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Sunday, October 1st, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Revelation 21

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-8

  1. Intro:
    1. Comic Book Knowledge? - Metropolis is a fictional city that appears in comic books published by DC Comics, and is the home of ______? (Superman).
      1. Metropolis means – a very large city, often the capital or chief urban center of a country, state, or region. Also, the center or principal place for a particular activity.
      2. So what does this Metropolis look like? What is at its center? Who are its citizens? What are their privileges? Of what blessings are they assured?
    2. Man has always sought the ideal city or the ideal state!
      1. Utopia is a name for the perfect society or environment. - Where everyone lives in harmony, and everything is for the best!
      2. Problem is Utopia literally means “no-place”, or “a place that does not exist.” [Greek ou “not” + topos “place”]
      3. So Heaven is not Utopian, but instead a real place!
    3. Finally, the redeemed dwell w/their God in perfect Unity!
      1. Revelation, a hope to hold on to.
    4. One asked, “How might I determine the official church view of Heaven & Hell?” The response came back…“DIE”!
      1. These last 2 chapters in revelation give basically the “only details” on heaven in the Bible!
      2. Most O.T. prophecies speak of the Mill. blessings, rest, & peace.
    5. John Newton(Amazing Grace) said there are 3 wonders in heaven: [1] Seeing those who you didn’t expect to see. [2] Missing people you did expect to see. [3] To find yourself there!
    6. We’ve been asked to “Imagine there’s no heaven”.
      1. Opening line of John Lennon’s best-known song as a solo artist.
      2. They were a bold challenge for people to stop using religion, national pride, personal wealth, or anything else to generate unnecessary dissension.
      3. Listen to his dream of more closeness among the citizens of the world. “The brotherhood of man”, “the world will be as one.”
        1. Read song lyrics.
      4. No John (not Lennon) says “Imagine with meThere is a heaven, because there is!
    1. SEE! (1,2)
      1. Over 50 x’s told “to see” in Rev. – here is the last vision.
      2. And what a bright vision it is!
    2. New – think of the emotions that come with “New” – a new car, a new house, a new baby, a new job, or whatever.
      1. They evoke a sense of hope, wonder, & a fresh break from the past! (Idiot’s Guide to the Book of Revelation; Pg.167)
    3. For believers the future means “all things new”; for those who reject Christ it means “the same old sins for all eternity”(8).
    4. The Story of Scripture comes “full circle”. [Paradise Lost is Paradise Restored!]
    5. Human history started with a garden & ends with a city!
    6. In the beg God created heaven & earth(Gen.1:1); I saw a new heaven & earth(21:1)
    7. The darkness he called night(Gen.1:5); there shall be no night there(21:25)
    8. God made 2 great lights(Gen.1:16); the city had no need of the sun or moon(21:23)
    9. In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die(Gen.2:17); be no more death(21:4)
    10. Satan appears as deceiver(Gen.3:1); Stan disappears forever(20:10)
    11. Walk of God w/man interrupted(Gen.3:8-10); Walk of God w/man resumed(21:3)
    12. Initial triumph of the serpent(Gen.3:13); Ultimate triumph of the Lamb(22:3)
    13. I will greatly multiply your sorrow(Gen.3:16); no more sorrow(21:4)
    14. Cursed is the ground for your sake(Gen.3:17); no more curse(22:3)
    15. Mans dominion broken(Gen.3:19); Mans dominion broken restored(22:5)
    16. 1st paradise closed(Gen.3:23); New paradise opened(21:25)
    17. Access to the tree of life disinherited(Gen.3:24); Access to the tree reinstated (22:14)
    18. Driven from God’s presence(Gen.3:24); they shall see His face(22:4)
    19. (1) Read - Is.65:17-19 [700 years earlier Isaiah saw God one day doing this…]
      1. 2 Pet.3:12,13 “the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
    20. No more Sea – the sea is a barrier to the different Landmasses?
      1. John’s Island he was on(Patmos) was like a prison wall.
      2. What’s our sea for? - It covers 70% of the earth’s surface. Average depth is 2.3 miles deep.
        1. If earth was perfectly spherical, water would cover the entire earth ½ mile deep.
      3. The salty brine of the ocean purges, cleanses, & preserves our planet, making it fit to live on. {It is a continuous cycle of “cleansing & renewal”}
    21. (2) New city – the final great city!
      1. Babylon the great in which all the evil is concentrated into one center.
      2. This city is in contrast(really w/all cities i.e. crime/corruption) for it is “holy”.
      3. It has been long called the Holy City but finally deserving the title.
        1. It was just called Sodom! (11:8)
        2. But now it is ready for God to live among His people!
      4. New Jerusalem God builds Himself. (Jn.14)
      5. The author of Hebrews was looking for the city to come(13:14).
      6. The End of the World as we define it, is actually the starting point for something completely new & better.
    22. Her Husband is pleased! - Is. 62:5 “And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.”
      1. Read #640 (B.P.) Blind young man/ seeing bride.
    23. HEAR! (3-8)
    24. (3) This is it…if I could only keep one Scripture in Revelation this would be it!
      1. Gods whole purpose is “to be with His people”…& it’s now achieved.
    25. “The most important Thing about heavenly city is not the absence of sin, but the Presence of God in all His glory!”
      1. Immanuel for good!…God with us for good!”
      2. This is eternal life – Jn.17:3-5.
      3. God made man to be with Him & to enjoy fellowship together.
    26. (4) Wipe away every tear – compassion of God!
      1. Ps.56:8 “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle(wine skin).” (Lachrymatory- Lack/RA/matory)
    27. Death, Sorrow, Crying banished isn’t this what we’re all waiting for?
    28. Pain - Physical pain; Emotional pain; Relational pain; Spiritual pain.
      1. No longer a pinch of pain, nor a speck of suffering.
      2. No more Death(but Life forevermore); No more Sorrow(but Joy); No more Crying(but Laughter); No more Pain(but Pleasure)!
    29. (6) When the best of the world’s pleasures leave us thirsting for true satisfaction & inner peace, this book beckons us to come “take the water of life w/o cost”(22:17).
      1. So, one prerequisite, Be Thirsty!
      2. On earth nothing satisfies you! Not wealth, fame, pleasure, possessions!
      3. Only one thing can quench the deep thirst of the soul, & that’s God Himself!!! [to the thirsty God meets their needs!]
    30. Alpha & omega – of the Father(Rev.1:8; 21:6); & of the Son(22:13).
      1. Hebrew word for truth is ahmeth(תמֶאֱ) {starts w/Aleph - ends w/Tav}
      2. Some scholars think the Greek is going back to this origin.
    31. (8) Well, not everyone makes the cut!
    32. These 3 Attitudes are the contrast of the over comers of John’s churches.
      1. They have not overcome the world system but embraced it.
    33. The Cowardly - Fearful, afraid to confess Christ, to be in the minority or on the unpopular side!
    34. The Unbelieving - Willfully refused to believe w/their hearts.
    35. The Abominable - They love the stench of there own sins. They feed there minds w/vile books, movies, music, vile speech, & a vile lifestyle!
    36. End:
    37. The Book of Revelation is to bring hope near, to spark our imagination, & make the vision real!
    38. Talmud, “This world is only the vestibule to another; you must prepare yourself in the vestibule so that you may enter the banquet hall.” [Altar boy, vestibule]
      1. Vestibule “a small room between an outer door and the main part of a building.”
      2. Are you dressed? with His robes of righteousness?
    39. Do you have Reservations: 1 Pet.1:4 “…an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”

Verses 9-27

  1. Intro:
    1. "If the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what do you think the right side will be like?"
    2. Heaven! - Its beauties & blessings beyond human words to describe or explain.
      1. The focus isn’t the absence of sin, but the presence of God in all His glory!
      2. I go to prepare a place for you” is the best medicine for a broken heart, & the best foundation for wavering feet. (Warren Wiersbe; With the Word.)
    3. As Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler of the 13th century, lay dying, he was urged by his detractors to recant—to withdraw the stories he had told about China and the lands of the Far East. But he refused, saying, “I have not told half of what I saw.” [I think the same for John here!]
  2. LOOKING FOR A CITY! (9-10)
    2. The City descends like a bride descending down the aisle.
    3. LOOKING FOR A CITY! (10)
    4. Read Heb.11:8-10 [Abraham was “on journey”; like Christ in Lk.13:33 “I must journey today, tomorrow, & the day following.”]
      1. This is THAT City!
      2. His journey was a walk of faith(not sight)!
      3. Seeing” is not faith, but reasoning!
      4. Ex: In the old days when you crossed the Atlantic by ship there was obviously no marked path. You couldn’t see the shore after a time. Yet, each day the captain would mark the progress on a chart, as if he was following a giant chalk line across the water. When you came w/in sight of the land on the other side of the Atlantic, you knew exactly where you were, as if U had been able to see it from 3000m away.
        1. What did the captain do? He simply plotted the course every day by looking to the sky & determining his course by the sun & stars. He used heavenly lights, not earthly ones!
        2. Genuine faith looks up & sails, by using God’s great Son!
        3. It never travels by seeing the shoreline, earthly lighthouses, nor paths along the way.
      5. Welcome to Abraham’s City!
      6. David said in Ps.39:12 “For I am a stranger with You, A sojourner, as all my fathers were.” [Note “with you” not “to you”!]
      7. We are spiritual immigrants (somebody who has come to a country and settled there).
      8. We are only passing through!
      9. An Anonymous writer wrote about an American tourist’s visit to the 19th century Polish rabbi, Hofetz Chaim: Astonished to see that the rabbi’s home was only a simple room filled with books, plus a table and a bench, the tourist asked: “Rabbi, where is your furniture?” “Where is yours?” replied the rabbi. “Mine?” asked the puzzled American. “But I’m a visitor here. I’m only passing through.” “So am I,” said Hofetz Chaim.
    6. We talked about glory on Sunday. Glory to God in the highest.
  3. PEARLY GATES! (12-21)
    1. HEAVEN’S GATES! (12,13)
    2. Heaven's Gate was the name of a UFO religion.
      1. The cult's end(1997) coinciding with the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp
      2. Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide so that their souls could take a ride on a spaceship that they believed was hiding behind the comet.
      3. But, here we have the REAL Heaven’s Gates!
    3. These gates are also described at the end of Ezek.48:30-35 w/more detail.
      1. On each is inscribed the name of each one of the 12 tribes.
      2. This shows God’s faithfulness to the promises which He made at the dawn of history to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob re: their descendants.
    4. THE 12 FOUNDATIONS! (14)
    5. Each layer consists of a different precious stone.
      1. Which each provide a different color (blue, green, red, white, yellow, purple, & probably more!)
    6. 12 tribes; here 12 apostles – Together, yet still distinct. {I thought the 2 were one?}
      1. Examples: Like 2 people getting married.
    7. THE MEASUREMENTS! (15-17)
    8. (16) 1200 furlongs – about 1400 miles.
      1. The highest skyscrapers are only 1,500 feet high.
      2. Our space satellites orbit earth 300 to 600 miles above the surface of the earth. [we are talking 1500 MILES high]
      3. Henry Morris said, it would be like the Moon cubed.
    9. Cube or pyramid? – The most Holy place in the Tabernacle & Temple was a cube!
    10. (17) 144 cubits – the wall was 200’ thick! (yet clear/transparent)
    11. THE CONSTRUCTION! (18-20)
    12. (18) Pure gold, like clear glass - There is nothing not genuine, nothing not transparent.
    13. Transparent – Thus, wherever the Lamb is in the City you will see him!
    14. (19,20) The Gems – We are not sure exactly what he 1st century equivalent of some of these precious stones were, yet it is clear a great variety existed.
      1. Note the absence of diamonds in the city? – No problem, they weren’t known as gems in the 1st century. In fact, they didn’t start popping up in European jewelry until about 1,200 years later.
    15. In construction around the world you often use what is plentiful, thus inexpensive.
      1. I was surprised in India - Much Marble & Teak.
      2. In contrast, the New Jerusalem is constructed from precious & splendid materials.
        1. Transparent gold paving the streets, immense pearls are the gates, Jasper for the walls!
    16. THE PEARLY GATES! (21)
    17. Wow…There really are pearly gates!
    18. Each gate…one pearl! – I guess the oysters in heaven have been super-sized.
    19. Q: Why do you think pearls? Well, what’s the history of pearls?
      1. Humanly speaking it is the story of suffering!
      2. Pearls are formed by the intrusion of some foreign substance.
      3. [Not sand, usually a biological intruder, a parasite organism, like drilling worm]
      4. This becomes the source of irritation, suffering, & pain.
      5. Consequently the oyster responds to the irritation by producing Nacre/or Mother of Pearl (a combo of calcium and protein) – thus eventually a pearl is formed.
      6. So too, the blood of Christ continues to cover usover & over…with a special glory, all the way to heaven. Ultimately turning us into a glistening jewel of delight!
    20. The shining gates of the New Jerusalem therefore seem to suggest something about the conditions necessary for entering there. (Bread for Each Day; Nov.12.)
      1. It’s as if God is reminding us that we must “through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
      2. Each Pearly Portal emphasizes the truth that “if we suffer w/Him, we shall reign w/Him!” (2 Tim.2:12)
    21. Christ is the only door to heaven; but its capital city has 12 gates so the redeemed may come from all points of the compass, from all tribes & nations.
    1. Omissions No temple, no sun, no moon.
      1. Why omitted? - God fulfills all these roles now!
        1. And since the Temple had been used as a place where people would congregate to get closer to God it apparently had no further use! ☺
        2. He is all the illumination that is needed.
        3. A theologian describe heaven as “an unknown region with a well-know inhabitant.
    2. (23) Light(of the world) is what gives everything its beauty!
      1. Q: Would you shop for jewelry in the dark?
      2. Without light nothing has beauty!
    3. (25) Its gates shall not be shut at all – It’s a city that never sleeps.
      1. A city would shut its gates at night to protect it from its enemies.
    4. (27) Q: If they could enter, would they find satisfaction in its blessings?
      1. 1 Cor.2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
    5. There is an old legend of a swan and a crane. A beautiful swan alighted by the banks of the water in which a crane was wading about seeking snails. For a few moments the crane viewed the swan in stupid wonder and then inquired: “Where do you come from?” “I come from heaven!” replied the swan. “And where is heaven?” asked the crane. “Heaven!” said the swan, “Heaven! have you never heard of heaven?” And the beautiful bird went on to describe the grandeur of the Eternal City. She told of streets of gold, and the gates and walls made of precious stones; of the river of life, pure as crystal, upon whose banks is the tree whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations. In eloquent terms the swan sought to describe the hosts who live in the other world, but without arousing the slightest interest on the part of the crane. Finally the crane asked: “Are there any snails there?” “Snails!” repeated the swan; “No! Of course there are not.” “Then,” said the crane, as it continued its search along the slimy banks of the pool, “you can have your heaven. I want snails!”
    6. The great goal of Creation & redemption is achieved in direct communion & fellowship between God & His people.
    7. Q: Are you a citizen?
    8. Q: What does architecture reveal about our interests & our priorities?
    9. Light after darkness, gain after loss; Strength after weakness, crown after cross; Sweet after bitter, hope after fears; Home after wandering, praise after tears; Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain; Sight after mystery, peace after pain; Joy after sorrow, calm after blast; Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last; Near after distant, gleam after gloom; Love after loneliness, life after tomb ; After long agony, rapture of bliss; Right was the pathway, leading to this. (Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.)
    10. In Valladolid, Spain, where Christopher Columbus died in 1506, stands a monument commemorating the great discoverer. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the memorial is a statue of a lion destroying one of the Latin words that had been part of Spain’s motto for centuries. Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had reached the outer limits of earth. Thus their motto was “Ne Plus Ultra,” which means “No More Beyond.” The word being torn away by the lion is “ne” or “no,” making it read “Plus Ultra.” Columbus had proven that there was indeed “more beyond.”
    11. Prov.23:18 “For surely there is a hereafter, & your hope will not be cut off.”

The Mason Jar

The old mountaineer had lived a full but not exactly saintly life and now was on his deathbed. He summoned his weeping wife. “Sara,” he said, “go to the fireplace and take out the third stone from the top.” She did as instructed. “Reach in there,” said her husband, “and bring out what you find.”

Her fingers touched a large Mason jar, and with some effort she pulled it up. The jar was full of cash.

“Sara,” said the old man, “when I go, I’m going to take all that money with me. I want you to put that jar up in the attic by the window. I’ll get it as I go by on my way to heaven.”

His wife followed his instructions. That night the old mountaineer died. After the funeral his wife remembered the Mason jar and went to the attic. There was the jar still full of money and by the window.

“Oh,” the widow sighed. “I knew I should have put it in the basement.”

Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Revelation 21". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/revelation-21.html. 2017.
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