God has spoken into existence this universe, but He will also create a new and eternal one, the believer’s future home. The Father’s House will built with precious materials in enormous proportions, yet unseen by man. The River of Life will flow from the top down through the Father’s House and into the city. Life in heaven will be perfected, yet believers will not lose the essence of who they were on earth. Memories and experiences lived here will be remembered there. Happiness in heaven will not be based on what is happening on earth, but rather on seeing earth in light of our Savior and what He has accomplished.
This has been a wonderful study of our Creator God and His amazing creation, which is why I’m grateful, as we’ve learned, that we will have all of eternity, with Jesus Christ as our guide, to explore His creation throughout a new and eternal earth and a new and eternal universe.
He created the first universe and He has promised to create a final and immortal universe.
A proper study of earth and the universe and the world around us places God in the center and on the throne. The other option is to place man in the center and on the throne.
One evolutionist philosopher said on a panel discussion not too long ago – and I quote – “The universe has been set up in an exquisitely specific way so that evolution could produce the people that are sitting here today using our intelligence to talk about the universe.”
Think about the irony of that statement by the way . . . the universe has been set up in an exquisitely specific way, so that random mutations and millions of accidents over billions of years could produce intelligent people like us.
He went on to say with even more bravado –“Our intelligence is a powerful force and we can see that its power is growing exponentially and will ultimately be powerful enough to change the destiny of the universe.”
In other words, we are going to keep evolving to such a high level of intelligence that eventually we are going to be smart enough to determine what happens to the universe.
Listen, I cannot even determine what is going to happen in my front yard . . . is it going to grow grass or weeds – and how much of what? But evidently we are going be able to determine the destiny of the universe.
What is the destiny of the universe? Can we at least know what it is? Yes! We can know its future when we start with what God says about its beginning.
In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
• In the beginning God – there is divine intelligence.
• In the beginning God created – there is divine power.
• In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – there is divine planning and creativity.
According to Colossians chapter 1, it was God the Son – God the logos – God-the-word – who spoke into empty space and said, “Let there be light”, and it was so. And according to the Bible, the angels saw God the Son create the universe and earth (Job 38).
But according to the biblical timeline of future events, we will be present to see the creation of a new earth and universe. Following the destruction of the universe along with planet earth and the final judgment of all of the unbelieving human race of all time (Revelation 20) – God will then recreate the heavens and the earth.
We will be able to watch as eyewitnesses as Jesus, the Living Word, speaks, and perhaps – we don’t have a verse on this, but I believe that Jesus – God the Son will repeat much of Genesis chapter 1, only this time creating an immortal earth and universe. We will hear and watch Him say, “Let there be light… Let the stars and planets fill the universe . . .”
And we will get to see Him speak into existence the sun and moon and fling the stars into space by the power of His word; then watch Him populate the new and immortal earth with animals of every kind.
This is the same Jesus, by the way, who delivered this promise to His disciples: In My Father’s House are many dwelling places (many estates); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there you may be also.
Later on, John the Apostle will be given a personal tour of this city of gold, the Father’s House, of which he will describe for us in Revelation 21.
As I have told many people over my years of ministry, if you have trouble with Genesis chapter 1, you are going to have trouble explaining Revelation chapter 21, where John the Apostle sees Heaven already finished – it is not evolving, and it is not under construction either.
John writes, Then I saw a new heaven (universe) and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.
And then he goes on to describe, in living color, the sights and sounds of Heaven, the Celestial City, the New Jerusalem adorned as Bride – also known as the Father’s House.
Let us explore that future home of ours and answer a few more questions about what life will be like in the Father’s House.
Turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 21. Look at verse 10 where we see the Father’s House, the New Jerusalem, the Celestial City of Gold descend to the new earth.
John describes it, And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates on the south and at the gates 12 angels.
If you look down at verse 17, John does not tell us how high this outer wall is, but he does tell us that it happens to be 144 cubits thick. Translated into English, that is around 250 feet thick.
If you look further down in verse 21 we are told that there are 12 gates hinged to this wall, three on each of the four sides of the city, and each gate is made out of a single pearl matching the thickness of the wall. This allows us to figure out something unimaginable.
What I mean is we have not even seen what inside yet, and we are already staggered by what John saw. Each gate is crafted out of a pearl which has a diameter of 250 feet.i
What kind of oyster did it take to make that one? An oyster did not make this pearl over the course of a million years, Jesus does. And even though He creates a real pearl, He does so by transcending the normal processes of time and matter just like He did when He created real bread and real fish in his hands, thousands of times, in order to feed 5,000 people. That was real bread as if it had been baked in the oven; that was real fish as if it had been freshly caught from the sea and pickled, like they did in the first century to eat with their barely bread.
Now to help you imagine how big one of these pearls would have to be to fit these dimensions, let me illustrate it this way: If we could rent a crane to come and lower one of those pearls into this church’s auditorium, it would not even begin to fit. Even if we moved out all one thousand seats it is not nearly large enough to hold just one of those pearls.
If you tried to lower this pearl down into the local 19,000 seat sporting arena where North Carolina State University plays basketball, there still would not be enough room.
You would have to travel to the 100,000 seat Dallas Cowboys football stadium to find room to drop in just one set of gates from the Father’s House.
The Father’s House is like no other house you have ever seen.
By the way, have you ever wondered why pearls would be used by the Lord in creating the gates into the Celestial City of Heaven?
Of all the other precious gems we are told about by John, the pearl is the only gem mentioned which would normally be formed by a living creature. The little oyster receives a wound or an irritation as small as a grain of sand inside its shell, and around that uncomfortable grain of sand, the oyster layers over it and over it, again and again until it creates a pearl.ii A pearl is something beautiful created out of something painful.iii
You might say that a pearl is the oyster’s answer to whatever injured it. Heaven is the answer of God to that which injured our crucified Lord. Jesus bore the greatest possible irritations of sin, shame, and wrath for our sake. Something beautiful came out of something painful.
Each time we enter the Father’s House through one of those 12 pearly gates we are going to be reminded:
• that Jesus Christ was born on earth,
• in order to suffer in death
• so that a doorway could be opened for all who enter by faith.
John reveals that the host city is measured – I believe these are cubed measurements - as a sum total of somewhere between 1300-1500 miles. This means that the bottom floor of the Father’s House extends 11 miles in every directions and the top of the house would stretch 11 miles high. It would literally stretch upward through our atmosphere.
The tallest skyscraper mankind has built thus far, the tower of Dubai, stretches 2,717 feet into the air between its 161 floors.
The tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, stuns with its massive structure and height. You would have to put 10 towers of Dubai on top of each other in order to reach the height of Mount Everest, at 29,000 feet.
But to give you an idea of how tall the Father’s House is – that Celestial City of Gold where you will one day have an estate – you would have to stack one Mount Everest on top of another before you would reach the apex of the Father’s House.
The Father’s House is 11 miles high. You could put several thousand towers of Dubai into the first floor of the 12 levels or floors of the Father’s House with plenty of room to spare.
One artist attempted to capture the idea of the glory and immensity inside just one of the 12 levels of the Father’s House.
We are told by the Apostle John that the river of life is going to flow from the Father’s throne at the top of His House cascade down each level. Can you imagine a waterfall a mile high? On each side of that river which flows through the center and of the Celestial City, we are told in scripture, orchards of trees will bear fruit every single month representing the tree of life.
When the Lord promised His disciples in John 14 that they would have a dwelling place in the Father’s House, your Bibles might render that word as mansions. The Greek word is mone (μονη) which is better translated dwelling places.
This promise of the Lord is rooted in the imagery of the Jewish wedding. During the Kiddushim period, the betrothal or engagement period, the young man adds on to his father’s house a dwelling place. When it is time to celebrate his marriage he collects his bride and, after the ceremony and feasting, brings her back to live in his father’s house.
They do not live down the street or over in the next county until she has proven her worth. They do move closer and closer to the Father’s House depending on how good she is. No - she lives in the family home! There is a private dwelling place directly connected to the Father’s House.
The word for dwelling place the Lord uses can have the idea of an apartment or an estate or even the idea of a pasture – a large field with a dwelling place on it.
The prophets, along with John the Apostle, describe for us the City of God which will settle in Jerusalem on a newly created and raised plateau after the Lord changes the topography of that region.
The river flowing from the throne of God will eventually flow outside the City walls and into the region of Jerusalem and beyond.
Frankly, we’re not told how big or small our dwelling place is in the Father’s house – like I’ve said before, I’d like to have a window . . . a balcony would be amazing. What we do know is that every believer will have a home address in the Father’s House.
In fact, even though this city has not descended yet, as John describes in Revelation 21, even though it is somewhere we cannot see right now, it will descend and hover over Jerusalem during the Millennial Kingdom and then, after earth and the universe is destroyed and recreated, it will settle on a New Jerusalem.
Where you will have a dwelling place forever. But in the meantime, even now, believers who die are immediately going to be with their Lord in Heaven. For to be absent from the body – that is, to have died – Paul writes, is to be present with the Lord.
(2 Corinthians 5:8)
Imagine what life will be like then.
But here is a question I want to address . . . what is life like now, for those who have already died! What clues are we given in scripture? Will we remember who we are after we die? Are we still us?
Yes, but before you panic, remember, you will be perfected. Our memories will remain – we won’t forget who we are and who we were on earth. In fact, God intends us to remember the names of the 12 Apostles and the 12 sons of Jacob – they are written on the gates and foundation gemstones of this glorious City. Every time we pass through a gate we will be reminded of one of the 12 sons of Jacob.
Every time we go up to the floor where the foundation stone has engraved on it the name, “Peter”, we are going to remember Peter, and, no doubt, in remembering him, we will remember his sin.
However, our memories will be perfected in holiness, and we will not dwell on his sin but on the grace of Christ in Peter’s life . . . and ours.
But surely, you would think nobody in Heaven, today, is talking or thinking about anything unless it is positive and happy.
Consider the Mount of Transfiguration where the Lord and Peter, James, and John end up having a brief Bible conference with Moses and Elijah. Moses died 1500 years and Elijah was taken to heaven 900 years before this event.
And now they are shown meeting with Jesus, robed in glorious splendor. Their clothing and visage, along with the transfigured Lord, are as bright as lightning (Matthew 17).
What are they talking about? Luke’s Gospel records that they were talking to Jesus about His crucifixion, His departure from Jerusalem, and His exodus from earth (Luke 9:31).
My point is that they were still Moses and Elijah; they did not need an introduction to Jesus. And they knew what was going to happen next, along with all its suffering and sorrow. They knew what Jesus was about to face. And maybe the fact that both Moses and Elijah knew what it was like to be rejected by Israel was one of the reasons they were sent on this assignment to encourage the Lord.
Let me give you another clue: further along, in Revelation chapter 18, an angel points to the events happening on earth during the Tribulation period, and John watches as the believers in heaven rejoice over the judgment of God upon earth (Revelation 18:20). They are evidently able to observe to some degree these significant events.
In fact, in the next chapter, as God is judging the empire of Satan and the Antichrist during the Tribulation, you read that there was,
The roar of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous. (Revelation 19:1)
People in Heaven are very aware of the wrath of God and the judgment of the human race on earth.
Another example is found during the ministry of Jesus, when the Lord promised in one of his messages that: There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus did not actually say that the angels were doing the rejoicing but that the rejoicing was done in the presence of the angels?
One author put it this way: Who but believers living in the Father’s House, along with the Lord, would break out in celebration at the conversion of another lost sinner – in fact, a sinner they knew needed saving and they knew they hadn’t been saved yet – but evidently had some way of finding out that that lost sinner has now joined the family of God and will one day join them in Heaven.iv
And they rejoice like we cannot imagine. We have reached the wrong conclusion that for Heaven to be heaven we cannot know anything about what is happening on earth.
Millions of people will come to faith during the Tribulation and then be martyred for it. Evidently this will be what is happening on earth because the Apostle John actually hears them praying to God this amazing prayer:
How long Oh Lord will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth.
• They are in Heaven, but they know that judgment has not been completed on earth.
• They are in Heaven, but they are still praying for the Lord to act.
• They are in Heaven, but they are still waiting for an answer to prayer.
• And even though they are in Heaven, they are aware of earth and its violence and reign of evil, but it evidently is not ruining Heaven for them.
Future happiness in heaven is not based on our failure to know what is happening on earth; it is based on seeing earth with new eyes and with the perspective of our Lord and Savior.
With perfected hearts and glorified minds we will see everything in light of who God is, and we will glory in the grace of God for the redeemed and the justice of God toward the unredeemed with equal admiration.
So from what we can gather, there is awareness of major issues and major events. Do not get the idea that people in heaven are watching your every move. You do not need to be afraid to watch a football game or take a nap. I am going do both of those things today without any hesitation.
But listen, we do not know all the facets of what our beloved in heaven see and know, but what we need to rethink is the fact that they do not care.
They evidently deeply care about the redemption of the lost; and the justice of God and the reign of Christ.
And by the way, our happiness in heaven is not going to depend on a memory swipe so that we never remember anything about our lives on earth. Our memories make us who we are. In fact, we are going to be rewarded for everything we did on earth that was in obedience to Christ.
Our happiness in heaven will be based on Christ’s forgiveness of who we were, and our perception of His forgiveness will be perfected and deepened, liberating and freeing, for we shall see Him, embrace Him, worship Him, and be secure in Him forever.
So the joy of Heaven is not based on our ignorance but our new understanding. v The grace and glory of Christ will only be that much more brilliant and beautiful and amazing.
John writes in verse 14 of Revelation 21:
And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
I think it is fascinating that the gates and the foundation stones do not have verses engraved in them. In fact, the only engraving we read about in the structure of the Father’s house are not verses but names . . . names of people.
The glory of God is going to be reflected in the memories and histories and redemption of people. All the redeemed of Old and New Testaments are represented in the architecture of the Father’s House.
Just as Jesus Christ remembered and loved His disciples after He was resurrected and glorified, so we will remember our lives together as believers, as family members, as church members, as fellow laborers.
Oh yes, our minds and hearts will be forever cleaned up, glorified, perfected, never to be stained again with the slightest sin - always developing and learning and experiencing a deeper awareness of God’s forgiveness and the ability to forgive one another. We are going to rejoice in what we have come through and where we now are.
And unlike the first creation, this new creation will not have the potential of another Lucifer rebelling.vi Or another Adam and Eve sinning. No, our perfection and eternal glorification is guaranteed forever.
This is the City of God. This is Heaven on a new earth surrounded by a new universe.
• The Father’s House of gold and glory will be without iniquity.
• Our hearts and lives will be without any impurity.
• Our service for Him will be without any inconsistency.
• And our worship of Him will go on unceasingly.
Forever and ever – in living color – without end.
i Grant R. Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary: Revelation (Baker, 2002), p. 758
ii John Phillips, Exploring Revelation (Loizeaux Brothers, 1991), p. 254
iii Adapted from Ray Stedman, Revelation: God’s Final Word (Discovery House, 1991), p. 344
iv Adapted from Randy Alcorn, In Light of Eternity (Waterbrook Press, 1999), p. 98
vi Nathan M. Meyer, From Now to Eternity (BMH Books, 1976), p. 203