Coming Home to the Garden

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Revelation 22:1-5 | June 23 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
June 23
Coming Home to the Garden | Revelation 22:1-5
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father in heaven, give us ears to hear, give us hearts to believe, minds to understand, wills to obey, and a sanctified imagination that we may even slightly begin to fathom what You have prepared for us beyond the river and for all eternity.  What good news, what glad tidings, what a glorious place you have prepared for us.  Give us the eyes of faith to see it.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.   

We come this morning to the last chapter in the last book of the Bible, Revelation chapter 22.  Lord willing, we will gather back here in one week’s time and bring to completion this series that we’ve been in for a year.  This morning we come to the first five verses of Revelation chapter 22.

We’ve already been reading about these realities, singing about these realities.  Now we hear them from God’s Spirit through the pen of the Apostle John.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him.  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more.  They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

What a beautiful picture we have in these two chapters of this heavenly city, this new Jerusalem.  There are lots of things we want to know.  We’ll try to learn some more things from this paragraph.  We’ll have 10,000 years and ages upon ages to explore this great city. 

You realize that when you move to a new place it takes a while to understand the traffic flow and how to avoid the traffic; it’s impossible.  Where to go, how to get there, what the neighborhoods are like.  When you first come to a place, it all just sort of blends together.  It was seven years and four days ago that we moved here.  It’s been wonderful to be here.  It takes, not quite that long, but it takes a good number of years to try to understand and there’s still all sorts of places, even in Charlotte, that I haven’t been to, and little cities around.  Anytime any of you tell me that you’re going to visit a child or grandchild in Denver this afternoon, I think how are you going to get all the way to Denver or all the way to Dallas, and I realize, oh, these are little cities right around Charlotte.

I remember the first time when we came to visit, me and my wife, and Rich Pietrus was taking us around and took us from the airport and then was sure to drive us through all of the nicest neighborhoods of Myers Park.  We gonna live here, Rich?  No, well, not here, but we do want you to see what it looks like here in Charlotte.  It’s a beautiful city and we live in a great place, lots of trees, lots of people coming here.  It takes a while to understand.

One of the things that we still try to understand, because I hear various explanations for it, is why downtown is not downtown but it’s uptown.  It’s uptown because it’s actually you go up.  Geography, that makes sense.  Others have said that some years ago the city fathers thought downtown sounded too discouraging, downtown, so we want to be uptown.  Whatever the reason is, it’s the same thing, downtown, uptown. 

This passage here in chapter 22 is the Holy Spirit’s tour of this city, bringing you right to the downtown, uptown, center city.  Chapter 21 is the tour around the circumference, or I guess around the square of the city.  We saw the city measured, we saw its great high and thick walls, saw its foundation, 12 foundations, its 12 gates, the nations streaming in there.  It was a walking tour around the city, or to use a different metaphor, it was the drone footage to show you what this great city, the new Jerusalem, looks like.

Here we come by the Holy Spirit in our tour to center city.  What is happening?  What does it look like right there in the heart of downtown new Jerusalem?

We see here a river, a throne, and a tree.  Because the new Jerusalem is not just a city, you realize it is a garden city.  In fact, it is a return to the Garden of Eden, but it’s not just a return to the Garden of Eden because it’s not the exact same Garden of Eden, it is a better garden.  The good news for the Christian is that we gain more in Christ than we lost in Adam.

So we come, one day, to this great garden city.  The storyline of Scripture, paradise lost, paradise prefigured, paradise regained and improved.  There are many ways to tell the story of the Bible.  Tell the story of the Bible by covenants, you can tell the story of the Bible by God’s love, you can tell the story of the Bible in many different ways.  But one of the ways to tell the story of the Bible is as a journey back home, a journey back to the beginning, back to what you were made for, back to where we belong.

The Bible is a story about men and women ever since the end of Genesis 3 trying to find their way back to the garden.  Here in Revelation 22 they finally arrived.  God has brought it down to them that they might dwell in this garden better than ever before.

Paradise lost, paradise prefigured, paradise regained and improved.

Let’s trace the storyline there of Scripture and we’ll land at the end back here in chapter 22 with paradise regained. 

First think for just a moment about paradise lost.  If you have your Bible, you may want to keep a finger there in Revelation at the very end and turn to Genesis 2 at the very beginning.  Having just read the depiction of the garden city in Revelation 22, you should notice the similarities with the first garden here in Genesis 2.  We read in Genesis 2 verse 8, “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.  The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

So there’s a tree, there’s a garden, there’s a man.  And verse 10, “A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.” 

God will make, together with the man, a woman.  We read in verse 15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

The man, and then together with him the woman, are given this garden that they might subdue it, they might have dominion over it, they might exercise rule and reign in this garden.  But you know what happens.  Sin slithers in to the garden through, as best as we can tell, this fallen angel Lucifer, disguising himself as an angel of light, and he tempts the woman and she eats and she gives the fruit to her husband and he eats.

So we read, look at the end of chapter 3 verse 22, “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.  Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.  He drove out the man, and at the east,” remember that, it’s at the east, of Eden, “at the east of the Garden of Eden He placed the cherubim,” so an angel, “and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

So because of their sin, God does not throw away the garden, but He removes Adam and Eve from the garden and He places an angel and a flaming sword as if to say, “This which was to be your eternal home, a paradise, a blessedness, forevermore is now kept from you.”  They are cast out east of Eden.

We are left wondering, “Will they ever return to the garden?  Can they make it back?  Will this home ever again be their home?” 

Look what happens in chapter 4 because in chapter 4 we are introduced for the first time to a city.  Chapter 4 verse 16:  “Then Cain,” you remember the two sons, Cain and Abel, and Cain kills his brother Abel, “Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.  Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.  When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.”

From chapter 4 onward, we have in a thematic metaphorical sense, the division between the city and the garden.  Now that doesn’t mean urban is bad and rural is good, but these are metaphors that human civilization first here enacted in the city.  Notice the city built by Cain, who is a wanderer, he is a murderer, and he names it after his own son, so a bit of vanity and pride as he names this city.  From chapter 4 onward you have the reality of the garden, which seems to have been lost, forbidden from entrance, and then human civilization and culture, and it develops here in chapter 4 with God’s common grace so that they have arts and science and music and leisure, there are many good things that happen in human civilization according to God’s common grace.  But you have a city which is distinct from the garden.  Will the two ever come together or will this paradise lost be lost for all time?

In so much of the Bible, after paradise lost, you may not have noticed before, but there is paradise prefigured.  That is, there are a number of images, especially in the Old Testament, which are meant to be echoes of the Garden of Eden – here’s where we came from, what we lost, and at the same time here’s what we’re looking forward to.

The Promised Land, most notably, was a lens through which God’s people were supposed to look back, that land flowing with milk and honey, which I’ve said before isn’t flowing with a lot of milk, some honey.  It’s a beautiful land but it’s not the best land in the whole world if you want to be a farmer.  But it was a beautiful land and a good land and it was described in this exalted language because it was a kind of Garden of Eden.

The boundaries for this land, in Genesis 2 the Garden of Eden and then in Genesis 15 when the land is described to Abram, are similar in its boundaries.  Jeremiah 4 and Jeremiah 27, both those passages use the same sort of language where God is describing how He formed the earth in the beginning for men and women and how He formed the Promised Land for His people, the Israelites. 

The Promised Land was a kind of reentry into Eden.  It was prefiguring the Eden that was lost and it was looking forward to a garden that was yet to come.  This is explicitly taught in Hebrews:  By faith Abraham made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country.  He lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise, for he was looking forward to the city, notice the language, city with foundations whose architect and builder is God.  Verse 16 in Hebrews 11 says they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.

So from the moment that they began to dwell as sojourners in the Promised Land, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by faith understood this is in anticipation of a city and a Promised Land yet to come.

The Promised Land was looking back to Eden, looking forward to a new kind of city that God would build for them.

What about the imagery of the temple and the tabernacle?  In the same way as the Promised Land, the temple, or the tabernacle before it, was meant to reflect both the Garden of Eden and looking forward to the salvation to come.  The Garden of Eden was depicted there in the tabernacle; the tabernacle was literally a heaven on earth. 

Again, Hebrews 8 says the priests serve at a sanctuary, meaning the tabernacle, that is a copy and a shadow of what is in heaven.  This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle, see to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.  God revealed to Moses on the mountain what the tabernacle was to look like and it was a copy.

Now again, it doesn’t mean that literally God in heaven or all of heaven is __, but it is a thematic, theological copy, so that Moses would build this tabernacle because it was the same thing, the architect, the design here, we have the Lego building reality, and it’s a copy of the real thing in heaven.  The tabernacle was heaven come down to earth.

The tabernacle was supposed to look like a kind of Garden of Eden.  Exodus 26 describes the ornate innermost layer of the fabric in the tabernacle, “it was fine linen, decorated with blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, with figures of cherubim skillfully embroidered into them.”  And once inside the tabernacle, you were transported into a symbolic heaven because the inner tent there was a deep blue like the sky with images of cherubim, and the smoke and the incense there depicting the presence of God.

In Genesis, He created.  How did create?  By means of the Word and the Spirit – let there be light and there was light.  Genesis 1 tells us the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  So the Spirit was there at creation.  The Spirit was there, Irenaeus, the Church father, said the Son and the Spirit were like the right and left hand of God in making creation.  So the Spirit is there.

Do you notice the conspicuous presence of the Spirit in the building of the tabernacle?  The Holy Spirit is not mentioned very often in the Old Testament, but particularly the Holy Spirit fills Bezalel and Oholiab to make the tabernacle.  Why?  Because they’re making a new kind of Garden of Eden.  Where was the entrance into the tabernacle?  Well, deliberately it was on the east.

1 Kings 6 and 7 describe the decorations later in the temple.  Palm trees, flowers, cherubim, pomegranates.  What does the temple look like?  It looks on the inside like a garden.

Then you know the menorah, the famous seven-branched lampstand with one in the middle and then three to either side.  We read in Exodus 25 – make a lampstand of pure gold, hammer it out, base and shaft, its flower-like cups, buds, and blossoms shall be of one piece, six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand, three on one side and three are the other, at this prominent place in the tabernacle and in the temple.  What are we looking at when we see this menorah?  Buds, blossoms, branches.  It’s a tree.  It is a depiction of the tree of life which is the light to God’s people, to provide the very presence of God.  We’re looking at the tree of life in the Garden of Eden.  Come to the tabernacle.  Come to the temple.  All of these are prefiguring, looking back to Eden, looking forward to something better to come.

There are so many prophecies and Revelation 22 fulfills many of them.  We’ve already read at several points this morning from Ezekiel.  Before that in Isaiah chapter 35 there’s a prophecy about the age to come where water will break forth and there will be streams in the desert and there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness and into this beloved land nothing clean [sic] will enter into it.  There will be no ravenous beasts, Isaiah tells us, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.

We’ve already seen the prophecy from Ezekiel 47 of this eschatological, that means this end times, temple and from the temple there is a river, and as we read, as you wade through the river it gets deeper and deeper.  And we’re told that the river will go in both directions.  The river will be of such a purifying river, it will fill up the Mediterranean Sea in one direction; it will fill up and even purify the Dead Sea.  Maybe some of you have floated in the Dead Sea because it has such a high salt content.  Well, this end time river, coming from Jerusalem, metaphorically from the temple, will even purify the Dead Sea.

Then there’s a prophecy in Zechariah chapter 14 – On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea, half of them to the western sea, that’s what Ezekiel told us as well.  It shall continue in the summer as in the winter and the Lord will be King over all the earth.  On that day the Lord will be one and His name is one.

So Zechariah envisions in this day living waters flowing out from Jerusalem.  There will be fruit and prosperity and blessing in summer as in winter.  There will be no off-season months with the fruit of God’s blessing and the Lord will be King over all and there will be such a union between the Lord and His servant that they will be one.

Which is why, we’ll come to in a moment, we see that God and the Lamb are so identified as one that they share the same throne.

Think of two other biblical residences with the garden past and the garden future.  Two other biblical residences.  Maybe you haven’t noticed before.  Think about Babylon.  After Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden in chapter 3, before the explosion of God’s blessing, the announcement of the promise to Abraham in chapter 12.  So 1 through 11 is a kind of prologue before God enters into, well, He’s been in the scene but where God explodes with this promise of blessing and His chosen people through Abraham.  So all of 1 through 11 is what happens with sin and east of Eden. 

Where are we in Genesis chapter 11?  That’s the tower of Babel. God’s people, having been kicked out of the garden, wind up in Babylon, awaiting blessing.

Further on, when they have the Promised Land and they prove after centuries to be covenant breakers and they inherit the worst of the curses, and that land which was to be a kind of Garden of Eden, where do God’s people end up when they are kicked out of the Promised Land?  They end up in Babylon, awaiting God’s blessing.  Where were we just a few chapters ago?  Prior to the announcement of the wedding supper of the Lamb in Genesis 17 and 18.  God’s people were in Babylon, just like they had always been, from the beginning.  In that worldly city, awaiting for God’s deliverance for a word of hope and promise and blessing.  They’re in Babylon.

Then think, this other biblical residence maybe you haven’t noticed before, and that is the angel.  So an angel, a cherubim is there to guard the presence of God symbolized there in the Garden of Eden to say that because of your sin there is alienation between God and man.  They can’t just turn around and say, “We’re sorry, let us back into the Garden of Eden, we’ll do better.”  No, there is an angel to prevent them from coming into the garden.

Have you ever noticed in Genesis 32, you’re probably familiar with the story, where Jacob is wrestling with an angel of the Lord?  Well, he’s gone out and he’s coming back from the east and he’s at the brook and he’s about to enter again from the east into the Promised Land and he meets what?  An angel.  He has to wrestle with the angel before he can come back into the Promised Land.

What happens in Joshua chapter 5?  Joshua is about the conquest.  Joshua 6 is the great battle of Jericho because that’s the first city before they come in and inherit the Promised Land and the very last thing we see in Joshua chapter 5 is Joshua encounters and falls on his face a commander of the army of the Lord.  A great angel of the Lord who confronts him.  Why?  Because he’s about to enter into the Promised Land.  You cannot come back to Eden apart from this protecting gaze of the angel of the Lord. 

What do we have on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant?  That Ark of the Covenant which rests in the holy of holies and inside are the 10 commandments and the budding flower and Aaron’s rod, there what do we have?  We have a cherubim.  We have an angel.  Guarding as it were again God’s holy presence there in the temple, sitting atop the Ark of the Covenant, because the angel is there to guard entrance.

Just like from the very beginning.  You cannot just waltz your way back into the Garden of Eden.  There is an angel to protect you from the presence of the Lord.

Now think about the New Testament.  Think about Easter Sunday morning.  There’s an angel and that angel, who is supposed to be or you might think he would be guarding the entrance into the tomb, now announces the stone is rolled away.  You can’t keep Him in here.  No longer is there an angel telling, “Wait.  You have to get past me in order to get into God’s presence,” he says, “He is risen just as He said.”  Now Emmanuel, God with us, has burst forth and has gone forth from the grave.

And we come to Revelation 22 and as we have seen so many times, we read again in verse 1, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life.”  It is again an angelic visitor, but here he does not bar entrance back to this garden city.  He is instead your wonderful real estate agent.  It’s as if the angel, as John might be expecting, “well, I know how this works, you’re going to tell me I have to wrestle, I can’t enter in,” but instead the angel showed me the river of the water of life.  As if to say to John and to each of us, “Welcome home.  You’re here.  You’ve made it.  The gates are open.”  The angel has stepped aside and you’re welcome to return to Eden.

Paradise lost.  Paradise prefigured.  And here in Revelation 22, paradise regained.  But not just regained, improved.  Christ comes and fulfills all of this, all of this longing.  His body is the new temple.  Christ has succeeded as God’s Son where Israel failed.  Christ is the second Adam, Christ is the first fruits of a new creation so that all the promises are yes and amen in Christ.  And in His earthly ministry, Christ inaugurated what Revelation now shows to be consummated. 

The new Jerusalem is Eden restored.  You see there a river, a throne, a tree.  It is both an Edenic river, like there was a river in the Garden of Eden, and this eschatological river that we saw in Ezekiel.  Psalm 46:5 – there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

There is a throne and on the throne of God we read in verse 3, it’s the throne of God and of the Lamb.  So identified as one that together they share this throne.

Now the thought may enter your head, so, this is God the Father and this is God the Son.  Where is God the Holy Spirit?  Well, with many commentators, I think God the Holy Spirit is depicted here as the very river of life, as the water that flows from the temple and flows from the throne, is God’s holy presence through the mediation of the Spirit.  Why do I think that?  Because of what Jesus said in John chapter 7 – Whoever believes in Me as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive. 

It is a trinitarian vision – God the Father, God the Son, and proceeding from both is the blessing and the love and the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout all the earth.

A river, a throne, a tree.

Remember, the tree of life is why Adam and Eve were banished from Eden lest they take of that tree when they did not deserve it, when they deserved cursing instead of blessing, when they would inherit the unfortunate promise that in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.  A spiritual death that would lead in their lives to physical death, they could not eat from that tree of life.  They had proven disobedient and no traitor can live with God in His paradise and eat from the tree of life that would grant them eternal life and fellowship with God.  No one can have access to that tree.

Except if one would die in our place.  And just as the tree of life was always the goal, and the curse was to be removed from the garden and to be kept from the tree of life, so Deuteronomy tells us cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.

So Jesus becomes the curse for us and all of those who trust in Him share with Him in all of the blessings and all of the benefits of being God’s perfect, obedient Son, the true Israel, the true Adam.  In Revelation 2:7 Jesus says to him who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the presence of God.  That is the blessing of blessings.  Verse 4 – they will see His face.

Do you see how Eden is not just restored, it’s better?  So it’s not just a cyclical story that we’ve come all the way back, as if this whole cosmic history has just been one big circle and now we’re back.  Well, we are back, but it’s linear because this restored Eden is a better Eden. 

In the first Eden they had the presence of God.  They could walk with Him in the cool of the day.  But here in this garden city they see Him face-to-face.

In the first Eden, the trees bore fruit in their season.  That’s what trees do.  They bear fruit in their season.  Here the tree bears fruit, 12 kinds of fruit.  Why?  Because it yields its fruit each month.  This tree is never out of season.  It never ceases to bless.  It never ceases to give people all that they need.

And the nations will be there.  We saw in chapter 21 that the nations of the world come in bringing their glory.  So this is not like the first garden, just for two persons.  This is for the world of cosmic significance.

And unlike the first garden, which we know resulted in paradise lost, this paradise regained is superior because it can never be lost.  We read their names, His name, will be on their foreheads indicating their security, and nothing accursed will enter into it.

There was always the possibility, and tragically it became so, that in the first garden they would know the curse.  The snake slithered in and then He was cursed and the ground was cursed, and then men and women experienced the curse in their sphere of activity, the woman in childbearing and the man in tilling the ground, so that as far as the curse is found.  Now we have the reverse.  Nothing accursed will ever enter into it.  And the tree, with its leaves, is for the healing of the nations.

It doesn’t take much paying attention to the news to see we could use a tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.  It means that in this new Eden, this garden city to come, unlike the first Eden, there will be no possibility of sin, no possibility of sickness or sadness or death.  You see at the end of verse 5 that they will reign forever and ever.  What will be reigning be like?  Well, it’ll be something like what men and women were meant to do in the garden, to subdue the earth, to fill it, to have dominion, to exercise authority on the earth.  So that initial creation mandate is restored and once again they will reign.  Now not just temporarily, not only if they can keep some probationary tree, but forever and ever.

The Bible begins and ends in a garden.  The Bible begins with a man and a woman in a garden.  The Bible ends with a man and a woman in a garden.  From Adam and Eve to Christ and His beloved bride, the Church.

So the two questions for you as we close are these:  Are you on your way to this garden?  And can you feel something of this garden glory now?

Are you on your way?  Because we have seen many times, and we’ll see again next week, in every one of these passages telling us about the glory and the safety and the security and the beauty of the new heavens and the new earth.  That’s not for everyone.  There will be nothing detestable, no one who is faithless, liars, idolaters, sexually immoral, sorcerers.  And you say, “Well, I’ve committed many of those sins.”  Well, these are those who have committed them in perpetuity, never in faith and repentance turning from those sins, never showing victory over their sins, never longing with a true heavenly longing to be set free from those sins, casting themselves upon Christ.

We’re told again here that nothing accursed will be in this garden city.  Are you walking in that way?  Are you fighting sin in that way?  Are you turning from a life of Babylon?  Turning now to a life in Christ, of glory?  Are you on, as Isaiah says, the way of holiness?  Marching down this narrow path as Jesus calls it.  Not the broad path – many are on it, it leads to destruction.  But this path that leads to everlasting life.  Do you hate your sin?  Do you love God’s people?  Have you turned to Christ?  Are you on your way?

And can you feel something of this heavenly glory now?  You should. 

Hebrews 12 – But you have come, Hebrews tells us, to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God.

Hebrews is saying now you’re not at the final reality, but here in the worship of God’s people, whether you’re in some storefront church with a handful of believers or a great cathedral or anything in between, when you are with God’s people and you worship Christ, and you believe in Christ, Hebrews says you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to innumerable angels in festal gathering and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and you have come to God, the judge of all, and to the spirit of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

What we gather each Sunday is a rehearsal of the great celebration to come.  Now, yes, we will have much more than just church services.  That’s nice for the pastor, I know, you say, well, I like other things.  Well, heaven will have lots of things to do.  But this worship is a foretaste.  It’s not an exaggeration to say there is nothing more important in your life than to develop and cultivate and celebrate and enjoy this regular habit of worship with God’s people.  To come to Mount Zion.

I know Sunday, many Sundays, feel ordinary.  Almost all of the sermons I preach to me feel very ordinary.  That’s why I pray that the Holy Spirit would preach a better sermon than the one I’m giving.

But Hebrews tells us behind the curtain what the reality really is like.  You have come to God and to innumerable angels, and to the firstborn and to the righteous made perfect and you have come to Jesus.  Do you feel something of that heavenly reality in your soul?  Something that cries out in you, yes, I want to get there.

The Heidelberg Catechism asks, “How does the article concerning life everlasting in the Apostles’ Creed comfort you?”  Here’s the answer:  Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen nor ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined, a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.               

Let’s pray.  Our heavenly Father, give us but a taste of these heavenly realities.  We are prone to wander.  Lord, we feel it, so take us by the hand and lead us there.  As we will sing in a few moments, let us love and sing and wonder, let us praise the Savior’s name, He who washed us with His blood has brought us nigh to God.  So we give Him praise.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.