Are you looking forward to heaven? Do you know anything about it? What does life after death entail? Let’s look!
19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.
Our journey on this earth leads us to the throne of God. The last verse of the hymn, Footsteps of Jesus, says, “Then at last when on high He sees us, our journey done; we will rest where the steps of Jesus end at His throne.” According to the apostle Paul, to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. 2 Cor. 5:8
There is another hymn that speaks of heaven, but it leads us to a wrong conclusion. It is, “This World is Not My Home.” The verse goes,
This world is not my home, I’m just a’passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.
The song is true in this sense: We all die and proceed to the throne of Jesus. It is what He wants. In His prayer in John 17:24, He tells us, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” But, that’s not all there is to heaven. Revelation 19 tells us that we will all return with Jesus to earth to establish heaven on earth!
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
You will notice that “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” This phrase refers to Psalm 2:9 and ushers in the Millennial Kingdom when Christ establishes His rule on this physical earth from the temple in Jerusalem. It will be the “Restoration of All Things” as is spoken of in Matthew 19:28,
28 Jesus said to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, in the renewal [that is, the Messianic restoration and regeneration of all things] when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you [who have followed Me, becoming My disciples] will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
This is not in heaven, my friends; this is in Jerusalem! Jeremiah 3:17 tells us, At “that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.” Won’t THAT be a sight to behold! We actually WILL!!! Here is the LORD’s promise to us:
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
So, dear friends, let’s not get caught up in living only for this world, or let the trials of this life get us down. We have a great and glorious future ahead of us with Christ Jesus and all His saints! Let’s set our eyes on the prize that is to come. The apostle Paul said it best:
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection [His Spirit in our lives] and participation in his sufferings*, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [the process: We suffer, we die, we are resurrected!]. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-14
*We bear His name and thus open ourselves to ridicule and persecution. We also live in these frail, mortal bodies as He did while He was here on earth, until the time we get to be with Him in heaven. On the Day of His Second Coming, we will receive our new and glorious bodies and be reunited with our flesh when we come back to earth to reign with Him. See 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4, and Revelation 19.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
So, “encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thess. 4:18
Abba, how exciting it is to study how things will be when we shed these mortal bodies and step into our new and glorious bodies and into Your presence! At the same time, we long for Your appearing, at which time, we won’t have to die, but will be transformed on the spot!!! While we wait, I lift up all who are going through persecution for Your name’s sake, and for all who are enduring pain and suffering in these frail bodies. It’s not what You had in mind, nor is it what You have in store. We DO take comfort and encouragement with these promises that we have from Your Word. Just a little longer, LORD, until “the times of the Gentiles is completed.” Amen.