Heaven is Where God is Fully Revealed
4 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
For the next two weeks I will talk about heaven. These will be the last two weeks in our sermon series on the Bible. Heaven is important for multiple reasons. It is the future hope for all people who follow Jesus Christ. It is the resolution of all of the brokenness of the sinful world in which we live. And it is the place where God is no longer invisible. We can desire heaven for many different reasons. One of those is life that is eternal and is removed from all pain and sorrow. But, another reason to long for heaven, and I think an even more important reason, is that heaven is where we can see God and know Him apart from faith. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. And as a reminder, Romans 8 points out that we only hope for what we do not see. And faith requires effort, a conscious decision on our part to not follow what we see. We trust in God and His Word even though we do not see Him.
Also, Hebrews 11:6 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
We must believe that God is there and that He rewards people who seek Him. And that seeking requires a non answer for a time! We wait on God at many times and in many ways. This is not true in heaven. Faith, hope and love remain on earth, but not in heaven. In heaven, only love remains!!
If God exists and I don’t see Him, and no one else sees Him, then where is He? So today I want to assure you that the invisible God you will one day see in heaven.
- Heaven is Where God is
I believe that we are meant to see God. That’s the way that all other relationships work! And the Bible tells us things that show this to be true.
- God created all that is
The earth is the Lords and all the fullness thereof
The heavens and the earth
The whole earth is full of His glory
His power and nature are seen through creation.
Rom 1: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
So, even though we see the impact of God in creation and even in people themselves,
- No one sees God
In fact, the Bible says that no one has ever seen God. God tells Moses that no one can see His face and live.
John 6: 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
I Tim 1: 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Colossians 1: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
John 1: 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
- This is not the way it is supposed to be
Man hides because of shame!
Genesis 3: 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[d] 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
God forcibly removes man from His presence:
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Exodus 33: 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
So, people have this natural desire because they are created in the image of God, to see Him face to face. Jesus is a visible image of God, and also, God has given us Biblical Picture of Heaven with Him in it!
- Biblical Pictures of God in Heaven
- Separation is emphasized
“Come up here!”
Babel story: God came down.
Isaiah 6: I saw the Lord High and lifted up. And the holiness issue is immediately in view
- God’s authority is emphasized
When we see pictures of heaven, and especially of God in heaven, this is what is consistently emphasized.
In this passage in Revelation 4, the word throne is used thirteen times. It is the dominant aspect of this vision of God and heaven. A throne obviously refers to authority. Authority and power can be good (for you) or can be bad (against you).
Thrones. Lightning and thunder, Precious materials that indicate differences in wealth, power, value etc. Powerful beings. Fire, smoke.
All of these things are part of an image that emphasizes God’s power, majesty, holiness and authority. There is only one God and you are not Him!
- Submissive responses are modeled
Great creatures declare God’s holiness v.8 This is almost exactly the same as Isaiah 6. What does holy mean? Separate, different, unique, distinct. In what way is God holy? He is the bearer of all of the good character that we see in people and He bears that character with absolute goodness.
God is perfectly good. God is perfectly loving. God is perfectly merciful, God is perfectly just. God is perfectly wise. God is perfectly powerful. God is self defining. And God is completely free! There is no one like God! He is holy!
Because of God’s holy character, the elders cast their crowns, (their authority) at His feet. God is to be submitted to. This is the view of heaven. And so we pray, “May your kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God is worthy!!
III. Will We Ever Know Heaven?
This is why the submissive responses to the visions of God in heaven are modeled. Isaiah, “I am unclean, we are unclean”
Will we ever know God in heaven? Let me ask you a question: Are you a child of God? God has children and children live where their parents live. We do not yet live where God lives, but there will be a time in the future!
- God’s children live where God lives
John 1: 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
I John 3: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Romans 8: 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.
Children of God have an inheritance to claim that they have yet to claim. Now, God will not die, but Jesus is our co-heir. This is the measure of our future inheritance. And this inheritance is God’s to give, it is not earned by us, but is freely given by God!!!!
- God proves He seeks people
In all of the Bible, from the beginning, God has taken the initiative to show Himself to people, to prove that He is there even though they do not see Him. I do not believe in God because of a philosophical argument. I believe in Him because of the complexity of language and nature. And I have since I was very young. I believe in God because I believe that true love exists, that true goodness exists, that true justice exists. And they exist in God, every other manifestation is an incomplete shadow. But there are no shadows in God. I mention this because I want you to know that God has sought you. Whether you are a believer or not, God has done things in your live, He has revealed things to you and you are responsible to respond!
John 4: 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
John 1: 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
- Today you can be sure that you will see heaven
Jesus to the thief on the Cross:
Luke 23: 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Church is called the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. Brides live with their husbands! And now today, Jesus is among the lampstands!
Matt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.