By Jeri Young
3 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
4 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God . 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Today, my goal in sharing this is to bring “encouragement.” We have some rough days ahead. Learning more about this “promised rest” will help us to keep looking up and keep our focus on Jesus.
Pastor George did an amazing job of covering the multiple words of “rest” that are mentioned in Hebrews 3 and 4 last Wednesday 9/16/20. If you weren’t able to watch him then, please go to our Calvary Chapel Arroyo Grande youtube site and watch it there. I’m just going to do a very quick recap of those “rests.”
The first rest talked about in Chapter 3 is the Promised Land “rest” which is the “rest” that the Jews missed because of their continued unbelief and disobedience in the desert.
Then we read about the “rest” that we experience on the earth through Christ’s “finished work” by His sacrifice on the cross. Praise God for His amazing gift of salvation to and for us. He did all of the work for us because we could never have done it on our own. This life would have been all we would have had with no hope of ever living in Heaven. So while we are alive on this earth, we “rest” knowing we are saved and also resting in a “future promised rest” that we know comes after this life.
We find that future “promised rest” in Chapter 4:9. The word used for “rest” in verse 9 is a completely different word than the other words for rest in these two chapters. The word is sabbatismos (sa-ba-TIS-mas) - or Sabboth rest. The Strong’s Concordance definition is: “the blessed rest from toils and troubles looked for in the age to come by the true worshippers of God and true Christians.” Charles Spurgeon wrote: “My rest," says God: the rest of God! Something more wonderful than any other kind of rest. In the original text, it is called the Sabbatism—not the Sabbath, but the rest of the Sabbath—not the outward ritual of the Sabbath, which was binding upon the Jew, but the inward spirit of the sabbath, which is the joy and delight of the Christian. "There remaineth therefore"—because others have not had it, because some are to have it—"There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”
So now the writer of Hebrews is pointing us to a different rest....a permanent rest from toils... a rest that happens after our life here on this earth is finished. He is pointing to Heaven. This is where I want us to take a look at what happens after life here on earth whether it be when God calls us home individually or when we are all raptured.
Most people say we go to Heaven and that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” and that is absolutely true but what does that mean???
Sometimes Heaven sounds like a place of extraordinary imagination. But couldn’t the reason we have such a capacity for imagination be because of the longing for eternity that God placed our heart? Like a bird’s homing instinct, it’s pointing us homeward. Let’s explore what scripture says about Heaven and be encouraged.
Is Heaven a real tangible place? Why is Heaven not talked about more? Why are not at least of few of the scriptures about Heaven memorized? How many of us think about Heaven daily or even once a week? Yes, we want to be out of this crazy world we’re living in right now....but what then? What’s next?
What does the Bible say about Heaven? We know that often quoted verse in 1 Cor 2:9, “No eye has seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But they fail to finish it. The next verse is, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.” Then another verse often quoted is: 2 Cor 12 “And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. ” But John was commanded to write about what he saw in Heaven. Then there are the visions of Heaven that Isaiah and Ezekiel wrote about. That verse in 2 Corinthians simply means that Paul was not allowed to repeat those particular inexpressible words that he heard.
So, why don’t we Christians talk about our forever home more than we do? In Col 3:1,2 We are told: “ Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”
In the Roman catacombs, where the bodies of many martyred early Christians were buried, there are inscriptions written on the tombs such as these:
“In Christ, Alexander is NOT dead, but lives”
“One who lives with God”
“He was taken up to his eternal home.”
One historian writes, “Pictures on the catacomb walls portray Heaven with beautiful landscapes, children playing, and people feasting at banquets.”
In AD 125, a Greek named Aristides wrote to a friend about Christianity, explaining why this “new religion” was so successful: “If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.”
And then one more: “In the third century, the church father Cyprian said, ‘Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us from this place and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom. Anyone who has been in foreign lands longs to return to his own native land....We regard paradise as our native land.”
So, why don’t we today talk about Heaven more? I think the enemy continually lies to us telling us we are being morbid if we do but that’s not true; morbid is talking about death. Talking about Heaven is life and life in abundance. So if just for today, I can get you to think about Heaven like the early Christians did, then this message will have achieved what I hoped when writing it.
What did Jesus tell us about Heaven the night before He was crucified. “In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, there you will be also...” (John 14:2,3)
Jesus told the thief on the cross next to Him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Something is interesting here though. Jesus always used the words “heaven” or “kingdom” when He was speaking of our eternal home.
Why did He choose that particular word - paradise? The word “paradise” or paradeisos (pa-RA-de-sas) is actually a Persian word used only three times in the New Testament. Strongs Concordance says the actual meaning is: “The upper regions of the heavens. According to the early church Fathers, the paradise in which our first parents dwelt before the fall (Eden) still exists, neither on the earth or in the heavens, but above and beyond the world.” Some people would call it the intermediate or temporary Heaven. When I first read this, I thought, WAIT? What?
Then a close pastor friend of mine gave me a little bit more of an explanation of it. He said the Persian definition of Paradise was that it was an enormous lush private garden that belonged to the King. It was a place where the King could put his “kingship” aside and just relax and enjoy his company. No one could get in unless they were personally invited by the King. Not even the family could allow entry to someone else. Only the King. However, once you were invited, you were always welcome and no one, not even family, could turn you away. Entry into this amazing garden was only by invitation of the King, himself. But what about the “intermediate” Heaven part?
Then I remembered the scripture verses about what happens after the end of the thousand year millennium, where John wrote, “and I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” (Rev 21:1)
So, let’s back up.....what happens after the rapture of the church? We are in the King’s Paradise - HIS garden which is like Eden before the fall of man. We will be there for seven years.
So what will we be doing during that seven years? We will be with Jesus in paradise with Him. We will be resting in the blessed presence of our Lord and Savior in this amazing place personally getting to know Jesus much like the apostles did when they lived with him for the three years. Can you even begin to imagine how wonderful it is going to be? We will be reunited with our believing loved ones that have gone before us. We are in Paradise while God is finishing the seven years of tribulation on the earth. Remember1Thessalonians 5 plainly says that “believers are not appointed to wrath.” We will not go through the wrath of of God.
But to help make this “timeline” simpler, let’s take just a slight detour for a moment and I think it will make it easier to understand. The seven years of tribulation is a fulfillment of prophesy that we have known about for thousands of years.
In scripture the church is called, “the Bride of Christ” and Christ is the Bridegroom. There is a movie called “Before the Wrath.” It’s excellent. It explains the Galilean wedding in the time of Jesus and it shows how the church called the Bride of Christ in scripture parallels exactly with what would happen in the traditional Galilean wedding when Jesus was alive.
In Matthew, Jesus was giving a parable to the apostles about a bridegroom leaving to go and build a house for his bride. As was tradition, during this time, the bride never knew when the bridegroom would return for her. Usually it was within a year. In this parable, Jesus said the bridegroom was delayed and when he returned, some were ready for him while others were not. The Jewish apostles who were all from the Galilean area would have easily understood the parable because it was the tradition of every wedding in their day. When the bridegroom finally came and took his bride back to his father’s house, the wedding party would follow. Those who were not ready when the bridegroom came were left behind and would not be allowed entry after the celebration began. Once they reached their new home which was an add on to the father’s house, the groom and the bride would go into their private chambers for seven days. This was their honeymoon. Everything was provided for them to allow them to stay in the their private chambers. At the end of the seven days, the groom and the bride would then appear in public as husband and wife for the first time and the marriage supper would begin.
The church, after the rapture, will be in the intermediate Heaven or Paradise for seven years with the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and at the end of the seven years, the saints will return with Christ to the earth to remove all evil. Jesus will conquer the Anti-Christ and all those who have worshipped the anti-Christ and have the mark of the anti-Christ on them. The anti-christ and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire and satan is locked in a bottomless pit unable to tempt or do any harm to anyone during the thousand year millennium. The marriage supper of the church and Christ will usher in the millennium. This amazing celebration of the marriage will last throughout the millennium.
There will be some who, after the rapture and left behind, will commit their lives to Jesus and survive the seven years of tribulation. They too will enter into the millennium. They are those who will repopulate the earth. They will not yet have redeemed bodies. They will still live in their natural earthly bodies but will enjoy a tremendously long life (hundreds of years) much like those who lived in the days before the great flood.
Why do we have to have a millennium? It is in fulfillment of God’s prophesy and His promise to the Jews that they would have their own kingdom and that through the root of Jesse, the father of King David...that someone in his genealogical line....would rule and reign in the Kingdom. This was the promise made by God through the prophets to the Jews. Jesus was in the line of David on both Joseph’s side and Mary’s side. All God inspired prophesy, every single prophesy, in scripture must be and will be fulfilled. Christ, will be the ruling Messiah and will rule the entire earth for the 1000 years in the millennium. It will be an amazing time.
We will be in our glorified bodies that we received as soon as we were raptured. What will our glorified bodies be like? John writes in 1 John 3: “ Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
Our glorified bodies will be like Jesus after His resurrection. When Jesus returned to life after His resurrection, He returned whole and healthy in the prime of His life. He returned as “flesh and bone.” He ate and drank with the apostles. He was also able to do some amazing things like appear and vanish. Though we cannot on this side of the rapture understand exactly what our new bodies will be capable of, it would appear that we will be healthy and whole, enjoy eating food and be able to travel effortlessly and even move possibly from one dimension to another easily.
Let me compare two scriptures that will give you a another quick contrast. In Matthew 16:17, when Jesus asked the apostles,“who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ”... meaning the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for. “Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” BUT....Jesus, AFTER His resurrection in Luke 24:39 tells Matthew: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I, Myself. Handle Me and see... for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. ” So we will have flesh and bone but blood will no longer be necessary.
The millennium is going to be so incredible and exciting and busy. Yet it will feel like rest because our bodies won’t ever feel worn or tired. No more aches of any kind. The curse that covered not only all of mankind but all of creation is finally lifted. The earth will naturally renew itself. In time, without the curse, it will become beautiful and amazing again. But it is still not the new earth that is spoken about at the end after the millennium.
In the millennium, the redeemed saints will, with Christ as King, rule the earth. Remember the saints who committed their life to Jesus after the rapture and survived the seven year tribulation will repopulate the earth but will not have redeemed bodies. However, they will live very long lives such as those before the flood. In Isaiah 65, God tells us that “a person who is a hundred years old will still be considered a child.” So the redeemed saints with glorified bodies will help rule those with unredeemed bodies during the the thousand year period.
Here are some of the amazing things we can expect in the millennium. (Remember the millennium is the fulfillment of the prophesy to the Jews that they would have their own Kingdom on earth.)
Israel will be the center of world attention in the Kingdom
Israel’s mission in the Kingdom will be to glorify the Lord
There will again be nations but there will be worldwide peace under the rule of
the Prince of Peace - Jesus, Messiah
Moral and spiritual conditions highest since before the fall of Adam
Government rule by the Messiah in the Kingdom will be perfect
Believers who survived the 7 year tribulation will live
extremely long lives like those before the flood.
Knowledge of the Lord will be universal in the Kingdom
The world of nature will enjoy a great renewal in the Kingdom
“Wild” animals will be tame in the Kingdom. “The lion will lay down
with the lamb.” Animals will no longer be carnivores.
Sorrow and mourning will not exist in the Kingdom
When sin does happen through those who survived the tribulation
it will be quickly and decisively dealt with by Messiah King
An eternal Kingdom, as a part of God’s new creation, will follow the
And at the end of the thousand year period, scripture states that satan will be released from the pit for a short time and sadly and astoundingly, some will still choose to follow satan rather than Jesus. Satan will gather his followers and surround Jerusalem but there will be no long drawn out war. Revelation 20:9,10 reads, “And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Then John saw the throne of God appear. This is the final throne of judgment for unbelievers. He saw unbelievers being judged on their works and anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was also cast into the lake of fire. Those saints from the millennium with unredeemed bodies whose names were in the Book of Life received their redeemed bodies.
John then wrote that he saw earth and heaven as they fled away. This was the old universe that was contaminated.
Then John witnessed the new earth and new heaven stating that the old heaven and ”the old earth had passed away” which was an interesting way of writing it. When we talk of someone “passing away,” we know that while our earthly bodies cease to exist, our life in a new form lives on forever. When we are raptured, the old body will be completely changed and we will have a redeemed body. God made each one of us as unique individuals and we will retain our own individual God given traits and personalities that God gifted us with when He saw us already finished and complete before even the foundation of the world.
Let’s take one last short side trek....Let’s look at several words that begin with the prefix “re.” REnewal = make new again, REdemption = buy back, REstore = return to original, REconciliation = REstore a relationship.
Now, let’s look at what Peter said in Acts 3:21: “Christ must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to RESTORE everything as He promised long ago through the prophets.” And in Matthew 19:27,28, Jesus said to Peter , “At the RENEWAL of ALL things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.” The Greek word for “renewal” in verse 27 is the word “palagenesia” which means “new genesis” or “coming back from death to life.”
These verses indicate that the new universe, earth and the heavens, will be renewed like it was when God first created it. God said after creating each one that it was “good.” Just as we are redeemed and made new, so will all of creation be made new. But it will be brand new with no history of sin or corruption. The trees truly will clap their hands as it says in Isaiah.
Then John saw a new glorious city coming down from God. It was the new Jerusalem coming down from Heaven. This is the capital city of Heaven where God lives, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen “coming down out of heaven” indicating it already existed. It descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high. This is the city where the saints will live. John says that the city is adorned as a “bride” for her husband...incredible beauty. The church is the actual bride of Christ. Isaiah 54:5 reads: “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”
This is it! Our final “PROMISED REST” is here. Hallelujah!!! Praise God!!! We can never be as close, as intimate, or as one with another person as our souls crave. That’s because the oneness we crave will only be found when we are united by God with God.
John goes on to write: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.... It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit ALL things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (Rev 21:3-7) Christ and His church are permanently and forever joined. Heaven and earth are permanently and forever joined.
Then the angel says to John, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
....and John sees our permanent home. I’m not going to list everything that is described to John here but just a couple because I’m hoping that you will read Revelation 20 and 21 later today or soon and really try to picture in your mind the amazing beauty that God has waiting for us.
This amazing city that John saw coming down from Heaven was measured by an angel for him and it is an astounding 1400 mile cube. That equals over two million square miles. Needless to say there is room enough for everyone to live. There is a massive wall 216 feet thick around it but the wall is just for adornment and beauty because the gates always stay open. It says the wall that John saw was made of jasper but not like the jasper we know today which is opaque. The description of the wall as jasper is a transliteration... it was actually like a completely clear diamond.
He said that the city was pure gold LIKE clear glass. Some commentators say that John used the term pure gold because everything shined like pure gold but was clear. Other commentators say John was speaking to the purity of the city. Only goodness, love, joy and laughter will be there.
True joy will be everywhere. Here in our lives today we have contentment resting in our salvation and hope of going home and living with God forever. There we will have the purest of joy like small children in awe when we first see Heaven and then squealing with delight experiencing Heaven for the first time.
Our saved loved ones will be there never to be apart from us again. We will hold, laugh and share tears of joy with them. Think of being able to instantly visit with one another without having to fly there. Think about the purity of communication. Many people think that communication with verbal words in Heaven will be a choice but thoughts will also be easily transmitted. Have you ever wanted to tell someone how deeply you loved them but the words were never sufficient? You won’t need perfect words - the other person will be able to grasp or know exactly what you’re trying to express.
God’s light will be everywhere and in everything in Heaven. Paul said in 1 Cor 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.” Look at a flower pedal and see the tiny sparkles that are probably from the moisture in it. I believe that in Heaven those will be used to illuminate God’s light. His light will be every where and in every thing. We will see God in everything we see, hear and touch. There will be animals too because all of creation will have been redeemed. Have you ever wanted to spend time with a baby elephant or lion cubs? You’ll have that opportunity in Heaven. Think about how it might feel today sitting in the sun on a comfortably warm day and for a while it feels wonderful but soon it will cool as the sun goes down. How much more wonderful is the warmth of God going to feel as it wraps completely around us and through us forever? Not hot or cold just perfect forever. There is no sun or moon in Heaven because the Son of God is its continual light. I believe that light will always feel much like the caress of pure love.
If the new earth is as it was before the curse, which scripture seems to say, there will be beautiful clear streams and wonderful water falls and lakes and rivers to swim and play in and incredible mountains to climb trees much taller than our oldest Redwoods. There will be colors we’ve never dreamed of. Can you imagine the colors in the sky? Can you imagine seeing the beauty of the galaxies close up? Can you imagine swimming in crystal clear water never needing air to stay alive. Let your imagination go and any good and perfect thing you can imagine will be in Heaven. This is what we have waiting for us.
And of the new earth, it shall be filled with beauty as it was before but even more, much more, just as it is described in Isaiah 55: “For you shall go out with joy and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree. And it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall never die.”
....but the BEST of all though...the VERY BEST PART....is that we shall see God face to face and live with Him forever, His name will be written on our foreheads forever and we are sealed forever as His. We are His and He is ours. AMEN! MARANATHA!