All heaven is of God
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What makes heaven, heaven? What makes the new creation really new? Is it that there is no pain? Or that it is a place where we will be reunited with those we love who have died in the faith, such that all will be well in ‘the sweet by and by’? Whilst not denying any of those things, surely what makes heaven, heaven, and the new creation new, is that God is there and we have unlimited access to him. At the present time we walk by faith, loving Jesus whom we can’t see (1 Peter 1:8-9), but there we shall always have him before us, he will never be hidden from our sight: ‘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.’ (22: v3b-4).
One of the most captivating descriptions of the new heaven and earth as we have them in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, is how God’s radiant presence touches everything, everywhere; ‘And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.’ (21:23).
God’s glory is not something separate from God himself, any more than the rays of the sun are separate from the sun. God’s being is glorious, shining out to enlighten and bestow life, his ‘communicative, spreading goodness’ to use the phrase of Richard Sibbes. As the sun gives light and heat, God’s glory is in the giving of himself in the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Or in the words of Michael Reeves, ‘The beautiful glory of the triune God is radiating, self-giving love.’
The person of Christ is the lamp which shines, illuminating everything and everyone. Similarly in chapter 22, the Lord gives light; the throne is in the middle of the city, in contrast to the early chapters of Revelation where it is in heaven out of sight from mere mortals. But not in the new age when God will be everywhere such that no corner of his universe escapes his stunning, love effusing, triune presence.
Perhaps no-one has described this anticipated reality that all heaven is of God, its source and goal, better than Jonathan Edwards, ‘God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem, and is the ‘river of the water of life’ that runs, and the tree of life that grows ‘in the midst of the paradise of God’. The glorious excellencies and the beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another: but that which they enjoy in the angels, or each other, or anything else whatsoever, that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what will be seen of God in them.’
Give me to know that heaven is all love,
Where the eye affects the heart,
And the continual viewing of thy beauty
Keeps the soul in continual transports of delight.
Give me to know that heaven is all peace,
Where error, pride, rebellion, passion raise no head.
Give me to know that heaven is all joy,
The end of believing, fasting, praying,
Mourning, humbling, watching, fearing, repining;
Lead me to my home.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
The Anglican Church in Nepal. The government has a strict and antagonistic attitude towards churches. Pray for safety for the Anglican churches and that by seeking the welfare of their communities they may be seen to be sharing the goodness of God.
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