Sunday, March 29, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 35: The Kingdom of God to Come

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: ' Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Our topic today is the future Kingdom of God that is ushered in by the second coming of Christ. John describes the great white throne judgment, at which everyone (great and small) will go before the great white throne of God and be judged on the basis of the things written in the book of life, "according to their deeds". 

"According to their deeds." That four-word phrase gives me such pause. One day, I will answer for everything I have ever done, and for those things I should have done, but did not. I dread that day, and it is only because of the blood of Jesus that I can even stand considering it. There is no excuse for my failures in the areas of caring for the poor, the imprisoned, the persecuted of this world. There is no excuse for my failure to feed the hungry or clothe the naked. I console myself with what I have done, but the truth of the matter is that I could do so much more. One day, I will answer for what I have done and have not done, and it drives me to greater service, as that knowledge should drive us all.

John tells us that the first heaven and earth will pass away and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. (Rev. 21:1) There will be a new Jerusalem and it will come down from heaven. (Rev.21:2). Here's where things really get exciting. God Himself will live among us. When He dwells with us, He will wipe away every tear, and there will be no death, no mourning, no crying, no pain. He will make all things new. 

The new Jerusalem will be wrapped in the glory of God. There will be a great and high wall with twelve gates, and an angel standing at every gate. Each gate will be a single pearl. The city wall will be made of jasper and the city will be made of pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city will will be adorned with every kind of precious stone. (Jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprases, jacinth, and amethyst. The streets will be pure gold.

Those things that we have treasured here on earth (gold, gemstones, pearls) will be nothing more than paving stones and asphalt in heaven. We won't need the light of the sun because the glory of God will be our light. There will be no night. 

A river of the water of life will run down the middle of the street and fruit trees will grow on either side of it. God Himself will give living water to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life. Not only will there be fruit, but even the leaves will be for healing. 

How do we enter this beautiful new heaven, this beautiful new earth? This is what Jesus says:
"Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done... Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city....And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." 
                                                                                                              Rev. 21:12,14,17 NASB

How do we gain access to this new heaven and new earth? We choose now to let the blood of Jesus cleanse us, for it is the only way to make our sin-stained hearts white as snow. We come to Jesus, just as we are, and allow Him to transform us and make us fit for His kingdom by His righteousness. He is coming quickly and we must be prepared to join Him. Will you be ready when He calls?