Follow Me: Eternity on Display

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Eternity on Display

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Follow Me: Eternity on Display

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Around 3,000 years ago, the shepherd and King of Israel David uttered two tremendous declarations bookending the best-known and most beloved psalm in Scripture, Psalm 23.

He begins in verse 1 by proclaiming, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (New Living Translation). And at the end he confidently states, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life …” (Psalms 23:6 Psalms 23:6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
American King James Version×
, NLT), concluding, “… and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (same verse).

This framework encapsulates what’s been presented so far in this column’s series about eternity. Between those two bookends a lot of life happens, be it “green pastures” or “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:2 Psalms 23:2He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.
American King James Version×
, Psalms 23:4 Psalms 23:4Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
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), but the words give purpose to what we are going through in this life.

What does it mean to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever”? We will take a peek into that realm, building on two previous columns. The first, “Fixing Our Eyes on Eternity” in the November-December 2019 issue, spoke to man’s search for meaning and offered biblical solutions that move beyond our very real moments of human frustration and despair. The second, “I Go to Prepare a Place for You” in the March-April 2020 issue, defined eternity as not merely a destination but as a way of traveling, by entering into a close and deep relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ (John 17:1-3 John 17:1-3 [1] These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: [2] As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. [3] And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
American King James Version×
).

As we proceed further, it’s noteworthy that Scripture gives more space to the fact of eternity being God’s gift to humanity than it does to describing what eternity is and means. God gives us scriptural snapshots based on what we humanly might comprehend of this limitless existence while in our human sphere.

Such “peeks into eternity” can be highly motivating for us who by God’s grace will enter the ultimate “house of the Lord.” It sustains us in holding dear to Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me” (see Matthew 4:19 Matthew 4:19And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
American King James Version×
; John 21:22 John 21:22Jesus said to him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? follow you me.
American King James Version×
). Now let’s step forward, in preview, to glimpse eternity on display.

Home is where the heart is  

Home is often described as where the heart is. And that is the key to eternity. Hebrews 11 defines God’s faithful servants down through the ages as those who “died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it” (Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

These spiritual pilgrims never settled for the surroundings of this wayward age, but “were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16 Hebrews 11:16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Remember David’s conclusion to Psalm 23? He pinned everything on ultimately dwelling in the house of the Lord forever. What will that be like?

Growing up in Bethlehem, David experienced the rather rough and functional dwellings of people of his day, but it was home! Why? Home is where your loved ones are. It may not be filled with every furnishing, but it’s filled with love.

Additionally, he would have been familiar with the tabernacle at Gibeon, with its designated Holy of Holies recognized as the earthly home of the God of Israel. It’s where heaven touched earth and they became one, pointing to God’s desire for closeness with His people. As He told the Israelites, “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7 Exodus 6:7And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, which brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
American King James Version×
).

The touchdown and touchstone of eternity

We find this desire of God presented in the opening magnified snapshot of eternity revealed in the words of the apostle John: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle [dwelling place] 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’” (Revelation 21:1-3 Revelation 21:1-3 [1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
American King James Version×
).

Here is the “better place” those listed in Hebrews 11 longed for. Here is the heavenly homeland—yes, home! Here is the heavenly city coming down to the earth.

Welcome to eternity! Not only can we read about this epic event for encouragement and comfort now, but one day we will personally witness this scriptural snapshot of eternity on display come into full focus as the climactic reality of what Jesus told us to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×
).

John captured the personal essence of entering eternity in one of his epistles, writing: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2 1 John 3:1-2 [1] Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
).

The promise that “the pure in heart will see God” will at last come true (Matthew 5:8 Matthew 5:8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
American King James Version×
), more so than even Moses was permitted to see when the “I AM” told him, “You cannot look upon My face and live” (Exodus 33:18-23 Exodus 33:18-23 [18] And he said, I beseech you, show me your glory. [19] And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. [20] And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. [21] And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on a rock: [22] And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by: [23] And I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
American King James Version×
).

How is it possible that we are enabled to move into the “unapproachable light” of God’s presence? (see 1 Timothy 6:16 1 Timothy 6:16Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.
American King James Version×
). The apostle Paul pointed out that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Corinthians 2:9But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
American King James Version×
).

To put it bluntly, we simply aren’t capable at this moment of fully experiencing eternity on display. We don’t have the right equipment, but God of course does! And He is going to allow those “who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12 Revelation 14:12Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
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) to go through a miraculous transformation. As Paul further wrote, “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53 1 Corinthians 15:53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
American King James Version×
).

Yes, we will be in the family of God as the immortal children of God, which is the culmination of God’s stated purpose for humanity. As the old saying goes, “Like father, like son.” God’s gift of immortality will allow us to share in His qualities, as John pointed to in stating that “we shall be like Him.” The apostle Peter even said that we are to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
).

This will not make us equal in authority with the uncreated God the Father and Jesus Christ. Unlike Them, we are created from dust and were given initial birth in time and space. As many promises reveal, we will reign with Them yet under Them, as They will forever be supreme. Yet what a privilege it is to be part of the family and household of God. In the Father’s and Christ’s love and grace towards us, They open up eternity and allow us to enter and, most importantly, remain!

Eternity will become home—not a mere guest residence or timeshare. Remember David’s confidence that he would abide in the ultimate “house of the Lord forever.” Jesus declares to His followers through the ages, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more” (Revelation 3:12 Revelation 3:12Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write on him my new name.
American King James Version×
). Bottom line? By God’s grace we enter, experience and remain in eternity.

A return to Eden before the curse!

It’s a well-known law of nature that for every cause there’s a correlating effect, and eternity is no stranger to this reality. What enables every other snapshot of eternity on display is the presence of God the Father and the risen and exalted Jesus Christ (see John 17:1-3 John 17:1-3 [1] These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: [2] As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. [3] And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
American King James Version×
).

As we progress through the scriptural snapshot of Revelation 21-22, recognize that eternity to come is, in an important sense, a return to Eden before the curse humanity brought on itself through following Satan into sin, with God and man at last brought together again in perfect harmony. In fact, Revelation 22:3 Revelation 22:3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
American King James Version×
emboldens us to envision God once again in the midst of His creation, as the Father and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, sit on Their thrones in the midst of eternity on display.

Just as the tabernacle of the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were set in the midst of God’s covenant people, so this ultimate “household of the Lord,” this holy realm, this perpetual home, will likewise be in the midst of the immortal servants of God in covenant with Him. And another emblem of God’s righteousness and blessing in the midst of Eden will be here too—the tree of life (Revelation 22:2 Revelation 22:2In the middle of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bore twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
American King James Version×
).

The presence of God the Father and the Lamb creates an incredible environment—described with several uses of the word “no.” Humanly we often cringe at the sound of “no,” upset at a denial of what we want. But God uses “no” in this snapshot to tell us wonderful, positive things about eternity.

There will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying and no more pain. And that’s just in Revelation 21:1-3 Revelation 21:1-3 [1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
American King James Version×
. God continues to roll out the “no’s” in that there will be no shut gate because there will be no night (Revelation 21:25 Revelation 21:25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
American King James Version×
; 22:5). And again, there will be no more curse (Revelation 21:3 Revelation 21:3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
American King James Version×
), because there will by no means be anything wrong that defiles (Revelation 21:27 Revelation 21:27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
American King James Version×
).

And one more positive round of “no’s” is on full display as the ultimate veil of the physical realm melts away, in that nothing will come between us and the God who loves us and whom we in turn love: “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:22-23 Revelation 21:22-23 [22] And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. [23] And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
American King James Version×
; compare Revelation 22:5 Revelation 22:5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
).

On the last night of His human life Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2 John 14:2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
American King James Version×
), and here in Revelation we see the fulfillment of Christ’s promise—with God and His redeemed people at last together forever in unending joy and blessing.

But for now we have some homework—and I might say some hard work and heart work—yet to accomplish in heeding Christ’s invitation of “Follow Me.” Until next time, having peeked into eternity on display, let’s hold fast to that vision, letting it motivate us to continue on to our ultimate home with God.

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