Commentary by Walter Albritton


May 20, 2007


We Can Only Imagine the Beauty of our Home in Heaven


Revelation 21:9 – 22:5


Key Verse: There will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light. – Revelation 22:5


As advancing years bring us nearer to Jordan’s stormy banks, we cannot help but wonder what “Canaan’s fair and happy land” will be like. I find myself often singing songs about heaven, songs tucked away in my memory bank. Words like these seem so dear to me:

When I shall reach that happy place,

I’ll be forever blest,

for I shall see my Father’s face,

and in his bosom rest.

What John sees takes place on earth, although it is now a new, redeemed earth. He sees the holy city Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God.” The city is unbelievably huge with dimensions we can hardly imagine. But wait, the “city” is actually the people, the redeemed whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

John seems surprised to observe there is no temple in the city. The temple had been very important to the Israelites. It was there they offered sacrifices for their sins. It was there they found forgiveness. It was there they shared rich fellowship with others as they worshipped the living God.

Now John sees that no temple is needed in heaven. Instead the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple. The presence of God is all that the redeemed will need since in heaven there is no separation from God. People are one with God and God is one with his people.

God and the Lamb will provide all the light that is needed. In the days of our flesh night follows day. Nighttime brings on fear for evil works under cover of darkness. Gates are closed and security systems are turned on as the sun goes down. Some people, paralyzed by the terror of the night, only find relief when the first rays of dawn appear. For them it means something that our Lord is known as the Bright and Morning Star.  

 In heaven there will be no night. Gates will be open. The glory of God will furnish perfect light forever and ever. Never again will any of us be “afraid of the dark.” We will never hurt again for there will be no pain and no tears.

There will be no more hurt feelings, no more aching grief caused by irreconcilable differences between family members and loved ones. We will be at peace with God and with each other at last. We will live together in the perfect harmony that genuine love creates. No wonder so many of us love that wonderful song composed by Charles Gabriel:

When all my labors and trials are o’er,

And I am safe on that beautiful shore,

Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,

Will through the ages be glory for me.

O that will be glory for me,

Glory for me, glory for me.

When by his grace I shall look on His face,

That will be glory, be glory for me.

People in every age have been impressed with precious jewels, pearls, diamonds and gold. John knows this. So he uses such imagery to describe the beauty of the holy city. We should not expect there to be twelve gates made of pearls, or streets made of pure gold. In using this symbolic language John is saying that heaven is more beautiful, more magnificent, that anything we can imagine. What John sees is simply indescribable so he uses images that are the most likely to impress his readers.

 John sees two groups of people: the redeemed who are the church, the bride of Christ, and those who are in the lake of fire. While we might wish for all to be saved at last, John makes it clear that only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of life will live in the holy city. This will be true not because God shuts unbelievers out but because unbelievers choose darkness rather than light. Heaven exists for those who worship the Lamb. Some, preferring to worship other gods or even themselves, choose not to worship and adore the Lamb. Their choice, a poor one, determines their eternal destiny.

Since I love fruit I especially love John’s description of the tree of life that produces fruit all the time. Not only that, it provides twelve kinds of fruit! The symbolism again is beautiful.

My wife and I once flew to Hawaii. There our tour group stopped to observe pineapples growing in a large field. Our host offered us freshly cut pineapple to eat. Never had we tasted such sweet, delicious pineapple! I know now that what we enjoyed was a “fore taste of glory divine”!  Dare I say that the taste was heavenly!

Fresh, life-giving water, fresh fruit in abundance, no more night, no more tears, and no need for the light of the lamp or the sun! Thus does John describe eternal life in the presence of the Lord God and the Son, the Lamb slain for our salvation. What more could we ask for? Surely our new home in heaven will be all we will need – and more! Glory!

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