Imagery Of Heaven
by Patrick Badstibner
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? – John 14:2
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations – Revelation 21:22-27
What beautiful imagery, what a glorious hope it presents, what love it signifies, what glory it reveals not of ours, but of God. What an uplift to our spirits that are often so weary from everyday living it gives.
I Hate Not To Know
I have serious control issues, I mean I am really OCD, don’t like surprises, don’t like knowing, like to always be aware and in control. One of the reasons why I hate anesthesia and all forms of pain medicines, because of the loss of control they bring.
As a kid and even know, I’m always asking why, why, why, never settling for a simple answer. It drives me nuts not to know something, not to solve the movie mystery before it’s finished.
I’m so bad that when my wife and I were first married that at Christmas time I would sneak under the tree, take my pocket knife and slice the tape nice and neat, pull out the box and look inside, then re-tape it.
Then, on Christmas morning, I would hold up a box, shake it and go this is a shirt, which to my wife’s surprise, I was always right. She would ask me time and time again how I did it, eventually I told her. Needless to say for a while she stopped leaving presents where I can get to them. I, think I’ve grown up since then, well maybe a little.
It’s There For Us To Know
Of course, I have excused my OCD tendencies under the guise of it makes me a better leader, its important to know, if it was not meant to know it would not be there and a host of other reasons.
I would justify, my fear of being out of control and thus working to know all the answers and solve all the unanswered riddles by stating how it was there for me to know. how it was my job to help them know, how the one who put the mystery there meant for it to be resolved.
You, name it, seemed I always had a reason or justification as to why I needed to solve this mystery, and why it was my job to help others know the answer, after all as a leader it’s my job to be a teacher. Aren’t, all things there for us to figure it out?
Prayerfully, as the Holy Spirit has conformed me to God’s design for me, these issues have become less. Though, there may be some who will argue that point.
The Beauty Is In The Mystery
Often, in the discussion of the verses we gave in the beginning, along with the presentation and teaching of such verses hope is not found, but confusion, as the attempt to unravel mystery leads to robbing the beauty of the imagery.
Albeit, that does not mean that we are not to teach, instruct, and present all the Word of God,. It just means that there are some things that are meant to be nothing more than imagery, figures of speech to create wonder, illustrations to grab one’s affections and keep stroking the fires of homesickness, not to be resolved, or practically applied to one’s life or a mystery to be solved.
Throughout, scripture, especially in the books of Daniel and Revelation, we find beautiful word pictures of eternity, Jesus coming and what heaven might be like. Images, that are meant to reveal the glory of God and sustain us in hope during the decaying days of living here, give us a view beyond the horizon, are often so over diagnosed, so over thought, over examined, that the real reason for the giving of such promises, hope, and beautiful imagery is often lost. In the same way, that one loses the beauty of a rainbow when one begins to over scrutinize it, in fact this is true of most of God’s creation.
We take such beautiful word imagery, such glorious hope and begin to divide ourselves into camps of thought with it, create divisions, separations, boundary lines and as such instead of such imagery giving the family something to encourage with, to lift each other up with, to help each other through the hot plate of life with, we leave each other putting our hands over our ears hoping that we will no longer hear of such things. We discuss, dissect, tear apart, use as weapons, the very mysteries these words leave us pondering, but why?
What, is it in us, that pushes us to questions, to use this beautiful imagery to destroy or the imagery itself gets destroyed. We, try to solve at the very cost of our own hope, and as a result our joy, not to mention that we can often be found robbing the joy and hope that the imagery is meant to give to others?
The Need To Know
Could it be said, that indeed God did not give us the answers to the riddles, the mysteries, in order that when we encounter them again and again we are awe inspired? Perhaps, in not knowing, His desire was to lift our focus from the garbage of life, so that our energy is renewed like the eagles, and as a result our affections are turned heavenward, our longing is increased, our homesickness is left unmet and our love is increased ,towards the One who first loved us.
Imagine, living in the battle of everyday living without the hope of one day being united with our Bridegroom, without the promise of one day knowing no more pain, grief, distress, death or sorrow. Imagine, one day without the hope of tomorrow upon tomorrows, would such a day even be bearable or would it truly be the proverbial straw.
What kind of existence would one be left with if all one had to live for was death? In trying to solve the mystery, present arguments for our camp, are we making the imagery more important than the Lover Of Our souls, who the imagery always points to? Are, we making the actual events, Heaven, itself outweigh, the fact that one day we will encounter our Lover.
Imagine, receiving a valuable gift, a surprise, it’s kept hidden and out of view until time to open it, deep anticipation and excitement is built up, and you await eagerly to see what such a gift will be. This is no ordinary gift though, for you are told that it will truly lift your very hope and energy level.
Then right, before you open the surprise gift that you have been waiting with eager anticipation to see what is inside, someone other than the gift giver tells you, “OH this is what is in the package.” There you are, before you even open the gift, someone has told you what it is, would that take some of the life, some of the joy, hope, excitement out of the gift.
Perhaps, it in this reasoning, we see why God has left such surprises awaiting. Maybe, another is found within the words of Paul when he said, he was given a glimpse and was left speechless. Then, in order to control the pride of being one of only two men to see underneath the wrappings, he was given a thorn in the flesh.
A glorious, wonderful, unwrapped surprise gift awaits all those Christ calls his bride, so wonderful that for the two men chosen to see it, it was more than they could handle as mere humans, without being given something to remind them that they were mere humans. Think on that thought for a moment, what are you feeling, what emotions are building up inside.
Imagine, There’s A Heaven Its Easy If You Try
Such, thoughts of such wonder should stir deep awakening affections, that should burst out in praise. Instead, it often results in nothing more than awakening our OCD issues as we state the following, let’s dissect this, see if we can figure it out, let’s analyze this, let’s solve the mysteries, let’s spoil the surprise for everyone else, before hand. Here is, another imagery – imagine the hope of knowing one day that you will hear words like the following
You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
And there is no blemish in you.
“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
May you come with me from Lebanon.
Journey down from the summit of Amana,
From the summit of Senir and Hermon,
From the dens of lions,
From the mountains of leopards.
“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace. – Song of Solomon 4:7-9
Imagine, walking in the gardens of heaven one day with our Bridegroom, as he reveals the surprises he has waiting for us His bride. Imagine, the delight upon discovering what lay under those mysteries. Imagine, what joy will be awakened within one when one sees what heaven beholds.
So Many Choices
WHATS THAT?! Your too busy deciding what camp you fall into to imagine such things. Perhaps, it’s time to stop trying to analyze, solve, unravel and unwrap the mysteries, and start reflecting, and dwelling on the One and His love, that such mysteries point to and speak of.
May, we ask God to overwhelm us with the beauty of what awaits, the imagery of heaven, the reality that the Bridegroom awaits to dress us in the most beautiful wedding gown we have ever seen, in order that awe is awakened, when reading of such awaiting surprises. In this way, we might discover what are the riches of His grace that he looks to lavish on us, and then find our pleasure in glorifying God.
Stop, just for a moment, ponder just a thought, what if it was never meant to be the unwrapping of the mystery that was the point, but the awakening of how treasured we are and what awaits those who God is glorified by loving. In order that we might dance in the streets all night with overwhelming joy, so that the affections of others are changed, and our own finds their true object.