Posted in theology

Heaven Week #6: What we can’t understand and what we can

By Elizabeth Prata

This week we have looked at heaven. If we focus on Jesus and His heavenly habitation, we tend to enlarge our perspective and fixate less on the darkness flooding the earth at present. It was an encouragement week here at The End Time, and a reminder that as dark as things get, we will not be here forever. It’s only our temporary home. We have a permanent citizenship in heaven, where everything is perfect.

Though the idea of heaven is hard for us to conceptualize, we should ravenously consume any and all verses in the Bible that tell us about it. There there is no time, only eternity…where God dwells, who is Spirit that no man has seen at any time, where we have glorified bodies…and no sin, admittedly are hard for us to absorb. We have finite minds, and heaven is infinite. However, the Bible uses some terms to help us which we do understand. One of these concrete terms is the word city. In Hebrews, heaven is described as a city. Abraham was looking forward to it.

for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10).

Heaven is said to be a country, a ‘better country’. (Hebrews 11:16). We understand the word country and can attach our finite minds to the concept and understand something of what that means. If we have had parents or grandparents immigrate to the United States, we know they were seeking a better country, to start a new life, begin a new phase. So the LORD uses words and symbols and allusions we understand so we can grasp somewhat of what it is.

but just as it is written: “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HUMAN HEART, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 cf Isaiah 64:4).

While we desperately want to comprehend all that God has planned for us in heaven, we read in the Faithlife Study Bible,

Paul uses Isaiah 64:4 to assert that people cannot understand the things of God through human faculties (compare Isaiah 52:15; 65:17); they must rely on the Spirit graciously given to believers by God (1 Corinthians 2:10).
And they *sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the [nations! 4“Who will not fear You, Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3-4)
After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
“Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great prostitute who was corrupting the earth with her sexual immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES FOREVER AND EVER.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And a voice came from the throne, saying,
“Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

I know it’s hard to get used to ‘the new normal.’ George Orwell’s book 1984 seems to be coming alive before our eyes. Immigrants from formerly communist countries are sounding the alarm here in America and I surmise they are in other countries too. Encroaching darkness is heavying the hearts of many saints. We carry the joy and the burden of knowing what’s coming. We should sound THE alarm. The temptation I feel is to go turtle and hunker down. But that’s exactly opposite of what Jesus said to do. We can’t hide our light under a bushel basket, we are to let it beam out to darkened minds. When things are angry and awful, our joy and peaceful attitude will shine even more brightly.

I myself got very angry this week and upset one day. I had to work at recovering my attitude so that I could do the above. I’m preaching to myself here. Part of what helped me recover my equilibrium is comparing how hard the 1st century Christians had it. As upset as I was, well, I hadn’t been dipped in tar and set alight as torches in Nero’s garden, as Tacitus related:

or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. [Tacitus on the Christians]

The biggest encouragement I employ is to simply focus on what will be. I think of or read the Bible of who Jesus is NOW, (among the lampstands, ministering, caring,) or heaven. So I hope this series has helped you this week, too. I’m personally waiting for justice. The righting of wrongs done to children, the unknown acts of thievery, deception, selfishness. I long for justice. I will sing hallelujah when Jesus uncovers all of them ever done, administers His justice, and makes the universe right.

There’s more about heaven I did not write about; our new names, what we will be doing, our emotions absent sin, pure joy, colors and sights and scents we will experience for the first time, and more. No, the world isn’t logical, it makes no sense now. Most people from leaders on down seem to be actively pursuing illogic, futility, and licentiousness. In contrast, let us pursue holiness, joy, and peace.

FURTHER RESOURCES

How many heavens are there? essay at Let us Reason

The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, online book chapter by chapter by Puritan Richard Baxter. Here is a sample from the chapter titled The Splendor of the Everlasting Rest:

On earth we receive God's blessings through secondary causes. They come second hand, or even third hand, or who knows how indirectly? To have needs but no satisfaction of them, is the condition of hell. To have needs met by other creatures, is our condition on earth. To have needs met immediately and directly by God, is the condition of the saints in heaven. To have no needs at all, is the condition of God alone.

Heaven, sermon series by RC Sproul. “In this series, “Thinking of Home,” Dr. Sproul reminds us that because of the gravity of sin and the enticements of this world, our minds do not naturally soar to heavenly heights. We need reminders throughout life’s journey of our ultimate destination-Heaven.”

Book by Steven J. Lawson, Heaven Help Us!: Truths About Eternity That Will Help You Live Today Insights from the Book of Revelation. blurb: “The Christian Church is in need of a much grander and greater view of God’s holiness, and the book of Revelation contains the most penetrating, powerful and practical message the Church could ever hear–the revelation of God’s glory. Heaven Help Us! provides both hope for the future and the inspiration Christian people need to live for Christ in the here and now.”

The Truth about Heaven, booklet, $2.00/free shipping, by John MacArthur

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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