"What Are We Waiting For?"
November 8, 2021, 3:58 PM

“What Are We Waiting For?”

Revelation 21:1-8

When I was young, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. There was no doubt in my mind, for many years at least, that I would end up being a marine mammal biologist. I was going to study whales and dolphins specifically. I also wanted to swim with sharks. I watched as many documentaries on Discovery channel as I could. I read book after book on whales and dolphins. Jacques Cousteau was my hero. He was a famous French marine biologist. I still admire his work. I have fond memories of watching these documentaries and being completely amazed by the world that is present under the surface of the world’s mighty oceans.

I never would have believed that I would be a solo pastor of a small congregation in Wisconsin when I grew up. If someone would have told me that this was my future, I would have been very skeptical and thought that person was crazy. I knew what I was going to do. The ocean was in my future, not rural Wisconsin. Yet here I am in the middle of rural Wisconsin. Instead of seeing whales and dolphins on a regular basis, I get to see the exotic gray squirrel, the wild turkey, songbirds, deer, and occasionally a red fox. And each time I see these creatures, I smile. I love God’s creation. I love that I get to see the beauty of rural Wisconsin.

I never would have imagined that I would be where I am today, but God knew what was in my future. I am sure as you read this you may have some similar experiences in your life as well. “The future isn’t what it used to be.” I came upon this saying in my reading recently. I had never heard it, but it sure does get to the heart of our human existence. Humans like to think we are in control. Every politician tells you what they are going to do in the next few years and how they are going to make everything better. Humans love talking about the future. Some of us are excited for the future. Every Christian should be excited about the future. Other people are nothing but doom and gloom. Some people have no hope for the future because they see nothing but the negative aspects of human society: war, pollution, food shortages, drought, flooding, etc.

Our text from Revelation 21 is a text that talks about the future. It doesn’t talk about the future from a human point of view. The Book of Revelation gives us a divine view of the future. It is full of fantastic and frightening imagery, but it gives us a divine perspective on what the future holds. There will be some that are not good: the persecution of God’s people, death, war, famine, plague, kings that defy God’s rule. The Book of Revelation records a vision that John received while he was on the island of Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea. The vision that John records is meant to give the church hope. It may strike you as strange that Revelation is meant to bring the church hope, after all it contains scary and hard to understand images. But the Book of Revelation gives the church hope because it shows that no matter what is going on in human history, God is sovereign over history and is bringing all of history to serve His purposes.

God is using history to secure for Himself a people with whom He will dwell eternally. The Book of Revelation contains promises for God’s people. The main promise is that God is in control and that eventually, when Christ comes again, all evil and sin will be dealt with completely. The future holds the judgment of all wickedness, all evil, and the banishment of all the enemies of God. How amazing is that!? One day, God promises, all things that lead to suffering, grief, heartache, brokenness, and pain will be gone. All who do evil will be judged and sentenced to punishment. God Himself will wipe every tear from the eyes of His people. He isn’t going to task an angel to do it, He will wipe every tear from the eyes of those who love Him.

The future is so glorious that we are told in Isaiah 65:17 that in the new heavens and the new earth past events will no longer be remembered. God promises that the future will hold eternal joy for His people. The source of this eternal joy is God Himself. Think again about God’s promise to wipe away the tears of His people. Do you remember when you were a kid when someone did this for you? Do you remember how it felt to be comforted by someone you knew loved you? It doesn’t matter how old you are, it still feels wonderful to be comforted by someone who loves you. For someone to comfort you in the way God promises He will comfort His people He has to be close to us. God promises that He will dwell with His people. We will see God face to face. Think about how glorious and amazing that is! God the Father will be the one wiping your tears away. I hope this fills you with joy. I hope this enables you to break out in song.

No matter what we are going through, God is with us. Jesus is called Immanuel in the New Testament. Immanuel means “God-with-us” in Hebrew. Someday, we will live in complete harmony with all God’s people and with our triune God as well. Right now, we have the presence of God with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God is with us right now, but it is going to be different in the new heavens and the new earth. God is on His throne is His realm that is distinct from earth right now. But eventually, when Christ comes again to vanquish all His foes from the face of the earth, heaven and earth will be renewed and the dwelling place of God will be with us forever.

Each and everyone of us have gone through things in the last year, the last week, the last day even that we never saw coming. The truth is we live through some heartbreaking things. Loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, pandemics, cancer, war, betrayal, emotional and physical hurt. None of us would have picked everything that has happened to us. But no matter what circumstance we are in, have been in, or will find ourselves in the fact remains that God is with us in all of it. Not only is He with us, but He is also guiding us through whatever we face for us to be drawn closer to Him. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God is working for the good of those who love Him.

Your future, no matter how bleak it may seem from time to time, is bright because you are loved by God, and you have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. The future is bright because God is in control. Revelation 21 and 22 show us what is waiting for the church. We will be perfected, washed completely clean, blessed beyond our wildest imaginations, comforted, and completely safe. No evil will ever touch God’s people again after Christ comes to secure His kingdom completely. You can rest assured that God loves you and His love is never ending