A Guided Tour through Heaven

Revelation 21

Since our last study dealt with the subject of Hell, It’s only fair that we now look at the other side of the coin—to what awaits all believers in Heaven.

Much has been written about the subject of Heaven. Decades ago, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a widely read book on her interviews with patients who had visions of the afterlife in near-death experiences. More recently, a number of people have written books about what they experienced when they died but were resuscitated by doctors.

All these accounts fascinate us. Man has an insatiable desire to know what lies ahead.

That’s understandable. But all we can actually know about Heaven with certainty is what the Bible tells us. The Designer, Heaven’s architect, is also the author of the Bible. So we will begin here and not go outside of it.

1. Before our tour begins, let’s get some criticism out of the way. Sometimes Christians are faulted for being too “heavenly minded.” Turn to Colossians 3:1-2.

If ye then be risen with Christ, ________ those things which are _________, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  2 ______  _________  _________________ on things above, not on things of the earth.” 

We are to be heavenly minded.  In addition,

2. What did Jesus say in Matthew 6:20-21?

20“But _____ up for yourselves _______________ in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21“for where your ____________ is, there will your _________ be also.”

If your heart is not in Heaven, it means your treasure is down here.  And it is not your treasure God wants—God doesn’t need anything! He wants your heart. 

3. We’re now ready for our tour. Turn to Revelation 21:9-10. Our tour guide is an angel. The apostle John tells us,

“And there came unto me one of the seven ___________ which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, ‘Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the spirit into a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God.” Revelation 21:9-10

What, specifically, is descending out of Heaven?

This is, you might say, the “capital city” of Heaven.

When the angel says to John, “I will show you the Lamb’s wife” and then shows him the the new Jerusalem, you’re right to ask, “Now wait a minute.  Is the Lord married to a city? What’s he talking about here?”

When we speak of a city, we could be talking of the place or the people.  Let me give you an example.  I might say, “Bangkok is a beautiful city.”  And it is. But I might say, “Bangkok is a wicked city.”  And it is. You see, the first time I’m talking about the place, then I’m talking about the people. That’s what God is doing here in the book of Revelation.

Magnifying glassA CLOSER LOOK AT SYMBOLS, COLORS, JEWELS, NUMBERS

Before continuing, remember that the book of Revelation is full of symbols. The human mind cannot comprehend the greater glories of Heaven. It would be like trying to teach a child nuclear physics; you’d have to use analogies and illustrations the child could understand. When Heaven is described, we can’t intellectually understand it all, so God condescends to our weakness and gives us glorious symbols.

The Geography of Heaven

Heaven is a material place. We need to understand it is real. John said,

“I saw a new Heaven and a new earth…. And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (21:2)

Notice how similar this verse is to 21:10. Heaven is real, not mysterious, ephemeral, gaseous or a mirage. What John sees in the new Heaven and earth corresponds to the Heaven and earth you and I see today.

4. Turn to Hebrews 11. This is the great “Hall of Heroes” chapter—those saints who are examples of how to walk by faith. Read down to verse 9-10. Who is the writer speaking of?



 9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, and heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he looked for a _______ which hath _______________, whose builder and maker is God.” 

Abraham never built a house out of stone, brick or mortar.  He lived in tents.  And the Bible tells us why: He was looking ahead for that celestial city, that eternal city.

5. Paul confirms this. The Apostle Paul one time took a sojourn to Heaven while he was still in the ministry here on earth. He speaks of himself in the third person. Turn to 2 Corinthians 12:2-4a. After he was caught up to the third Heaven, he said,

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether ___ _____ _______, I cannot tell; or whether _____  ___ ____ _______, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise…

Paul is talking about himself, and twice he says, “When this thing happened to me I don’t know whether I was still in my body or whether I’d left my body and gone up there.” This tells me you can go to Heaven in your spirit or you can go to Heaven with a body.

Furthermore, Jesus is there in a resurrected body. When He walked out of the grave, the disciples saw Him, touched Him, felt Him. When He left them, He went to a place, the place where the resurrected dead (those who were resurrected with Jesus after His resurrection) are. Heaven is real. If you have a loved one there, they are in a real place.

6. Turn to John 14:1-4:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.2 In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to _________________  __ ____________  for you.3 And if I go and prepare a _______ for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

He didn’t say “I go to prepare a state of mind.”  We’re going to have resurrected bodies.  There is a real, literal resurrection of the body.  The body is coming out of the grave.  Where’s it going to go?  There has to be a place for that.  If I have a resurrected body, I have to have a resurrected place to walk around on. We’ll be there in resurrected bodies, and friend we will walk around, and there has to be a place for your resurrected foot to stand. Abraham “looked for a city that had foundations whose builder and maker is God.”

7. Now turn to 2 Peter 3:13. You may want to start at the beginning of this chapter as Peter begins by describing “the last days” and what is going to happen on “the day of the Lord” when God’s judgment falls upon this world.

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for ______ heavens and a ______ earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Magnifying glassA CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT IS MEANT HERE BY “NEW”
 
When God made this earth, He gave it eternality. What WILL happen is this. There’s going to be a great meltdown. He’s going to take that material and make with it new Heavens and a new earth. It’s the same thing as when an old automobile goes into the junkyard and they compact it and put it in the furnace. Out comes a new automobile.  That new automobile you’re driving may be part of an old automobile that’s been through the fire.  The word “new” here is the word kainous, the same word used when Paul says to the Corinthians, “If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature.”  I’m the old Adrian made new. Now, the old man did not disappear, was not evaporated, but I am transformed. I’ve been purged by the blood of Jesus Christ.  The old world, the old earth, will be purged by fire and there’s going to be new heavens and a new earth. 

The Government of Heaven

Heaven is a majestic place because God will rule in majesty there.

8. Now we turn back to Revelation 21, where much of our study will be. See verse 3.

And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will _________ with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall ___  _____  ________ and be their God.”

In the Old Testament God dwelt in a tabernacle (tent), but in Heaven He dwells with us. No longer do we pray, “Our Father which art in Heaven,” for God says, “I’m right here with you.”

The Gladness of Heaven

9. Continuing, verse 3b-4:

a. “And God shall Himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.   

When the Lord dwells with His people and rules in majesty there are some “no mores.” In verse 4 of chapter 21, list the “no mores.”

t_____________

d_____________

s______________

c______________

p______________

b. As soon as God sets up residence with us as believers in Heaven, what is the first thing He will do?


I’m looking forward to that.  I’ve been heartbroken many times—and I know you have too—standing by an open grave or watching our loved ones suffering through pain.  so many times I’ve seen mothers cry over wayward children.  Day after day, week after week, the news comes in and there are tears. But there’s coming a time when God is going to turn every tear to a telescope, every hurt to a hallelujah, every Calvary to an Easter. There’ll be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more funerals, no more death, no more disease.  These things are gone. Do you know why there will be no more of these things? Because there will be no more sin.  

10. 5 And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’  And He said unto me, ‘Write: for these words are true and faithful.’ 6 And He saith unto me, ‘It is done.  I am ___________ and ____________...’”

These are the  first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It’s the same as if we said, “I am it, A to Z.” 

11. Continuing in verses 6 through 8,

“6 …the beginning and the end, and I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  7 He that __________________ shall ___________ all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Who is speaking here? ______________   Together as a group, who will not be present?

Why is Heaven such a majestic place and such a glad place?  Because of who will be present, who will not be present, and because the King rules there in majesty.

The Godliness of Heaven

12. As you read verses 24 and 27, ask: what has messed up planet earth?

And the nations of them which are _________ shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.... There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that _____________, neither whatsoever worketh an __________________, or maketh a _______: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (v. 24, 27)

The answer is sin. Everytime you see any sorrow, heartbreak, sickness, pain, drought, disease—behind it all ultimately is sin. The fall of man.  We live in a world that has a curse on it, and it is the curse of sin, but from the beginning it was not so.  .

But God says, “In My Heaven, no more of that, because the King rules in majesty, and there is only godliness here.”

The Glory of Heaven

John describes the new Jerusalem, Heaven’s captial city.  God has gone through the lexicons of the world and used indescribably beautiful symbols for the greater glories of Heaven. Read verses 10 and 11, then verses 18 through 21.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

Where you see “jasper,” Bible scholars believe the closest word for it in our vocabulary is  “diamond.”

13.  How often do you see the word “jasper” or “jasper stone” used in verses 11, 18, and 19?

 Its walls and gates, diamond-like, are breathtaking in beauty. The city itself is a city of gold. Can you imagine the brilliance, the glow of the glory of God, the colored jewels, the verdant greens, the sky blue, the red, the violet? Gold so pure, it is translucent.

As we think of the Holy City, the capital city of Heaven, let’s think now in terms of the letter “S.”

The Sights of the City

Go back now to some verses we skipped over. Read verses 12 into a portion of verse 18:
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper:

Gates are usually there either to protect what’s inside, or to keep it in, or to keep thieves and wrong-doers out. But in Heaven…

14. Are the city’s gates open or closed?


15. Why do you think they stay open?


16. The wall of the city has how many foundations?


17. Who does that number make you think of?


18. And the walls are made of __________ (v. 18), or as we say, “________________.”

The walls are not to keep us in, because the gates are open. They are not to keep the wicked out; they are in Hell. These shimmering walls are there for the glory of God. And in a very real sense they are monumental walls, because

19. What is written on these walls?


20. What is written on the walls’ foundations?


The walls are there for the glory of God.  And in a very real sense they are monumental walls.  Beloved, there is coming a time when Jew and Gentile, Israel and apostles, are going to be together, one in the Lord Jesus Christ, as we have never been before.

The Sanctuary of the City

21. Let’s go back and pick up verse 22:

22 And I [the apostle John] saw no temple therein: for the ______  _______ ________________ and the __________ are the temple of it.” (v. 22)

This is the sanctuary of the city. The Old Testament temple was only a picture, a prophecy, of the Lord Jesus Christ. It had a gate. (Jesus said, “I am the door.”) It had an altar. (On the cross, Jesus shed His blood for us.) It had a laver. (We’re now cleansed by His Word.) It had a table, with bread on it. (Jesus is the Bread of Life.) It had golden candelabra. (Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”) Incense was burned. (Jesus said, “I am your High Priest.”)

What did the Old Testament prophetically foretell?


He is the temple.

The Source of Light for the City

22. Looking now at verses 23-25, the New Jerusalem is not dependent on a utility company.

23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

The two sources of light for the city are: ______________________ and ____________

The Sounds of the City

23. What will we be singing? Three verses give us insight:

Turn back to chapter 5, verse 9:
And they sang a _____ ________, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation

Turn to 14:3
And they sang as it were a ______ ________ before the throne…

Go forward one chapter to 15:3
And they sing the song of ___________, the servant of God, and the song of the ____________.”

We will sing the songs of redemption. Music in Heaven will be great. Dr. Robert G. Lee once said, “Our best music here on earth will sound like a bumble bee in a bottle compared to the music there.”

The Size of the City

The angel who led John on this guided tour showed John how large this city is. See verses 15-17 in chapter 21. 

15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

24.  a. The city is laid out in the shape of a ______________________ (v. 16).

      b. But it is not just square, for the height is given; is it actually a __________.

c. The angel measured with a rod, and the length, breadth and height were all _______ furlongs. In our measurements, this is 1,500 miles in all directions. That is about the same distance as halfway across the United States, yet it is one city.

Another structure comes to mind when we think of “foursquare.”  The Holy of Holies in the temple was a small square room representing God's presence with His people.

If you are concerned that perhaps there will not be enough room for all those saved, redeemed, washed in the blood of the Lamb, the capital city of Heaven measures 1500 miles four-square, this new Holy of Holies where God dwells eternally with His people. We don’t know how many stories or strata it contains, but there will be room enough and to spare.

Lastly and far more important,

25. Heaven is where for the first time we will look upon Jesus’ face. When you’ve been away from home for a long time and you return, what do you want to see first? Not the curtains or the lamp—you want to see that loved one you’ve missed so much.

Turn one chapter ahead to Revelation 22:4:

And they shall see ____ face, and _____ name shall be on their foreheads.

Remember that while the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He had prayed,

Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which thou hast given Me…” John 17:24

God is going to answer that prayer. We will behold Jesus’ face and His glory.

I’m grateful for Heaven’s streets of gold and walls of jasper and all of that, but it’s Jesus that makes Heaven, Heaven.

Will you be there? No one above the age of accountability is going to be there who hasn’t received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Have you ever really, honestly, trusted Jesus?  Not trusting your humanitarianism, not trusting your charity, not trusting your religion, not trusting your church membership, but trusting in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you come to the cross? 

 

 

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