HEAVEN: A GUIDED TOUR – PT 2 | BIBLE STUDY | MIKE PRAH
Oct 27, 2021 | by Mike Prah
HEAVEN: A GUIDED TOUR – PT 2 | BIBLE STUDY | MIKE PRAH
The Geography, Glory & the Gladness of Heaven - Revelation 21 & 22
Much has been written about the subject of Heaven. Those who’ve had a near-death experience have written books about what they saw or heard when they “died” but were resuscitated. These stories are riveting. Who doesn’t want to know what happens when you die and what Heaven will be like? People are infinitely curious when it comes to what happens at death and then what Heaven will be like. We may not be ready to go just yet, but we’re forever eager to take that guided tour and get a sneak peek into Heaven.
John the Apostle, one of Jesus’ inner circle, was blessed to have been given that tour. The apostle Paul also caught a glance. It’s important at the outset to note that all we can actually know is true about Heaven is what the Bible has chosen to reveal. God is heaven’s designer and architect, and also the Bible’s author, so we’ll purposefully confine ourselves to solely what Scripture (sola scriptura) says about Heaven—and not go beyond it.
1. WHY STUDY ABOUT HEAVEN?
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV)
God tells us to be heavenly minded. Heaven is where our Lord is this moment, seated at the right hand of God, making intercession for us.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)
- If your heart isn’t focused on Heaven, then where is it likely focused? Remembering that God doesn’t “need” anything—He already owns it all, what does God want from you? Which is more important to God—your treasure (wealth) or your heart?
2. Heaven: The Requirement of Faith
“By faith he [Abraham] dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:9-10 (NKJV)
- What was Abraham was looking forward? How was he going to live there? How does it affect you when you realize you, like Abraham, don’t have to do anything but live there one day because of your faith?
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HEAVEN
1. The Material Reality of Heaven
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And 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. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:1-4 (NKJV)
2. The Government of Heaven
"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." Revelation 21:3 (NKJV)
3. The Residents of Heaven
“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light … " (Revelation 21:22-24, NKJV)
- How does knowing this increase your sense of security about the place called Heaven?
THE GLORY OF HEAVEN
John describes the New Jerusalem, Heaven’s capital city in verses Revelation 21: 10-11 and 18-21. God uses indescribably beautiful symbols for the greater glories of Heaven. Read these verses. Wherever you see “jasper,” Bible scholars believe the closest word for it in our vocabulary is “diamond.”
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Revelation 21:10-11, NKJV
Its walls and gates, diamond-like, are breathtaking in beauty. The city itself is a city of gold so pure it’s clear as glass. 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?
1. The Sights of the City
“The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. 13 There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles. 17 Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel). 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.” Revelation 21:12-18, NLT
- Gates are usually there either to protect what’s inside, to keep it in, or to keep thieves and wrong-doers out. But in Heaven the city’s gates are open. 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.
- They serve another purpose as well: they are monuments, commemorative walls, because of what is written on them and their foundations.
How many foundations does the city have? What does that number remind you of?
2. The Sanctuary of the City
"And I [the apostle John] saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light." Revelation 21: 22, NKJV
- The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple.
- The Old Testament temple was a picture and a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- It had a gate; Jesus said, “I am the door.”
- It had an altar; Jesus shed His blood for us.
- It had a laver; we are now cleansed by His Word.
- It had a table of bread on it; Jesus is the Bread of Life.
- It had a golden candelabra; Jesus is the light of the world.
- Incensed was burned; Jesus is our High Priest.
- What did the Old Testament tabernacle and temple prophetically foretell? Jesus Christ is the sanctuary of Heaven. The Old Testament prophecies are prophecies of something more glorious.
3. The City’s Light Source
The New Jerusalem is not dependent on a utility company.
“The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).” Revelation 21:23-25, NKJV
What are its two sources of light?
- The city is breathtakingly beautiful.
- We do not need the moon or the sun;
- The glory of God will lighten the city.
- The city itself is a city of gold.
- The gold is so pure that it is translucent.
- There are colored jewels and other brilliant colors. It has walls of jasper.
- The walls are not there to keep us in because the gates are open.
- The walls are not there to keep the wicked out; they are in Hell.
- These walls are there for the glory of God, and they are monumental.
- The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are on these walls.
- The names of the twelve apostles are in the foundation.
4. The Sounds of the City
What will we hear?
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:11-13, NKJV
- What will we be singing? The songs of redemption. Music in Heaven will be indescribable. Dr. R. G. Lee once said, “Our best music here on earth will sound like a bumblebee in a bottle compared to the music there.”
“And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10, NKJV
“And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne… Revelation 14:2-3a, NKJV
“They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!” Revelation 15:3, NKJV
5. The Size of the City
“The angel who spoke to me had a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city was perfectly square, as wide as it was long. The angel measured the city with his measuring stick: it was fifteen hundred miles long and was as wide and as high as it was long.” Revelation 21:15-16 (GN)
- The city is laid out in the shape of a square, but not just a square, for its height is identical, making it a perfect cube. It is about 1,400 miles in each direction, 1,400 miles four-square. The city is about 200,000,000 square miles at its base. That’s 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, a small, square room representing God's presence with His people.
- This is the new Holy of Holies where God dwells eternally with the redeemed. We don’t know how many stories or strata it contains, but there will be room enough and to spare of every blood-bought believer
THE GLADNESS OF HEAVEN
1. Heaven will be a significant place.
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new...” Revelation 21:4, NKJV
- As soon as God sets up residence with us as believers in Heaven, what is the first thing He will do? God dwelling with His people and ruling in majesty means there are some “no mores.” What are some things we’ve been through in this life that in Heaven we’ll never see again?
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5, NKJV
Heaven will be a place of satisfaction
“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17, NKJV
We will enjoy deep satisfaction in Heaven because we will drink from the Crystal River. This river symbolizes that our deepest needs are going to be met. Every thirst we have that is God-given will be satisfied in Heaven.
Heaven will be a place of sufficiency
“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:2, NKJV
- There will be trees there bearing fruit each month. This symbolizes the sufficiency of Heaven. The glow of health will be upon everyone in Heaven.
Heaven will be a place of service
“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” Revelation 22:3, NKJV
Heaven will not be a great big retirement home. We will serve the Lord.
THE SAVIOR OF THE CITY
Heaven will be a place of incredible sight.
- Lastly, and more importantly, 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? The one you love and have missed so much. We shall see Jesus, the magnificent lover of our souls!
"And they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads." Revelation 22:4, NKJV
- Remember that while the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He had prayed, that believers will behold Hid glory. God is going to answer that prayer. We will behold Jesus’ face and His glory (John 17:24).
"Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world" John 17:24, NKJV
I’m grateful for Heaven’s streets of gold and walls of jasper and all of that, but it’s Jesus I want to see. It’s Jesus who makes it Heaven for us.
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. How unspeakably tragic it would be for you to have taken this study and yet not be in Heaven with the redeemed!
- Have you ever really, honestly, trusted Jesus? Not trusting your charity work, your gifts, religion or church membership, but trusting in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Would you like to know that you have a home in Heaven? You must trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
- Do you know Jesus personally? If not, you can pray to Him today by asking Him to come into your life. Call upon Jesus today. Repent (turn) from your sins, and turn to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and acknowledge Him as Lord of your life.