Sermon on Revelation 22:1-5
3rd Sunday of End Times – Saints Triumphant Sunday
Catch a Glimpse of Heaven (where you will)
Text: Revelation 22:1-5
The devil’s destructive work is circling around and closing in. Sin is ever increasing and ever becoming more and more wicked and shameless. Persecution is escalating to a whole new level. No longer is it a scoffing scowl at those “Bible-thumpers.” No longer is it just a private jab or joke. The public and brutal escalation of persecution has Christians terrified to share or live their faith. Trying financial times make many wonder if they can even put food on the table. Sicknesses and diseases are bringing death far too soon for far too many. Put it all together—sin, suffering, and persecution—and suddenly this life has become nearly unbearable to Christians.
Sound familiar? Yet I’m not describing 21st century America. Those were the conditions in the 1st century A.D. in the Roman Empire. As if the hardships I just mentioned weren’t enough, Roman Emperor Domitian picked up where his predecessor Nero left off 30 years before. Now, in the 90s A.D., Christians were being killed left and right—exterminated like a swarm of filthy gnats. It was a terrifying time for Christians. They wondered if things could ever get better. They wondered if it might be easier just to give in to the sin and false teaching pressuring them. They wondered if following God was really worth it.
To such Christians who were suffering under such circumstances, and to us Christians who are suffering so greatly today, God had a wonderful message to share. It’s called the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and it’s the last book in the Bible. There in Revelation God masterfully paints a series of pictures for us to behold the victory that is ours in Jesus Christ. Today, you and I have the privilege of looking at one of those divine paintings up close, in Revelation 22. Today, you and I can Catch a Glimpse of Heaven.
Do you ever just get sick of it? Do you ever just get sick of the daily grind? It’s the same old thing day after day. For many of us, we get up early when the first kid wakes us up. We prepare breakfast. We get the kids dressed. We throw them in the car and rush off to school. Then we go to work. We have a mountain of things to do that we hardly ever seem to chip away at. And it’s the same old work routine every single week, every single day. Then we pick the kids up. We make supper. We clean up. We get them to bed. Then we pass out.
Maybe your day is a little different. Maybe you don’t have kids running around the house right now. But I would imagine you too have found yourself rushing through the grind of every day life. Suddenly you look at the calendar and think, “Yikes! I’m turning 30 now? I’m 50? I’m 70? Where did my life go?”
But Catch a Glimpse of the beautiful picture the Lord paints for us this morning in Revelation 22. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.”
It is important to understand something when interpreting Revelation. We must understand that we are not to interpret Revelation literalistically. This means that we are not to take it exactly as it says—that there will really be a river in heaven flowing from the throne of God. Nor should we assume that there really is a street in heaven paved of gold like we hear elsewhere, or that there are really trees bearing fruit in heaven.
It is possible that these things could be in heaven. But that’s not really the point. God is painting a picture using human language and human images to share a divine message about how wonderful heaven will be. So we see this water of life as clear as crystal and we understand that there will be calm and peace in heaven. It flows from the throne of God, so obviously God is the source of life and of peace.
When we see the tree of life, our minds immediately take us to the very beginning in the Garden of Eden. We recall that there in Eden was there calm and peace and perfection. God had created everything to be “good,” including Adam and Eve whom he made in his own image of perfection and righteousness. There in the middle of all this perfection stood the great tree of life.
Yet the joy and hope of eternal life and rest in that garden ended quickly as Adam and Eve fell into sin and broke the perfection God had made. We have only followed in the footsteps of our first parents. We bite into the fruit of Satan’s lies and temptations on a daily basis as we trust in ourselves, rely on ourselves, do what we want, say what we want, think what we want. Thus, in the same way that Adam and Eve were banished from their perfect Eden and doomed to death, so are we doomed to death and banished from the perfect Eden called heaven.
That is, until we inspect this picture more closely. We see this serene picture of calm and peace as a crystal clear river flowing from the throne of the Lamb. For the Lamb is in fact the source of our peace. The Lamb was slain for our sins. The Lamb was sacrificed to pay for our wrongs. The Lamb shed his blood to buy back the perfection which we had lost. So we see with joy that God says in verse 3, “No longer will there be any curse.”
Here in this picture of heaven we see the brilliance of our God on display. Here we see that God was able to fully restore things to how they once were—despite our sins—through his Son Jesus. As there once was perfection, so will there be in heaven. As there once was a tree of life, so there will be in heaven. As there once was the hope of peace and rest of life eternal, so will there be in heaven only the peace and rest of life eternal.
Look very closely at this divine painting. Catch a Glimpse of Heaven. There will be no more struggling, no more trouble, no more sorrow, no more fast-paced, busy, and hectic lives. There will be no curse of sin. Today, Catch a Glimpse of Heaven where you will rest.
Do you ever just get sick of it? Do you ever just get sick of the sadness of this world? Why is there so much heartache? Why does there have to be so much trouble? Why does there have to be so much death? Why do we have to shed tears so often?
Clear your worldly eyes. Wipe away all the tears, and Catch a Glimpse of Heaven in the beautiful picture the Lord paints for us this morning. Starting in the middle of verse three it says: “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.”
In heaven, gone are the dark days of sadness in this world. Gone are the toil and turmoil of the sinful night that we live in. “There will be no more night. [We] will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” The Light of the world is now and will forever fill heaven with the radiance of his glory. This is the very Light which triumphed over darkness and night at the cross. This is the very Light that burst forth from the tomb on Easter morning.
There in heaven the light will shine brightly and reveal something very special. First, we will see God face to face. Something that would otherwise be completely and utterly impossible for sinners to do, then we who have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb will stand and behold the full glory of him who loves us so much. We will see the face of the God that has looked down upon us with such care and compassion for so many years. And on our own face, we will see that he has placed his mark. His name will be on our foreheads. We will be branded and sealed with the name of our God, permanently marked as his valued treasure and possession, his children whom he will never let go.
And as we behold all of this—the Light, the Lamb, his face, our foreheads—there will be but one thing which we can do. Verse 3: “And his servants will serve him.” There will be no greater joy and privilege for us then to be doing what the choir sang in the Verse of the Day: They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple.
Look very closely at this divine painting. Catch a Glimpse of Heaven. See that all sorrows are gone. See that there is no sadness. See that there are no tears. Instead, see the Lamb of God shining brightly with the light of his glory. See yourself there in his presence. Catch a Glimpse of Heaven where you will rejoice.
Do you ever just get sick of it? Do you ever just get sick of being at the bottom? Everyone else gets the fame and the glory. There’s always someone that makes more money. There’s always someone that has a better a house, a better car, a better job. Why can’t I just get some recognition for once? How come ego-maniacal prima donna celebrities and athletes have all the fame and fortune and power in this world?
Ah, but Catch a Glimpse of Heaven in the beautiful picture that our Lord paints for us this morning. The last sentence in verse 5 tells us all that we need to know: “And they will reign for ever and ever.” Here we might feel like bottom-feeders. Here we might feel like insignificant peons that have no meaning or reason for existence. But Catch a Glimpse of Heaven this morning and see that soon enough the tables will be turned. There you will be reigning forever. For the Lamb who crushed Satan and conquered death and hell now sits on his throne. And he has prepared a place for you in heaven to sit on a throne beside him, to rule and reign with him over all the unbelieving enemies and evil forces of this dark world. Here and now you might feel like an absolute nobody. But Catch a Glimpse of Heaven where you will reign with your Savior God forever and ever.
See the picture. Know the picture. Live the picture. Soon, all of us will leave this veil of tears and enter into the courts of his holy temple to be with all saints triumphant where we will rest, where we will rejoice, and where we will reign. Blessed are they which are called to the marriage feast of the Lamb. Jesus, bring us safely there.
Posted on November 14, 2010, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, End Times, Eternal Life, Heaven, Revelation, Revelation 22, Saints, Saints Triumphant, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.