So…are you excited? Are you excited for heaven?
Maybe you’re thinking, “Sure, I guess. I mean…it’s better than the other options, but...I'm certainly in no hurry to go. I like life here. I’d miss building my career. I’d miss Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I’d miss Sunday afternoon football. I’d miss the sweet deal I got on Hulu Plus. Can you connect to the internet in heaven? I know it's in the clouds, but does it have The Cloud? Otherwise how am I going to keep my iPhone apps updated?”
But seriously, won’t I miss my friends? Won’t I miss my job? Won’t I miss my family? I don’t see how dying and going to heaven can be all that great of a thing to look forward to.
It’s too sad a thought.
What's heaven like? Today let's take a look at our second vision of the end. It’s from Revelation chapter 19. It’s actually, literally, a glimpse into heaven. See if you can decipher the tone:
"After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.
“Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!”
“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!" (19:1-6)
One word echoes throughout that section. “Hallelujah!”. It’s a Hebrew word. It literally means, “Praise to the Lord.” And this should give you a clue as to the atmosphere of heaven. Because “Hallelujah,” is not a word that you shout on sad occasions. It’s not appropriate when your football team gets blown out or your girlfriend breaks up with you.
Hallelujah is a word of the utmost excitement and praise and notice who’s saying it? A great multitude! That’s a lot. Think of all the football stadiums in America being filled to the brim with people and then some. That’s how many people are geeking out excited to be in heaven!
Ok. So why? Why is this heaven so great? Why is everyone so excited?
Look no farther than our text for the answer. Because these verses list 4 separate Hallelujahs for 4 different reasons – each one is so awesome, it’ll make you want to shout Hallelujah on this earth!
Verse 1 gives the reason for it, “Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments." This is something that we heard about last week. God is holy. He is just. He punishes evil. But this part of Revelation gets specific: "He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants!”
Who is he judging? “The Great Prostitute.” And this isn’t referring to an actual person. Literally in the Greek it says, “The Great Porn!” What an awful nickname, huh? It’s disgusting really.
The Great Prostitute desserves that disgusting nickname. Because it refers to evil itself. It’s a reference to the evil that is on this earth.
Why then are the people in heaven so happy? Because evil has been judged! It has gotten it’s due. God has no longer remained silent, but has destroyed the great evils of this earth.
This is something to be thrilled about? Will you really miss porn and how it ruins your marriage? Will you really miss drunkenness and how it ruins your relationships? Will you miss drugs? Murder? Angry Facebook posts that drive a stake between you and your friends? Will you miss the messiness that comes with sex outside marriage? Will you miss the lies, betrayal, and gossip of the office?
BOTTOMLINE: Will you really miss anything bad? If the answer is…"yes, I will miss my porn! I will miss my Jack Daniels. I will miss not getting to see the next episode of Scandal." You've got your priorities all mixed up!
But it's more than just evil. The thing is that evil is personified in this verse. Evil is not a concept in existence on its own. Evil needs people to do it. Evil is done by evildoers. Then, this is an absolutely Biblical truth too: In order for evil to be judged, evildoers must be judged too!
Right away, you might feel a twinge of happiness! All evildoers will be judged to hell. And there’s a long list of people that most people agree to be evil – Terrorists. Angry Atheists. Serial killers. Rapists. Abortion Doctors. False Prophets. Racists.
But that’s not enough for God. God hates all evil. Not just some. All evil. Listen to 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that evil people will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor people who tell lies nor deceivers will inherit the kingdom of God!”
So. You’ve got to add to your list of evildoers that will be judged – White lie tellers. Rumor spreaders. Government grumblers. Yelling at wife-ers. Not every Sunday church goers. Four letter word sayers. Sleeping with my girlfriend guys. Living with my boyfriend girls. Once in awhile porn lookers. “Think-that-they-are-better-than-others-because-they-didn’t-hear-a-sin-that-they-currently-do-on-this-list” –ers.
Panicking a little right now? Thinking: “Hey I do some of those things. I am a sinner. I’ve done evil! How can anyone be saved?"
Let me share with you the rest of 1 Corinthians 6:11 “Evil is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of your Lord Jesus Christ.” You were washed clean of sin in the waters of Baptism. You were sanctified and brought to faith in your Lord and Savior. You were justified--declared innocent of all evil doing by Jesus, Your Lord.
Brothers and sisters, that "you" is YOU! Jesus died for you. He suffered God’s angry judgment against your evil deeds on the cross. Through faith in Jesus, the crowd cheering in Revelation 19, that will be you.
You'll be cheering because you’ll be seeing it clearly. Seeing sin for what it was – an awful infection that leads to pain, sorrow, and death AND seeing God for who he is – your incredibly loving, awesome, undefeated Lord who experienced the awful pain and sorrow of sin as he gave up his life on the cross in order to get you a new life in heaven from sin, pain, and sorrow!
CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH!?!?
The crowd in heaven. Future “you” in heaven continues the celebration. Read verse 3, “And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
Anybody ever played a Mario Bros. video game? Ever beaten Bowser, the big bad guy? Here’s the thing about Bowser, he’s persistent. He always comes back. You might have to beat him three or four times in the game and then there’ll be another money making game on the next entertainment system on which you have to beat him all over again.
Sometimes evil feels like that. It always comes back. There’s always bad news on the TV. One evildoer might get locked up for another evildoer to strike. One school shooting, then another. One terrorist bombing, then another. One murder, then another.
In heaven? That’s all over. “The smoke--from evil being smoted by God – goes up forever and ever.” There is no return! Evil is conquered. This victory by our awesome God is permanent! There is no sequel. There is no part two. There is no To Be Continued!
God wins; the end!
CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH!?!?
Our third Hallleujah builds on that last one. Take a look at verse 4, “The twenty four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried; “Amen, Hallelujah!”
Amen. Ever heard that word before? We say it at the end of our prayers. It means “This is the truth! So shall it be.”
The truth is that God is victorious and evil has lost. So the struggle is over:
No more temptation! No more getting distracted at the gym by ‘sexiness’ of someone else’s workout gear. No more smell of vodka that sends you into shakes unless you have a drink. No more waking up every morning, promising to fight off temptation, and then quickly losing your temper because someone ate all the Pop Tarts and feeling the guilt that goes along with another battle lost. TEMPTATION IS GONE!
No more fear! No more threats of terrorism. No more Ebola. No more AIDS. No more Cancer. No more poverty. No more not having enough money. No more gang violence near your house. No more getting worried that your alcoholic relative will call you at two in the morning to scream violently at you. No more fear! FEAR IS GONE!
No more guilt. No more waking up in the middle of the night with dreams of when you did something awful. No more reminders on Facebook of relationships that you have soured. No more nervousness to talk to people in church, because you wronged them once upon a time. GUILT IS GONE!
CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH!?!?
Then, verse 5, “A voice came from the throne saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!” That’s everybody. Long time believers and new believers. Young kids and mature adults, Caucasian Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino American – Duke fan Americans, State fan Americans, even Tarheel fan Americans—even non American! All believers in Christ will get to experience this awesome release from evil and they will join together for one final awesome celebration. One final hearty, incredible HALLELUJAH!
And listen to how much louder this one will be, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!”
Of course, God has always been in charge. He has been in the past and is right now. But…it doesn’t always look like it, does it? Not when evil is in the streets, immorality is the law of the land, and governments across the world are corrupt.
But in heaven, there will be no doubts AND there will be no other ruler. God himself will reign and be with his people!
That means there will be no corrupt governments. No immoral media forcing us to accept sin. No peer pressure forcing us to tolerate evil. No anger taking control of our words. No addictions taking control of our actions. NOTHING and NO ONE in control but GOD!
God who is all powerful! God is all good! God who loves you with his dying divine breath!
CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH!?!? Rejoice and be glad and give God glory!
Sometimes I wonder. What are my Grandpas doing in heaven?
What about my Grandpa Dave? Maybe he’s eating handfuls of my Grandma’s famous Chex mix? Maybe he’s driving a semi truck? Cheering for Cornhusker football?
Then there’s Grandpa Kiecker. Maybe he’s driving a tractor to plow the fields for the next supply of heavenly corn? Maybe he’s a model for heavenly overalls? Maybe he is in charge of tweaking of entrant into heaven nose and pretending like he took it off with his thumb.
Honestly. I don’t know exactly. But what I do know. What I know is this: In heaven, with God, they couldn’t be happier.
Maybe you’ve got a Grandpa Dave or a Grandpa Kiecker—a beloved believer in Christ.
Know this: We might not know just what they’re doing right now, but we do know this: In heaven with God, they couldn’t be happier!
And one day – through faith in Jesus Christ – you will be the same kind of happy right with them.
Can I get a Hallelujah!?! AMEN.