Revelation - Chapter 21
The book of Romans has been termed "The Courtroom of the Bible" and the book of "much mores." In Romans the human race is declared to be guilty, but because of the "much mores" of Christ, the believing sinner is justified and set free (Romans 5:9, 10, 17, 20). If the book of Romans is "The Courtroom of the Bible and the book of "much mores", then the book of Revelation is the "Throneroom of the Bible" and the book of "no mores." In Revelation 21:2-3, the throneroom of God is portrayed as being the final home of the church-age believing saints.
This final home of the "saints" is given two designations in Revelation 21. It is called (a) "the holy city," the "new Jerusalem" (21:2) and (b) "the tabernacle of God" (21:3). The phrase "the tabernacle of God" simply means "the place where God dwells."
This will not be the first occasion of God's tabernacling among men. In past ages, God "tabernacled" among men and manifested His presence in the Old Testament tabernacle and later the temple. While Jesus Christ was here in this earth for 33½ years, He dwelt ("tabernacle[d]") among men (John 1:14), being "God manifest in the flesh" ("I Timothy 3:16).
Through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in this "church" age, God indwells believers' bodies (John 14:16), (I Corinthians 3:16). In Revelation 21, however, the final tabernacle of God is graphically and picturesquely portrayed.
The hearts of believing saints should respond with unquenchable joy, as they ponder the truth that this present world is not their final home! (Illustration song: This World is Not My Home). In Revelation chapters 21-22, the Apostle John gives us a dual description of our final home through a picture of (a) the cessation of that which is old, and (b) the description of that which is new.
Abraham Lincoln once said that there are three things that make up a country: the people, the land, and the laws. In these chapters, the Apostle John describes both the characteristics of the city and the character of its inhabitants. The measurements of this city are declared to be 1,500 miles foursquare in length, breadth, and height; with a jasper wall 144 cubits wide (21:15-17). The costly building materials used in erecting this city (precious stones, street of pure gold, etc.) are portrayed in 21:18-21.
To instruct us about the spiritual character of this city, John uses familiar scenes and experiences of this earthly life which he declares will be absent ("no," "no more") in that celestial city.
1. NO MORE SEA ("there was no more sea" - 21:1), It is not by accident that the sea is declared to be the first "no more" of heaven, for the elements, pictures, and symbols represented by the sea contain virtually all the rest of the "no mores" that follow.
While the sea is a beautiful part of God's creation, the allusions in the Scripture to it refer mainly to its power or danger. The sea (a) represents danger, peril, and fear. The Noahic flood, the Red Sea exodus and the experience of Jonah all portray the dreaded elements of the sea. The sea also is the (b) symbol of distress, unrest, agitation, and commotion. Never still, it constantly moves in restless fashion. In Isaiah 57:20-21, the unsaved are pictured as being like "the troubled sea, when it cannot rest." As John looked down from the rugged rock cliffs of his exile dwelling to the raging waves of the Aegean Sea below, he undoubtedly recognized that the turbulence associated with man's journeying on this earth will someday terminate forever.
The sea is also the (c) emblem of division and separation. The sea, with its accompanying lakes, rivers, stream, and brooks, is a great divider. Three-fourths of the earth's surface is covered by the sea waters which serve as boundaries and barriers limiting communication among nations.
The sea is also the (d) emblem of mystery, containing the secrets of past civilizations, countless thousands of human bodies and sunken ships. The mysteries of God, depicted by the sea, are numerous. The Apostle Paul summarized these inscrutable mysteries when he states that God's ways are "past finding out" (Romans 11:33). Who can fully understand, in this life, the mysteries represented by the believer's tears? (Song illustration: Sometime We'll Understand).
The sea also speaks of the (e) storms of life; the deluge of temptations and the flood of persecutions which pour out upon us on this earth. For afflicted and persecuted believers, the stars sometimes seem to refuse to shine, and the night seems as dark as the waves of problems roll over our soul; but in that celestial city, all these raging storms shall cease!
2. NO MORE SEPARATION ("no more death" - 2:4). The word "death" in the Bible simply means "separation," never annihilation or cessation of existence. In biblical writ, the word "separation" has four distinct meanings: (a) Spiritual Death, the separation of man's spirit from God's spirit due to sin. This is the separation of the natural-unsaved man from God (Romans 6:23); (b) Physical Death, the separation of man's spirit and soul from his body; the separation of the visible from the invisible, and the temporal from the eternal (Hebrews 9:27); (c) Temporal Death, the separation of the believer from sin in his daily walk (Romans 6:1-12); (d) Eternal Death, the final-eternal separation of the unsaved from God in Gehenna, the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
The believing saint is given the scriptural assurance that physical death, that "king of Terrors," will be banished forever from the presence of God. For the child of God, death is only a temporary separation, for someday we shall meet to part no more. (Song illustration: Some Bright Golden Morning).
3. NO MORE SORROW ("no more death, neither sorrow nor crying" -21:4). Sorrow is often symbolized by tears and crying. The tears of this life are many: the tears of a soured life, bitter memories, broken hearts, grief, disappointment; even tears of repentance and godly sorrow.
The Bible often speaks of those who weep, cry, and shed tears. In the inspired Word, we read about (a) weeping saints - John 16-20-22; (b) weeping soul-winners - Psalm 126:5-6; (c) weeping sinners - Matthew 22:11-14; (d) weeping sorrowers - John 20-11-15; (e) weeping servants - Acts 20:19 and a (f) weeping Saviour - John 11:35. In this life, tears and weeping are a necessary portion of life.
How blessed to know that God keeps the tears of Christians in a bottle in Heaven (Psalm 56:8), and that the weeping and sorrowing of the believer is vastly different with regard to death than that of the unsaved (I Thess. 4:13-18). For the believer, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). (Song illustration: Only Glory By and By).
4. NO MORE SICKNESS AND SUFFERING ("neither shall there be anymore pain - 21:4). Probably one of the most difficult questions believers are asked to answer is the "why" of suffering; why do believers suffer so much, while ungodly sinners seem to escape unscathed in this life? Like Job, we sometimes cry out "My soul is poured upon me the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. My bones are pierced in the night season and my sinews take no rest. "We have the assurance, however, that in our eternal home, all sickness and suffering shall cease!
5. NO (MORE) SANCTUARY ("I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" (21::21-22). While already mentioned, this deserves reiteration. The temple was a structure where devout Jews came to worship God and where God manifested His presence. There are no temple structures today in which God dwells, other than the temples of believers' bodies (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
The ornate cathedrals, magnificent edifices, and costly sanctuaries are not dwelling places for God, and there will not be any such structures in Heaven. According to Revelation 21-22, the entire city will be a "sanctuary," with God the Father and God the Son being the New Jerusalem's "temple".
6. NO (MORE) SHADOWS (there shall be no night there". 21:22, 22:5). The night speaks to us of weariness, tiredness, weakness, and sometimes of dread, fear, and crime. Believers live amid a world which resides in spiritual darkness (John 3:19, Ephesians 5:11), the darkness of sin and evil.
Though there is less restraint today in daylight among the ungodly than previous generations, sinners still like to operate under the cover of literal physical darkness. The largest percentage of crime is still committed under the cover of darkness. (The crime problem is becoming so major these days, that even criminals are getting "mugged"!)
In Psalm 23:4, the believer is pictured as passing through the "valley of the shadow of death." Death is portrayed as (a) a valley through which we pass in our entrance to the "house of the Lord." We "walk through" this valley, not reside or abide in it! Also, it is termed only a "shadow." While a shadow may temporarily scare, it has no harmful powers. The city beyond that tunnel of death is the "New Jerusalem." No special lighting will be needed in that fair land, since the Lamb Himself is the light (21:22-2323, 22:5).
7. NO MORE SIN (21:8, 27, 28: 22:3, 15). Revelation 21:27 declares that nothing that "defileth" will enter there, only those whose names are written in the "Lamb's book of life." The word "defile" means "to pollute" or to "make unclean." This spotless city will not contain either the defilement or the curse of sin (22:3).
Our present world is a "cursed" world, the "curses" of which can be traced back to the origins of sin (Genesis 3:14-19). (a) The serpent is cursed (Genesis 3:14). The most dangerous of all reptiles portrays the person and evil work of Satan (Revelation 12:9 - "that old serpent called the Devil and Satan"). When we think of the serpent, we think of the forked tongue, the blazing eyes, and the poisonous bite. Satan, the serpent, will be banished from the presence of God, eternally exiled in Gehenna, the lake of fire.
But there is also the (b) curse upon the woman (Genesis 3:16), which involves sorrow in childbearing and subjection to a husband in marriage; (c) the curse upon the male (Genesis 3:17-19) and, (d) the curse upon creation (Genesis 3:17-18).
In spite of all the advances in medical science, every time a mother brings forth infant life, she goes down into the valley of the shadow of death. In spite of all of man's attempts, it is still by the "sweat" of his face that he earns his labor. In spite of all the ecological emphasis, creation still has its pollutants.
The whistling of the wind, the echo of the lightning, the howling of the prairie dog, the screeching of the owl, and hundreds of other noises-sounds remind us constantly of the curse of creation. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, typhoons, and disease plagues are regular reminders of creation's curse. Revelation 22:3 reassures us that these curses-plagues will all be removed in that heavenly city.
The songwriter pictured it accurately when he wrote,
"Heaven is a wonderful place,
Filed with glory and grace;
I want to see my Saviour's face,
For Heaven is a wonderful,
Heaven is a wonderful, yes,
Heaven is a wonderful place."
Heaven will be Heaven, because it will be filled with the countenance, favor, beauty, and presence of the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Song illustrations: How Beautiful Heaven Must Be; I've a Home Beyond the River). It is our privilege and responsibility, as believer, to point men and women to the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can lead them to that eternal city. D.J.

A biographical profile of Dr. Jasmin

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