Heaven is the expected conclusion to the life of faith. The path to heaven is fragranced with the presence and provision of the God of heaven. As pilgrims heavenward, the one to whom we go is the one who goes with us. We drink of the well of the living waters of Christ, as he promised to the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. We hear His word of revelation and enjoy an ongoing relationship with the Saviour day by day. When heaven finally comes the summit is to the believer no surprise. With every step upward we feel the strain in our muscles, the tension in our tendons, the cool dew condensing on our hair, the air becoming thinner and the sun a little brighter. Heaven is the conclusion to a life of faith. We know the way because we know the person.
From a series of messages on the theme of "Tell me There's a Heaven" given at Faskally Families Week in 2022 by Dr J Stewart Gillespie
Revelation chapter 8 verses 1 to 5, the half hour silence in heaven at the opening of the 7th seal and prior to the sounding of the 7th trumpet Heaven, the place of angelic adoration, worship and singing by the redeemed and the sound of eternal praise comes to a total silence. The sound track of heaven is silenced for half an hour. This deadly silence separates chapters 8 and 9 of Revelation from all that precedes. Here are a series of judgments about to be poured out upon the earth which has qualitatively and quantitatively distinct from all that precede them. These judgments unleash not only death and judgment from the sphere of nature, as did the losing of the 7 seals but these trumpets announce, directly and deliberately the unleashing of all the power of heaven (Revelation chapter 8) and of hell (Revelation chapter 9). Destruction now will be on a scale hitherto unrealised and unwitnessed. Here also is 30 minutes of Divine Grace from a God who is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance even as late on as Revelation 16:9, this remains the case. It is during these 30 minutes of silence that heaven is punctuated with prayers past ascended and long forgotten by those who once prayed for justice, judgment and vengeance. The prayers of God's people are not forgotten. The prayers of God's people do not fall to the ground unheard and unnoticed keep praying. From a message preached at Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie on Revelation chapter 8 vs 1 to 5 - The Silence of the Lamb Part of a verse by exposition of the book of Revelation, free to download audio and video.
For the martyred multitude of Revelation chapter 7, heaven was worth it and heaven came as no surprise. With every strain of the sinews, every stretch of their muscle fibres and with each tensing of the tendons, this great multitude of God's people felt they were stepping upwards, higher and higher to the heavens. Reaching the summit came as no surprise. The clouds seemed closer with every step, the atmosphere of earth thinning and the sun a little brighter. Their journey had been one of progressing a little higher day by day. Along that upward path they had known the:
The Taste of the Place
The Touch of a Person
Heaven was reached by a palm tree paved path from the:
Palms of the oasis of Elim bringing refreshment from the wells of God's provision for His people on their earthly journey
Palms of reflection as His people dwelt annually under the booths of palm leaves, reminding them of their pilgrim character on earth
Palms of revelation under the palm tree of Deborah
Palms of relationship adorning the temple
Each step of the pilgrim journey home had a taste of the place, a fragrance of heaven.
That journey to the dwelling place of the Lamb was likewise assured by the presence and provision of the Shepherd along the path. The one who had lead them by the still waters and who had made them lie down in green pastures was the same one who had lead them to the source of that supply. Psalm 23 with its closing promise of dwelling in the House of the Lord forever, is the doorway into the eternal vista of Revelation chapter 7. Still waters in the valley of Psalm 23 find the eternal and abundant source in the "living fountains of water" of Revelation chapter 7. In this eternal abode hearts are fully satisfied (verse 16) with Christ.
It is at the conclusion of the journey for God's people, faithful martyrs for Jesus Christ, men and women who have come through persecution, suffering and death that we are finally able to weigh up the worth and value of all that has transpired before the eternal. Has earth been worth it? Has life been fare? Have the means been worth the end? Can we make sense of life now in the light of forever? The reflection and response of those martyred for Jesus is a resounding volley of praise and worship (verse 12); an emphatic 'yes'. Perhaps like them it would be wise for us to reserve judgment and assessment on our own trials and difficulties until finally we see life in the light of the Lamb, time from the perspective of forever.
A message preached in our systematic series of studies in the book of Revelation at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.
Revelation chapter 7 verse 12 is a high point of praise and worship in the book of Revelation. It is perhaps all the more surprising that this praise comes from the lips of and in the presence of those who have come through the most extreme of experiences of persecution, death and martyrdom. From the embers of suffering comes a choir of praise and worship. Such praise is not naïve nor short sighted but rather founded on an appreciation of the power and wisdom of their God.
Part of our ongoing series in the book of Revelation, a practical and devotional exposition of John's Apocalypse.
Our 3rd message in our series of studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is heaven like?
So far for the student of the Bible our studies of heaven in the book of Revelation has yielded few surprises!
Heaven we can see:
Has a door (Rev 4:1) - with this we are familiar from John 10:9 - we know the door; "I am the door"
There is a voice (Rev 4:1) - a voice as a trumpet, the same voice John heard in Revelation chapter 1. In fact the first voice John heard in heaven was the last voice he heard upon earth - the voice of Jesus.
There is a throne (Rev 4:2) - a throne we know well of even from the Lord's prayer we are well aware that heaven is the domain of God's rule; "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Upon that throne there reigns the Son (Rev 4:3) - symbolised by the Jasper and the Sardine stone. An explanation of this is given in the video above.
There is a rainbow - the symbol of a covenant keeping God from Genesis chapter 9
There is a crystal sea - the echo of which we find in the temple of Solomon. Here there is no need for cleansing. Purity and holiness is a condition for entering into heaven, nothing that defiles and can enter.
For those who miss the door of heaven and the provision of the cross work of Jesus Christ, heaven is a tragedy!
Here in Revelation chapter 4 we glimpse the character of God in the 4 living creatures.
In character God is:
Lion like - sovereign, powerful and in control - ordering the world and the lives of all that are in it, ordering each of the circumstances of our life.
Calf like - He is the one who has made the provision for sacrifice and reconciliation, He has made the sacrifice for the sinner. Six times in the New Testament we will read of the calf. Three times it is slaughtered in Luke chapter 15 for the prodigal son and twice it is used in reconciliation and sacrifice in Hebrews.
Face of a Man - He is the God who became man, incarnate, no one has seen God at any time, the only begotten who is in the bosom of the Father He has declared Him.
Eagle like - aerial, air born and soaring as the Spirit of God does (cf John chp 3). He is the one who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. He is the Spirit who reveals Christ and sanctifies the believer.
What is heaven like?
For those who never reach it heaven is tragic.
It is the place we do not reach but ought to have reached for the God of heaven was active in revealing Himself and seeking us all of our life; revealing Himself behind the scenes, sovereign as the lion, providing for teh salvation of teh sinner as the calf, incarnate as Jesus Christ and active as the Spirit of God.
Part 1 of our studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is Heaven Like?
Of Thrones and Rainbows
It's been a long journey but finally we have got there: heaven! The mysterious object of human conjecture, spoken of little even in the Bible. Perhaps the greatest mystery of all concerning this, the dwelling place of God lies in the fact that it isn't that mysterious after all!
There is a door to heaven (Rev 4:1), we already knew about that from the words of the Lord Jesus; "I am the door, by me if any man enter in He shall be saved."
There is a voice, a voice familiar, a voice as a trumpet we have already heard in chapter 1. This is the voice of Jesus. The first voice John hears in heaven is the last voice he heard on earth! This is of necessity true for us all. Entrance is by the door and called by the voice of Jesus, the same voice who called us on this side of the eternal (John 10:3-4).
Whilst heaven is to us a place unfamiliar, our relationship with heaven is in some aspects not so different from our relationship with this world. Here upon earth we are ignorant of the familiar, understanding little of what lies behind the commonplace. Heaven is a place of the unfamiliar. It is a great paradox of Revelation that as we begin to understand the unfamiliar, that is heaven, light is shed on the familiar of earth. What we learn from heaven explains ever so much of what lies behind the reality of earth.
Heaven is the throne room of God; He reigns, He is in control, there is a plan and a purpose and meaning to life and creation, He brings to fulfilment those 300 ancient prophecies concerning Jesus. He moves empires and kingdoms, He orders and ordains the details of our life.
His throne is surrounded by the emblem of covenant promise; the rainbow. It is the ordered covenant keeping character of God that underpins the laws physical and spiritual behind the universe. We can no more break the laws of gravity and magnetism than we can the spiritual laws of reaping and sowing. He is reliable in the physical universe. He is reliable in the spiritual; His salvation is forever; "I give unto my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish."
The identity of the throne sitter seems obscured by two stones; the Jasper and the Sardine stone; yet turn them over and read the names written from the days of Exodus 28. These are the stones found upon the breast plate of the High Priest and containing inscribed within them the names of Jacobs sons; Benjamin, the son of my right hand, also named by his mother Rachael; Benoni and the Sardine stone of Reuben. The one upon the throne is the Son of His mother's sorrow, (Benoni) the Son of His Father's right hand; (Benjamin) can you 'behold a Son' (Reuben)?