#22
The Best Is Yet to Come

Some folks have the idea Heaven is something like a bunch of cumulus clouds painted with rainbows where spirits play hide-and-seek with ghosts. It’s a spook world. Pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by, where you float around on wispy clouds playing unearthly music on immaterial harps forever! (If I believed Heaven was like that I wouldn’t want to go there. I wouldn’t be interested! Would you? That would be miserable.)

Some religions say there are three heavens – or even seven. Others say Heaven is not really a literal place at all; just a state of mind.

Millions believe: “Eventually, everybody will end up in Heaven!” Others argue, very few will make it.

Why so many different opinions when God’s Word is filled with stupendous details about Heaven – this colossal space station up there in the sky under construction right now! And the reason God wants us to know what Heaven’s like, is so we’ll want to be there! Heaven is not a secret God is keeping from us.

In many large buildings, there are thousands of different keys that fit each lock on each door. (In Caracas, Venezuela you have at least eight keys to get inside your apartment building.) But usually the superintendent of the building has one key that fits ALL the doors, called the master key.

God has one master key that unlocks the mysteries about Heaven, fits all the doors. And that master key is the Bible. We don't have to be confused by human theories or opinions. God’s Word is a reliable “master source” of information about the future.

<2 Peter 1:21>
“...We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

It may surprise you, but God has revealed in His Word:
1. Where Heaven will be
2. What Heaven will be like
3. Where its capital will be
4. What people will do there
5. What people will be like there
6. Where the saved will live
7. What the capital city will look like

For the next few minutes, let’s have a bit of fun together; stretch our imaginations, take God’s master key – the Bible – and discover the truth about THE BEST THAT’S JUST AHEAD!

Two years ago Jeannie and I were with a group of Voice of Prophecy supporters sailing the Greek Isles in the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped at the incredibly beautiful Isle of Patmos, where the last living disciple John wrote the book of Revelation. John was a prisoner in exile on this God-forsaken rock six miles long and three miles wide, located in the blue Aegean Sea. But there God gave him a vision before he died: a glorious preview of the future. And he wrote about what he saw in the book of Revelation:

<Revelation 21:1, 2>
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

I still get all choked up at a wedding, don’t you? Nothing’s more beautiful and radiant than a gorgeous bride on her wedding day!

This heavenly city is like a bride, John tells us. And by the way, Heaven isn’t something that only John saw and knew about. All God’s prophets throughout the ages have known about it. Because Heaven is crucial to God’s final plan of restoration. His surprise wedding present for His bride, the church. Listen:

<Acts 3:20, 21>
“And that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

What is God going to restore? God is going to restore everything Adam and Eve lost!

I’m a stereo nut. I like to listen to good music. Stretch out and listen to great symphony orchestra cranked way up. But there’s nothing more disruptive than to have the doorbell ring. Or the power go off. And suddenly the music stops. Right in the best part! It’s annoying.

Well, God’s original music score for this earth was like a great symphony. He had the score all written at creation. He was the conductor. Everything was in position and ready! And the music began to play. Gorgeous music in Genesis 1 and 2! But in Genesis 3 the music suddenly stopped. Somebody interrupted and botched it all up. And for 6,000 years now God’s been waiting to get started again with His “unfinished symphony.” Heaven is God’s strategic plan of restoration. To restore all six of the precious treasured gifts He’d given mankind in the first place.

1. LIFE. Eternal Life, without end.
2. A RIGHTEOUS NATURE – pure and holy character.
3. A PERFECT BEAUTIFUL HOME – the garden of Eden.
4. DOMINION. “Over every living thing that moved upon the earth.” I believe Adam and Eve could communicate with the animals like they do at Disneyland or Sea World. Call them by name; do tricks.
5. PERFECT FAMILY HAPPINESS.
6. FACE-TO-FACE COMMUNION WITH GOD. No barriers. Open fellowship.

God’s original Paradise was His forever symphony. His original score. And in Genesis 1, God was so proud to show it off to the universe!

The Creator Himself had designed and decorated Adam and Eve’s home. Gave them perfect health, love, happiness, joy. Everything was peace and harmony. Total freedom. If they chose to obey God’s simple instructions.

“Don’t eat of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, or you’ll interrupt the orchestra and the music.” But that’s exactly what they chose to do – to eat of the tree rather than listening to God. And Heaven’s harmony became the “unfinished symphony.”

The most tragic day in the universe. For the first time in Adam and Eve’s lives, they felt guilt, shame and fear. By their disobedience, they lost everything: their garden home, their dominion of Earth, access to the Tree of Life. They lost their happiness, their love, fellowship with the Creator. Our perfect world became cursed with sin, sickness, sorrow, and suffering. They were no longer “masters” – couldn’t go down and call the fish by name any more. Adam and Eve became slaves. They chose to throw away all their freedoms and liberties. Paul said,

<Romans 6:16>
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey?”

They sold out to the Devil. Chose to separate themselves from God and life and happiness and freedom.

But a loving God understood. He couldn’t bear to be parted from them forever. He’d planned too much. Invested too much. Risked too much. And He loved them so much He couldn’t leave His erring children without hope. What could you do?

As angels sadly ushered them out the gate of the Garden of Eden for one last final time, God promised Adam and Eve something: that one day His own Son, the Seed of the Woman, would come to die for them so they could be restored to the family of God and have eternal life again. Right there in Genesis 3:15 God spoke to the serpent and said:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

What a glorious promise! Yes! Jesus Messiah would come! But unfortunately, as generations passed and homo sapiens multiplied on earth, sin also exponentially exploded. The human race almost forgot God. People became corrupt, vile. Immoral. Depraved.

<Genesis 6:5>
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

So abominably evil, it became necessary for God to destroy this wicked world by a flood in order to preserve any life on the earth! Only eight people survived! Did we learn our lesson? No.

After the flood, it wasn’t many generations before people became corrupt again. But this time in order to preserve a holy people on earth, a remnant, a special church of God’s “called out” ones.

God called Abraham and his family out of the idolatrous and corrupt Ur of the Chaldees. Near Baghdad. Our Marines moving up from Kuwait to Baghdad passed right through Ur! The Lord said, “Abraham…

<Genesis 12:1, 2>
“...Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.”

Do you think this was easy? Abraham was a wealthy business tycoon playing the market and trading on Wall Street. His friends derided him and said, “Abraham, you’re leaving Babylon?” (Yep.) “Where on earth are you going?” (Dunno. God will lead me.) “What will you do when you get there?” (Raise up a great nation). “What? You have no children and you’re 75!” “Who will protect you?” (Him!)

What a lesson for God’s faithful people today. We’ve got to trust God, even when we don’t understand! Hang on in faith, Abraham, even if you have to leave your friends. Not knowing where you’re going, or what the future holds. You may not know what the future holds, but you know Who holds the future!

<Hebrews 11:9, 10>
“By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; For he waited [looked] for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

Here’s what’s important: God promised to give to Abraham and his children all that Adam and Eve lost. That’s why Bible prophets in all ages looked forward to our day and the restoration of all things.

Hebrews 11 says Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Abel, Isaac, Rahab, David, and Samuel – they all believed in God’s promise to restore what Adam and Eve lost. But for them, there’s just one problem:

<Hebrews 11:13, 16>
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, embraced them...But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Heaven!

Isaiah, the greatest of all the messianic prophets, gave a thrilling description clear back in the Old Testament of the restoration God has prepared for His saved people:

<Isaiah 65:17>
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Listen! You folks in Washington D.C. – where the snipers were shooting last Fall. In Los Angeles – where the news reported record gang shootings all Winter and Spring. In San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, and Sydney, Australia…Good news!

<Isaiah 60:18>
“Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.”

Just think – NO violence! No smart bombs. Isn’t that WONDERFUL to think about? No need there for weapons to defend and protect ourselves. No rapists or thieves! Walk those streets of gold with no worry of being attacked or robbed?

Our Voice of Prophecy evangelistic team last year in COLONIA TOVAR, near Caracas: We were out in the country taking a drive in a 4WD. It was so breathtaking, we stopped to photograph. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a white Ford Bronco roared up. “Bang! Bang! Danger! Americans go!”

The prophet tells us,

<Isaiah 11:6>
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat...and a little child shall lead them.”

God restores planet Earth to its original beauty,

<Isaiah 33:24>
“And the inhabitant will not say, ‘I am sick’...”

My dad with your triple bypass, no heart attacks! Lon, no more cancer or AVMs. No allergies, friend. (Isn’t that great news?)

<Isaiah 35:5>
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened...”

First thing my blind friends, like Robin and Stephanie Dawn, will want to see is: the face of Jesus! Oh, what a glorious day that will be. I want to be there to see you see Jesus! And you folks watching these Bible lectures by sign language, listen to this:

<Isaiah 35:5, 6>
“...the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…Then the lame shall leap like a deer...”

No more wheelchairs, Jeff…or, Estelita in our VOP office with one leg amputated. No more quadriplegics, friend! No more crutches! Everyone will have perfect bodies.

(Whoa! There goes grandma on the Sea of Glass!) Sparkling. Glittering. Sensational! Walking on water.

<Isaiah 35:6>
“...and the tongue of the dumb sing.”

Perhaps they’ll have vocal chords that can sing in 4-part harmony! What a happy day! But there’s more…

<Isaiah 35:1>
“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

Near where I live in California it’s a citrus paradise. My Chinese friend, the late Dr. Philip Chen, could grow five different kinds of citrus on one tree. But in the beautiful new earth the Tree of Life has 12 different fruits every month!

<Isaiah 65:21, 22>
“They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”

We’ll realize our wildest dreams! Unrestricted! Limitless innovations. Creative and ingenious inventions because in Heaven, there’s no lock on earth that God won’t let us pick! Heaven is a real place with real people doing real things. The Bible says people will know us by our own names, and even by our idiosyncrasies. Our long nose, or big ears, or big hands – they will be perfect noses and ears and hands. Our voice will be similar. Smiles. Laughter.

<Isaiah 66:22, 23>
“‘For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make, shall remain before me,’ says the Lord, ‘so shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before me,’ says the Lord.”

Every Sabbath will be one grand “family reunion” party that we’ll never tire of! We’ll have such a good time, the Bible says even God will laugh.

(Whoa! There goes Grandma again on the Sea of Glass!)

<Isaiah 35:10>
“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

If that doesn’t sound exciting – you’re dead! Wonderful, joyful celebrations as we assemble each Sabbath from traveling all over the four corners of the universe. We come back at the speed of thought...back to the Capital City, the Holy City, on Sabbath to praise and sing and have fellowship.

And you know what? Our Bible says right at this very moment there’s the sound of construction and jack hammers and saws sawing, hammers hammering and paint sprayers buzzing, because Jesus said He went away to personally build us each a mansion. Can you imagine Jesus up there with the angels helping? Building mansions beyond description? Paul says we wouldn’t believe it if he described it to us. Majestic. Perfect. Because Jesus Himself builds that mansion.

But then Isaiah surprises me even more to say, “Lon, you’ll get to build a house, too. A second home. And Jesus will help you as the Heavenly Architect and Divine Carpenter.”

Perhaps we’ll build that home in the country – or by the water. Or, on a mountain. Then each weekend we’ll go into the capital city of the New Earth and stay in our mansion in the city.

Now, it may surprise you that this is all going to take place right here on this re-created Earth – the future home of the saved. For Jesus said,

<Matthew 5:5>
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

(The meek don’t have much of it today; most of it is in the hands of finance companies!) Listen: God is going to restore Planet Earth to its original perfection, a glorious New Earth! By the way, this is another reason no one is in Heaven yet today, because Jesus says this earth is where God is going to finally re-create Heaven. This earth will be our final ultimate home, recreated. Repeat out loud with me one of Jesus’ most wonderful promises:

<John 14:1-3>
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

The only reason Jesus is coming, friend, is because He doesn’t have a one of us with Him yet! Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer, to pray that day of restoration comes soon.

<Matthew 6:10>
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We’re not up there yet. So, we need to pray that prayer every day. But now, for the grand finale of the story, let’s go back once more to the Isle of Patmos and consider in detail the magnificent city John saw in vision. Poor John! It seems as a prophet he had a hard time finding the right words to express the grandeur of the Holy City. As gorgeous as pictures on the screen are, as mind-boggling any visualization, and as crazy and preposterous as our zany imaginations try to picture Heaven, Paul says you aren’t even close!

<1 Corinthians 2:9>
“...Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

But wait a minute! Most people fail to read the next verse that says,

<1 Corinthians 2:10>
“But God has revealed them unto us through His Spirit...”

Enough information to give us a “sneak preview.” If He described what it was really like, we’d be so absolutely astonished and blown away we wouldn’t believe it! So, in the Bible it’s like looking through dark sunglasses. We use our imagination a bit – there goes Grandma! But the half has not been told! If Peter could walk on water, so can we!

So say John and Isaiah and all the prophets. It’s all true! John tries hard to unfold details of the Holy City. But then he puts his pen down, takes a deep breath and says: Wow! “It is too fabulous to be true!” (But we have God’s Word for it!) John continues:

<Revelation 21:1, 2>
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth and...there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Then he struggles in his attempt to use human language to tells us about the city:

<Revelation 21:11>
“...Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.”

<Revelation 21:17>
“Then he measured its wall: 144 cubits [66 meters]...” high

<Revelation 21:21>
“The 12 gates were twelve pearls...”

So there are pearly gates, on which are written the names of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel, Verses 21-22. The streets and the city are pure gold, transparent as glass. Verse 16 gives the measurements of this city…

“The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he [the angel] measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. [Then it adds]: The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal [or, proportionate].”

A furlong is one-eighth of an English mile, one-fifth of a kilometer. So translated into everyday arithmetic that makes it some 1,500 miles around! 375 miles on each side. But maybe it’s a perfect cube? (Perhaps in 3-D. This would mean 375 miles high!) Will it be big enough?

Tokyo has nearly 35 million people. New York, 20 million people. Seoul and Mexico City each have nearly 20 million each.

One mathematician has estimated New Jerusalem, if you calculate it carefully, could easily house two billion people! (In the “first dimension” only!) In other words, there will be room for everyone who wants to be there.

<Revelation 21:23>
“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light...”

The twelve foundations have the names of the apostles on them, and are garnished with precious stones precisely the colors of the rainbow, so it LOOKS like it’s sitting on a rainbow! And,

<Revelation 22:1, 2>
“...a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb...On each side of the river [is] the tree of life, bearing twelve [kinds] of fruit...”

– a different fruit each month. Perhaps a trunk or both sides of the river, joining like a Banyon tree above the river. And,

<Revelation 22:5>
“There shall be no night there...”

<Revelation 22:4>
“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it...”

And then the most wonderful promise found in Revelation 21:4…

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things are passed away.”

I can’t wait for that, can you? I never get used to a funeral. But what will we do to keep us busy in such a wonderful place?

No crime, no sickness, no hunger or disease – no regular “jobs” like we have here! Just peace and harmony forever! What to do? Listen: we’ll get to do all the things we ever dreamed of doing here and zillions more!

Build our dream home in the Alps, plant our own vineyards on the Riviera. Jesus, the Creator, will be there to open to us the mysteries of Creation. We’ll never quit learning new things. Science. Astronomy. Astro-physics. Mathematics. Geometry. We’ll be able to travel any time we wish. “Whoa! There goes Grandma on the sea of glass!” We’ll have forever-time to be with our friends and loved ones. [I want to go with each of you...for 2,000 years!]

And each weekend we’ll return back at the speed of thought to spend Sabbath in our city home, praising God and singing with the angels and Jesus – our special time to fellowship with our Lord.

Well, you may ask, “Sounds too good to be true. So glorious! Can I be certain that I can make it there?” The answer is simple – yet some people try to make it so complex. Jesus turns our master key in the lock to get every one of us into those Pearly Gates. He’s your ticket to Heaven.

<Galatians 3:29>
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

If you accept Jesus as your Savior and LORD (He’s Boss)...THEN the same promise made to Abraham is your promise, too. [Paul calls this the “in Christ” motif. Explain: All promises from Genesis to Revelation!] They’re yours forever, friend.

That’s why today God wants you and me to know the best is yet to come! Are you homesick for Heaven? I am. Don’t you want to be there? I do! God gives us an invitation today:

In the last verses of Revelation. Most beautiful in all of Scripture…

<Revelation 22:16-18>
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. And the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book...”

It’s true, friend! You can be a part of God’s fabulous tomorrow – if you invite Him into your heart.

<Revelation 22:20, 21>
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

In one of the “Chicken Soup” books comes a touching story from Seattle. It’s about the 100-yd. dash competition in the Seattle “Special Olympics” for the disabled. Nine contestants (all physically/mentally disabled) position themselves at the starting line. The gun fires! They take off, arms flailing in a half-sprint. One little boy, however – barely off the blocks – trips and falls on the asphalt. As he tumbles to the ground, he lets out a mournful wail and begins to cry! Hearing the forlorn sobs from well up the track the other eight runners reduce their already slow pace. Turn around. And they go BACK! All eight of them! They pull their fallen athlete to his feet. Then the entire group links arms and WALKS to the finish line together! In the thunderous standing ovation, cheering for the nine Gold Medalists lasted for ten minutes!

So refreshing. So innocent. So unhuman-like! Loving someone undeserving. Giving an opponent a break! That’s what Jesus has done!

Luke 6:32-36 says that’s why He came down to the race track of life because we’ve all fallen down and become disabled. He came to pick us up and set us free from our problems and our sins and our self-centered broken lives. To link arms with us and go “marching to Zion” right on to the finish line!

And the best news is those golden crowns, those Olympic gold medals? They won’t be given to just one winner. But to everyone – everyone who finishes the race. Jesus is on the track right now. He’s here. He has come. And He is reaching down around each of us. Lifting us up! Giving us another chance. And today he offers to pick us up, put His arms around us, and walk us all the way to the finish line and give us Heaven!

Would you close your eyes for a moment? Perhaps bow your head. I want you to use your imagination and think about Heaven. Imagine it’s evening up there right now. Two lone figures (Christ and Gabriel) are walking silently in the gathering dusk of the city. All alone, they pass a huge section filled with mansions...As they walk along the silent streets, it’s Gabriel who breaks the silence:
“Master! They’re so lovely, so perfect, and so wonderful as only You can make them.”
“Yes Gabriel, they are. If only they weren’t so empty.”
“But didn’t You plan sometime ago to go down and receive Your people?”
“Yes, but not yet.”
“But Master, I look down and see the people. They seem so content! Like they don’t even want to come to this place.”
“Yes, Gabriel, I know.”
They walk in silence. Tears begin to flow. Again it’s Gabriel who breaks the silence. He turns and says, “Jesus,” (Jesus loves to be called that!) “when are You going to get them?”
“Not yet. A little longer.” (He realizes so few are ready).
They walk a bit further. This time it’s Jesus who breaks the silence. Through tear-dimmed eyes He turns to Gabriel and says, “Gabriel, don’t they want to come home?”

Do we? I ask you to look into your heart. Would you be happy if He’d come today? Do you really want to go Home?