- Religion and Philosophy
Window into Heaven
A few seconds before my mother died she sat up in bed with a look on her face we'd never seen before. It wasn't fright or surprise. As she mouthed words we could not make out, she gazed into what must have been heaven. It was a look of peace and joy and recognition. Kinda like she'd already known what to expect. Now it was all being confirmed. I hope I go that way.
There's no reason every true follower of Jesus should miss out on such an entry. The Scriptures tell us more than we realize about what to expect. There's this awesome vision given to John and reported in Revelation 4 and 5. What John saw were real images that conveyed reliable information about the scene in heaven. It doesn't mean that we will see the same thing. Ours is to grasp the truths conveyed by the images John saw. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, really!
A door standing open
The section begins with John being invited to step through a door that is standing open. The first thing that catches his eye is a throne. There's One on the throne arrayed in regal splendor. There is, in fact, someone at home in heaven! A rainbow calls attention to HIs faithfulness; and flashes of lightening and thunder, to his power. Nearby John spots seven torches identified as the seven spirits of God. This is the sevenfold (read holy) spirit of God in the form of a flame with seven tongues. Remember Pentecost?
Around the Almighty are twenty-four other thrones. The twenty four elders seated on them indicate the people of God of both Old and New Testament times (twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles). Their white garments indicate that they have been redeemed; their crowns, that they have conquered the enemies of peace and justice and righteousness. Four living creatures are present as well. One has the face of a lion, another of an ox, a third of a man, and, lastly, the face of a lion. Each has six wings covered with eyes. Don't be spooked by the eyes. They simply represent perpetual alertness to serve the Lord. The creatures never stop singing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come." While the elders speak of the redeemed people of God; these creature represent the entire created world which constantly declares the glory of God (Psalm 19).
This scene gives us a somewhat stylized view of the entire universe finally doing what is was created to do. It's hard for us to imagine a universe free of sin and corruption; of greed and jealousy; of poverty and war. When that's the case, our greatest delight will be to enjoy God's glory. Kinda like those Chilean miners stepping out into the arms of loved ones and breathing fresh air for the first time in weeks.
But there's more!
"Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." (Rev.5:6) This can be none other than Jesus. Before, he was presented in magnificent royal garb and equipped with divine attributes. Now, we see him as a lamb very much alive, but bearing marks of having been slain. This lamb is called the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" after Jacob's prophetic blessing on his son, Judah (Genesis 49:8-12). "Lion" speaks of his regal majesty and of his strength.
Whatever my mother saw just before she died, she now enjoys fully. What she had understood dimly as through a glass darkly, she now grasps in breathtaking detail. So may all who die in the Lord. Can there be any doubt that our need for intimacy will be fully satisfied as we enjoy unfettered friendship with God and with so many others of like faith? As for our need for impact that will be met beyond measure as well. Whatever abilities we honed on earth will be used flawlessly in heaven. Our works do indeed follow us.
So living with shattered dreams and unfulfilled desires in this life becomes a bit more manageable. While we strive to overcome whatever earthly obstacles we face, we shall not despair. After all, in this life, all healing is temporary.