The Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 19, 2019
This is Our Permanent Home!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (NIV1984)
Dear fellow worshipers of our living Lord and Savior,
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Are you familiar with the song “Temporary Home” by Carrie Underwood? Even though I haven’t heard that song on the radio for quite some time, I love that song. I think the message of that song very touching. I think the message of that song ties in very well with a comforting truth of Scripture. The song consists of three stanzas. The first stanza focuses on a little six-year-old boy as he is being brought to what seems to be yet another foster home. The second stanza centers on a young mom and her little daughter as they settle in for the night at a shelter. The third stanza talks about an old man in a hospital bed surrounded by the people he loves. The refrain that ties each of these scenes together, the refrain that I feel is very touching, the refrain which I believe expresses a central truth of Scripture quite well, contains these words: “This is our temporary home. It’s not where we belong. Windows and rooms that we’re passin’ through. This is just a stop on the way to where we’re going. I’m not afraid because I know this is our Temporary Home.”
If you have not experienced this truth on a personal level, my friends, you will. No matter how long you have lived in the house that you call home— it is only temporary. No matter how big or how small your home may be— it is only temporary. No matter whether your home is in a nice safe community with all the amenities anyone could want or in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe walking around by yourself— it is only temporary.
My goal this morning, my friends, is two-fold. First, if the good Lord has blessed you with a safe, secure and stable life here on this earth, my goal is to show you how this portion of God’s holy Word reminds you that no matter how many blessings you enjoy now— the best is yet to come! On the other hand, if for whatever reason the good Lord has allowed difficulties and hardships to come into your life, my goal is to show you how this portion of God’s holy Word assures you that one day this too shall pass and yes, the best is yet to come! With those two goals in mind, let’s see how this text paints an absolutely awesome picture for us. The title of this picture is: This Is Our Permanent Home. As we study this picture we’ll address three questions. The first question is, “Where is our permanent home?” The second question is, “Who will live in this permanent home?” The final question is, “What will our life be like when we get to our permanent home?”
Where is our permanent home? The Holy Spirit addressed that question when He led John to write these words of our text, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” When I read these passages of Scripture together with other portions of Scripture that we’ll look at in just a minute, it is clear to me that Scripture teaches that after all the events that will take place on Judgment Day are over, our new permanent home will be right here on a new permanent earth. Let me explain to you why I believe that.
When John says that he saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” I automatically think of what the Holy Spirit revealed to us through the apostle Peter. In 2 Peter chapter three we are told that on the “day of the Lord,” which is the day that the risen Christ returns to this earth in all of His power and majesty and glory, this world as we know it will be “destroyed (that is, either annihilated or purified) by fire.” Peter then goes on to tell us, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
Even though time as we know it will no longer exist, here is how I see the events of Judgment Day unfolding: The heavens will be opened and the risen Christ returns to this earth as the Judge of the living and the dead (Matthew 25:31); all the dead will be raised from their graves with the “dead in Christ” (that is, those who died believing in Jesus as their Savior) being granted the privilege of rising first (I Thessalonians 4:16); all the believers who are still alive when Jesus returns will be “changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” (I Corinthians 15:51-51; Philippians 3:20-21); the entire human race will be separated into two groups, believers and unbelievers, their eternal judgment will be publicly announced and all the unbelievers will be confined to hell along with the devil and all the evil angels (Matthew 25:31-46); all the believers will be “caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17); the earth as we know it will be purified by fire, which means that the dross of sin will be burned away and all of God’s Creation will be restored to the way God intended it to be all along— absolutely perfect (Genesis 1:31; Romans 8:18-21, 2 Peter 3:10-13); the children of God will “inherit” the “new heaven and the new earth” as our new permanent home— “the home of righteousness”! (See Matthew 5:5) Imagine the entire world completely free from all the effects of sin. Imagine a world where the devil and temptation no longer exist. Imagine the perfection of the Garden of Eden on a world-wide scale. That’s our new permanent home on our new permanent earth!
While I personally find this whole subject completely fascinating, since we do have more Scripture before us this morning let’s turn to our second question, “Who will live in this new permanent home?” The Holy Spirit addressed this question when He led John to write in our text, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’”
Who will live in our new permanent home? To me the Scriptural answer to that question is very simple and very clear. Since the Bible equates the picture of “a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband” with the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, (See Ephesians 5:25-27; Hosea 2:16-20; Revelation 19:7-8), and since the Bible clearly teaches that when Jesus returns to this earth He will bring with Him all His “holy ones,” that is, all the saints, all of our loved ones who are now living with Jesus in heaven (I Thessalonians 3:13; 4:14) to me it is clear that the Bible teaches that all Christians, that is, everyone who believes in Jesus as their only Savior from sin (Pointing to the cross), will live in the new permanent home on the new permanent earth— forever. And then, in a way that goes far beyond our comprehension, John tells us that the Triune God Himself will live with us in this new permanent home! Every time I try to picture this truth in my mind, I think of Genesis 3:8. There we are told that in the Garden of Eden the Lord God used to “walk in the garden in the cool of the day.” Imagine what that will be like, my friends! The Lord God Himself will dwell among us, His people. We will live with the one and holy living God. We will see Him face-to-face. We will praise Him each and every day. We will talk with Him any time we want! Now that’s something to look forward to, isn’t it!
Our final question for today is, “What will our life be like when we get to this new permanent home?” The Holy Spirit addressed this question when He led John to write in our text, “He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
For the Christians who first heard these words, Christians who were being persecuted for their faith in Jesus, these words were undoubtedly a tremendous source of comfort! Likewise, for Christians today who are still being persecuted or ridiculed for their faith, for Christians who are suffering from the difficulties of old age or the effects of illness and disease, for Christians who are “mourning” or “crying” for any reason or in “pain” of any kind— these words are still a tremendous source of comfort! Why? Because in our new permanent home God Himself will wipe away every single tear from our eyes. In our new permanent home God Himself will banish forever anything and everything that could possibly cause us to suffer or fill us with sadness. In our new permanent home the One who suffered and died on the cross to take away our sins (Pointing to the cross), the One who physically rose from the dead to openly proclaim that He is the Victor over sin, death and the devil, the One who now rightfully sits on the throne of God has promised— yes, He has promised— to make everything “new.” Think about it, my friends. In your new permanent home you will enjoy a “new” life, a glorious life, a perfect life, a life that overflows with nothing but joy and happiness— forever! This glorious truth enables us to say along with Paul, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). That’s what our new life will be like in our new permanent home!
Let’s go back for a moment to the two goals I mentioned earlier. If in His grace the good Lord has indeed blessed you with a safe, secure and stable life here on this earth, I encourage you to do two things. First, I encourage you to daily thank the Lord for His amazing grace to you. He is the reason you have all the blessings you are enjoying. (James 1:17) Secondly, I encourage you to be careful that you don’t get so wrapped up in the blessings of this world that you lose sight of the fact that the best is yet to come. (1 John 2:15-17) On the other hand, if for reasons unknown to you the good Lord has allowed difficulties and hardships to enter into your life, I encourage you to do two things. First, I encourage you to remember that like everything else in this world your difficulties and your hardships are only temporary. They are like a tiny little “dot” on the “timeline” of eternity! The best is yet to come! Secondly, I encourage you to trust the God who loves you so very much that He sent His very own Son into this world to live and to die and to rise again for you. Trust that He is in control of all things. Trust that He knows what He is doing. Trust that He will fulfill His promise and make all things work together for your eternal good.
My prayer this morning then, my friends, is quite simple. I pray that every single time you pull into your driveway, every single time you reach for the door handle and enter into the house that you call home that you will remember that no matter how long you have lived in that home, no matter how big or how small your home may be, no matter whether your home is in a nice safe community with all the amenities anyone could want or in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe walking around by yourself— remember how the words of this refrain apply to you, “This is my temporary home. It’s not where I belong. Windows and rooms that I’m passin’ through. This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going. I’m not afraid because I know this is my Temporary Home.” I also pray that every now and then you will go back and rejoice in the picture that the Holy Spirit paints for you in this portion of Revelation chapter twenty-one. Keep your eyes focused on what your Savior God has promised to you so that you will always be able to lift up your eyes beyond the horizon of this world, peer into eternity and confidently say, “This is my permanent home!”
To God be the glory!