Top The Wonders Of Heaven Friday, June 23, 2017
By James L. Thornton
Revelation 12:1a. "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven;"
A wonder is something that arrests, that surprises, and astonishes. A wonder is something unexpected, unprepared for, unprecedented, and surpassing all experience.
When we were a child, the whole world was full of wonders. The apostle Paul explains it, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11)
But the Apostle put away his childhood, only to be possessed by far greater wonders: Till in the ripe manhood of his mind and heart, he is not able to put into words the wonders he had seen.
"Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth:) such an one was caught up into the third heaven. How he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for men to utter." (2 Corinthians 12:2-3).
1. Heaven Itself Is A Wonder
2. Jesus Is The Great Wonder That John Saw
3. Could There Be An Even Greater Wonder In Heaven?
4. A Wonderful Mansion
1. Heaven Itself Is A Wonder
John says, "I saw a great wonder in heaven." Everything that is really wonderful, everything that surpasses, everything that captivates, everything that enraptures, everything that transcends--it is all collected in heaven.
Even to paint a far-off picture of heaven, Prophets and Apostles have been compelled to lay this whole earth under contribution, for forms, for colors, for riches and beauty, wherewith to describe and adorn their theme.
Here is a sample of heaven described in earthly terms.
"For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory" (Isaiah 60:17-19).
"Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah (my delight is in her), and thy land Beulah:" (Isaiah 62:3-4).
Then the New Testament seer has a splendid passage on the same subject.
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21)
The wonders of heaven defy description. Another Apostle wrote, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9)
2. Jesus Is The Great Wonder John Saw:
The Great Wonder: that John saw in heaven was not heaven itself, wonderful as heaven itself was, with streets of gold and walls of jasper and gates of pearl. The greatest wonder that John saw in heaven was, in his own words, a man-child with whom a woman had travailed in birth, and who had been caught up unto God and to the throne of God.
John had been greatly favored, for he had seen the two extremes--so to call them--of his Master's life. And these extremes was that which John had in mind, and in his heart, as he stood and looked at that Great Wonder.
The one extreme was this.
"And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in wrapped him in swaddling cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7) .
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son Of Man hath not where to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20) .
"Now in the morning, as he returned into the city, he hungered" (Matthew 21:18) .
And now the other extreme.
"He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every mane; that, at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11.
Our hearts are surely made of stone, if we can be told that, without one thrill either of wonder or of worship. But the day is at the door, when He will have revenge on all for their indifference towards Him, and all unbelief about Him.
A day when every knee shall bow, and when all shall fall at His feet as dead. The dark scales that are sealed down on our eyes today shall fall off and every eye that day, and every eye shall see Him, and shall see nothing but Him. (Revelation 1:7)
"The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom's face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace.
Not at the crown he gifted,
But at His pieced hand;
The Lamb is all glory
Of Immanuel's land." (A. W. D.D.)
"If I could but look at Him through the keyhole of heaven, I would be satisfied." So says Samuel Rutherford in his own enraptured way.
3. Could There Be An Even Greater Wonder In Heaven?
Could there be a far greater wonder than heaven itself and that of the glorified manchild? For, after all, heaven is His Father's House, and His own proper home and inheritance.
But when I awake in His likeness, and find myself in heaven--that will swallow up all heaven's wonders to me. I ask myself, "Is this, in very deed, myself? Am I, actually and in reality, in heaven? Am I made acceptable, at last, for the inheritance of the saints in light?"
"Am I, O my God, at last set free from sin? Am I now to be forever delivered from that hell-born thing that poisoned every hour of my life on earth, and that so blasted, to me, the best joys of earth?"
"O, saints and angels of God, say to me and assure me, that I am not in a dream: Confirm me, O ye holy ones, that I am not beside myself!"
"Come, all ye shinning host of His, and as you pass by on your errands of glory--come see if, in all your seven heavens, there is another wonder of redeeming love, and saving grace, like me!"
William Cowper counted himself the greatest wonder in all of England. "I am surely the only convert in all England that was ever made in a madhouse," He said. Perhaps so. But bedlam and all, to borrow Cowper's own strong words--yet there will be saved sinners standing beside Cowper on that day, at the gate, who will put both him and his blood-bought harp to silence with a conversion, and with a lifetime of God's forbearance and long-suffering--far, far more wonderful that his.
The Apostle Paul called himself the "chief" of sinners. We are all sinners saved by the grace (undeserved favor) of God.
We are all familiar with the great hymn by John Newton the former slave trader.
"Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I'm found,
Was blind but now I see."
And then when we stand on the sea of glass and look down into its transparent depths--what a revelation that will be. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out"
And as the ministering spirits gather around us and they will wonder at us, and at what it is that we are seeing, as we so long continue to look down at the hole of the pit out of which we were digged, and at the hole of the rock whence we were hewn.
We shall answer them that we have come out to see a sight that we could not see while on earth, and to think upon a matter that they could not comprehend.
The Apostle Peter tells us concerning the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow and the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into (1 Peter 1:11-12) .
Looking down into that see of glass, we will be shown all the mysteries of our life. Our understanding will be completely satisfied. We all have had things come in our life that we could not understand. Some trial, some test, some sickness, both of our loved ones, and ourselves we could not understand. We ask why? The answer is withheld from us.
However, we shall receive the answer to all life's questions when we stand on the sea of glass and look down into its depths. For once we are there, our eyes will receive such an unction that they will see down into those deep mysteries of God that were far past finding out on earth. The Apostle Paul says, "Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know as I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12)).
We shall all find out the Almighty to perfection in heaven.
"There is a path that no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen. The lion's whelps have not trod it, nor the fierce lion passed by it" (Job 28:7-8)
And that unfathomable path is none other than that wonderful way on which God leads all His people home from earth to heaven, from grace to grace, from glory to glory.
We look upon so many sorely afflicted people that we are unable to speak before the depths and darkness of God's judgments. There are times and places where we cannot open our mouth, so dark and so full of distress are God's ways with this and that soul. We have neither the experience, nor the faith, nor hope, that we would need to have, who would venture out as a comforter to those who are going through such great tribulation.
God's ways are sometimes so overwhelming that it sounds cruel and heartless to go repeat promises that are never to be fulfilled in this world.
But the boldest promises in all the believer's Bible will be fulfilled in heaven, the postponed answers to all the promises will be heaped up, and made to run over in heaven. In addition, those elect saints, whose lives of such suffering were the stumbling block of their boldest comforters, will there be found to God's incomparable and everlasting praise.
Till that terrible sufferer, who spent all his days in a furnace heated seven times, will come forth without a hair of his head singed, or so much as the smell of the smoke of the furnace fire upon his garments; and his song, among all the songs of glorified, will ever be: "O the depth! O the depth of wisdom, and knowledge, and the grace of God to me!"
4. A Wonderful Mansion:
And to complete the wonders of heaven will be the fulfillment of this fine promise, "In my Father's house are many mansions: I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). And it will be so. For you will all find a place prepared for yourselves in heaven.
After a couple million years of gazing on the face of my Savior and once we have had time to walk about the city of gold, and look upon the towers thereof, to see the walls of jasper and gates of pearl, I am ready to move into my mansion. Then I want to have Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, And Moses and Elijah, Peter and John, and Paul and all the rest of those mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, over for a few thousand years of conversation and fellowship.
"When I awake, I shall be satisfied," said the Psalmist, and so will you. For one thing--all the affections of your hearts will find their full outlet, their full delight, and full fruition there.
When we consider where John was when he saw these visions, and the awful conditions he was subjected to on Patmos, is it any wonder that he prayed for the coming of his Lord. Even though lifted in the spirit into a glorious realm, he nevertheless had to come back to the harsh realities of life. And he longed to return permanently to the heavenly scenes.
I’m concerned that the plush living conditions many of us live in have robbed us of thoughts of the glory realm. Many have it so good that we think heaven cannot be any better. I remember the days of the great depression in America when meat was a rarity and the gravy was thin, so to speak, and people didn’t have it so easy. Today’s labor saving devices (thank God for them), have taken the toil and drudgery out of the daily toils. Air-condition, ease of travel, abundant food supply, and etc., have all created a heavenly environment in many countries.
No longer do the Saints look up with longing and tears in their eyes when we sing “when we all get to Heaven.” It is a proven fact that when times get hard people pray more, seek God more, and sing songs of deliverance. Let us take heed lest our abundance causes us to loose sight of what John told us about in his Revelation of Jesus Christ. Amen.
These, then, will be the first three wonders, as I think, of the great wonders that we shall see in heaven.
1. Heaven Itself in all its wonderful glory.
2. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, risen from the dead, ascended, exalted, and glorified.
3. And myself, my enraptured soul, standing on the sea of glass.
What a wonderful world we are in, my brethren!
What a wonderful world awaits us.
Come then, away, O downcast soul!
And William Cowper, and you, and I, will one-day hold a three-cornered contest in heaven as to which of us has the most wonderful story to tell, and the most wonderful song to sing. I think I know who will carry away the prize from you both.
I will close this short meditation with words from the Apostle Paul.
Romans 8:16. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Jesus we thank you for the hope we have in thee. We thank you, On Lord, for the hope of eternal life in heaven. Thank you for your mercy in revealing thy truths to us. Keep us in thy peace until we come to the day of our redemption, when we can enjoy all the wonders of heaven. Amen.
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By James L. Thornton