Study Guide, June 5, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
Since both Brothers Sam and Jeff have gone home now it seemed like we ought to spend some time together thinking about and talking about our real Home, or our real Homeland. With all those we know and love that are now Home, it’s making Heaven feel closer all the time, isn’t it?
Now the NLT version describes Heaven as a ‘Homeland’ in Heb 11:13-16- “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” NLT
‘A better place…a heavenly homeland’. Sounds wonderful, right? I remember flying into Tel Aviv, Israel, on the airline El AL. About one half of the passengers on the plane were Orthodox Jews traveling to Israel to celebrate Passover. And when we touched down on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport they all cheered and even sang over the joy that they were now in their real homeland. That’s how we will feel, and even more so, when we reach our real homeland of Heaven, and especially how those waiting for our arrival will feel as they welcome us each as we come Home…Home to our Homeland of Heaven. And think about this: since there is rejoicing in Heaven when each sinner repents and receives Christ as their Savior, imagine the rejoicing when each reborn child of God finally reaches the Homeland of Heaven. It’s like the celebration at the arrival of Jeff and Sam.
Part of what we are saying today is that our Homeland of Heaven ought to be on our mind a lot…and not just when one of our loved ones goes Home, but on our mind just a whole lot of the time, because like with those Orthodox Jews thinking about their homeland of Israel, our Homeland of Heaven is not only where we are going, it’s also part of who we are. We are citizens of Heaven. Look at what the Apostle Paul said about that: Phil 3:20-21- “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control.” NLT
Just think: we are already citizens of Heaven. We have been born again and the Holy Spirit has united us to God’s forever family, and even our very names are written into the record of citizenship in the rolls of Heaven. Remember what Jesus told the disciples about our names and Heaven’s record book? Luke 10:20- “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” NASU Did you know that your name is already on the record books of Heaven as a permanent citizen and member of the eternal family of God’s?
It’s obvious that God wants us to think about that, and to think about that often…to even rejoice about that fact above other victories that we experience in life, and especially in the troubling times we experience in life – the fact is that our real homeland is in Heaven, and our names are already written down in the citizenship record book there. And so, regardless of anything that ever happens here on Earth, nothing will ever change the fact that we belong to God and God is leading us through this journey-land of Earth all the way Home. Again, whatever else we do here on Earth, the fact is, we are only passing through it, because we are on our way Home.
Now, not only are we only passing through this world on our way ‘Home’, but even this present Earth itself is also passing away. 1 John 2:17- “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” NKJV That’s what we need to know about this present Earth…it is passing away. Call it what you will…Climate change…global warming…whatever…the reality is the Earth is wearing out like a garment. Ps 102:25-26- “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.” NASU
Like a garment that is getting thin and thread worn, the earth itself is wearing out; it’s in the process of passing away, but the Lord is about to change all of that. He’s about to change the Earth itself and change the Heavens as well.
But before we mention more about that, let’s go back to that passage of Hebrews 11, because there is another word that describes who God’s people are in this world, and it goes like this: Heb 11:13- “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” NIV
‘Aliens’ on earth! Now here’s an interesting thing in connection with us being aliens on earth. You know, we live in a culture that is so caught up now with the idea of ‘aliens’, even the idea of aliens who perhaps have already visited our planet or may be returning to visit our planet. Wouldn’t it surprise these people to realize that the ‘real aliens’ actually have and actually are already living in their midst?! For, you see, we are the ‘aliens’ of the Earth and the Cosmos.
Each person who has become united to God’s Spirit has been spiritually born again, right? Well, the other description of being born again means that we have been ‘born from above’!…spiritually born from a life source that is beyond this world. A Christian is one who has had spiritual life imparted to them from a life source that is not from planet earth. And since we have been spiritually reborn from a life source that is not of this world, that means we have been born again and united to a source that is ‘alien’ to this world. Therefore, yes, there are ‘aliens’ among us; and we…are them…you and I are them! We are the real ‘aliens’ in the Universe!
Now, if you plan to break this news to your friends and co-workers and such, you might want to be prepared to have to explain that a bit to them…you might need to flesh that out a little bit in order to help them understand just how ‘down to earth’ this truth really is, even though it is a truth that is out of this world! So break it to others gently that you are an ‘alien’. Just make sure they understand that the reason that we are aliens in this world is because we have been given new life from a ‘life source’ that is not of this world. And that life source is our Creator and Redeemer. Our eternal Father is our Father in Heaven, hallowed be His name!
But the point again is that our real Homeland is not this present Earth. And actually, like C.S. Lewis once pointed out, ‘Those who have done the most for this Earth are those who have had Heaven on their minds the most.’ That’s the way the Apostle Paul envisioned that we would live out our lives, by doing all we could to honor God and bless others on this Earth because our focus was fixed on the things above, on the Heavenly realities all around us. Col 3:1-4- “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. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” NLT
And by the way, this is really the Biblical way to think about the Kingdom of Heaven. You know, oftentimes we tend to disconnect this Earthly life from the Heavenly life, or this temporal kingdom from the eternal kingdom, as though Earth was here, but Heaven was somewhere way, way out there. But the pattern of the Kingdom is more along the lines that both the present earth and this present kingdom are surrounded by Heaven and and the eternal kingdom. They are all interconnected. Even in thinking about the pattern of the temple something fascinating unfolds. Here’s what we’re talking about…
When we come to the descriptions of the New Jerusalem and the New Earth and the New Heavens we find John revealing something fascinating here. Look at this: Rev 21:22-27- “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” NIV
Just think: God had Moses construct the first tabernacle after the pattern of the temple in Heaven. And the pattern for the temple in Jerusalem basically followed this same pattern. There was the Holy of Holies in the center of the temple. And then there was the inner court of the temple. And then there was an outer court. Interestingly enough, when we come to the Apostle John’s descriptions of the future Kingdom of God we have him describing the central feature of it as this New Jerusalem, this indescribably beautiful capitol city of the New World. And just like the Holy of Holies in the temple was a perfect cube in dimensions, so the New Jerusalem is a perfect cube in it’s dimensions. We won’t go into them right now, but just keep this point in mind. The other feature of the new Kingdom is the New Earth, of which John says the new nations will inhabit. And then the last feature is the New Heaven or Heavens. So when John says that although there was no longer any temple per sea…the pattern of the New Jerusalem, the New Earth, and the New Heavens depict the same pattern as the Holy of Holies, the inner court and the outer court. So if you think of the new Kingdom as following the same pattern, what we have is the New Jerusalem as being the Holy of Holies…the New Earth being the Inner Court…and the New Heavens as being the Outer Court…as in all of the New Creation is the very Temple of the Creator and His redeemed forever family.
Once again, the point we are really stressing here today is that our real homeland is this wonderland that we now call Heaven. And a lot of our family is already there, from our own biological families to our new spiritual family from all ages of History. And neither is it all that far away, but it’s getting closer every day…closer to us going to our real homeland or for our King and Savior coming back for us. That’s why the Apostle John ended the book of Revelation by saying, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
The more that Heaven, our real Homeland occupies our minds the more we will be doing for His kingdom that is coming and for building up His kingdom while we wait for it. And I just thought we needed to talk about that today…and tomorrow…and the next day…