Jump Start # 2183
Revelation 21:4 ”and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes and there shall be no longer any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
I have been teaching Revelation on Sunday mornings for many weeks. We are going at a pace of one chapter a week. It’s been a great study and for many in the class, it has been the first time that everything seems to being falling in place and making sense. We are down to one chapter left. Revelation is such an encouraging book. It’s one of my favorites.
The final two chapters are about the Heavenly city. Gone and dealt with are the beasts, the harlot and even Satan. Just God and His people and the glorious hope that binds them together. Our verse today, is one of many from that picture that John was shown about the relationship we will have with God. Several things to notice here.
First, for the righteous, things are only going to get better. Death, crying, mourning and pain are part of our world now. Those things will pass. They will not transcend the eternal city of God. All of the things John mentions in this verse, death, mourning, crying, pain are all connected and caused by sin. They are also all connected to innocent suffering, such as what these first readers were experiencing. Those things will end. Things will be different. They are only gong to get better. We cannot imagine even a day without those things. Turn on the news and there is crying, pain and death. Check Facebook and there is someone sharing the heartache of crying, pain and death. It’s everywhere and it’s everyday. However, it won’t be forever. The first things will pass away. In the next verse God declares that He is making all things new.
Second, the element of freewill will be gone. Freedom and choice are built into our thinking and our DNA. We go out to eat and there is a menu with all kinds of choices. Everyday we have choices. We can pick the good, the bad or the ugly. We can stand with Martha or we can sit with Mary, who made the one necessary choice. Our words are a matter of choice. Our attitudes are chosen. And, with freewill is the opportunity to make the wrong choice. To eat the forbidden fruit. To ignore the preaching of Noah. To serve the gods in the land, unlike Joshua. To walk away from Jesus, as some of the multitudes did. I chose to go to worship yesterday. No one made me. Following the flow of Revelation, our verse is found after Satan is sent to torment forever, and after the dead have gathered to be judged. Our verse defines what the eternal city will be like. Freewill, choice, will not be part of it. We will not be tempted. All the wicked will be outside this holy city. There will be no bad influences. There will not be Satan putting things in our hearts. There will not be any wrong. There will be but one choice and that is to praise and serve God. Those that don’t like that, won’t be there. Those that are not interested in that, won’t have to worry, they won’t be there. Heaven is for those who are God focused and God centered.
Since, temptation, Satan and freewill will not be part of that world, the first things have passed, as our verse states, there won’t be any fear of messing up and being kicked out. You won’t have a bad day and say something that you shouldn’t and then be escorted to the pearly gates and told to leave and never come back. That’s not going to happen. Don’t let your mind go there. He is making all things new.
Third, God, Himself, shall wipe all tears from our eyes. Why tears? Life can be hard. Death could be painful. But once we reach God, the tears will be gone. There will be no more crying. The cause of tears will be gone. And, God will wipe our tears. Not an angel. Not one of the apostles, but God. The loving hand that created this universe, will take care of us. That expression brings memories of our childhood. Out playing, we banged our knees, and came running inside to the love and kisses of our moms who took care of us. God is there. He is there for us. He always has been.
Heaven will be different than life here, and the righteous will be glad it’s that way. Things can be tough here. Life can become weary for us. The days seem long and the nights even longer. We tire of seeing wrong choices. We get weary of bad news. We become discouraged when God’s people don’t act like God’s people. We don’t like to see brethren fussing at each other. Indifference, lukewarmness, and neglect dominate far too many congregations and too many hearts these days. Brighter days are ahead of us. Those things will not be part of that Heavenly picture. There won’t be any discouragement in Heaven. There won’t be bad news. There won’t be any disappointment. It’s hard to imagine even a day without those things.
For us, these words remind us to hang on, hang in there and continue on. Overcome is the word used in Revelation. Overcome all the things that pull you down. Overcome all the things standing between you and Jesus. Don’t miss this. Don’t let anything or anyone keep you from Heaven. It’s time to stop playing with our faith and be serious. It’s time to drop the excuses and do what we should and what God expects. It’s time to stop blaming others for our lack of involvement in the kingdom. Things are only going to get better.
And when those words roll our in your mouth and in your mind a few times, things are only going to get better, a person starts longing to be there. Come, Lord Jesus, as Revelation ends, becomes something meaningful to us. We start seeing things from God’s perspective. We start living as if one foot is already there.
It’s only going to get better. There are not many things we can say that about. As one ages, we know that’s not the case health wise. We start falling apart. We can’t say that about school. The more advanced you go, the harder it becomes. But the days coming, when what really matters and what is really important, will only get better.
Together with God, that’s the picture Revelation gives us. That’s our future. That’s our hope. It’ll only get better.