The Gospel and the Beauty of Heaven

The transcendence of God has always been, and always will be, apart from, while intricately intertwined with, His fallen creation which reveals his highest worth of glory and praise as the creator of all and redeemer of the same.

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 10:32-33

The words of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel emphasize the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven as central to Jesus’ message. In this passage, Jesus teaches us the truth of how to understand all creation in its proper perspective. As the Father is in heaven, his love and mercy overshadow all earthly sin and struggle. Jesus’ words are a comfort to us all as we worry and fight this sinful place. When we feel abandoned, Jesus reminds us that the Father knows every hair on our head and considers us of high value (verses 30-31). The authority and power of God are reminders that He oversees all things, even our struggles and worries. If we acknowledge Christ before our peers, before all men, then He assures us that we have Him on our side before the judgement seat of God. His mercy is for us and for His glory. His glory in heaven does not separate Him from us. Rather, He is intimately involved and in control.

The vision of John, found in chapter four of his revelation, describes the splendor of God’s throne. His massive glory and power are revealed as John shares a glimpse of our Lord’s authoritative presence. The four living creatures in verses seven and eight have been referred to by Irenaeus as representing the four gospels. These four pillars speak to the revelation of Jesus Christ through his life and the four gospels of scripture. It is through Christ that heaven and earth are reconciled. It is through the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection that man has any hope of being in God’s presence in his throne room. It is no wonder that the twenty-four elders proclaim;

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” — Revelation 4:11

 

— Ezekiel 1 —

“Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads…

And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire, and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance…

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” — Ezekiel 1:22,26,28b

The parallel of the fourth chapter of Revelation and the opening chapter of Ezekiel’s vision is obviously similar. The descriptions of both celestial visions validate the truth of God’s throne room. The four living creatures are prominent servants. John’s revelation has these creatures standing at the throne of God (Revelation 4:6-8). Ezekiel’s vision describes the creatures moving about on the earth (Ezekiel 1:17-21). It is evident that these four creatures are meant to proclaim worship and honor to God, not only at His throne, but also in creation as they move about. These two aspects connect both heaven and earth revealing that God’s plan of redemption was for the restoration of all of creation, both heaven AND earth. The appearance of God is no longer a mystery through Christ, yet it is important to remember, that familiarity with what is mysterious does not weaken the majesty of God’s glory. These two visions give a glimpse of what has been abandoned by fallen creation. As God is described with all overarching power and authority, He is granted more glory and honor in that He redeems ALL things to His purposes and power. This is why no one can stand in His presence and must fall on face and worship in awe.

I am a fallen sinful man. As I read these passages about the majestic glory of heaven, I am reminded of my separation from perfection. Life is messy. Relationships dysfunctional. Nothing in my present environment resembles the perfection, glory and majesty described of heaven and God’s throne.

God the Father has a throne room with a floor like crystal. An expanse that allows him to oversee his creation. The floor of heaven is then described as the ceiling of the universe. Redemption of my dysfunctional life can only occur from God the Father who is not dysfunctional. The description of heaven in these two passages serve as encouragement that my hope rests not here, but elsewhere. The irony is that the separated place of hope is now present in the fallen world where I reside.

Although the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand in fallen creation, perfection is not yet fully attained. We are all separated from heaven by sin. Although the blood of Christ has purged the wrath of separation, the fullness of God’s glorious heaven is still not complete. As I embrace the cross and the price paid for my sin, I must be reminded of my final goal. To obtain full peace and security in heaven, requires a lifetime of faith in Christ as I am molded and sanctified in his image. Only through Christ can I ever hope to experience heaven first hand rather than merely read visions describing its majesty. Through it all, Christ is my hope. Christ is my salvation. Christ is my path to heaven. AMEN.

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