The message about yet another death in our family this morning brought new grief. But, I am not without hope because I have the hope of eternity.
What awaits us? What is this hope of which we speak?
Isaiah caught a glimpse of Heaven and it changed his life. When the Lord allowed him to see the wonders of the Throne Room of God and the angels that worship God perpetually, he was overcome by the realization of his sinfulness and cried, “I am doomed because I am a filthy man!” (Isaiah 6) And, in response to his confession, God made him clean, fit for holy service.
Paul tells of being lifted up to Heaven, seeing visions that were too holy to describe. Those visions sustained his faith through a life of unbelievable difficulties in his ministry and near the end of his earthly journey allowed him to face his pending execution with this hope: “now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NLT)
John, in that book of unveiling, The Revelation, tries to describe other worldly visions with this world’s language. He gives us language that shapes Heaven for most Believers, including such ideas as streets of gold, gates of pearl, and streams of pure water. Who can really fully understand all that John means with statements like these? God “took me away in the Spirit to an enormous, high mountain and showed me Holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God, resplendent in the bright glory of God. The City shimmered like a precious gem, light-filled, pulsing light. … The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate a single pearl. The main street of the City was pure gold, translucent as glass.” (Revelation 21:10-11, 21 The Message)
There is much for us to anticipate as we ponder the quick glimpses of that beautiful City of God that we find in the Bible. But the most glorious, the most wonderful truth, is in the promise: “Now the dwelling of God 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. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV)
When we are welcomed home, the gaps in our knowledge will close, the distance in our love will be gone. Yes, we will know Him fully. Oh, what joy! In that holy place, the pain and troubles will be gone, an almost impossible dream, for us. Jesus will dry our tears and take away every regret, remove the possibility of disappointment, and we will enjoy relationships with God and others that eliminate loneliness. No wonder John’s vision includes an outpouring of worship that he says was “like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.” (Revelation 19:1, NIV)
Ah, my friend, Heaven is not an escapist dream that comes to relieve the tedium of life. That home is not just ‘happy talk’ to help us cope with death’s fearful approach. I do remember a time, long ago, when I did not understand heaven, brushing off those older saints who wanted to talk about it, claiming that there was “too much living right here and right now to ‘waste’ time thinking about Eternity.” What a foolish boy I was.
Heaven is for now. A Christian who does not have Heaven in view on the horizon of life will wander from God’s purpose and even lose heart when the questions outrun his answers. On one of the most difficult nights in their lives, when He was about to be crucified, Jesus reminded His friends – “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-3, NLT)
Keep the hope of heaven alive and in focus, Christian friend, whether you are 19 or 91!
Knowing that we are on our way home, keeps us steady, gives us reason to press on.
The word from the Word is from Paul, who urges us to remember eternity, to set it in our hearts. “We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope. The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more.” (Colossians 1: 5 The Message) Isn’t that rich?
Plant your heart in Heaven. Invest yourself in God’s work, as Jesus said, “laying up treasure” that is beyond the reach of decay, rust, or thieves!
One of these days, we are going Home!
O That Will Be Glory
When all my labors and trials are o’er
And I am safe on that beautiful shore
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore
Will through the ages be glory for me
O that will be glory for me
Glory for me glory for me
When by His grace I shall look on His face
That will be glory be glory for me
When by the gift of His infinite grace
I am accorded in heaven a place
Just to be there and to look on His face
Will through the ages be glory for me
Charles Hutchinson Gabriel © Words: Public Domain