For God’s people, earthly worship and heavenly thoughts naturally go together. We are pilgrims—strangers on earth. But we are closer, day by day, to the gates that swing outward never.
We sing of the soul’s home. We preach about the city with foundations, and offer prayers reflect our longing for the better country. As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim Christ’s inevitable return, when redeemed body and immortal soul shall forever be with the Lord.
Gratitude fills our hearts as we “abound in this grace also,” thanking God for his unspeakable gift. Through Christ’s poverty, we may become rich. His blood makes the washing of our robes possible. Therefore, we have the right to the tree of life and may enter in by the gates into the city.
To those gates we are closer daily, but seemingly still so far.
How Often Do You Think About Heaven?
Do you think about heaven? Abraham did.
Abraham believed God. He trusted him, even though his knowledge was incomplete. He obeyed God, though he never inherited the land of promise. His tents became weathered representations of the nomadic life of God’s people of all ages.
In time, Abraham saw from afar the better country and welcomed the thought. Neither a tent in Canaan nor an estate in Chaldea could provide a permanent residence to satisfy the longing of the soul. So he looked for a city with foundations whose builder and maker is God.
Accordingly, we must realize that here we have no abiding city, but we must look for a city that has foundations—for the city that is to come (Heb. 13:14).
God reveals in Scripture a heavenly city—incomparable in beauty, incredible in size and structural integrity. In that city, the citizens enjoy infinite happiness and inconceivable privileges. If you had to live somewhere forever, there couldn’t be a better place.
Almighty God prepared this city for those who love him. Jesus Christ is preparing mansions for us in his Father’s house (Jn. 14:1-3). As in the case of the patriarchs of old, God has prepared a city for us also (Heb. 11:16). Attention is paid to its preparation, like a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21 :2). Everything is going to be perfect—prepared to perfection for those who love him.
Think on what God has revealed about the eternal city of divine design and construction. Why would we not cast a wishful eye? Do you want to go to heaven? Think about heaven—seriously—every day.
John’s Amazing View of the Home of the Soul
In the Apostle John’s grand vision of the soul’s home in Revelation 21-22, the figures of bride and city are employed together.
The symbol of the bride suggests the relationship between the church and the Lamb. The bride is the object of his love. She is holy, without blemish, and has made herself ready to be joined to the Lamb for eternity (Eph. 5:23- 27; Rev. 19:7). She prepared herself by being washed in the Lamb’s blood, by holding firm to the word of her testimony, by not loving her life even unto death, by holding to the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev.12:11, 17).
The symbol of the city relates a number of ideas about the place God has prepared for the people who are the bride of the Lamb. Let’s consider a number of these wonderful features about the home of the soul.
The City’s Beauty—Incomparable
John saw the holy city coming down out of heaven—reflecting the glory of God. The vision of incomparable beauty was analogous to a massive diamond descending from heaven was stunning (Rev. 21:11, 18). The jasper (i.e., diamond, perhaps) wall surrounded the holy city, and the foundations were decorated with all kinds of precious stones.
The vision’s focus is on the unparalleled beauty, and this city is built by God for those who love him. Its twelve gates were constructed from solid pearls, and the street was pure gold, like transparent glass (Rev. 21:21).
The City’s Size and Structural Integrity—Incredible
The city with foundations is one of incredible size and structural integrity. Here we have another aspect of this city introduced to accentuate the point that no city is like God’s city.
The city is square, surrounded by massive walls with twelve gates, three per side. The angel assisting in the vision measures the city, and its immense size is recorded. The city is 12,000 by 12,000 furlongs. The area of the city is 2.25 million square miles, an area roughly equivalent to the United States west of the Mississippi. That’s one big city! And its height is equal to its length and width—1,500 miles high!
When you consider the foundations, remember that there are twelve massive stones on which the walls are constructed. That makes these foundation stones approximately 500 miles long. The city really does have foundations—massive foundations.
The city’s incredible size and structural integrity symbolize that God’s city is without comparison. It could never be besieged, threatened, or compromised in any way. It is a prepared place fit for eternal habitation for all the saved of all the ages, and it is a city built to last forever.
Don’t your want to anticipate living in this city through a life of service to the Eternal Builder? Would you be willing to make any necessary sacrifice to be joined to the Lamb for eternity?
Life in the City—All-Inclusive Happiness
In the city with foundations, the bride of the Lamb enjoys all-inclusive happiness.
Today, the idea of “the big city” brings to mind crime, violence, poverty, gangs, and drugs. Heavily populated urban areas are not usually a place where people feel safe or venture out at night. In earth’s big cities, human life is taken at a whim, and people lock their doors religiously.
But God’s city is one of ideal security. It is a place where people are free from fear and danger, for God decreed that the first things are passed away (Rev. 21:4). Consequently, there will be no mourning, no crying, and no pain ever again, and the valley of the shadow of death is nothing but a distant memory. Death shall be no more.
The infinite happiness deriving from God’s presence is expressed in the beautiful picture of Revelation 22:1-5. Out of the throne of God flows the river of the water of life, both banks of which are shaded by the tree of life. It yields fruit every month. Its leaves are for healing for the nations. As this life-giving, all-satisfying, ever-healing tree is described, emphatically we realize “there shall be no curse any more” (Rev. 22:3).
The river flows directly from God’s throne. He is the source of eternal happiness. The perpetual fruit illustrates the everlasting satisfaction of all needs. The healing properties (i.e., leaves) are available for all (i.e., the nations )—those who have the right to the tree of life by being washed in the blood of the Lamb.
In these symbols we see images of the truth that God will take care of everything we need, every issue we have, every care in our minds, every worrisome thought we may entertain, every memory that may arise. God will take care of us forever.
That means this city is one of absolute, all-inclusive happiness and healing. God himself is the guarantee.
Life in the City—Inconceivable Privileges
The soul’s home is where the bride of the Lamb enjoys inconceivable privileges. We will be with God himself. We will be his children and inherit exclusive blessings (Rev. 21:3-7). The glory of God will be our sun, and the Lamb our lamp (v. 23). The glory and honor of heaven itself will characterize us as God shines upon us (vv. 24-26).
We will serve him, see his face, and have his name indelibly inscribed upon us (22:3-4). We will have the right to the tree of life and enter into the city by the gates (v. 14)—legitimate citizens whose names are written in the book. With him we shall reign forever (v. 5).
The array of blessings was succinctly declared when John heard the following: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).
That says it all. God himself will be with us. All that we see and hear in Revelation 21-22 illustrates this most wonderful, inconceivable privilege: we will be with him.
The joys of heaven moved Wendell Winkler to appropriately write:
So, whatever burden must be borne now, whatever sacrifice must be made, whatever condition must be met, yea, whatever price must be paid, let us gladly meet the challenge. For, throughout those ceaseless ages encased in the walls of jasper as we walk the street of gold, we will be heard to say, as did the queen of Sheba, “The half has never yet been told” (586).
Heaven from a Distance
Noah never saw a flood, but he believed God, built the ark, and was delivered from an evil world.
Abraham never saw heaven, but he longed for a better country. God’s friend never saw a resurrection, but he believed and prepared to offer up Isaac.
You haven’t seen streets of gold or pearly gates. You’ve never quenched your thirst from the river of life. You’ve never eaten of the tree of life, and you’ve never put its healing leaves to work. You’ve never seen God’s face.
But when you die, do you expect to live in the beautiful, heavenly city, incredible size and structural integrity, where God’s people enjoy infinite happiness and inconceivable privileges?
Brother H. A. Dixon wrote: “Heaven is a prepared place for those who have prepared for it” (35). Prepare today for the home of the soul ( cf. Matt. 25).