Rev 21:3                                           Zion                                                    8/27/2006      ßà   

  • I Heard a Great Voice (Rev 21:1-4, 12:10)

 

 

 

 

#1.       Behold, the Tabernacle of God (Rev 21:3, John 17:21, Rev 7:15)

 

 

 

 

  • Arise, Shine, For Thy Light Is Come (Isa 60:1-5,11-14,18-22, Eze 37:27)

 

 

 

 

  • They Shall Be My People (Lev 26:3-6,9-13, Gal 2:21, 3:10,11,21)

 

 

 

 

#2.       An Everlasting Covenant (Gen 17:4-8, Rom 4:13, Gal 3:29, Eph 1:4,7,9,13, Rev 21:3)

 

 

 

 

  • The Former Things Are Passed Away (Rev 21:4, 2Pet 3:13, Isa 65:17-19)

 

 

 

 

#3.       Death Is Swallowed Up in Victory (1Cor 15:54-57, 1John 3:2, Rom 8:18)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 21:1 (2X). We started this chapter last week, but we did not get very far into it. As I mentioned last week, the main meat listed in the first four verses is contained in these two concepts: the New Jerusalem and the Tabernacle of God. Last week we considered extensively the New Jerusalem. This week I will speak about the Tabernacle of God, which means the dwelling place of God. And as you know, since the definition of Zion is the place where God resides, I chose for the title of the sermon today simply Zion (2X). We read here in Re 21

  • I Heard a Great Voice (Rev 21:1-4, 12:10)

Re 21:1-3  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.                   And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.          And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Re 21:4  And God 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.

John heard a great voice out of heaven. He heard the voice of God, announcing that His tabernacle is with men. Whenever God has an important announcement to make, like at Mount Sinai where He spoke the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, or when Jesus hung on the cross just before He died He cried out with a loud voice “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me”, or when the Lord Jesus appeared to John on the island of Patmos commanding him to write the vision in a scroll, He spoke with a great voice as of a trumpet. In this scroll of Revelation the Lord proclaimed many times with a loud voice His urgent warnings to the human race. He spoke with a loud voice when He warned the human race that Satan was cast out of heaven unto the earth, as we read in Rev 12:10,

Re 12:10  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

The Word of God has been printed, and multiplied, and distributed throughout the entire world, and has been preached to all mankind. No one can claim that he has not heard God’s warnings. No one has an excuse that he was not aware that Christ will come to judge the world. But almost no one will pay attention to God’s words, for there is no fear of God before their eyes. And then we read of God’s announcement that in the life hereafter He will dwell in the midst of His people. We read in Rev 21:3,

#1.       Behold, the Tabernacle of God (Rev 21:3, John 17:21, Rev 7:15)

Re 21:3  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.                  Why is this important? And who are these people?

God made this announcement because He wants us to know that this is the principle and the cause

of the blessedness of the New Jerusalem. With a great voice God stated emphatically the central idea of the New Jerusalem that it is the city where God dwells. The tabernacle of God shall be with men, and the communion between Him and His people shall be perfected. The tabernacle in the OT was just a shadow, or a picture, of God’s fellowship with His people. And God’s fellowship with His people was the result of God’s Covenant of Grace. But in the NH&NE we will see the ultimate perfection in the realization of this covenant. God’s people are now perfectly like Him. They see Him face to face. This is the essence of the blessedness of the city of God. The tabernacle of God with men and the holy city are now identical and co-extensive. This was not so in the OT. There God said that He will dwell in the Holy of Holies in the temple, but His presence did not fill the city. And likewise in the NT time God’s dwelling place is not perfect. God dwells perfectly in Christ, and we dwell in Him by grace through faith. But with us there is still sin and imperfection, for we still live in an unsaved body, and thus our communion with Him is still imperfect. But the new future city, the New Jerusalem, shall be the tabernacle of God, and He shall dwell with men perfectly and completely. He shall dwell in us and we in Him. This brings to mind the prayer of the Lord Jesus in John 17:21 where He prayed for us, and this is an awesome request, saying “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us”. This prayer for all His elect finds its fulfillment in the New Jerusalem where the tabernacle of God is with men. We shall be like Him, and God shall dwell in all of us perfectly. He shall fill us, enlighten us, give us perfect love, and bind us to Himself forever with unbreakable bonds. And we shall know Him, and love Him, and serve Him, and we shall taste His goodness to the full. Please turn a few pages to your left, to Rev 7:15 (2X), where we read of the great multitude, which no man could number, standing before the throne of God and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands. This great multitude is the remnant chosen by grace out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, praising God and the Lamb for all eternity.

Re 7:15  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

Please turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 60:1 (2X). You find the Prophecy of Isaiah almost exactly in the middle of your Bible. When we think of the concepts of the New Jerusalem and the Tabernacle of God, we usually think of the NT. But did you know that God described these concepts already in the OT, for example here in Isaiah? Of a truth it can be said that “The Old is in the New concealed, and the New is in the Old revealed”. This entire chapter 60 is not just flowery poetic language concerning an OT Jerusalem made of bricks and mortar, but this chapter describes the concept of the New Jerusalem as we find it in Rev 21 and 22. God speaks to the people of His new dwelling place when He says,

  • Arise, Shine, For Thy Light Is Come (Isa 60:1-5,11-14,18-22, Eze 37:27)

Isa 60:1 ¶  Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

Isa 60:2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD

shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Isa 60:3  And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Isa 60:4  Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.

Isa 60:5  Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.

You see the contrasts in verse 2? The earth and the people remaining on the earth are under condemnation, but God’s glory shall be seen upon the city of God. Verses 3 to 5 speak of the remnant out of all the nations being gathered to form the perfect city, the Bride of Christ. Drop down to verse 11,

Isa 60:11-12  Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.     For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.

Isa 60:13  The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

Isa 60:14  The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

You see, God continues to address the New Jerusalem, the city of God, as a person, for she is the Bride of Christ. All those who have not served the Bride of Christ shall be utterly wasted. All those who have afflicted the Bride of Christ shall bow themselves down at the soles of the feet of the saints, for the saints shall judge the world together with Christ. And the Bride of Christ is called, “The Zion of the Holy One of Israel”. You see, Zion is the place where God resides. And this verse also gives new meaning to the expression “The Holy One of Israel”. Wherever we see this expression in the OT, “The Holy One of Israel”, we must interpret this now as representing the Lord Jesus Christ. Drop down to v

Isa 60:18  Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.

Isa 60:19  The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.

Isa 60:20  Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

Isa 60:21-22  Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.          A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.

You see, in verses 18-21 God describes the glorious condition of the New Jerusalem, for all eternity In no way would we be able to apply these promises literally to a city on this earth. But God also says,

Eze 37:27  My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

  • They Shall Be My People (Lev 26:3-6,9-13, Gal 2:21, 3:10,11,21)

Please turn to the Prophecy of Leviticus 26, Lev 26:3 (2X). In this chapter of Leviticus God gives us an IF statement. There are many such IF statements in the Bible. Wherever you see an IF statement, God gives us the signs of a power struggle. It is a struggle between the power of God and the power of man. It is a struggle that is nurtured and fed by Satan, for Satan wants us to worship another God. And God wrote the Bible in such a way that we can find plenty of opportunities to rebel against God.

Le 26:3-5,  IF ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;         Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.       And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

Le 26:6  And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.

What did God apparently say here? Paraphrased He said, “IF you keep My commandments, Then I will take care of you. And I will not only take care of you in the material sense, but I will even save your soul, and I will establish My covenant with you, and I will set My tabernacle among you, and ye shall be My people”. Look at verses 9-13, and you will see that this is what God is saying. Drop down to verse 9

Le 26:9-10  For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.           And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.

Le 26:11  And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

Le 26:12  And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Le 26:13  I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.

Here is an IF statement in its full glory. Does this not prove that God rewards those who obey Him with the blessings of salvation? But can you see that this understanding of Lev 26 totally contradicts what God wrote in Gal 2 and 3? There in Gal 2:21 God said, “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”. And in Gal 3:10 God said, “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse”. And in Gal 3:11 God said, “That no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident”. And in Gal 3:21 God said, “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law”. If we find two portions of Scripture contradicting one another, then either God is a liar in one of the two statements, or we may not be interpreting one of these statements correctly. Can God be a liar? Absolutely NOT! Where have we gone wrong in Lev 26? Well, look at the context. Start in the last verse of the previous chapter. We read in Lev 25:55,

Le 25:55  For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Now, it does not mean that every one of the children of Israel brought out of Egypt was a saved person. In fact, God says in Heb 3 that most of them were not saved, and that most of them died in the wilderness in unbelief. But God used that historical event of the exodus out of Egypt as a picture, or as a shadow, of what true salvation is. In other words, paraphrased God says in Lev 25:55, “They belong to Me. I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage. There they were in bondage to sin and Satan, but I redeemed them, and therefore I am their Master and their God. And because I saved them their second nature is that they will keep My commandments”. And thus they will keep the commandments that God has stated in the following verses. We read in Lev 26:1,

Le 26:1-2  Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.               Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

And thus the contradiction has been removed. God’s salvation is a gift of grace, and is not a reward for obeying His commandments. In fact, God’s salvation is a result of God’s covenant with us. Let’s l. at

#2.       An Everlasting Covenant (Gen 17:4-8, Rom 4:13, Gal 3:29, Eph 1:4,7,9,13, Rev 21:3)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 17:4 (2X). We read here about God’s promises to Abraham and God establishing His covenant between Him and Abraham’s seed. Now, the covenant in the Bible is not what many preachers today want you to believe. They say that the “old covenant” is the covenant of the OT and it is the covenant of the law, whereas the “new covenant” is the covenant of the NT and it is the covenant of grace. That is simply not true. Those preachers have tossed out the OT and they are only preaching from the NT. Their doctrine leads to abandonment of the Ten Commandments, which God never rescinded. Let us now return to Abraham. Abraham is the patriarch of the church of God, as it developed throughout the OT and NT times. We read in Gen 17:4,

Ge 17:4 ¶  As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

Ge 17:5-6  Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.                        And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

Ge 17:7 ¶  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

Ge 17:8  And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Let us begin with verse 8. What does it mean that God gave to Abraham and his seed “the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession”? This cannot refer to the physical land of Canaan, for the land of Canaan shall be destroyed on the Last Day. If God is not a liar, then this land of Canaan is only a picture, or a shadow, of the new world that God shall give to Abraham and his seed after the judgment on the Last Day. And that this is so is confirmed by Rom 4:13 where we read, “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith”. You see, Abraham understood that “he should be the heir of the world”. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:4 (2X). And thus, they whom God considers the seed of Abraham are not the physical descendants of Abraham, since most of them remain in unbelief, and thus they cannot be heirs through the righteousness of faith. No, the Seed of Abraham is first of all Christ, and all those who are in Christ. Therefore God says in Gal 3:29, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”. And who are those who are in Christ? God says in Eph 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him (in Christ) before the foundation of the world”. All those chosen to be in Christ from before the foundation of the world were redeemed at the cross (Eph 1:7), were made to hear the true Gospel (Eph 1:9), and responded in faith (Eph 1:13). They are the heirs of the world through the righteousness of faith. And thus the everlasting covenant that God made with Abraham and his seed in Gen 17:7 was already established before the foundation of the world, for God determined before the foundation of the world who would be redeemed at the cross, and who would be given to respond in faith. No one else would respond in faith. And so, God’s promise to Abraham that he would be a father of many nations in Gen 17:4 refers to the remnant chosen by grace out of many nations who would believe in their redemption by Christ as their Savior, and who would believe in the Sovereign God of salvation who has saved them by grace through faith. Please turn again to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 21:3 (2X). Therefore these who are represented by the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ, the Tabernacle of God, are the remnant chosen by grace out of many nations. None of us deserves this great salvation, not even Abraham, not even Paul, for we all were by nature children of wrath, worshippers of idols, deserving Hell for all our sins, even Abraham, and even Paul. But God is gracious, and God delights in mercy.

Re 21:3  Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.                      Then we read in Rev 21:4,

  • The Former Things Are Passed Away (Rev 21:4, 2Pet 3:13, Isa 65:17-19)

Re 21:4  And God 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.

Why do we read this here? Is this not redundant? God said already that He will create a NH&NE “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2Pet 3:13). This means that there will be no more crying, and no more death and no more pain. Why does God bring it up again? Well, we are here in Rev 21 wherein God gives us a description of the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ, the dwelling place of God, which inhabits the NH&NE. But this is a totally different universe, perhaps also a totally different dimension, and this new universe cannot be described in terms that are understandable in the present universe. And so, God describes it to us in the way of contrasts. Effectually we are told, “Over there things are not as they are here and now”. First of all, all the pain and sorrows that were an integral part of the life of the saints shall be erased from our memories. That is the meaning of “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes”. Just the remembrance of the flames, and the burnings at the stake, would bring tears to our eyes, and to the eyes of our fellow saints when we would tell them. But God decreed that there shall be no more tears in His presence. Likewise, “there shall be no more death”. Death came into the world through sin. But in the NH&NE there will be no more sin, and thus death shall be non-existent. Not only shall there be no more death among God’s people, but death shall also be excluded from all the new creation around us, for we may not be reminded of something that was the result of sin. “Neither sorrow”, where the word “sorrow” actually has the meaning of “mourning”, in other words “mourning for sins”. Quite opposite to our present life, we shall not remember the sins we have committed, and therefore we shall not be able to mourn for the sins that caused our Lord of glory so much suffering and pain. “Nor crying” is the Greek word for a raven’s outcry when he is struck. In the case of people it signifies the outcry in the case of controversy. There will be no more controversy in the life hereafter, quite opposite to our present life. There is outcry in our family relationships because of the church we are attending. This is an integral part of God’s plan for our life on this earth, but it will not exist in the life hereafter. Please turn to the prophecy of Isaiah again, Isa 65:17 (2X). God has many things to say about the New Jerusalem and about the NH&NE in this scroll of Isaiah. We have already seen this in Isa 60. But again in Isa 65 and 66 God introduces many things concerning the end times. In Isa 65:17 to the end of the chapter God speaks about the NH&NE. God says in Isa 65:17,

Isa 65:17-19       For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.          But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.           And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

God will rejoice in the New Jerusalem, and God will create a people who shall have joy forever. The voice of weeping and the voice of pain shall be no more heard in the New Jerusalem. But this can only come to pass when the new creation is a place wherein dwelleth only righteousness. Please turn in your Bibles to the first Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 15:54 (2X). God says here:

#3.       Death Is Swallowed Up in Victory (1Cor 15:54-57, 1John 3:2, Rom 8:18)

This chapter of 1Cor is completely dedicated to the resurrection of the body. The resurrection of the soul is discussed throughout the Bible. Salvation occurs first of all in the resurrection of the soul. But what about the body? The body is still unsaved, it is inclined to sin, it dies and it is put in a grave. But that is not the end. We have read in Rev 21 about the blessings of the saints in the NH&NE. The saints are present as whole personalities, with body and soul. And so, God gives us a chapter where we can find that our bodies shall also experience a resurrection. Yes, God shall not abandon our bodies that have died and have rotted away. God shall take the elements that have made up our bodies, and God shall transform this fragile and sinful body into a new glorified body that will be able to stand in the presence of God. What will this new body look like? We do not know, and if we are told we would not understand it either, because these are bodies of a different universe. God said in this chapter that as different a plant is from the seed, so shall the new glorified body be different from the body that went into the grave. But like the NH&NE God describes it to us by way of contrasts. He says in 1Cor 15:54,

1Co 15:54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

1Co 15:55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

1Co 15:56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

1Co 15:57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this life we have a corruptible body. It can be cut, and it can be hurt, and it can be eaten by bacteria or viruses, or it can be eaten by worms and die. But in the life hereafter we have a body that cannot be damaged by anyone, or by anything, for it will be an incorruptible body. It will be an invincible body. Moreover, we will receive an immortal body that will remain throughout eternity. Even saved little children shall receive a new body that will be fully mature, like our bodies, for God’s gift to them is just like it is to us, purely by grace. God’s gift of salvation of our soul as well as His gift of the resurrection of our body was purchased by Christ on the cross and at His resurrection. Before Christ died He shouted “It is finished”. By this He indicated that His suffering for the washing of our souls was finished. Then He died, and two days later He ascended from the tomb, again a full personality. By this action God indicated that our sins were fully paid, for Christ did not remain in Hell. He was raised in the same body that was put in the tomb two days earlier, but by this action God also guaranteed that Christ would receive His glorified body. Forty days later when He ascended into heaven Christ received His glorified body, and this guaranteed that we also shall receive our glorified body, “for we shall be like Him”. God says in 1John 3:2,

1Jo 3:2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

God wrote this to our comfort. In this life we may be pushed to the edge of despair, but God keeps this image of our future life before our eyes to give us hope. And we know “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”, therefore we do not lose heart (Rom 8:18). We shall rejoice in Zion.

Thanks be to God, which giveth us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

 

AMEN.

Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.