describe the New Jerusalem, the Holy City? (Revelation
shines like precious stones; it has twelve gates made of pearls; the city streets
made of pure gold.
is so beautiful it is beyond human description; we will have to wait until
we see it to know
what it looks like.
looks like cities on earth, only larger and cleaner.
a city! What a God! Even the materials that make up the city offer us
heartwarming symbols that echo God's character. John shows us great
pearly gates. In Scripture, Jesus is called the "door" to eternal life
(see John 10:7). He is also referred to as the "Pearl of Great Price"
(see Matthew 13:46). The twelve tribes of Israel represent all of God's
chosen people. The walls and streets are made of gold. The city foundations
shine like the most precious jewels. He gives only the best to those
He has chosen.
As you think about
your personal life, what evidences do you see of God's love for you?
Which one of the
materials making up the city do you like the best? Why?
Sounds like a
wonderful place, doesn't it? Did you know God is also preparing a
special dwelling place just for you (see John 14:1-3)? As the prophet
Isaiah suggests, we'll also design and construct other houses. Maybe
you'll want to build that ranch house in the country you've always
dreamed about. Bible writers talk about building and planting, but
who knows what high-tech adventures God will have in His advanced
civilization? There's no doubt the Creator of the universe will have
something exciting and challenging just for you.
Revelation 21:22-27 and Revelation 22:1-5.
adding to our understanding of that great city.
Why is there no temple in the Holy City? (Revelation 21:22.)
the temple is located outside the city walls.
the redeemed will build the temple in the city during the thousand years.
God and the Lamb are its temple.
It makes sense
doesn't it? We go to church to worship God. But in the New Jerusalem
we'll see Him face-to-face. Who needs a building?
What provides light for the city? (Revelation 21:23.)
glory of God and the Lamb.
suns and two moons.
radiance shining from the golden streets
5. What else does John say will not be in the Holy City? (Revelation
There will be no children there; everyone will grow up.
There will be no night there.
will be no rain there.
What flows from God's throne? (Revelation 22:1.)
river of water of life.
A pathway of light that looks like a rainbow.
endless stream of shining angels.
Just think, whenever
you drink this water you are taking in that which symbolizes the
fact you will live forever. The fruit from the tree of life, which
grows beside the river, symbolizes the eternal healing of God in
Read and think
about Revelation 22:4, "They shall see His face, and His name shall
be on their foreheads." What do you think this means?
Revelation 21:7, 8, 27; 22:11, 14-16.
What kinds of people will not be found in the Holy City? (Revelation
21:7, 8, 27; 22:11, 14-16.)
who have persecuted God's people.
who has ever sinned.
the unbelieving; the abominable; murderers; the sexually immoral; sorcerers;
idolators; liars, the unjust; those who are filthy.
Will you be outside
or inside that great city? Outside or inside God's great love? That
is what God is emphasizing in these verses. You see, God cares. The
last chapter of the book of Revelation concludes in a few sentencesGod
wants every reader to think about his or her choice, about the importance
of character decisions. The New Jerusalem and the New Earth are not
for everyone. God is not playing games; He is perfectly sincere.
There are choices to be made which will assure us of either eternal
life or eternal death. This may be the last chance for some who are
reading these words of Revelation. We may die before the next sunrise.
Perhaps God needs to shake us up right now. He wants us to think
seriously about our eternal destiny.
Does it surprise
you that murderers and liars are both placed in the same category?
The good news
is that all such destructive behavior will be a thing of the past.
The redeemed won't have to waste their energies fighting impulses
to kill, steal, lie, or deceive. They will be changed. Selfish attitudes
will disappear. We won't get irritated or angry with our neighbors.
When Jesus "appears, we shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2). He will
expand our characters endlessly with His wonderful qualities.
at the feet of Jesus, being face-to-face with Him! Think what an
aviator would give to sit at the feet of Wilbur and Orville Wright
or what a musician would give to spend a few hours with Beethoven
or a writer to spend time with Shakespeare. Well, the redeemed are
immeasurably more privileged. They get to talk with the One who created
art, music, and aerodynamics. He created the intricacies of an orchid
and the complexities of a human eye. He is the One behind the countless
things that we human beings spend our lives delving into. We'll have
an eternity to ask Him questionsand explore the depths of His
heart. Our conversations never have to end!
concluding chapter of the book of Revelation emphasizes the fact that
these wondrous events are really going to take place. It's John saying,
"All this is very real." Our daily routine can numb us to that other
reality. We roll out of bed every morning, go to work, do chores around
the house, watch some TV, and fall into bed every night. It seems like
the uninterrupted human cycle will continue as it has for centuries.
But in the book of Revelation God is saying loud and clear, "Some day
life on planet Earth as we know it will end."
Matthew puts it
this way, "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord
is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known
what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed
his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the
Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him" (Matthew
What does Jesus assure us about the description that we are given
Holy City? (Revelation 22:6.)
"These words are faithful and true."
"I have told you everything that you are able to understand about the
you are faithful, you will walk on the streets of gold."
What does Jesus say about the time of His second coming? (Revelation
"Behold, I am coming quickly!"
"Be prepared at all times, because it will be too late to get ready when
I appear without warning."
"My coming will be sooner than you think."
When does Jesus say the things pictured in the book of Revelation
happen? (Revelation 22:10.)
"The time is not yet; all the signs have not been fulfilled."
"The time is at hand."
time will be delayed because of wickedness on the earth."
What does Jesus promise about the reward of the righteous and His coming
? (Revelation 22:12.)
"When I come, the righteous will receive their reward at the end
of the thousand years."
"Only those whose hearts are pure and spotless will receive a reward when
"I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me to give to everyone according
to his work."
What final promise does Jesus make regarding His return to take us to
heaven? (Revelation 22:20.)
fast to your faith, for I will come even though My return seems delayed."
I am coming quickly."
will come as soon as My church gets ready to meet Me."
These are fantastic
phrases: "faithful and true," "must shortly take place," "I am
coming quickly," "the time is at hand." How does it make you feel
to know that Jesus can come in your lifetime?
the emphasis in the last chapter of Revelation on the topic of Jesus'
coming? Because Jesus wants you to be a part of heaven. At great personal
cost, He came to rescue you from sin, so you could have a permanent
home with Him.
"For God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes
in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
You must personally
take advantage of this gift offered to you. You must make a commitment
to Jesus as Lord and Savior. You need the pardon that comes from
the cross of Jesus Christ. You need a relationship with the Christ
who delivers us from sin.
The kingdom of
Jesus Christ can begin right now in your life. When Jesus delivers
you from sin, He creates a little heaven within you. A commitment
to Christ will allow you to live above the negative impact of sineven
while surrounded by a sinful environment. You can live a joyful
life. Peace, happiness, and a more meaningful existence can be
yours-right now. Have you discovered the abundant life that
Jesus offers to you? Please don't turn away from His invitation.
"And the Spirit
and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And
let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the
water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17).
§ § §
An Oxford scholar
named C.S. Lewis sensed Christ's invitation in a different way.
He was studying a book about the Christian outline of history,
when a lot of things started making sense. He decided to apply
his skill in literary criticism to a fresh study of the Gospels.
Maybe all those stories were more than a myth. Lewis came to realize
that all of religion and all of philosophy were fulfilled in this
man Jesus. He was compelled to conclude that Jesus is the Son of
God. The Oxford intellectual had met his match. He took a hard
look inside himself and discovered a "harem of fondled hatreds." So
he decided it was time to accept Christ's gracious invitation.
C.S. Lewis went on to become one of the greatest Christian writers
of the twentieth century.
One morning Kathy woke up in the high-rise dorm of an Illinois university with
a terrible hangover. Another wild party last night. As she tried to crawl out
of bed, someone knocked on the door. It was Michelle, a girl on Kathy's floor
who'd been talking to her about Jesus the last few weeks. Kathy told her how
terrible she felt, and Michelle began describing how a "personal relationship
with Christ" could make things very different.
At the moment
Kathy's "good times" weren't looking that good. She began wondering
if a person really could find God. The invitation Michelle was
extending was so clear"All you have to do is come to Jesus." So
the two girls knelt down by Kathy's bed, and Kathy asked Christ
to come into her heart as Lord and Savior. Within a few minutes
her head had stopped throbbing. The aching was gone. Kathy realized
she'd taken her first drink of the Water of Life. She went on to
become an active leader in a Christian outreach group on campus.
sense God's gracious invitation in various ways. Sometimes it's a presence
we feel. Sometimes it's a conviction we can't shake. Sometimes it's
just a chance for something better. But it's still Jesus who is knocking
on the door of our hearts. It's Jesus who wants a relationship with
us. And it's Jesus who welcomes us into a new life.
Jesus is with
you now as you read these lines. He is saying to you, "Come!" If
you have not accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, this is your
opportunity to respond to His offer. Why not tell Him that you
accept His gracious invitation of a better life now and an eternity
in heaven with Him? The steps are simple:
- Tell Him that
you love Him.
- Thank Him
for all He has done for you and all He is planning to do.
- Ask Him to
forgive you of your sins.
- Tell Him
you want Him to live in you.
- Thank Him
for making you a part of His family.
If this is your
decision, repeat this prayer: "Jesus, I love You for coming
to this earth and dying on the cross for me.
I ask You to forgive my sins. I want You to live in my life. Help me to be
like You each day. Thank You for hearing
and answering my prayer. Amen."
If you prayed
this prayer, WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF GOD!
If you are not
ready to make this decision, ask God to help you with the issues
with which you are struggling. He
doesn't look down on you. Remember He loves youunconditionally.
He cares about you. He understands your circumstances. Just remember
He is your real source of help.
these words to encourage us: "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm
And now the
concluding words of the book of Revelation, "He who testifies to
these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so,
come, Lord Jesus!
"The grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (Revelation 22:20, 21).
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