One of the old hymns we used to sing was, "IN THE SWEET BY AND BY," and it portrayed Heaven. "There's a land that is fairer than day, And by FAITH we can see it afar, For the Father waits over the way, to prepare us a dwelling place there." This week, I have adapted the article from ISRAEL MY GLORY magazine, The Best Is Yet To Come, by Charles McCracken.
"During our more than 35 years together, my wife and I have never needed much of an excuse to enjoy nature. We've done everything from backpacking to tenting to trailer camping--relishing every minute of daylight in the great outdoors. Nightfall brings it's own pleasures; and with a luminous star chart in hand, we've gazed into the night sky, sequestered away from city lights. Wew generally celebrate our anniversary viewing Perseids meteor shower in August, and we willingly brave the cold to catch the Leonids and Geminids. I even skipped a day of college on February 26, 1979, when wew skied to Pierre's Knob at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Montana, and donned welding masks to observe the totality of the solar eclipse of the century. The next one visible in North America is in 2017. If I ever grouch about getting up in the wee hours of the morning to observe these naturally occurring phenomena, my wife reminds me that sky watching is fascinating--and it's free.
Granted, not everyone lives with his eyes on the sky, but the Bible speaks of a time when all of the Earth's inhabitants will focus on the heavens. There they will see "the sign of the Son of Man" heralding the singular event that will change history, not only for the remainder of time, but also for eternity; the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Mt. 24:30). The sun and moon will grow dark at the end of seven years of terrible tribulation, adding to the drama of the event and accentuating the stunning revelation of the Messiah. After the Son of Man grabs the world's attention, the heavens will break open to reveal a majestic procession, as Jesus Christ approaches the planet with His saints and the angelic host to establish His Kingdom on earth (I Th. 3:13,; 2 Thes. 1:7; Jude 14; Rev. 20:4). As He descends through the atmosphere, the armies of the world will scramble to prevent His return (Ps. 2:2). In a fraction of a second and with the precision of a laser, the Word of Christ will reduce to nothing the military power arrayed against the King of kings (Col. 1:16-17; Rev. 19:21). Earth will then be ready to enjoy an unparalleled golden age, with King Messiah (Jesus) ruling the planet.
Everyone will benefit from the fulfilled promises of the literal, 1,000 Messianic kingdom embodying all of the unilateral covenants God made with Israel. The Messianic Kingdom will be the final dispensation of history; and Earth's inhabitants will enjoy peace, prosperity, and righteous justice as the Messiah rules. Not only will there be an absence of war, but all species of animals will coexist harmoniously; and humans will no longer be threatened by predatory or venomous creatures (Isa. 11:6-9). The world will be restored to its pre-Fall condition before sin entered the picture, and mankind will experience longevity far beyond its wildest dreams.
Satan's rebellion at the end of the thousand years is followed by the Great White Throne judgment in which death, Hades, and everyone not found written in the Book of Life are cast with Satan into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). This is the most somber moment in the annals of earth's history; but at this judgment, death--man's final enemy--is destroyed forever. After witnessing the purging of the old heavens and earth (II Peter 3:10-12), everyone who has loved the Lord will be on hand to hear God declare, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). They will watch in awe as He creates a new Heaven and new Earth (Isa. 65:17; 2 Pet. 3:13). The new Earth will have significant modifications; I will no longer be the "blue planet" hanging in space because, as he Apostle John observed, There was no more sea (Rev. 21:1). Currently 71 percent of Earth's surface is covered by oceans that contain 97 percent of it's water supply.
THE NEW JERUSALEM
The most prominent feature of the new earth will be the New Jerusalem, with a beauty comparable to a bride adorned for her husband--awesome, radiant, bejeweled, and pure. Descending from heaven to the new earth, the new Jerusalem will be an immense city with four sides, each measuring 1,300 to 1,500 miles in length; and its height will be equal to its width (vv. 2, 9-10, 16-17). Using the dimensions of the New Jerusalem provided in the book of Revelation, the late Dr. Henry Morris roughly calculated the amount of space available for the redeemed. Predicated on the assumption that (1) the city will need to accommodate some 20 billion people and (2) only 25 percent of the total area will be actual dwelling places, with the remainder designated for streets, parks, and public buildings, Dr. Morris calculated the average size of each residence to be 75 acres. Even if the space allotted each occupant is only a third hat size, there obviously will be ample room in the awesome New Jerusalem.
Next week I will finish this article. However, if you are already AWED by God's creation, known as "the beauty of the earth," flowers, trees, animals, birds, fish, flora, fauna, mountains, rivers, streams, the vegetables and crops given for our physical sustenance by the God who, created them for us to enjoy, then I invite you to join me over in the glory, where we will enjoy things so beautiful and wonderful, that we can't even imagine them. Jesus Christ has already purchase your ticket by His death on Calvary's cruel cross. All it takes to get your ticket is to pray: "Lord Jesus, I receive you now as my Savior. I love You for dying my death and taking the beatings I deserve. I want to be with You over in Heaven and see all the marvelous beauty you have prepared for me. Please forgive my sins and wash me "Whiter than snow." Amen!
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