A View into Heaven
Sept 30-Oct 1, 2017
A lot of people wonder what is heaven look like. What is it like? I think that for a lot of people what they do is that they take the things of the earth and just step it up. It's like maybe heaven has got the greatest golf courses ever. The greens are perfect, it is manicured, and you can golf all day, it is kind of like that. Or heaven is like, it's got pristine legs and they're filled with trout and you get the best fishing. People often think like this, right? Or you can have delectable food, “Oh my goodness, you can eat and eat and eat and never gain weight. Yes, that's heaven.” The problem with that is that you're taking the things of the earth and just stepping them up.
When you consider heaven as especially when you see the description that He gives to us out of Revelation, Ezekiel and other places, no words could possibly come close to describing it. When we look at heaven, frankly, golf wouldn't be even near our minds because it's just absolutely beyond recognition. The greatest aspect of heaven has to be the fact that we are going to be drawn near to the living God in a relationship that is absolutely the most amazing intimate nearness to our God. That is the highlight of heaven. But also, the realization that we also then get to be reunited with our loved ones. That to me it's about relationship and what we have.
I remember when our daughter died, several years ago, for a long time I didn't have any dreams about her. But then, I had this one amazing vivid dream. I'm sure you've had just an amazing vivid dream. In this dream, she came to me and she had this radiance smile. Whenever she was like super, super happy, she would have this radiance smile. She came to me with this radiance smile on her face she’s like, “Dad, I am doing well. Don't worry about me. I am doing well.” It's this beautiful description of what she was experiencing. I woke up just so encouraged in my soul. To understand that we also have this great reunion with those that we love, and that God himself in an intimate relationship is there Himself.
John described the same. The problem with that of course is that he's got to use words, and that words can't capture it. So, we have this amazing description before us. What it does for me it just makes a longing desiring for more. You see this amazing picture for us. He describes that there is this throne and sitting on this thrown, there is one who is radiance in glory, and then around the throne are these 24 thrones with 24 elders sitting upon them. We are going to look more at that on Wednesday.
They're clothed in white and they've got a crown of gold upon their heads. Then it tells us that even nearer to the throne, are these four living creatures, such that we can't even fathom what they look like. Although, they give us some description. These four living creatures that are nearest to the throne, they never cease to say Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. They never cease to say it. They are just declaring the Holiness of the Lord in their worship and in their honor, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.
There's a saying that I love, we are changed in the presence of a Holy God. God is in fact of course the Holy One, and the worship of Him is in that declaration that is Holy. He is actually also transforming us into that very same image. He is in the process of transforming every one of us. It is into His image of Holiness that He is doing it. He gives us this the character of God revealed to you. He wants those very things in us. He look at these four living creatures, amazing. Nothing like we've ever can imagine. They represent the nature of God and the character of God revealed in each of them because they have a different face, one is the face of a lion, one is the face of an ox, one is the face of a man and one is an image of a flying eagle. Each of those are interesting.
The Jewish leaders who reflect in a similar description in Ezekiel believe that these were the standards or Ensign's that would mark the lead tribes when they camped in the desert, North, South, East and West around the tabernacle and the ensign of the lion. The lion of Judah was Judah and then the ox and then the sign of the man and the eagle were there represented by these lead tribes. Also, many see in this the four gospels, Matthew, who presents Jesus as the King, the Lion. Mark, who presents Jesus as the servant, like the ox. Luke, who presents Jesus as the Son of Man, the image of a man. John, who presents him as the Son of God, the image of the flying eagle.
It's very interesting and there's much for us to understand how it applies to us. Let's read it, Revelation Chapter four beginning in verse one. After these things, I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven, that's an amazing image. What does that mean? I want to look at that further on Wednesday. Then the first voice which I had heard like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me said, “Come up here and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately, I was in the spirit. Behold, a throne was standing in heaven and one sitting on the throne. He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and sadius in appearance.
There was a rainbow around the throne like emerald in appearance. Not multi-colored rainbow as we might imagine it, but more like an arch all of the emerald. Around the throne then were 24 thrones. Who is sitting on these thrones? Again, I'm going to look at that on Wednesday. Upon these thrones, I saw 24 elders clothed in white garments and golden crowns upon their heads. From the throne proceeded flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. There were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Look at that on Wednesday.
Before the throne, there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. That is a beautiful thing even just to imagine, a sea of glass like crystal. In the center was the throne of course. Then around the throne, he says, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. All we can say to that is wow, what is that? I can't even get our minds around what this might be. The first creature, these are clearly angels. The first creature was like a lion. The second creature was like a cat or an ox. The third creature had the face like that of a man. The fourth creature was like an eagle but a flying eagle.
The four living creatures, each one of them had six wings, full of eyes around and within. Day and night, they did not cease to say Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God the Almighty who was and who is and who is to come. When the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the 24 elders will fall down before Him, Him who sits on the throne. They will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and they will cast their crowns before the throne. And they will say, “Worthy our thou, Our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things and because of your will they existed and were created.” What a scene from heaven?
I. Have the Heart of a Lion
Out of this scene, out of this throne, and what takes place at this throne, he will begin to share the events of the things that happened in the latter days out of the scene. First, we take in what's happening here. The description of the throne absolutely amazing, the sea of glass crystal and these four living creatures that are the nearest. They are even closer than the 24 elders. They are the ones nearest and closest to the throne of God. Each of them describe an aspect of God's nature, God's character because they are reflecting the glory that God Himself is, and they're declaring a Holy, Holy, Holy, but each of them reflect an aspect of God's nature, and now, you start with for example the lion.
Now, that's not a surprising analogy because Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. There's something about a lion, right? This power and authority and the description of a lion as reflecting of God's character does not surprise us. But we also need to see that God is transforming us into His nature, into His character and these are the things He wants to see in us. Therefore, we can apply that and say, "Hey, I have the heart of a lion is in fact God's heart in transforming" The qualities of a lion are clear, right? Power, Authority, strength, boldness. These are the things that He would want to see.
A. Authority requires boldness
You see, the word authority coming out that is a theme that you see in the Gospels over and over requiring boldness. Authority requires boldness. Jesus in earlier in Revelation may have mentioned the fact that He is the one who holds the keys and the keys again reflects authority. If you have a key to the house, then you have authority to enter the house. He is the one who said that He holds the keys of death. Now, that is amazing declaration. He holds the keys of death and He holds the keys to Hell. This is Revelation 1:17-18. "Do not be afraid", Jesus said, "I'm the first and last, the living one. I was dead and behold I am alive forever more." He conquered death.
Remember when Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who comes to me will live even though he dies" Because Jesus then said, "I have the keys of death and I have the keys of hell" He is the one who conquered death and by His authority, He therefore brings life to all those who name the name of Jesus, and He says, "I've got the keys to hell" I don't know about you but I find that very encouraging. We have this image. I think the world movies and such has this idea and thought that Satan is like the captain of hell.
I love the fact that Jesus declares, "No, actually I have the keys of hell." He is the actual master and commander of all things and He is authority and I love that about our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen? Amen. Then He speaks about the authority of the church. Right there He actually speaks of that also because of His presence. Remember when Jesus asked, "Who do the people say that I am?" and they gave various answers. Then Jesus said, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter responded, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." This is an amazing answer, right? Jesus responded to him.
He changed his name to Peter and then he said, "On this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." There is this declaration of the authority of the church in the world. The gates of hell will not prevail against it. One of the things we'v got to see is where Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given unto me and lo, I will be with you even to the end of the age. Now, this is a very important understanding when you think of Him as the lion of the tribe of Judah and reflected in this living creature, He's showing and demonstrating the authority that is in Him and He says, "And I am with you."
Now, this is important. This is like our faith. We have to understand that God is with us and that God by His the authority will pull out His purpose and will accomplish His purpose in our lives by His great authority. Notice for example in Matthew 28:18-20, all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth, go there for and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father in the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is why we baptize people, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age. There is a great promise.
He gives therefore that authority and accomplish his purpose in your life. For example, you remember after the resurrection, there was a great revival that broke out in Jerusalem. I mean just an amazing revival. Well, the Jewish leaders were not happy about this and so they had Peter and the disciples arrested, only to have an angel come in the night and actually break them out of prison. In the morning when they came to get them, they weren't there. They discovered them actually went right back to the temple where they are teaching yet again.
They seized them and brought them before the council and said, "We instructed you to no longer teach in this name." I love their answer, "We must obey God and not men." Now, I just love that. Right? We are under the authority of God and not you, and not men. They started debating about what to do and they were considering stoning them. But one of the Jewish leaders stood up to correct them, his name is Gamaliel, very famous respected Jewish leader. But what he said captured a great truth. This is actually in Acts 5:38-39. He said, "If what these men are doing should be of men, then it will be overthrown."
In other words, if this is just of men, nothing will come of it. But, if what these men are doing is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them or else you may even be found fighting against God. What a great understanding is that. God is with you and God will accomplish His purpose in your life by His great authority. Now, do you believe that God is with you? Do you believe that God is for you? Do you believe that God by His authority will accomplish His purpose in your life? This is important because if you believe that, if you take hold of that, it will radically change who you are and how you live.
B. Godly authority requires full commitment
He wants us to understand the heart of God as seen in the face of this lion, and He wants us to have this heart. But notice also that Godly authority requires a full commitment, that is certainly what Jesus was calling them to when He said to the churches, "He who overcomes." What does he mean to overcome? Because He says it repeatedly. To overcome means to hold fast to what you have. It means to keep His word until the end. It means to not be lukewarm. He corrected the church over being lukewarm, He wants them to be hot, right? And that is a full commitment of full heart.
God I am fully yours, I honor you with all of my life, and that's a necessity today, and will be more and more as we see the last days drawing near because we're living in a culture that is very much away from God. The call on our lives is to stand firm, hold fast. No compromise, there's a time to draw a line in the sand. With the society that's more and more against the church and more and more against Christianity, there's a necessity of rising up to have a position of no compromise.
Back many years ago, there was a musician that I just loved listening to named Keith Green, anybody remember Keith Green? This is in the days of LP albums. Okay, LP, long play albums they were CDs but big. Before cassettes, before the tracks. One of the awesome things about an album is that there was so much space for an album cover, and the message that they could put on the album cover. Well, Keith Green came out with an album called No compromise, and I just loved the cover. I would just, I think we have it here. I would just stare at this because of the imagery that it conjures up in my mind of no compromise. It's the image of right, here's Nebuchadnezzar being drawn out in the full array of His Majesty and the crowd is all worshiping him bowing down, but there's this one meek soul who just refuses to bow.
He's not doing it defiantly, you can just sense in his posture, he is not doing it defiantly, he is not doing it with any altitude, he is just a meek soul just standing firm. If you can make it up but there's the one next to him who's also kneeling but trying to pull him down like, "What are you thinking?" But here is, meek soul, no compromise. And in the days in which we're living, that is going to become a greater and greater necessity. That full commitment is part of that authority that we stand in the name of the Lord. Then notice going back to Revelation 4, the next living creature that's before the throne is like that of an ox. An ox of course represent the beast of burden, the serving, right? The work of serving.
II. Serve with the Power of an Ox
Therefore, this is the nature of God revealed. That is His nature. It is revealed through this living creature and it is revealed in Christ and it is something that He wants also to see in our lives. He is telling us, "Serve with the power of an ox." The imagery is very powerful, and it represents God's heart which is the heart of serving. Notice Jesus said this, "He who desires to be first, let him be the last." The principles of the kingdom are amazing, right? He says, "He who desires to be the greatest, let him be the least and the servant of all in the same way the Son of Man did not come to be served, though He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords and son of the Living God.
He didn't come to be served, He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. The image of this bowl and ox is a powerful image because when you go back to the Old Testament and you see the Old Testament sacrifices, many of them with the sacrifice of a bowl.
A. Be steady and faithful
All of those sacrifices looked forward to the sacrifice of Jesus giving His life as a ransom for many. There is the heart of the Lord seen in it and He wants to see in us the same heart. You can see the character nature of it like be steady, be faithful, like the nature of the ox, right? The steady and faithful in its purpose.
If a farmer had the plow, let's say a difficult field that had rocks or something in it, the ox will be the animal of choice. Or maybe there's a hard field, they're just hard and you want an ox for that job, right? Steadfast, powerful, surefooted, steady. What an image of a believer that God wants to see in us that steadfastness. In fact, look at 1 Corinthians 15. He says, "Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast. Be immovable." I love that right there. Be steadfast, be immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Now, what are the qualities of an ox? That's a very good quality is that he will do is work without complaining. In other words, in contrast to a donkey that often times has an attitude, the donkey which sometimes goes by a different name, will have an attitude and sometimes take a two by four to get it to do what you wanted to do. It is the perspective of not complaining. Did you know that an ox can be trained in such a way that he will move at the simple verbal command of the owner? He can be highly trained simply to move at the command by a spoken word and without complaint will just move in that direction, will accomplish whatever task he's been asked to do.
What a picture for us? In contrast, you remember when Jesus came to the home of Martha and Mary? Martha is in the kitchen, she's preparing the meal and Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet, listening to His words and Martha is bothered because Mary is not helping. She actually confronts Jesus over this. Can you just imagine as a minute. She's actually confronting Jesus over this and she says, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." Jesus instead of asking Mary to get up and help, corrects Martha. But what is it that He corrects? Does He correct her for preparing a meal? No. Does He correct her for being in the kitchen at all? No.
B. Do the difficult things
What He corrects her over is this, he says, "Martha, Martha." When Jesus your name twice, you are pretty much in trouble. Right? "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things. But Mary has chosen the better part and will not be taken from her." It was her attitude of complaining that Jesus was addressing. That is a great lesson for all of us right there frankly because so many times people struggle with their complainingness [sic], if that's such a word, I just made it up. But when you see that which is the character of an ox, you can see this application also, which is be willing to do the difficult things.
In every house and every ministry, there are jobs no one wants to do, but those of a servant heart, this perspective of God willing to do the difficult things that other people are unwilling to do. Hey, dealing with us could not have been easy for the Lord, right? Dealing with our sins was most unpleasant, but the servant heart is willing to do the things. I remember when we had our first baby and I'm in, right? I go to the doctor's appointments, I'm going to be the birthing coach. I am totally into this whole birthing coach thing and I'm going to learn my part and I'm going to do my part like I'm totally in, I'm going to be a cheerleader, right? I'm going to be the cheerleader that I got my cheers already to go right?
Push him out, push him out, way out. I got the whole thing ready and I got men, right. We had the baby and I'll get up at night, right, I'm in right, I'll get up at night but here's the thing. When you have a baby, there are some tasks that are rather unpleasant, right? But hey, I'm going to go for it. Right? I'm in. I'm going to do this thing. Until that is one day, she decided to use cloth diapers. Exactly. Now, the problem with cloth diapers is that somebody has got to rinse them out, right? Now, there's a limit and we just hit it right there. But you know where this went, right? It wasn't long before, okay, sure enough, someone needs to do it.
The scripture tells us that in the latter days, the Anti-Christ will arise. And he will be able to do what no one has been able to do. He'll bring peace to the Middle East, which is true, he'll find a covenant peace with Israel, but he will be able to bring solutions economically, difficult times are rising and he will be able to almost be a genius of diplomacy and strategy and can solve the unsolvable problems, which suggests that there's an awful lot of difficult problems that are going to arise as we get nearer and nearer the arising of the anti-Christ.
III. God Desires both Humility and Greatness
When you see a world that is growing in turbulence and difficulties, there is the therefore the necessity of those with serving hearts to arise. That's the necessity that we're going to see coming upon the church and upon the world for those who have authentically serving hearts. This is the days in which we are entering into and it's important to us to grasp that this quality of God must be seen. Now, going back to Revelation 4, then He shows us these other living creatures. They reflect attitude and perspective of character that I find amazing. Really in great contrast almost of that, which is of humility and greatness.
God desires to see both those things. God desires both humility and greatness. Notice the scene, the four living creatures that are before the throne. They are given the highest of highest privileges. They are the ones nearest the throne even closer than the 24 elders. Greatness, you want to talk about the privilege of greatness, certainly that has been given to them. But what is it that they do? In all their humility, they worship unto the Lord. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Then you look at these 24 elders. They are sitting on 24 thrones. Thrones speak of authority. They have power, they are recognized, they are sitting in a high place and they have golden crowns, but what is it that they do?
A. The face of man is humility
They clearly have greatness, but they cast their crowns before the throne of the living God. The humility and the greatness are both parts of this that we have to understand, is for us, starting with humility. The face of men I suggest reflects humility. I know a lot of people and I am not sure that the face of man reflects humility. We're talking about God here. We're talking about God's humility reflected. Is God humble? You look at the Philippians 2, where it speaks of Jesus and it says, "He humbled" -- Excuse me, "He emptied himself because He was in the glory of His father" He was with His Father in glory. And it says, "He emptied Himself taking the form of a bond servant and being made in the likeness of man. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself even farther by being obedient even to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Was God humble? You look at Jesus Christ, and you see that which is of the greatest humility. In fact, one of the things we have to recognize here is the nature of God in this, the Glory and Honor are given to those who truly understand the value of humility and take hold of it.
I say that because a lot of people do not understand what humility is. They don't understand it. They think it's a deeper understanding to truly grasp humility. But He tells us that glory and honor are given to those who do. For example Matthew 23:11-12, Jesus is teaching and He says the greatest among you will be your servant, He said this same thing earlier. But whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, because God will still do it, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted, for God will still do it.
B. The eagle is the majesty of God
This is the nature and principles that He's showing us in this living creature who's the face of a man. But then we see the face of this eagle, flying Eagle, but the majesty, the eagle is the majesty of God. When the eagle flies, they see something powerful and majestic. But it reflects the nature of God Himself.
Let me give you a great verse. Psalm 91, this is verses 1 and 4. He says, he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Now, I can just repeat that verse over and over and over because I just love how it sounds. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings, you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark. What a picture of God's heart.
Interestingly, the Eagle is the only animal among the beasts. Eagle is the only animal that can look directly at the sun and not damage its eyes. To me, it's like this image is the picture of Jesus who can stand in the glory of God.
You know what's interesting? We're invited also to come to that same place of being in the nearness and the glory of God. But the eagle in its majesty soaring high lifted on a great wind. Like the Holy Spirit is actually called, literally in the Greek, the wind, the great wind, the Holy wind. The eagle, by capturing the wind and riding upon its heights, sores and heights, great strength and majesty. God is calling us to see that that can and must be applied to our lives.
In your notes, I have quoted from Isaiah 40. I just have one verse in there, but I want actually to read more verses out of Isaiah 40, because of what it means personally to us. He says in Isaiah 40 starting in verse 29, it is He who gives strength to the weary, and to Him who lacks might, He increases power. Now, this is important because Jesus said something very similar. Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I'll give you rest. He's inviting us to understand that His rest is rest for the soul that will strengthen and ignite the soul within.
So in fact, back to Isaiah 40, he says it is He who gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might, He increases power. The youths grow weary and tired and even vigorous young men will stumble badly. Yet those who wait for The Lord will rise up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired, and they will walk and not become weary or faint.
There's this picture of the strength that comes from God's presence in our lives. This is important because so many people get beat up. Life beats people up, beats them down. Life is a struggle. Living on this earth is a struggle. But God says, but I'll give strength to the weary.
Those who lack, I will give might. Even young men will stumble badly, but those who wait for the Lord will rise up with wings like Eagles. What an image of God's character for you. The transformation of the very thing we need in this broken down, wicked, cruel world, is the strengthening of God within.