Sermon for the 6th Sunday of Easter: Rogate May 22, 2022
Text: Revelation 21:9-27 CW-21 3 Year Series C 22:2325
Theme: See the “City” in Heaven! Awesome!.
Did you see the lunar eclipse last Sunday? I dragged Bryson and Liz outside to see it around 10 pm. It fascinated them for a moment. Then they went off to bed. But I stayed up to see it at its fuller extent.
A lunar eclipse happens when the earth in its orbit moves in-between the sun and the moon. The shadow of the earth is cast upon the surface of the moon and darkens its light. Yet, because the sun is bigger than the earth, the glow of the sun bends around the fringe of the earth and casts a reddish glow on the moon. When that happens, it’s called a “Blood Moon.” Fascinating. I wished I had a telescope so that I could see what was happening on the moon’s surface.
I like to look into the sky at night and see the celestial bodies, so magnificently made by the Creator. I wish I knew more about them.
A few years ago, a friend gave me a book of photographs taken in outer space of the heavenly bodies. They are astounding pictures, in glorious colors, with appropriate Bible verses written below them. Simply gorgeous! I’ve said this before. If this wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, how wonderful the right side must be. And the Book of Revelation gives us a glimpse, just a small glimpse into it.
Last week I asked what you see in your mind’s eye when you picture heaven. Some people try to visualize everything in perfection, everyone dressed in white. Some mention the gold. I recalled that as a child I thought that we would have wings to fly around and sing all day long. Then our text last Sunday gave us a closer peek, and we saw that nothing is old; all is new. Everything of the old messed up life on earth was gone. All markings of sin, sorrow, and pain melted away! Everything was brand new and shiny, and the Church was portrayed as a beautiful bride running to meet her husband. Another picture showed God “tenting” beside His people.
Did this text today add anything new to your picture? It should have! This is awesome. See the “City” in Heaven. It’s…
I. …a city well-fortified.
The “City” is not heaven itself. It represents the “Church” in heaven. That Church, called the New Jerusalem, is described as a bride adorned for her husband. It stands for the people of God who approach Him through faith, washed of their sins in the blood of Christ Jesus. In describing their situation in heaven, John said, “And he (that is, an angel – v.9) carried me away in spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”
Have you been to the mountains and had the vantage point of looking down at the vista of everything around you? That’s quite awesome, isn’t it? I’ve been to the Sierra Nevadas of California, to the Rockies of Colorado, to the Alps of Europe, the Swedish mountains above the Arctic Circle, the Alaskan Range; I’ve climbed on the Great Wall of China and hiked the mountains around Dali, just a little way from Mt. Everest, the tallest on earth. Twice I almost got there, but never did. It’s one of the bigger regrets that I have. What an awesome view that must give from earth’s highest peak. Every mountain sight is so panoramic. Going into the Ozark hills around us and down to Branson – what an awesome view one gets.
Something like that happened to John. An angel plucked him up and took him away to a great and high mountain. From there he watched in a state of heightened spiritual awareness as the Holy City, representing God’s people came down out of heaven from God. It had a great, high wall with 12 gates and 12 angels at the gates: 3 on the east, 3 on the north, 3 on the south, 3 on the west. The wall had 12 foundations, one on top of the other. No flood could ever take that city away. And the measurement of the city, its walls, and its foundations, forms a perfect cube – 12,000 stadia long, 12,000 stadia wide, and 12,000 stadia high. Now, what’s a stadia?
We get our word “stadium” from it – like a football stadium. It’s a Greek word that marked a distance around a track for foot races (ca.650 ft.). 12,000 stadia translate into roughly 1,400 miles. So, the city was 1,400 miles that way, 1,400 miles that way, and 1,400 miles high. I know that driving to see our daughter Sara near Flagstaff, AZ, is about 1,200 miles from here. Can you imagine a city wall in front of you going up into the sky higher than the distance from here to Flagstaff, AZ? No wonder that the angel took John up on a high mountain to look down upon the city. It was a remarkable view.
The wall was so high that no enemy could breach it. Walls around ancient cities served a purpose – to protect the people from enemy attacks. This wall was impregnable, and no enemy was going to get through any gate with God’s angels defending them. It reminds me of the time in the beginning when God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden because they disobeyed Him. He placed an angel with a flaming sword at the entrance to the Garden to keep them from reentering it. No one has ever gotten back there. And no enemy can get to God’s people in heaven. Yet, at the same time, the gates are wide open for God’s people to enter anytime from every direction.
All of this symbolizes the peace and security enjoyed in the new heaven and the new earth. God protects those who are there. Nothing will ever harm them. What a thought! Towards such security you are headed in faith in Christ. He makes His people a city well-fortified.
But you don’t have to wait until you get there to enjoy God’s eternal security. God’s Word promises you such protection from the devil even here. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…for the Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Ps.46). Perfectly safe in the loving protection of God – whether here or there. “The gates of hell will not overpower Him” (Mt.16:18). Awesome!
II. …a city of indescribable beauty.
There’s more. There’s the indescribable beauty that God wants you to imagine. John writes, “The wall is made of jasper.”
Jasper – some people think it was a brilliantly white stone or gem. Some say it was colorful and opaque Others describe it as translucent, you can see through it like a diamond or opal. We don’t know for sure in Biblical times what it was. But imagine a city wall 1,400 miles wide, long, and high made of diamond-like stone,
“And the city was of pure gold, as pure as glass.” What could that be like?
I’ve got gold on my finger – my ring. It’s not pure gold (24 karat). It’s probably 14 karat gold. And it’s not transparent like glass. I can’t see through it. How do you see through pure gold?
Then, 12 foundations of gemstones: jasper (reddish/brownish), sapphire (bluish), chalcedony (whitish or greyish quartz), emerald, onyx (parallel bands), carnelian (ruby colored), chrysolite (diamond), beryl (transparent greenish/yellowish), topaz (brilliant colored), chrysoprase (greenish), jacinth (reddish) and amethyst (violet). I have no idea what they were. But they all sound most impressive.
Then there are the 12 gates, each carved out of a single pearl, 12 gigantic pearls in all. Where does one get pearls that big? See the City in Heaven, God’s city, a place of indescribable beauty! Awesome! There is nothing like this in our world. But on that side of heaven, the Church of God’s people far transcends everything.
This ought to create in each of our hearts a longing to see and live
in God’s glorious world. Such longing helps us to patiently bear those weighty things we must carry now in a sinful world. If only we get a chance to see this; to be this! By faith in Christ alone you will.
III. …where God’s presence turns the whole place into a temple.
But there’s more, one last thing to see, and it’s the greatest thing of all. John wrote, “I did not see a temple in the city.” In the Greek version he said it more like this: “A temple I did not see in it!”
It’s more like a shout of surprise, a total shock. He’s a Jewish Christian. No temple! That can’t be! It’s almost like you looking down into heaven from your mountain top and crying, “No church! Hey, where’s the church! There’s no church there!”
You see, the temple was the place where the Lord came to meet His people. In O.T. Israel’s time, that was where God came to talk with them. He spoke to Moses and Aaron at the tabernacle. You could call it a temple made of a tent. It was the place where they worshiped God, offered Him their gifts, came to pray, came to hear His Word, where they enjoyed fellowship meals with Him, where they were assured of His forgiveness and grace. It was all so special. That’s why the Psalmist wrote: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (122:1).
Don’t you feel that way about church? This is God’s House; this is where He comes to speak with you. This is where He comes to promise you forgiveness in Christ and all spiritual blessings of salvation. This is where you find peace in Him. This is where you get to sing His praise and pour out your heart in prayer. You can do that anywhere because Christ has made that possible. But isn’t there something special about going into His House to do it? I would miss it greatly, greatly if I didn’t have “a church” – big or small to go to. It’s God’s House! He comes to meet me here, to comfort me, to promise me His protection, security, beauty, and grace. That matters!
John thought he missed that until he realized he was looking at God’s people in heaven. Heaven doesn’t need a temple, because God and the Lamb who was sacrificed for sin are the temple. Why do you need a building when the Savior is visibly with you, finally, in all His glory?! See, His presence turns the whole place into a temple, where He, not the sun or moon, enlightens your life. Awesome!
I can’t wait to see it, to walk on that side of heaven in God’s city. It lies safe forever. God grant it to us in faith, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com email: email@example.com
You can also find us on Facebook
The Sixth Sunday of Easter: “Rogate” (“Pray”) May 22, 2022
“Whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.” John 16:23
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Praise awaits You, O God, You call forth songs of joy. You care for the land and water it…You crown the year with Your bounty…The meadows are covered with flocks…They shout for joy and sing” (Psalm 65).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
The Joy of God Dwelling with His People. As we draw to the close of another Easter season and celebrate the Ascension of our Lord, the Bible centers our attention on the final, comforting assurances that Jesus gave His disciples before He left of them in His return to heaven. Although He would be physically gone from them, they would know the joy of His resurrection which no one could take from them.
That joy leads to the security of heaven where God dwells with His people forever, bringing them comfort, happiness, security, and peace. Those divine gifts remain the believer’s while here on earth and perfectly before God’s throne in His glorious heaven.
Because of such promises we can pray with confidence: Father of the heavenly lights, every good and perfect gift comes from You. Inspire us to think those things that are true and to long for those things that are good, that we may always make our petitions in joy, according to Your gracious will; through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The First Lesson: Acts 14:8-22
As Paul and Barnabas continued on their first missionary journey, the people in Lystra thought that they were “the gods” come down to be with men. Paul was distressed when they offered sacrifices to them. He encouraged them to turn from their worthless idols to the true God. Some gave him great trouble, causing him to take the gospel elsewhere.
The Epistle Lesson: Revelation 21:22-27
Jesus continued to give John a peek into heaven where he saw the glory of New Jerusalem (the Church). The glorious city had a wall which made it strong. No enemies of the faith and of God’s people will ever enter it, and they will dwell securely with Him in everlasting light.
The Gospel Lesson: John 16:16-24
The night before His death, Jesus told His disciples that He would leave them for a while. It would cause them grief. But their grief would soon turn to joy in His resurrection. The disciples were confused but He promised He would be with them again and that the Father would hear their prayers offered in His name, according to His will
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The Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “In the Book of Revelation, God, through the apostle John, indicates that heaven is a place of entrancing beauty and matchless splendor by interpreting heaven’s glories in terms of costly jewels and precious gems and rarest metals. How could heaven be anything else but beautiful! It is the habitation of our God, the royal palace of our King! And in that palace – O wondrous thought! – our Savior has gone to prepare a place for us. Through faith in His redeeming mercy, we shall ascend someday to His beautiful home beyond the skies – more exquisite, more glorious, more wonderful than human speech can tell!” — Herman Gockel on The Glory of the Father’s House
Jerusalem the golden, With milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation Sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, oh, I know not, What joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, What bliss beyond compare.
Outline of Our Worship
Lord, Hear Us
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Opening Hymn: #452
The Order of Service Morning Prayer: Hymnal pg.207
Lord, Feed Us
Psalm of the Day: #65
Hymn Response: #883
Sermon Hymn: #713
Sermon Text: Revelation 21:9-27 See the City in Heaven! Awesome!
Lord, Accept Our Response
“We Praise You, O God” pg.210 (The Te Deum Laudamus)
Hymnal pg.213-214 “Lord, Have Mercy”
Prayers, Lord’s Prayer
Lord, Bless Us
The Benediction Hymnal pg.214
Closing Hymn: #513
The Sixth Sunday of Easter – Series C
The First Lesson: Acts 14:8-22 – Here We Must Go through Many Troubles
8In Lystra there was a man who was sitting down because he had no strength in his feet. He had never walked because he was lame from birth. 9When he was listening to Paul as he was speaking, Paul looked at him closely and saw that he had faith so that he could be healed. 10Paul said in a loud voice, “Stand up on your feet!” And the man jumped up and began to walk. 11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form.” 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the main speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates, because he wanted to offer sacrifices, along with the crowds.
14But when the apostles Paul and Barnabas heard about this, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, shouting, 15“Men, why are you doing these things? We too are men with the same nature as you. We are preaching the good news to you so that you turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16In past generations he allowed all the nations to go their own ways. 17Yet he did not leave himself without testimony of the good he does. He gives you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He fills you with food and fills your hearts with gladness.” 18Even though they said these things, they had a hard time stopping the crowds from sacrificing to them.
19Some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and persuaded the crowds to stone Paul. They thought he was dead and dragged him out of the city. 20But after the disciples had gathered around him, he stood up and went into the city. The next day, he left with Barnabas for Derbe. 21They preached the good news in that city and gathered many disciples. They returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith. They told them, “We must go through many troubles on our way to the kingdom of God.”
Epistle Lesson: Revelation 21:21-27 – The New Jerusalem Shines in Glory
21The twelve gates are twelve pearls. Each of the gates is made out of one pearl. And the street of the city is pure gold, like transparent glass. 22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God has given it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25There is no day when its gates will be shut, for there will be no night in that place. 26They will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27Nothing that is unclean and no one who does what is detestable or who tells lies will ever enter it, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Gospel Lesson: John 16:16-24 – Sorrow Turns to Joy in a Risen Savior
16“In a little while you are not going to see me anymore, and again in a little while you will see me, because I am going away to the Father.” 17Therefore some of his disciples asked one another, “What does he mean when he tells us, ‘In a little while you are not going to see me, and again in a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going away to the Father’?” 18So they kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he’s saying.”
19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you trying to determine with one another what I meant by saying, ‘In a little while you are not going to see me, and again in a little while you will see me’? 20Amen, Amen, I tell you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. 21A woman giving birth has pain, because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, because of her joy that a person has been born into the world.
22“So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. 23In that day you will not ask me anything. Amen, Amen, I tell you: Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be made complete.
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
Fellowship & Bible Study
Easter 6 – “Rogate”
Divine Worship Service
online – Facebook
Fellowship & Bible Study
Easter 7 – “Exaudi”
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
In today’s lessons we hear about two churches: the Holy Christian Church on earth, and the Church Triumphant in heaven. As we continue to await our place in the Church Triumphant, Jesus gives us the assurance that we do not wait alone. The triune God is with us as we hear and proclaim the good news of salvation.
The First Lesson: Acts 14:8-22 (answers are found on the back side)
- Two miracles occurred in Lystra. One was clear to all. The other was observable to Paul. What were the two miracles?
- What was the crowd’s response to the apostles’ message?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Dave Ballou; John Workentine; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Lois Wiese; Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease of the brain; Elizabeth Lisenby, looking in the near future at shoulder surgery; Barbara Long, at home.
Meditations next edition of daily devotions begins next Sunday. You will find copies on the credenza in the narthex.
Sunday, June 5 – Pentecost Sunday and Confirmation Sunday for Emily Mabra
Sunday, June 5-Tuesday, June 7 – WELS/ELS Family Camp at Heit’s Point
Monday, June 6-Thursday, June 9 – WELS Minnesota District Biennial Convention at MLC, New Ulm
The Week in Review
Last Sunday Worship: 27; Bible Class: 16; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Offering: $2,057; stained glass windows: $1,000..
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Easter 7: Acts 16:6-10; Revelation 22:12-17,20; John 17:20-26 (CW -21, Series C)
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- The obvious miracle was the physical healing of the crippled man. At the command of Paul, he jumped up and began to walk. The other miracle was what occurred first. The Holy Spirit worked a profound change in this man’s heart. Paul shared the gospel, and then saw this man had faith to be healed.
- Paul and Barnabas told the people listening they were mere men. They pointed the people to Christ. Yet, the people of Lystra had difficulty accepting the apostles’ explanation. They had convinced themselves that Paul and Barnabas were gods.
This week I am praying for……