July 29, 2016
The Master's Kingdom
By Skip Heitzig
On Disneyland's opening day in 1955, thousands of people thronged to the amusement park, but it was anything but magical: traffic was backed up, it was hot, and they ran out of refreshments halfway through the day. Today, Disneyland—and now Disneyworld, including Magic Kingdom—is fun, but at the end of the day you're still exhausted and broke, and it's just a memory. I want to talk about not the Magic Kingdom, but the Master's kingdom—the eternal, unspoiled, perfect place that will one day be the reality for those who trust in Christ.
What does our future in heaven look like? What will it sound like? What will we see? The Bible often encourages us to consider our future: "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth" (Colossians 3:1-2, NLT). And there's no better place to start than Revelation 4, where John's extended tour of heaven began.
"After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.' Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald" (vv. 1-3).
There are a few things I want to point out about our future home. First of all, it's a real place. Heaven is not a made-up, ethereal metaphor. Notice John said, "I looked" (v. 1)—his senses were engaged. This is what he saw and heard.
The second thing I want to point out is that heaven has a relative position: "And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here'" (v. 1). Where is heaven? Simple answer: up (see Deuteronomy 26:15; Acts 1:11; Ephesians 4:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 21:2). Psalm 8:1 says, "[You] have set Your glory above the heavens." Beyond the atmosphere, beyond all of that is heaven.
The third and final thing I want you to notice is that heaven highlights a remarkable person. What was the first thing to catch John's eye? A throne. And who was on the throne? God. The main attraction and central focus of heaven is going to be God. Heaven's supreme delight will be unbroken fellowship with Him. Like Revelation 21:3 says, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." I know that we enjoy a certain level of fellowship with God now, but it's very different now than it will be then. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face." You'll hear, you'll see, and it will be face to face. "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it…. They shall see His face" (Revelation 22:3-4). Unbroken, full, eternal fellowship.
And notice John's description of God: ancient jasper, we believe, was crystal clear (see Revelation 21:11), and sardius stone is blood red; most theologians believe this refers to the redemptive nature of God. John experienced the ultimate light show, the full glory of God—100 percent uncut, unedited, take-your-breath-away glory.
And this brilliant, sovereign, resplendent being who John saw is your Father. And even though heaven is big and glorious, it will still be an intimate, face-to-face closeness with God. I don't think we'll ever get tired of it. It's the Master's kingdom, the kingdom of the Lamb, the kingdom your Father has prepared for you—and it will be a whole lot better than Magic Kingdom.
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