The Real Oz
Chip Ingram on Heaven
Since the Wizard of Oz was published, around 1900, it has become a children's classic and it has lead to a number of books by the author L. Frank Baum. It was made most famous by the 1939 film starring the legendary Judy Garland. In that film, probably the most beloved song is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in which miss Garland sings about a magical land where all her dreams are actually fulfilled, and all is beautiful. Here are a few lines from this well known song, written by Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and E. Harburg:
"Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."
I. Oz is Tarnished
Unfortunately, for Dorothy (i.e. Judy Garland), the land doesn't quite live up to its reputation. After having her house blown to Oz by a huge Kansas tornado, she begins her adventure by having the home fall out of the sky and land on the Wicked Witch of the East. Apparently this witch had terrorized Munchinkinland, and her death lead to the undying gratitude of all of the muchkins and the undying hatred of the evil witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West.
After, Dorothy receives the beloved ruby slippers, once owned by the dead witch she is told how to get back home to Kansas by Glinda, the good witch of the South. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, so she is told, can help her in her quest.
So, she is off tho see the Wizard. Along the way she finds three friends. The Scarecrow, who wants to ask the Wizard for a brain; the Tin Man looking for a heart, and finally the Cowardly Lion, needing courage.
II. The Wizard is a Phony
After an adventure which included following the yellow brick road, some evil flying monkeys and ridding the world of the other evil witch, the four friends wind up in the Emerald City where the "Great and Powerful Oz" lives. Despite the bravery of the group of characters the Wizard refuses to grant their wishes. Toto then accidentally exposes the Wizard as a middle aged man who is behind the curtain, operating the fake wizard. He then admits to being a "humbug" and a bad wizard.
The Wizard does sort of grant the wishes of most of the adventurers by giving the Scarecrow a diploma, the Lion a medal of bravery and the Tin Man a heart shaped watch. He finally attempts to grant Dorothy her wish to return to Kansas by carrying her home in a hot air balloon. But the balloon gets away without her when Toto runs after a cat and she goes to retrieve her beloved pet.
So Dorothy is left with no way to get back home until Glinda the Good Witch tells her that she had the power to get back all along by clicking her heels together and chanting that: "There's no place like home." Finally, Dorothy awakes in her own bed in Kansas surrounded by the ones she loves.
III. The Search Continues
Like Dorothy we are all searching for a perfect world, somewhere over the rainbow. Ever since mankind was kicked out of the Garden of Eden this has been the case. Unfortunately it cannot be found on this present earth that is tarnished by sin. And It isn't over the rainbow. The word for that kind of world is "Utopia". This word was coined by a man named Sir Thomas Moore in 1516 in a book he wrote to describe a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean. The word comes from the Greek and means "no place." It has come to mean a society that has highly desirable or almost perfect qualities. In history there have been men and women who have tried to create this kind of perfect society with no success.
This is because, as Scripture tells us: "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). Through Adam all have become sinners by nature and therefore unable to live without sin naturally. So any society, this side of the return of Christ and His eternal reign, cannot be perfect. It is tainted by sin and it's side effects.
IV. Christ's Return and the Consummation
Though we live in a world corrupted by sin and evil, the Scriptures picture a time when all that will end. The Bible envisions a period when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The next event to happen on God's timeline is the catching up of the Church. That is the joint body of Jews and Gentiles who are living today. According to I Thessalonians, we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). This will be followed by a Seven Year Great Tribulation. It will be a time when evil reigns. It is to be a period, the likes of which the world has never seen before (Revelation 7:14; Matthew 24). A figure called the Anti-Christ and his false prophet, called the Beast, will, by the power of Satan, be in control of the world during this period (I John 2:18; II Thessalonians 2:7-10).
Finally Christ returns and puts down all the evil, and will throw the Beast and the False Prophet into the Lake of Fire. And after a thousand year perfect rein of Christ, in which the Devil is temporarily chained, Satan is loosed for a season. Then finally Satan himself is thrown into the Lake of Fire, prepared for Him because of His rebellion against God and all that is good.
All humanity that continues to rebel will be eternally separated from God as well, because a righteous, holy and just God must punish sin. With evil taken care of, then the real Oz can be experienced. As stated, it isn't somewhere over the rainbow. The New Jerusalem comes down to earth and the dwelling place of God is now to be eternally among mankind. Revelation 21 describes a New Heaven and a New Earth on which will dwell righteousness (II Peter 3:13).
There will be a time, by God's grace, when man's search for the real Oz will come to an end. There will be no more wars, no more death, no more mourning or crying or pain. There won't be any children with cancer, and no need for hospitals. No sickness at all will be allowed in this place. Because sickness is a result of sin and that will be gone forever. There won't be any wives being abused by their husbands. There won't be any need for jails there, for those who would commit crimes will not enter this perfect place. Only those whose hearts have been cleansed by the blood of Christ.
This earth, with all it's sin and deprivation, still shows forth the wonderful and beautiful creative actions of God. We can only imagine the glory and majesty of the place that Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare for them (John 14:1-3).
We Christians have a wonderful and glorious future ahead of us. We will one day wake up in that wonderful land where we'll never grow old and our God will be with us forever. All of our god-honoring dreams will indeed come true. And we will look at it in awe and wonder and like Dorothy we'll exclaim: "There's no place like home!"