Forever home...

A preacher and a song leader were both avid baseball fans. These guys didn’t just like baseball, they lived, breathed and ate baseball. What time they weren’t about church duties, they were attending a game, watching a game on the tube, or coaching a little league game in the park. One day, one of them mused about whether there would be baseball in heaven and quite a conversation ensued. “Everything is perfect in heaven, isn’t it? We will want for nothing in heaven, will we? Surely there will be baseball in heaven!” They finally made a pact that whichever one got to heaven first would somehow try to contact the other and let him know for a fact whether they had baseball. As it turned out, the preacher died first. A week later he appeared to the song leader in a dream and said, “Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, there is indeed baseball in heaven. The bad news is, you are scheduled to pitch this Saturday.”

What Jesus said on our new place is important, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3) What we learn from what Jesus said is this: first, heaven is a place. Like Denver, Colorado is a place Heaven is a place. This is not some cloud in the ever after. This is a place; a physical located place. All we know about its location is that it is “up.” It is in the “third heaven” which I assume to mean a place beyond the expanding universe. So, it would be far away. But, secondly, we need not worry where it is--Jesus says “I will take you.” I think we can trust him more than our GPS’s. Thirdly, because there are many rooms there is room for all. If your name’s in the Lamb’s book of life you have your reservation and Jesus has made enough places for all who have their names written down. Revelation 21:16 which gives us some measurements indicates that the city itself, although it is not all of the new earth, is larger than we can imagine. “The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.” In terms you can understand John is saying the city is 1500 miles cubed. The point of these measurements is that there is plenty of room for all. The new Jerusalem is 2.25 million sq. miles and able to hold more than 100 billion people. Fourthly, Jesus has made a place for you. It is individual just to you. I have always thought it would be cool to get an architect to design a house for my family from scratch. Most of us cannot afford such luxury. But if you could you may want a bedroom that faced east or a kitchen that got the morning light. Jesus will make a place for you individual to you. He, who knows you like no other, knows each and every ascetic and taste you have and some you don’t even know about. Your place will be special just for you. Lastly from this verse we see that this place is inextricably linked to Jesus. It will be where he is. This is important, you see, because it indicates that heaven is not just some generic place. Since it is where our beloved is it is our home. Home has more to do with the people we are with than a location. Since heaven is where God is Heaven is home. Someone once said, “You can never go back home.” But for the Christian we have never been home. One day we will go to a place that home was always meant to be. 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” We are pilgrims in this world. Going to heaven will be going home after a very long journey in a foreign land.

What will that home be like? Revelation 21:1 says, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”. The word “new” here is important. It is the Greek word kainos. This is an interesting word. It means as to quality, not as to time. This new earth will be like the old but of a new quality. If I said I bought you a new car you would be excited. You would not be picturing an uncar or a noncar. You’d be excited because you know what a car is and you’d be looking forward to a new quality of car. The old is worn out the new will be perfect and better. Thus the new earth will have facets of the old. It will have light, water, trees, fruit (Revelation 22:1-2) and animals--including wolves, lambs, horses and lions (Isaiah 65:25) although with God’s love of creating I imagine a world full of interesting and unique creatures we will get to discover as Adam and Eve did. Someone once asked me if we will have pets in heaven. Who do you think gave you this affinity for animals? All of heaven will be filled with our pets, every animal tame and made for our pleasure. To be sure, we get glimpses of what heaven will be like here. A beautiful sunrise. The majesty of the mountains. Pristine places of wilderness not yet totally in decay. These are like a shadow of what the new will be like. It’s as Lord Digory explained to the children in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia: “Our own only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world.” The new world will eclipse the old in such an incredible way that we will not even remember this world. Isaiah 65:17, “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”

Our new place will be home, built by Christ, with enough room for each of us and each place individual to each of us. It will be home because it will be where Christ is. It will be new and of superior quality. Next we see it will be beautiful. God has created in each of our hearts a desire and love for ascetic beauty and heaven has a beauty so amazing it is beyond what we can even conceive. 1 Corinthians 2:9 is tells us, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human mind has conceived” -- the things God has prepared for those who love him.” The beauty of what God has created for us is beyond describing. Jesus called it “paradise” to the thief on the cross. John describes this paradise some in Revelation 21. In verse 11 he says, “It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” Understand that the city is described as being clear so that the Shekhinah glory or radiance of God can shine into every crevice. This is a city that literally glows with radiance. Again John says, “The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.” (Revelation 21:18) Jasper is usually a precious speckled red stone. This huge wall of speckled red sets off a city of transparent gold with a foundation of precious gems, streets of gold, and a light of the Father and Son more fair and magical than the soft auburn glow of a fall twilight. Then there will be the rest of heaven as well. This is only the city. There will be the new heavens above you with new planets and stars of wonder. There will be new mountains, new forests, new lakes and streams and wilderness more amazing and sublime than anything this earth can offer.

Each one of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ will one day journey to this great city of God. We each will receive our heavenly ever after. Are you focused on that place where our Savior, Jesus Christ, reigns forever and ever? It is the place we were truly meant to be--our forever home.