Heavenly Son-Light

Title: Heavenly Son-Light

Bible Book: Revelation 21 : 22-27

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Heaven



I know no better way to introduce our message today than to read the read again the description of heaven the Lord revealed to us through John. The description is one the human mind cannot imagine, no human mind can invent, no human heart can comprehend, and no human spirit can fathom. To the human mind it is indescribable, to the human heart it is unfathomable, to the human spirit it is unbelievable. But to the mind that is inspired by the Holy Spirit it is the Word of God, and as Isaiah wrote, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Is 40:8). To the heart that is indwelt by the Holy Spirit it is accepted by faith. To the spirit that is one with the Holy Spirit this is our hope.

“He...showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal. The city had a massive high wall, with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; [on the gates], names were inscribed, the names of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. The city wall had 12 foundations, and on them were the 12 names of the Lamb’s 12 apostles.

“The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out in a square; its length and width are the same. He measured the city with the rod at 12,000 stadia (1400 - 1500 miles). Its length, width, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall, 144 • cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used. The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold like clear glass. The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

“The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (Rev 21:9-21).

People often talk about the pearly gates and streets of gold, but the gold, stones, and gems mentioned here are far more precious than any this world has ever known. For example, the gold we know here is relatively soft and it will wear away if it is not alloyed with some hard metal. Furthermore, that which often appears to be gold may in fact be something else. I was surprised by a lady’s attitude once when she commented on the Seiko watch I was wearing. She was implying that I had been very extravagant in buying such and expensive watch. Her expression showed disapproval. The only problem was that the Japanese watch maker had made the case of some other metal that looked like gold - it was not gold at all. My father brought gold watch back from Germany at the end of WW II. I even wore it to school when I was in high school. I had saved it for years after it stopped working, both for sentimental reasons and because of the beautiful gold case. One day I decided that I ask have a jeweler I knew to melt the gold case down and make a pennant for Becky. I was surprised when he checked it and came back to the front and told me that the watch case was of little value. What I thought was gold was only a thin gold plating.

We will never be disappointed with anything we see in heaven. The broad street John saw was made of pure gold - and that pure gold is superior to any gold on earth, for it will never wear away. It is also “like transparent glass.” Gold here is not transparent, but gold in the new Jerusalem is clear so that it reflects the glory of God. It is pure. It is not gold plated, not mixed with an allow that will diminish its value.

When I was a young boy I had many chores around the our Mississippi delta farm, seven miles west of Sledge, Mississippi. A good friend, Harold Dorman wrote the song, MISSISSIPPI COTTON PICKIN’ DELTA TOWN and Charlie Pride turned it into a hit. Harold, Charlie, and I were all country boys - I just lived farther out in the country than they. My mother called me at 4:15 every morning and would dress and go to the barn and milk the cow. I had to milk the cow again that afternoon.

When I was about 10 or 11, I decided to take a short cut, in part because I wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible, and in part just to see if I could get away with it. My mother knew how much milk I should be bringing into the kitchen, so I couldn’t just stop short and leave the rest of the milk for the calf. We had a manual water pump right by the lot, so I would stop milking and stop by the pump and add a little water. I knew that every time I pumped the handle down I got a pint of water. I started adding just a little water and when I got up to a pint of water, I stopped increasing it. It was a part of the ritual. I would milk until the milk reached a certain line in the bucket and then I would stop by the pump and pump it one time, adding one pint of water to the milk.

Since I had gradually increased the amount of water my family had never noticed the difference in the taste of the milk. After a few months, a cousin of my mothers came to visit and at breakfast one morning he was served milk. He took one drink and stopped and commented on the strange taste of the milk. He tasted it again and said, “This milk tastes like it has water in it.” I thought I was going into cardiac arrest! I was sitting there waiting for the full exposure of my deception, but for some reason or another an ongoing conversation covered his comments and he never brought it up again. The next morning I brought my mother pure milk.

The picture we are given here is of a heaven that is absolutely pure in every detail gold, stones, pearls and other gems. The heaven that is prepared for the children of God is without allow, without mixture of anything that is corrupt, without anything that will pollute. The real beauty and glory of heaven, however, is not in its gates, its streets, or its wall. God Himself is the glory of heaven.


“I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

A. The Lord God and the Lamb Are the Sanctuary, 21:22.

You may be more familiar with the KJV or the NASB (“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” The HCSB renders it sanctuary. The temple - sanctuary - plays an important role throughout the Bible. The Lord instructed Moses to build the tabernacle: “They are to make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8, HCSB). Solomon build the temple as God’s sanctuary: “The temple, that is, the sanctuary in front of the most holy place, was 60 feet long” (1Kings 6:17). Continuing from the same chapter:

“He prepared the inner sanctuary inside the temple to put the ark of the Lord's covenant there....The interior of the sanctuary was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high; he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the cedar altar. Next, Solomon overlaid the interior of the temple with pure gold, and he hung gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary and overlaid it with gold” (1Kings 6:19, 20, 21).

In Revelation 15:6, the seven angels with the final seven plagues came out of the sanctuary:

“Out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in clean, bright linen, with gold sashes wrapped around their chests. 8 Then the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God's glory and from His power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed” (Rev. 15:6, 8).

“Then I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth” (16:1).

The tabernacle was called the sanctuary of God. Each temple was the sanctuary of God. Specifically, the Most Holy Place, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, was God’s sanctuary, but so was the Holy Place in front of the Most Holy Place. In the secular world we have bird sanctuaries, such as the one I visited right out of Council Bluff, Iowa, on the Missouri River. A lot of visitors were there that January morning to see the geese that were “left behind.” There are animal sanctuaries, game reserves where animals may live safely in a controlled environment. How are we to interpret a sanctuary in reference to God? Remember what God instructed Moses to tell the people? “They are to make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them.” That is it - “so that I may dwell among them”! The tabernacle was a constant reminder that God was with His Chosen People, first in the wilderness, and then in Canaan. The temple was the constant reminder that God was with His people from the time Solomon built it until its destruction in 586 B.C. The second temple, built be the Israelites who returned from the Captivity, was a constant reminder of His presence with His people. John wrote that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). God’s presence was not symbolized in Jesus, it was realized. Surely, you remember the one of the names by which the Messiah would be known: He is Immanuel - God with us.

The word dwell is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament word tabernacle. We emphasized this in a message from the first verses of this chapter. John wrote: “Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev 21:3).

Paul wrote, “And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people” (2 Cor 6:16). My dear Christian brothers and sisters, heaven is the sanctuary where God will dwell with His children, the redeemed. His presence is real, not symbolized. There will be no need for a temple or sanctuary to remind us of God the Father - we will have Him - the Father and the Son.

B. The Light of the World is the Light of Heaven, 21:23.

Andrew Murray, in one of his incredible books, stressed that death is not a change of direction, but another step in the direction we have been going all along. Just as there is a continuity between the sanctuary on earth and the sanctuary in Heaven (God Himself), there is a continuity, an “uninterrupted connection” between the earthly Jesus and the eternal Christ. John was inspired to identify Jesus as the light of the world: “Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Continuing in the same chapter, we find that Jesus is:

“The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.[7] Or The true light who comes into the world gives light to everyone, or The true light enlightens everyone coming into the world” (John 1:8-9).

I love the I AM sayings of Jesus in John. You know them, “I am the Bread of Life.” I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the True Vine.” Here is another one:

“Then Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12)

Here, we learn that “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” The glory of God will illuminate the heavenly sanctuary as the Heavenly Son-light is reflected off the precious stones and gems that make up the walls, gates, and foundations.

There is one other thing I feel that we should consider at this point. I hold a very strong Genesis position on creation. The late Dr. Jan Mercer was a creation scientist. We met Jan and her husband Andy in 1978 and valued their friendship. Jan acquainted me with the whole field of creation science and suggested books and other helps that I would spend a quarter of a century reading.

When I was still very young, I asked two different preachers a question about the Genesis account of creation. I know I must have heard it somewhere and had no answer at the time. On the third day of creation, God created all the vegetation - from microscopic cells to telescopic landscapes. Then on the fourth day of creation, God created the sun. I may not have been paying as much attention to the lecture as to what some other student was doing in biology class, but I had gleaned enough to know that without light and some process my teacher called photosynthesis, plants could not survive. Since most preachers had adopted one of the compromise theories in the creation/evolution debate (so they could appear to be scientific while subscribing to the basics of Genesis), I was wondering about what I would later learn was the Day/Age Theory, or perhaps the gap theory. How could plants survive on earth for millions of years before the sun was created? Plants had to have light. Another pastor had mentioned the “void” (KJV), implying that all sorts of things could have happened during that “void” period which may have covered millions of even billions of years. That is the Gap Theory).

I mentioned this to Henning Andrews, my pastor, who pointed out that there was light on earth before the sun was created. I thought, “This is incredible!” I read it again: “God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.” It is as simple as that. Here was light on the first day! But how could that be? What was the source of that light? Now does an answer come to mind? The light of heaven was the source of the light that illuminated the earth on the first day, and the second day, and the third day. Of course if we accept the “day” in Genesis as a literal 24 hour day, you know that the plants did not have to wait too long for the sun (or for photosynthesis).

In that distant day in the past, the Light of heaven was the light of the earth. In the future, the Light of the World is the Light of Heaven. Hey, this just keeps getting better and better!


“The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Each day its gates will never close because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.”

A. The Nations Will Walk in the Light, 21:24.

The word “nations” is found 540 times in the HCSB. Let me give you just a few examples:

“Rise up, God, judge the earth, for all the nations belong to You” (Psalms 82:8).

“All the nations You have made will come and bow down before You, Lord, and will honor Your name” (Psalms 86:9).

“Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, so that we may give thanks to Your holy name and rejoice in Your praise” (Psalms 106:47).

The word “nations” here denotes believers gathered from among the nations of the world. Believers from all nations will walk in the light - Heavenly Son-light! Kings will bring their glory and present it before the Lord. In Isaiah’s vision in the year King Uzziah died (Isaiah 6), he tells us that His train filled all the temple. Bible students understand that he means that the glory of God filled His holy temple. In eternity, God’s glory will fill heaven and so illuminate heaven that no sun or moon will ever be needed.

His glory is reflected from and through the very building blocks of New Jerusalem - those clear as crystal stones and gems in the foundation (21:19-21) with all their brilliance, and the walls of heavenly jasper (probably clear diamond), and the twelve gates, each of which is made of one pearl. The glory of God is everywhere, and all kings and all people will submit any glory they may have found to His surpassing glory. Is it possible that this parallels the scene in chapter 4?

“The 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne, worship the One who lives forever and ever, cast their crowns before the throne, and say: Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created” (Rev 4:10-11).

B. The Gates will Never Close, 21:25.

When were the gates of ancient Jerusalem closed? At night. When were the gates of ancient Damascus closed? At night. When were the gates of Babylon closed? At night. The question is, Why? The answer of course is obvious. The watchman on his tower could watch for an enemy - like an invading army (or a spy) in the day time, but not at night. Spies worked under cover of the darkness. Night vision optics were not available to them, so an enemy might move closer to the wall during the night, or send in spies who would look for a weakness in the wall’s defenses.

In Daniel 5 we have the incredible story of the fall of ancient Babylon. King Belshazzar was giving a great party for 1,000 of his nobles when he decided to send for the sacred vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem and use them to toast the gods of Babylon. You know the story of the hand writing on the wall. Daniel read the words, MENE, MENE, TELEL, UPARSIN, and gave the king the interpretation:

MENE - God has numbered your kingdom and finished it.
TEKEL - you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
UPARSIN - your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

Belshazzar knew the Medes and Persians were outside the walls of Babylon, but had no fear because the walls would protect them. What Belshazzar and his nobles did not know was that the Euphrates River had changed its course and exposed a passage way along the bank, under the wall of the city. Anyone familiar with the string of oxbow lakes parallel to the Mississippi River are aware of the fact that each was once the channel for the mighty river before it cut through an “S” curve and straightened its course. This seems to have happened with the Euphrates. The Medes and Persians discovered the opening and slipped into the city undetected. Babylon had placed her faith in the walls of the city. God had already predetermined that the Medes and Persians would take the city and establish the next empire - which He would use to return captives to Jerusalem, just as He had promised.

Ancient Jerusalem depended on its walls and gates to protect it. Babylon, in 586 B.C., breached the wall, conquered the city, and destroyed the temple. Rome had to breach the wall before destroying the temple in A.D. 70. Unlike the Berlin Wall, which was constructed to keep people in, walls were constructed around ancient cities to keep the enemy out. What is Israel doing today that has the whole Islamic world in an uproar? They are building a fence to keep out Palestinian terrorists. What are many people asking America to construct along the border with Mexico? Right! A super fence or wall to stop illegal aliens, some of whom may be terrorists, and many of whom are smuggling drugs into our country.

People today build fences and install security systems to keep out those who may pose a threat the them. This is becoming a more serious matter all the time. My brother-in-law has asked my mother-in-law to let him buy her a house in a safer part of town, but she does not want to move from the house she shared with her late husband. So, he had someone to install bars over all the windows and install a heavy security storm door and dead bold locks. My son John had someone to break into his house and steal a number of things of value while he was at the hospital with his wife before our Abigail was born. Those who checked out the crime scene first did not find any evidence, but a detective was sent out to check out the house and he found a finger print. When they ran the print, they discovered that the young man who had broken into his house and stolen guns, cameras, and a number of other things was someone John had prosecuted twice and won the case, only to have a judge set the guilty person free. This time he apparently fled the area. Where ever he is, neighbors had better lock their doors and activate their security systems.

In ancient times, cities had to be very careful to maintain the walls of the city and to lock the gates at night. During the day when people could be identified and a potential enemy spotted, the gates were left open for travel, defense, and commerce. When night came, the gates were closed for the protection of the people within the city. The gates of New Jerusalem will never close - never need to be closed. Why? All enemies by this time will be in hell. There will never be a threat to any person in heaven.

C. “They Will Bring the Glory and Honor of the Nations Into It”, 21:26.

It is possible that what is promised here is that believers, not only from Israel, but also from the nations (Gentiles) “will bring the glory and honor of the nations” and submit it all to the One Whose glory fills heaven. The kingdom of God is made up of believers from all nations, both Jews and Gentiles.

Now I have a question. Just what is glory? More to the point, what is the glory of God? Do you find it easier to talk about the love of God, the grace of God, the power of God, or even the wrath of God than it is to talk about the glory of God? We understand that it means something very significant, but we may not take the time to try to understand what the glory of God really is. Bible dictionaries will tell us that the word comes from the Hebrew word which means a heavy weight. The idea is not a weight that weighs us down, strains muscles, and tires us, but a different kind of weight altogether. The idea is to give weight to, or to honor someone. To bring glory to God is to honor Him, praise Him, and to humble ourselves before him. True believers do not seek glory for themselves. They seek only the glory of God. Does this remind you of casting our crowns before the Lord? It should!


“Nothing profane will ever enter it: no one who does what is vile or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

A. Nothing Profane Will Ever Enter the New Jerusalem.

No enemy from without New Jerusalem will ever enter the city. The gates are never closed because there is no threat, either from Satan, from demons, or from evil people. The gates are left open because once we are perfectly conformed to the image of the Son of God, perfected and glorified, and established in heaven, there will be no sin there, no temptation to sin, no solicitation to sin. When Isaiah saw the vision of the Lord in His temple, he confessed his sin and the sin of his fellow Jews: “I live among a people of unclean lips.” In America today certain freedom of speech advocates want all forms of ungodly speech protected. There was a time when profanity and obscene language were not only frowned on, it would land one in serious trouble. The profanity, obscenity, and pornography which the ACLU and other groups are so quick to defend have led the Muslim world to label America as a decadent society. Let’s face it, we live among a people of unclean lips. We have children, young people, and adults who consider themselves to be nice people who cannot carry on a conversation without profanity, or references to body parts and body functions. The vilest and most depraved among us even use such language in the presence of children. There was a time in American when obscene language in public would land one in jail, and get him fined - and that was after he picked himself up off his back! (Which I am not advocating, by the way.)

Nothing vile and nothing false will enter heaven. Most of us hate lying - even when we do it we still hate it! We listen to the news and hear about three young men in Aruba who allegedly raped and killed Natalee Holloway, a teen aged girl from Alabama. That is about as vile as it gets. A vile pervert slips into a home in Florida and kidnaps an eight year old girl, and then takes her to a nearby mobile home where he molests her repeatedly for days before burying her alive under the steps of the mobile home. Two or three adults were living in that single wide trailer while all this was going on, and then denied knowing anything about it. They even helped the man flee from prosecution. These are some vile people!

During the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, we heard reports of some really vile things that reportedly happened inside the Super Dome in New Orleans. We saw pictures of open looting. People were shooting at doctors who were trying to evacuate patients from a hospital. We heard stories of countless vile deeds and some really vile people. There are some vile people in every nation under the sun - but there will be no vile thing in heaven. This amplifies 21:8: “But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

B. Only Those Written in the Lamb’s Book of Life Will Ever Enter Heaven.

The only inhabitants of heaven will be those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. There are six references to the book of life in Revelation, but this is the only one that calls it “the Lamb’s” (cf. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15).

Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be in heaven. Is your name written in His Book of Life? Let me share with you a few verses that present God’s provision for your salvation. Our people have heard this before.

1. YOU HAVE SINNED. (1) “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked” (Jeer. 17:9).

(2). For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

2. YOU ARE LOST. (1) “The soul who sins shall die” (Eze. 18:20).

(2) “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord: (Rom. 6:23).

(3) “He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

3. GOD LOVE YOU. (1) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

(2) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

4. GOD WILL SAVE YOU. (1) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

(2) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (! John 1:9).

5. HE WILL SAVE YOU NOW. (1) “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Heb. 3:15).

(2) “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

6. HE PROMISES TO KEEP YOU. (1) “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 19:28).

(2) “Kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5).

7. HE OFFERS ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. (1) “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”

(2) “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life” (John 3:36).


God loves you. He gave His only begotten Son to die on a cruel cross for you. Jesus died a horrific death on that cross for you and me. He poured out his blood for us, even as the Father turned His back on His Son. And all that was after He had been brutalized by those masters of torture portrayed in Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. The Bible tells us that “...God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

You will spend eternity either with God in His heaven, or you will spend it in hell with all that is vile, profane, and evil. You think the choice is yours? Think again! Lying in ICU nine years ago, I was focused on my Lord when an impression was clearly made in my mind. It was as though the Lord was saying, “You did not choose Me, I chose you.” God chose to provide salvation for me and He chose to send His Holy Spirit to convict me of sin and convince me that I should believe in Jesus for His salvation. We are saved by His grace through a faith that only He can provide.

If you sense a still quiet voice (or even a thunderous voice) telling you to trust Jesus, repent, and ask Him to save you, you absolutely must act on it today. If you are lost today and feel absolutely no desire for Jesus Christ, you are in a very dangerous position. You will spend eternity in heaven or hell. Which will it be?

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