Eternity in Your Heart
February 17-18, 2018
All right we’ve come to the last chapter in Revelation at this point. The seven-year tribulation period of God's wrath being poured out on the earth is over. Jesus has taken the Antichrist, the false prophet, and even Satan himself, cast them into the lake of fire, never to be heard of again. Praise God. Then Jesus returned, of course, for the millennial reign of Christ, the thousand years where He literally ruled over the nations from Jerusalem. It was an amazing, marvelous time of that thousand-year reign where it is a time of peace, literally, they beat their ploughs, beat their swords into plowshares, and their pruning -- and their spears into pruning hooks. I will get it. The earth itself changed. Isaiah describes it as the wolf lying down with the lamb, the leopard lying down with the young goat, and a boy will lead them. What a picture for us? A nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra. What fun is that going to be? The weaned child will put its hand into the viper’s den, and in that day, he says, "No harm will be in My holy mountain and the earth will be full of the knowledge of the glory of God."
What a picture of that millennial time period of the thousand years when Christ rules and reigns, but after that then the earth as we know it will pass away. This earth will literally be destroyed with fire, burned. Then he describes that there will be a new heaven, and a new earth, and then he said, "There will be a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven made ready like a bride adorned for her husband upon the new earth, and that will actually be our eternal home for eternity." What a glorious picture he described in Chapter 21, but when you get to Chapter 22, you actually see what happens inside of that holy city.
Let's read it. Chapter 22 beginning in verse one, "And He showed me a river. A river of water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and from the Lamb." What are the headwaters? Where does it actually begin to flow from the throne? That's going to come to us later. It's important for us to recognize now, and then he said, "In the middle of its street and on either side of the river was the tree of life." Now, we remember the tree of life. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and the tree of life that was there before the fall of man. Here it is again now in the New Jerusalem, the tree of life bearing 12 kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations, and there shall no longer be any curse, the curse that came upon man, because of the sin of Adam has now been completely removed, and the throne of God, and of the Lamb shall be there.
When you think about eternity, and the throne of God, it will be that throne in the New Jerusalem, and His bonds servants will serve Him, and they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads, which is very interesting. We'll talk more about that on Wednesday, and there shall no longer be any night. They shall not have need of the light of the lamp nor of the light of the sun, because the Lord, God shall illumine them. In other words, because of the presence of God in that place, the glory of God will illumine the city, and they shall reign forever and ever.
And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place." Behold, I am coming quickly, behold." He said, "Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."
I. It will Flow with the River of Life
These are the verses I want us to look at today, beginning with this picture of that that beautiful river. He says it will flow with the river of life. In chapter 21 we just read that He says, "I will give to the one who thirsts to drink from the spring of the water of life," but now He's showing us a picture that it flows from that spring into this river, and if wherever that river goes it is life. It's the River of Life.
It's important for us to recognize, because there's a lot of truths that we need to apply to our lives. When He shows us these aspects of eternity, there are many aspects of eternity that we can actually experience now. Like you have a taste of heaven you might say because He speaks of this river of life in terms even of our life now. See, because it's really a question of our relationship. God pursued us for relationship, gave us the Holy Spirit which is pictured in that river of life. That's what he is picturing for us the Holy Spirit. Well, we have the same Holy Spirit now, and so the question is, "How deep is that relationship that you have with God?" because he's calling us to go farther and to go deeper into that river of life.
A. Go farther and deeper into the river of life
It's a personal application for each one of us. Notice the words of Jesus in John 7. I mentioned it last week, but it is important for us to see its application. He said this, "On the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood, and He cried out, and He said this, He said, "If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink." He's not talking about physical thirst, He's speaking of spiritual thirst which is actually a greater thirst, because you speak into the deepest need of the soul. The soul is thirsty. The soul is desiring for something. Our souls need something of life to fill its great desire. If anyone is thirsty, Jesus said, "Let him come to Me and let him drink for he who believes in Me," as the Scripture says.
Notice this phrase, from his innermost being will flow and is the exact same phrase mentioned in that glorious picture of the new Jerusalem. From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. He's talking about right now. Right now in our life. He said by this He was speaking of the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive. You receive the life of God when the Holy Spirit of the living God came upon you.
The point is that it's the same Holy Spirit now, and He wants us to go farther in, and deeper into that relationship. The question is how much of your life will you surrender to God? How deep, how far will you move with the Holy Spirit? What is interesting is that there is a consistent theme that runs through the Word of God. Jesus spoke of it in regards to our relationship to the Lord through it, and then in the millennial reign of Christ there is this beautiful picture of the same thing. In fact, in Ezekiel 47 -- we don't have time to read it all, but he gives us this picture: Jesus reigning upon the earth and it tells us in Ezekiel 47 that in that day that there will be a spring of water that flows from the temple in Jerusalem. There is no river that flows there now, but when Jesus comes, and rules, and reigns, and sets His throne upon that holy mountain there will be this river.
It starts, it says, in Ezekiel 47 like a trickle, and it flows toward the East. If you know what is toward the East, it's the Dead Sea. It says that there was given a measurement, and one went out and measured 1500 cubits or 500 yards, and he said, after 500 yards it was up to a man's ankles, and then another 500 yards/ 1500 cubits, it was up to a man's knees, and then another 1500 cubits it was up to a man's thighs, or up to a man’s loins. You go another 1500 cubits, and it was like a river that you could not fort. You couldn't swim across the river, such width and breadth and depth of this river, and it flows into the Dead Sea. Wherever it flows it brings life, and there's trees that flow upon either side of the river bearing its fruits and you say, "Well, this is an interesting picture. It's like the same picture it gives to us of the New Jerusalem."
B. Choose what you will drink
Exactly, because he wants us to see the theme of God which is the Holy Spirit, He wants us to recognize, is in our lives right now, and He wants that very life of God to be seen in our lives now, but here's the question, "Of what are you drinking?" He said, "Let him who is thirsty come to Me and drink." This is an interesting comparison because don't you remember back when he was speaking of Babylon, the mystery city that is pictured as that which is the source of immorality in the world, and He said, "Do not drink of the wine, of the passion of her immorality. Don't drink of that wine." Then He gives us this comparison, "But drink of this living water." What you bring into your soul has everything to do with what will happen in your life, and He's the living water, fresh. The value of living fresh water. In that arid, dry, desert place in the Middle East, water, the preciousness of water certainly was greatly appreciated. We've come to value water. Today we have special waters bottled. You can buy Perrier water. It's very expensive. We understand now the value of water. When I was growing up we didn't have bottled water. You want water, you go to the hose and drink it, which was terrible, but today you've got bottled water and it's expensive.
Did you know that ounce by ounce bottled water is more expensive than gasoline? It’s actually true. I remember I was at an airport once. I wanted to get a little something to drink before I got on the plane, and I was looking at this case, and they had a bottle of grape fruit juice, and I thought, "That sounds interesting." Then just a little bit next to it was a bottle of water. The water was more expensive than the grape fruit juice, and then I thought, "Wait just a minute. It takes more effort to raise grape fruits. I'm pretty sure." There was something wrong with this picture. Although the most expensive water I ever bought, movie theatre.
Right? I was like, "I'd like a bottle of water." "$5 please." "What? We'll share one? Oh my goodness." The expensive water. To question, we understand the value because of what it produces. You drink living water. See, Ephesians 5 also gives us comparison. It says it this way, "Therefore be careful how you walk not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil." Is that not true? Days are evil. "Don't get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit." He gives us this comparison again, and it's a spiritual analogy. Like don't drink of the wine of the passion of the immorality of Babylon. Same analogy. Be careful what you drink. He says we have the Holy Spirit now. Same Holy Spirit. Problem is we also have our flesh. That's our problem. Anybody that's aware of themselves at all understands that there is therefore a battle inside between the Spirit, and the flesh.
The battle within us is that battle of what is going to control us? The flesh it wants to be in control. It wants what it wants, and it wants it now, and it has no concern for the consequences. No thought at about tomorrow, no thought about what will come about if you indulge in this thing. No thought, no consideration about tomorrow. It's all about the moment. There's that battle because our soul knows better than that. Our soul within us says, "No, wait just a minute. I want life." It creates the struggle within. In fact, Paul, I think Romans 7 has got to be that chapter that puts its finger on it accurately. "For what I am doing, I don't understand," Paul wrote. "For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate."
I'll tell you what, there's a lot people who would say, "That's exactly where I am. That is exactly what I have experienced." Then it continues on, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me that is in my flesh. The willing is present in me, but the doing of good is not." He is speaking about the struggle. He later goes on to say, "Who will set me free from this body of death?" Praise God. Thanks be to the Lord through Jesus Christ for there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and the love spirit life has set you free from the love of sin and death. That's the picture for us, because He gives us the Holy Spirit now so that we might walk by the Spirit and have that victory.
Notice Galatians 5:16-17, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." He's my provision. You have the river of life. You have the Holy Spirit. It is the very presence of the living God. Walk by the Spirit. You won't carry out the desire of the flesh, because the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh for these are in opposition.
What that means is that God will come alongside, and even we'll find ourselves resting but with God's help we can be victorious. It's important because sometimes we'll put the ax to our own tree. The flesh, it has no consideration for tomorrow and we'll find ourselves putting the ax through our own tree if we're not careful, and so God must resist and intervene. Even sometimes we find ourselves wrestling against God because God is pursuing that which is right and good.
Reminds me of when I was 14, and I got appendicitis. My appendicitis got worse, and worse, and worse, and finally it was a raptured appendix, and so they had to do surgery. In my day when they did appendix surgery they actually left the wound open. Exactly. They left the wound open and then they would stuff it full of gas to try to absorb out the infection, and then they would remove it, and put more in there, and they'd just keep doing this. After a few days I got a raging infection, abdominal raging infection. I got a fever like 106.5 which will affect your mind. Which explains a little bit, doesn't it?
Anyway, I ended up being in a hospital for two weeks. It got to the point where I had been in bed so long that the nurses were saying, "Look, you've got to get out of this bed. You've got to get up. You've got to walk." My flesh had nothing in it that wanted to get out of bed. They said, "You've got to get out of this bed." "I don't want to." "Well, you've got to get up." "Well, I don't want to." Then they said, "You've got to cough. You're going to get pneumonia if you don't start coughing." "Well, I don't feel like coughing, because it hurts when I cough." "That's exactly why you've got to start coughing." "Well I don't want to cough." Then they rolled me over, and they started hitting me. Exactly. "I don't want to. I don't want to."
They are resisting me. Why? Because they know that if I don't do something I'm going to be in a world of hurt. There's that idea. We understand that God wants us to recognize that He gives us the Holy Spirit and will even wrestle with us because that Holy Spirit is the provision for our victory. Praise God, we won't have this battle in heaven, but in this life there needs to be that denial of the flesh, because it prevents the life of God moving in us. Romans 12:1, "Therefore I urge you brethren by the mercies of God do I urge you to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship." It's like a sacrifice, the physical flesh. The truth is our flesh does not want spiritual things. Isn't that true? Our flesh doesn't want spiritual things. Our flesh wants fleshly things. Our soul knows better. Our soul knows that spiritual things are better, and that the life that comes from that is better.
I want that. That's what I want. The soul knows that very well. That's why Galatians 6 is such a great verse for us, verses 8 and 9. "The one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap life, eternal life even. Thought let's not lose heart in doing good for in due time we will reap if we don't grow weary." He is giving us this picture, if we can only settle this in our hearts, if this can only be settled to know that God intends to bring joy, and blessing, and peace, and even joy that is spiritual. Notice Psalms 16:11, "You will make known to me the path of life." That's a way better path than any path that you can walk in this earth. "You will make known to me the path of life for in your presence is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures forever more." Settle this in your heart because God's intention is for us to have that river of life flowing in our lives right now. It's a taste of eternity.
II. There Shall No Longer Be Any Curse
Then He gives us this picture. He tells us this great promise. He says, "And there shall no longer be any curse." What a glorious day that's going to be, because it brings us all the way back to creation. The curse came because of the sin of Adam, but here in Revelation 22, He says, "New heaven and new earth and there is no longer any curse." Praise God for that because it has been such a struggle, and such a difficulty. He tells us, going all the way back to creation that also then the tree of life will be there. The tree of life will bear fruit. What a picture of life. What a picture of abundance, and God's blessing, and the deliciousness of that picture of God's blessing. The history of man could be summarized as the accounting of three trees. Here's what I mean. The trouble for man began with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You go back to Genesis, which we will soon be in the book of Genesis, but it starts with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is the one and only tree which Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat.
A. The Tree of Life will bear fruit
Some have wondered, and I've had a number of people ask me, "Why would God put a tree in the center of the garden that they couldn't eat? Why would He put it there if they couldn't eat it?" Which is a really good question? I'll answer that Wednesday. Just kidding. No, it's a really good question. I believe it's for this that love is a choice. He's giving the opportunity to choose. It's a choice he gives. Every one of us must choose to love God of our own free choosing and choose to obey God of our own free choosing.
Reliance on God is also a choice. When Adam walked with God, he could have asked for whatever he wished, but when Adam chose his own way, when Adam, and Eve chose their own way, they became separated. A chasm came. They became independent of God. They knew good and evil, but apart, and separated from God. God gives this provision by the Holy Spirit that we might understand that we can rely on God to walk with us through this difficult life, step by step, all along the way. There are many things that happen in life that cannot be fixed in a moment. We have to understand that God is giving us this provision in this life, now.
The Holy Spirit is given that we might walk step by step. To learn to walk step by step by step. In this difficult life, is the lesson. I remember that something happened in my life where God was teaching me this lesson of step by step, walking and depending on God. What had happened was this: I had been asked to speak at a -- it was actually a stockholder’s meeting of this company that had supported us in our mission’s work. They were very generous. A very, very large gift that they had given for our mission’s work. I was supposed to come to this stockholder’s meeting and give a report of what we had done with the money. Then they were going to recommit for another year.
My plane was scheduled to leave at something like let's say, 7:06 AM. The problem was that I set my alarm for PM rather than AM. At 6:30, I woke up -- No actually, at 6:30, my wife woke me up saying, "Hey, aren't you supposed to be at the airport right now?" Have you ever had that sinking feeling like you have just blown it. Please tell me I'm not alone. I thought, "No. What am I going to do?" I threw my clothes on, got in the car. I've got to Alaska because that was my plane. Is there another flight. They look, "No. There's no other flight that would get you there." It's I had a speaking engagement. I had to be there certain time. They said, "No, there's no plane." I said, "Would you mind looking at the other airlines?" They looked and they said, "Well, there's a flight on Southwest at 7:16." I said, "Can I get the number?" I got the number and I called Southwest. That was the only plane that would get me there. Anywhere close to on time.
I called Southwest, "Could you give me a ticket?" "No, no. We never give tickets this close to departure, but if you want to, there's a kiosk at the airport. You can buy a ticket there." I thought, "Great." I hang up the phone. Now I'm driving to the airport, and I'm praying, "Lord, I need about 10 miracles, and I'm going to need them in the exact right order, because I'm in really big trouble here."
Well, I drove through Beaverton, and I never hit one red light. This is a true story. Not one red light. I go through Beaverton, I go to the airport, and because of those red lights I got there in record time. I parked in this parking area, and wrong parking area. There was a bus there. There was nobody on the bus. I said to the driver, "Would you mind taking just me?" He said, "Sure, fine." We get there and I said, "Do you know where there's a kiosk for Southwest?" He said, "I have no idea." "Great." We pull up, I run up the stairs, there was the kiosk for Southwest. I put my card in and got a ticket. I went through security. In those days you had to open up your laptop, turn it on to show them that it was actually a laptop.
I'm thinking, "This is killing me." I show it to them, put it. Now I'm running. Of course, the gate had to be the very last gate down there. I am literally sprinting. I'm just as fast as I can possibly run. I'm sprinting down. I ran past the lady at the gate counter and right down the jetway, and there was a man standing there with a big open space where the plane should have been. Then I looked and there was the tractor pushing my plane away. Yes. I said, "Hey, bring the plane back." He said, "I'm sorry. No, it can't come back." I said, "You don't understand. That is the only plane that will take me where I have to be. I have to be on that plane. You've got to bring it back." He said, "I don't know who you are. Nor who you think you are, but that plane is not coming back for anybody." I said, "Okay. How do I get a refund?" He said, "Well, just got up, talk to the little lady at the counter there." I turned around and walk in back up the jetway.
I start praying. This was my prayer. "Lord, I did this. This was me. I did this. You have been so good to me. You have been so amazing to me. I want to thank You for all the miracles, all the provision, all the amazing blessings that You have poured out of my life. I have nothing to complain about, but only thanks for all that You've done. This was me. I fault You none. This was me," and walked I up to the lady. I said, "Well, I guess I need a refund." She was chuckling like, "There's always one of you. We call you runners." "Yes, well, that's really funny. You knew everything." I can see my plane. I was like, "I can't believe it. I cannot believe this." I can see my plane. The tractor pulled it out, and it turned that way. What am I going to do? How am I going to explain this?
Then I'm looking, and then it comes this way, and then it turns by back. I go. She saw me doing that. She looked, and she says, "What are they doing?" I said, "I have no idea, but I need a boarding pass." I didn't have a boarding pass. She gave me a boarding pass. Literally, I walked down the jetway, the guy was still there. I gave him my boarding pass. I embellished none. They opened the door, I got onto the plane, they closed the door, and took off. I'm standing now in front of the plane full of people. They started clapping. I still got miracles to go, because they don't even know my face. They were just going to have a sign with my name on it.
I'm not even showing up. I'm on the wrong plane that's now quite a bit later than the other one. We take off, and I say to the flight attendant, "What time does this plane land?" She says, "Well, excuse me, but aren't you the one that made us late?" It's true, but I still got a few miracles to go. "What time does this plane land?" She told me, and I thought, "Oh boy." Back in those days there was a phone in the back of the seat. I'm trying to put my credit card. I'm trying to call, page them. Nothing. I can't get through. No one's answering. I thought, "What am I going to do?" I didn't have their cell numbers or anything. We were starting to land, and we must have had a tailwind, because we only landed just a few minutes later than the other one was scheduled to land.
Before we landed, I said to the flight attendant, I said, "Do you think there's any way that I could get off first?'' To which she said, "Anything for you. Absolutely, "She moves me up. She moves me up to row 1C, or whatever that thing is. The land, first went off. There's a tram or something that you have to take to the main terminal. I'm the last one on which means I'm the first one off. I get to the main terminal. They're paging my name. I grab the paging phone, “I'm here, I'm here. Where are you? You were supposed to be on the other flight.” “I'll explain it later. I’ll meet you at baggage claim.” I run down there. This thing was timed so tightly that they drove me to the speaking thing. I walked into the building and I was -- they were waiting for me on the podium. I get up there and did I have a story to tell.
Of course, then I finished telling them the story of God's amazing -- what God had done. Then the CEO walks up and says, “We're going to back that guy another year. Give the guy some money.” God wants us to recognize that He has made provision for us to walk through this life, same Holy Spirit He is speaking of in eternity is the same Holy Spirit that walks with us today. Then He gives us this second tree. I mentioned the first tree right? The second tree then, it's got to be the cross of Calvary on which Jesus died. It was there that Jesus paid for the sins of our lives, and that sin of Adam that we inherited in this life, but the fullness of that curse will not be removed until the day when the last believers come to faith in Christ and God has established the new heavens, and the new earth.
Even creation itself will be set free from its corruption. See, why did the Earth itself be affected by the sin of Adam? Because it was. That's a very good question, but let's read it first in Romans 8:19-21, "The anxious longing of creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in the hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into," here it is, the key, "into the freedom of the glory of the children of God."
There is a connection between the creation itself, and what happens to man, and here’s why because when God made man He said, “Let Us make man in our image and let them rule.” Authority is part of the image of God. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, et cetera. Let them rule over the earth. Everything therefore under the authority of a person is affected by that decision, by that sin. Earth itself is affected but earth itself is set free from its corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. There will be a new earth, and there will no longer be any curse, and we see this third tree is the tree of life. In all its fullness it's described in Revelation 22, it yields its fruit every month of the year. 12 different kinds of fruit.
What a picture? You know fruit is delicious, right? It's a picture of that blessing, that abundance that God brings about in our life as a result of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit. It's delicious. Fruit is awesome. It's tasty. I remember growing up on the farm, and we had so many different fruit trees. We had cherries of all types. We had apples of all types and plums, but I had no idea God had so many more fruits. When I became an adult then I discovered God made mangoes. We were growing up we were poor. We had no idea. God made mangoes, and papayas, and kiwis, and durian. You got to try that sometime. That is really unique.
What other glories and wonders does God have in store for us? It’s a picture because God longs to show us the riches of the glory that He's prepared for us. You have no idea. God He's longing to show the riches of His glory. Ephesians 2, "But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive with Christ - by grace you've been saved - and He's raised us up with Him, seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
B. We shall see His face
You think, "Well, that's as amazing right there." Yes, but listen, "So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus'. In other words, you have no idea. He cannot wait to show you the revealing of the riches of His glory, the riches of His kindness, and part of that is seen in verse four, back to Revelation 22, "We will see Him face to face." We will see His face. Bond-servants will see Him. Scriptures says we cannot now see Him face to face, Exodus 33: 20, "You cannot see my face for no man can see me and live." Because He says in this life we see as through a glass darkly. We get that from 1 Corinthians 13. "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then we will see Him face to face." He says, “Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I am known."
God is going to reveal to us Himself in glory. We're going to see so much more of God's revealing of Himself. Psalms 17:15, "As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness and I will be satisfied with your likeness when I wake." He wants there to be this longing, this anticipation we’ll see Him. It’s like when my kids when I was growing up when my kids were young, and I'd come home from school or from work and they were so excited, “Dad’s home, dad’s home, dad’s home.” I loved that anticipation. They'd been waiting for hours for dad. “Dad’s home.” They’ll come run, they’ll grab my legs, and I'd walk with each one on my leg. "Dad’s home."
C. Blessed is the one who heeds these words
There is that anticipation that He wants for us. Do you know what He's going to reveal to us? The face to face experiencing of the very presence of God? There's so many things that people look forward to about heaven, but you know what we should look forward to most? It's seeing Him who loved us so much that He sent His only begotten son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but would have an everlasting life. That's why He says in verse seven, "Blessed is the one who heeds His words."
There are a lot of people who don't even study the Book of Revelation. It's too difficult to do understand. The Orthodox Church won’t even read it at their church. Blessed are those who read, those who hear, those who take hold, and write these words on their heart, because it says in Revelation 22:17, what a glorious way to end this book, He says, "The Spirit and the bride say come." When you read the book of Revelation it brings us to this great point. It culminates in one great point. The Spirit says, "Come. I will reveal to you Jesus Christ in all His glory and all the things that are going to come upon the earth that you might recognize what God has in store for you when He redeemed you, when He paid the price, and now He says -- The Spirit says come, all who are thirsty come, all who wish to drink from the river of life, He says you come. It all comes down to that invitation.