Date & Title: 2009-01-11 The Kingdom of God

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The Kingdom of Heaven



          Several times during our children’s childhood we traveled to Franklin, South Carolina to look for natural rubies and sapphires. Franklin is the only place in the continental United States where they occur naturally. The rubies and sapphires there are blood red when properly polished and processed.

          Mining the gemstones is a tedious, messy project. After paying an entrance fee at the Gibson mines, you are led to a series of benches beside a wooden aqueduct of flowing water diverted from the nearby stream. You are asked to purchase buckets of whitish, clay like mud that has been dug from a place that is visually alongside the gem washing and searching area.

          They give you a small box with tight-meshed screen stapled to the bottom. Handfuls of the special mud are placed in the screen box and washed in the flowing water. After the gravel is separated from the mud, the fun begins. Gems must be identified from the quartz and other common rocks found in the gravel.

          Rubies are known by their deep red color. Sapphires are known by their octagon shapes (eight sides), their heaviness and their glassine look when wet. The largest sapphire I found was 24 karats uncut and 18 when cabbed by a gem specialist. Depending on their overall quality, sapphires from Franklin are usually worth considerably less than $100 per karat, but they are beautiful none the less.

          In this text apostles and believers are compared to gemstones in the sight of Almighty God. He sees us in our natural state, covered with mud and worthless. He searches us out, washes us in His blood and polishes us to perfection in His eyes. Like any human craftsman, he looks at us in our uncut state and sees our potential. He simply loves us and brings out the beauty in each of us.


          I asked a Franklin Gem site owner if he ever found any valuable stones we visitors missed. He told me about a trick he used to search for those precious stones the visitors failed to identify. When the sun set, he straps a black light to his hat and goes into the daily gravel piles discarded by his guests. Rubies and sapphires glow like new Silver Dollars under black light. Picking the gems becomes easy.

          God is like that with His children. By daylight we may look ordinary and worthless, but under His special light we are precious and beautiful in His sight. We shine in His eyes. He values us and loves us.


The Kingdom of Heaven


The possible causes of death of each of the Twelve Apostles:


1. Andrew: Martyrdom by crucifixion (bound, not nailed, to a cross).

2. Bartholomew (Often identified with Nathaniel in the New Testament): Martyrdom by being either 1) Beheaded, or 2) Flayed alive and crucified, head downward.

3. James the Greater: Martyrdom by being beheaded or stabbed with a sword.

4. James the Lesser: Martyrdom by being thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple at Jerusalem , then stoned and beaten with clubs.

5. John: Died of old age.

6. Jude (Often identified with Thaddeus in the New Testament): Martyrdom by being beaten to death with a club.2

7. Judas: Suicide.

8. Matthew: Martyrdom by being burned, stoned, or beheaded.

9. Peter: Martyrdom by crucifixion at Rome with his head downwards.

10. Philip: Martyrdom.

11. Simon: Martyrdom by crucifixion. or being sawn in half.

12. Thomas: Martyrdom by being stabbed with a spear.


Stephen and Christiana first martyrdoms

Paul last apostle to be martyred


The Kingdom of Heaven


          Natural pearls are formed when a foreign object enters a mollusks shell. To defend it layer after layer of a natural substance called nacre grow and form like onionskins around the particle. Those are semi-opaque layers that consist of the calcium carbonate that makes up the pearl and becomes a coat for the particle. Inevitably, natural pearls vary in shape because the process depends on the shape of the piece being coated by the mollusk. They are very rare and expensive.

          Therefore, a process has developed to imitate the process of natural pearl formation that produces pearls that are called “cultured.”

          Cultured pearls are sold by their sizes in millimeters. Like natural pearls, cultured pearls grow inside of a mollusk, but with human intervention. Shells are carefully opened and different shapes of beads are inserted. Over time, the inserted beads become coated with nacre, which makes a pearl appear to glow inside and gives it a beautiful shine.

          Above all, the pearl has been thought to have originated in some foreign substance, such as a grain of sand, or an animal parasite, introduced accidentally into the shell. This substance tortured the animal, which, to free itself from the irritation, covered it with a pearly secretion. Acting on these ideas, the Chinese are said to have obtained pearls artificially, by piercing the shell, and slightly wounding the animal.

          Pearl is appropriate for the Gates of Heaven, not because of the luster and beauty of the nacre of the pearl, but because of the pain and suffering that leads to their creation. Can you see how appropriate that the Twelve Gates of Pearl are judged by twelve apostles? These are men who were well acquainted with suffering and hardship. The path of the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t strewn with money, guarantees of good health, or the favor of society. The Kingdom’s path is arduous and few there are who enter the Gates of Pearl.

Sheepfold Ministries, January 11, 2009

Pastor Phil Roland

The Kingdom of Heaven

Revelation 16:1-27; 7:13-17

“Mankind makes up their own ideas of what heaven is and what it is like. Heaven is where Jesus and our loved ones are. That’s enough for me.”                 Pastor Phil                            


“"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor. 2:9


REVELATION: “A-po-ka-lup-sis” - disclosure: appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation


AUTHOR: John the Beloved Apostle



          1) Literal – Word for Word

            2) Allegorical – Earthly Story / Heavenly Meaning

            3) Historical – Seven Churches and Seven Ages

            4) Predictive – Predictions about Immediate and long-term Future

            5) Poetic

            6) Hyperbole – Extreme Sweeping Language

            7) Symbol – Visions and Dreams



            A. Simple Story with a Larger Meaning

                        1. Matthew 13, Key to His Parables

                        2. Step by Step He explains the 4 Soils

            B. Allegorical is also known as Mystical

                        1. Uses Earthly Figures of Speech

                        2. Has Spiritual Application



          A. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God

                        1. John gave Jesus the Title – John 1:29

                        “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,

                        "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

                        2. John Referred His Disciples to Jesus – John 1:36

                        “And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said,

                        "Behold the Lamb of God!"

            B. Jesus was God’s Lamb before the Beginning – Rev. 13:8

                 He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”


II.  WHO IS THE LAMB’s WIFE?              

          A. The White-Robed Crowd in Rev. 7:13-17; esp. v. 14

                 "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed

                  their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

                   1. Entered Heaven through Great Tribulation

                        2. Washed their Robes White in the Blood of the Lamb

            B. They will Sit before God’s Throne

                        1. Serve Him day and night

                        2. Dwell in His Temple



            A. She is the Holy City, the New Jerusalem – Rev. 21:1-4

                “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the

                  first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.  Then I, John,

                  saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from

                  God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud

                  voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,

                  and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself

                  will be with them and be their God. "And God will wipe away every tear

                  from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.

                 There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

                        1. The Holy City is the chaste Bride of the Lamb

                        2. She is we who live with the Hope of Heaven

            B. The Holy City is we whom Jesus Loves, and who Love Him


          A.  Gems are Hidden in the Dirt of Ordinariness

            1. Outwardly, look like Common Pebbles

            2. Need the Eye of the Expert to Identify

B.  Acquired at Great Effort and Price

            1. Colorful Gems become a Feast for the Eyes

            2. Transformed by the Master’s Hand

C.  Apostles and All Believers are God’s Living Stones – 1 Peter 2:4,5

      “As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by

        God and precious to him--you also, like living stones, are being built

        into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual

        sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

                   1. Our Names are Engraved on God’s Hand and Heart

                        2. We are His Living Jewels, He Loves Us


V.  WHY The Particular Types of Stones? – Ex. 28:15-21

          A.  High Priest’s Breastplate – Twelve Stones

                 1. Represent the 12 Tribes of Israel

                 2. People are precious in God’s Sight

          B. A Name for each Jewel – Semi-Precious Stone – Rev. 7:27

                "And the stones shall have the names of the sons of Israel, twelve

                  according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, each one with

                  its own name; they shall be according to the twelve tribes.”



            A. There are Actually Twelve Gates to the City of Jerusalem

                        1. One Gate for Each Tribe

                        2. Twelve Individual Entrances to the City

            B. There are Twelve Apostles

                        1. They Stand at the Gate judging who enters

                        2. Not Just Apostle Peter


     “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl.

       And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

          A. Pearls are Created by Suffering of the Oyster

                        1. Irritation and Agitation produce the Layers of Nacre

                        2. Layer after Layer over time

            B. Apostles knew Deprivation, pain, hardship and suffering

                        1. Became Martyrs who gave the testimony to their own deaths

                        2. Most were Martyred

            C. Entered the Kingdom of Heaven through the Gate of Suffering

                        1. Gained entrance through much travail

                        2. We who enter His Kingdom will go thru Gates of Suffering


      “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were

        opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the

        dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written

        in the books.”

          A. Only Those Whose Names are Written in the Lamb’s Book of Life

        B. Is Your Name Written There? – Romans 10:8-10

              “But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your

                  heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess

                  with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has

                  raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one

                  believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made

                  unto salvation.”

                   1. Confess

                  2. Believe in you heart

                   3. Receive His Salvation

            C. Open the Door – Revelation 3:20,21

                "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and

                  opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

                 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also

                   overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

                1. Hear

                  2. Open the Door of Your Heart

                   3. Invite Him In


The Kingdom of Heaven, Texts:

Revelations 7:13-27

“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"

14  And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15  "Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

16  "They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;

17  "for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."


Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."

10  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11  having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

12  Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13  three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14  Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15  And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

16  The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

17  Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

18  The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

19  The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,

20  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

21  The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22  But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23  The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

24  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.

25  Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).

26  And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.

27  But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.