Theme: “The Lord Is There”
In these lessons we focus on heaven as the place where God and his redeemed people will dwell forever.
Scripture: Revelation 21
When I read these verses that talk about God being in this city forever, I think to something else that Ezekiel wrote about. Ezekiel, as I pointed out at the very end of his prophecy, gives that revelation of the new name for Jerusalem, “the Lord is there.” But that itself makes me think of something that occurs earlier in his book. In chapter 10 you have what is perhaps the lowest and most discouraging point in the entire prophecy. Ezekiel is standing on a height, perhaps the Mount of Olives, looking out over the city towards the west. And as he looks, it’s nighttime, and God gives him a vision of what’s happening in the city.
He sees the cherubim and the wheels beneath the cherubim, and he also sees the shekinah glory of God. He describes how, as he looks down on that city in the darkness of the Judean night, he sees the cherubim and the wheels rise up from the holy of holies, and the shekinah cloud of God that represents the presence of God moves with the cherubim out from the holy of holies into the holy place. And he describes how the cloud fills the holy place and then goes out of the holy place and into the inner courtyard. After this he sees that cloud move from there and into the outer courtyard. From here the shekinah cloud goes away from the temple, down through the eastern gate that led to the valley of Kidron and on up the mountain to heaven. And the glory of God left the city. Finally, when you come to the end of the prophecy, Ezekiel speaks of the new Jerusalem. He says that in that city, now named “The Lord is there,” the glory has returned, and will never depart again.
Revelation 21 ends with these words, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (v. 27). This is because the holy God does not co-exist with sin or sinful men. When the residents of the earthly Jerusalem sinned and refused to repent and seek God’s face in order that they might be healed, God left the city. But in this new city, where God has come to dwell forever with His people, the conclusion is not going to be as it was in Jerusalem of old. God will stay, and no impure person will ever enter it.
The appearance of this city of God, the new Jerusalem, is in a certain sense the culminating point of the entire Bible. This is the destiny for which we were created. But unless, by the work of Christ, you are a new creature, you can take it on the authority of the Word of God that you will never enter that city. So we need to search our hearts. We need to make our calling and election sure. We need to say: “Lord Jesus Christ, am I really yours? Have you really changed me? Have I been made a new creature? Is there that within me which is destined for that city, the new Jerusalem, and an eternity of fellowship with you, or am I only playing that religion?” If you’re only playing, the best thing I can say is that there is still hope. Revelation 22 goes on to say, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” You know where that gift can be found. It’s found in Christ. It’s found nowhere else. He is the water of life. He is the bread of life. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the Lamb. And if you want to dwell in that city with God’s people, you must come to Him.
What does Dr. Boice conclude is the lowest point in Ezekiel’s prophecy?
Why can the appearance of this city be said to be the culminating point of the entire Bible?
Application: Knowing that nothing impure can abide in the new Jerusalem, what is present in your own life now that is incompatible with your citizenship in this heavenly city?
For Further Study: To consider some other themes that characterize heaven, download for free and listen to a message by James Boice on John 14:3, entitled, “Heaven.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)