ODJ: The Hope of Heaven

September 10, 2018 

READ: Revelation 21:1-7 

Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them (v.3).

I’ll never forget what one of my older friends said when her son died unexpectedly: “Heaven seems nearer.” Although she was a widow who had endured hardship and pain, she lived her life with verve and joy. In her sadness over losing her son, she sought God’s perspective and, in doing so, felt the distance lessen between God’s kingdom on earth and His kingdom in heaven.

Towards the end of his life, John, a disciple of Jesus, received a series of visions of God’s kingdom to come, which we have recorded in the book of Revelation. We may find the imagery and allusions hard to understand, but the early church, for whom it was written, wouldn’t have found it so jarring. They regularly read the apocalyptic visions found in the Old Testament books of Ezekiel and Daniel.

Revelation 21 encourages us to ask God to help us hold strongly to His promises of the good things to come when “the old heaven and the old earth” will disappear (v.1), transformed by God’s heavenly glory (v.10). Our God commits to make His home with us, not only wiping our tears but removing the spectre of death and pain and sorrow and crying altogether (vv.3-4). We will be filled with joy beyond measure as we live in His presence, worshipping Him and enjoying full communion with others.

My friend has since died, and so her remark seems even more poignant. Although I miss her, I also find hope in her example of turning to God and seeking His perspective. Like my friend, I’m striving to passionately live out the joy God provides, even as I look forward to being in Jesus’ presence in the renewed creation. And as I reflect on that future reality, I smile, for heaven seems nearer.

—Amy Boucher Pye

365-day plan: Matthew 25:31-46

Read Ezekiel 37:15-28and note God’s promise to the Israelites that He would make His home among them (v.27), which is echoed in Revelation 21. 
How can you keep the hope of heaven nearer to you today? Why do you think it’s important to do so?