October 24, 2015

A glimpse of Heaven

Ezekiel 47:1–48:35, Job 39:24–40:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10, Revelation 22:1–2, 5

I long for heaven in two ways. One is when life is rough and I am thinking I just want to go home. The other is when I’ve a strong sense how much Jesus loves me and how much I love Him. This turns into a deep longing to see His face. Today, the second version blesses me in joyful anticipation.

The last two chapters of Ezekiel should have been read along with the last chapter of Revelation, but since I read that yesterday, it is fresh in my mind. Both Ezekiel and the Apostle John are given a similar vision. Both see the same river and the same city, and both see a glimpse of heaven.

Ezekiel was led to the bank of the river. He said, “As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And (the Lord) said to me, ‘This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh . . . . And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’” (Ezekiel 47:6–8, 12).

He finished his book with this: “The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.” (Ezekiel 48:35)
John was also shown “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. . . .  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1–2, 5)

Earlier, he wrote, “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:22)

In both, the most important vision was that this is the place where God’s people will spend eternity with Him; this is where He is. Like an eager traveler at a ticket counter, I anticipate that first and everlasting gaze into His lovely face.

Job brings me back to earth. He reminds me that every time I complain about my lot in life or wish that I could do what the Lord does not want me to do, I am contending with God. I hear Him speak to me too as I read what He said to Job: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (Job 40:1–2)
After reading a long section in Job on what God can do and how His wisdom is radically far above mine, I bow my head and realize that even the timing of my entrance into glory is in His hands. He is in charge of my life, my death, and everything in between. How dare I contend with Him!

Paul’s letter to the Christians at Thessalonica was very positive and encouraging. It concerns their anticipation of heaven too, but also tells them how to live as they wait. He wrote that he’d heard how these believers “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10)

This speaks to me also. As I eagerly wait to see Jesus, I am to turn from all idols (much more challenging than it sounds) and serve the Lord. Jesus is alive. He has delivered me from the wrath that I deserve and will return to fetch me so I can be with Him forever. This glory is worth the waiting!

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