Revelation 22: 1-17
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.’
‘Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.’
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!’
Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.’
‘Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practise magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practises falsehood.
‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
We have seen that Heaven will be stunning, it will be safe and secure and it is saturated with the presence of God. Today we will look at two other aspects of our eternal home:
IT’S SIZE IS HUGE
“The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.” (vv 15-16)
Remember that in Revelation the number 12 signifies God’s people – 12 tribes in the Old Testament, 12 Apostles in the New Testament. Here as we read about this new creation, there are 12’s everywhere.
12 gates, 12 foundations, 12 angels.
Here we read the new city it says is 12,000 stadia by 12,000 by 12,000. This means 2 things. First of all, it just means it’s huge. Someone has worked this out that in our measurements it is 2.75 billion cubic miles of city.
God doesn’t do anything by halves. He gives us a huge city and the size would indicate that there’s not just a few people there, but there’s millions and millions, and it’s more than big enough for all of us. I love that it says this:
“There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.” (21:13)
In other words, God’s people from north, south, east and west will be able to enter it. It will be multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, diverse, people from every nation, tribe and tongue. They all have one thing in common – Jesus. We go back to 4:9 where it says:
“...with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
So it’s a huge city made up of millions and billions of God’s people from throughout all time.
Not long ago, the Economist magazine had this headline talking about Christianity in China:
Cracks in the atheist edifice: The rapid spread of Christianity is forcing an official rethink on religion.
It said this:
“Christianity is hard to control in China, and getting harder all the time. It is spreading rapidly, and infiltrating the Communist Party’s own ranks….
Many experts, foreign and Chinese, now accept that there are probably more Christians than there are members of the 87 million strong Communist Party. Most are evangelical…
…the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980… on current trends there will be 250 million Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world.”
250 million Chinese Christians alone. That’s why we need a big city.
WE WILL BE SATISFIED
We spend our whole lives thirsty, searching for something that will satisfy, that will complete us, that will remove the restlessness and emptiness we feel. It’s actually a longing for eternity, it’s an unfulfilled desire to get back to how we were originally created – for God, with God, enjoying His presence and friendship.
When don’t realise that, we drink from many sources and streams to try and quench this eternal thirst. Remember the Harlot of Babylon – what did she offer?
“She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.” (17: 4)
“For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (18:3)
She offers a drink of her filth and destruction and death – all from a golden cup. And everyone necks it - they get drunk on it.
It’s like trying to satisfy your thirst by drinking from the sewer. It might temporarily quench your thirst – but it will kill you. Sin never satisfies. It never delivers what we had hoped. Sin overpromises and under delivers. It costs us more than we ever wanted to pay.
Now look what God offers:
“To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (21: 6)
God says – here’s real satisfaction, real refreshment, real life, real fulfilment. And there’s lots of it. There’s not just one cup available – there’s a spring which never stops flowing. Keep coming back, keep getting filled, it never runs out.
God offers us something pure and clean and refreshing and satisfying. And the best bit - it’s free. It’s already been paid for.
While we only find the fullest fulfilment when we go to be with God, when we enter the new creation and live in God’s pure presence forever, through Jesus we can have a foretaste of it now.
Remember the woman at the well, who was trying to find satisfaction, to quench her thirst through sex and relationships and had 5 marriages behind her. Jesus points to the well and says to her:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 13-14)
Then a few chapters later he says again:
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” (John 7: 37)
And then, when we get to the very last page of the Bible, we see Jesus offers the same invitation:
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (22: 17)