In Sunday’s message, I said that
At this point in the story, God hasn’t promised us military victory over human enemies in a certain piece of land. But he has promised us forgiveness of sins and a righteous standing in Christ. He’s promised us His presence as we go to make disciples of all nations. He’s promised us all the things that a chapter like Romans 8 describes—that all things work together for good for God’s people, and that He’ll provide for us everything we truly need. He’s promised us our own resurrection and the restoration of all things.
Do you believe those promises? Do you believe that not one of God’s words to you will fail or fall to the ground?
Do you believe that one day, all of us who have trusted in Christ will stand together on a new earth, in new bodies, being more like Jesus than we ever dreamed possible? And maybe you and I will bump into each other and you’ll say, “Hey Chris, come look at what Jesus has given me to do here.” And we’ll go for a walk and spend a few hours, or maybe a few decades, talking about it together. And maybe you’ll write it all down and it will take more chapters to spell out all of the detail than these nine chapters today in Joshua.
And you might say “that sounds like fantasy.” And I would say, that is no more fantasy, that is no more a stretch, than God saying to an old man with no children, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). The book of Joshua would have seemed like fantasy to Abram and Sarai. It probably would have seemed like fantasy to Joshua at certain points in his life. But it happened. Not one of God’s promises fell to the ground and neither will His promises to us.
As we consider the certainly of God’s promises to us today, I doubt that most Christians think enough about what God has told us about Heaven and the New Creation. Perhaps it all just seems a bit too far-fetched to get very excited about.
My great-grandfather didn’t think that way. A man of deep faith, he believed what the Bible said about our eternity, putting regular thought into what Heaven would be like and what he would do when he got there. One of his greatest legacies was the following meditation, written in 1893, titled “A Glimpse Into the Future of God’s Children.” I’ll never forget reading this for the first time, and with the permission of my aunt, who translated this from the original Dutch, I’m happy to share it with you today.
He certainly uses his imagination here, just as I did in my comments above from Sunday. I’d argue that using our imagination in this way is probably one of the main reasons why God gave us an imagination. If Heaven is real, why wouldn’t we use our minds, within the bounds of what God has revealed to us, to stir up our hearts in this way?
I trust that this almost 130 year old writing will stir your heart and help you “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
A Glimpse Into the Future of God’s Children
May I, unworthy as I am, encourage the hope of one day entering the Father’s house, where there are many dwelling places, in the spotless robes of Christ’s righteousness, in the garb of glory, and there forgetting the fears of my soul?
May I nurture the expectation of entering that joyful rest, for which my battle-weary soul so desperately longs?
Shall an angel close my eyes in death and guide my soul to Him, who loved sinners and died to free them from sin?
Shall a palm-branch of peace fan me with a cool breeze that dispels the searing heat of striving; and shall a crown adorn this bowed head, that was bent here under trial upon trial?
Lord, You know it—You alone!
Yet, let me in these quiet hours dream that it shall be so — let me for a few moments contemplate this wonderful expectation—and these thoughts will revive me and grant my heavy heart new courage.
How good it will be when suddenly the bands of sin are broken, when the burden of trouble falls away, when the sufferings of the body are ended, when the light-beams of the eternal morning shine their friendly light on our souls, never more to be hidden behind the clouds.
Then comes our rest; then comes the love of God in its full measure; then comes union with Jesus—noble, pure, holy and complete.
But only then—when the body has been resurrected—is the glory made perfect. Then the gates of Heaven open to the countless multitudes whose tears God has counted, and surrounded by angels, the citizens of Heaven take occupancy of their unsurpassable kingdom. The Lord is in the midst of them. His friendly eyes recognize each one; his gentle voice gladdens every heart; His hands of blessing are extended over all. No one is forgotten.
The children, who greet Heaven with jubilation, exult in the love of the Great Children’s Friend; the elderly, with youthful strength, sing His praises; the martyrs recount the glory of their Lord; the preachers of the Word delight in the fruits of their labours; the merciful receive a full measure of mercy; and the earth has become the inheritance of the meek. All tears are wiped away and sorrow has fled.
Wonderful fellowship! The Almighty Himself is their eternal Light; the Lamb is their Shepherd; and the Water of Life quickens them always.
Shall I be there? Shall I see Jesus? Shall I attend the feast in the company of rejoicing angels? Shall I come face to face with this great company of heroes, martyrs, and the faithful of the land, the Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles—and delight in their company?
O, how uplifting is this latter thought! I’ll meet Paul, and ask him—o, so many things, that were unclear to me here; I’ll surely shake hands with Peter, and hear from his own lips how he loves his Lord—Who didn’t reject the Apostle in spite of his denial; I’ll see Thomas—the Thomas in whose negative side of character I sometimes recognize myself. I will see the tender, loving, sombre disciple walk the streets of Heaven with not an iota of doubt or depression.
And there I’ll see Augustine, whose Confessions were a balm to me; and Luther, united in brotherhood with Calvin; and William of Orange, who is still after three centuries, the beloved monarch; and Bunyan, the Pilgrim on his way to Zion; and Spurgeon, the watchful labourer in the Lord’s vineyard.
And the Waldensians, whose bleached bones covered the Piedmont valleys, will also be there; and the Huguenots who fell under the murdering steel of fanatical bigots; and the many thousands whose flesh was consumed by the flames of Karel’s burning pyres; and those who were beheaded by the wrath of the Duke of Alva.
Tell me, can you imagine a more shining assembly than this? The lordly Abraham with his son Isaac, forever united; Jacob and Joseph, who will never again be separated; David, the Sweet Singer of Israel, with his bosom friend, Jonathan; Jonah, who certainly won’t want to flee from this place!; the Baptizer in the wilderness, whose exhortations will be replaced by hymns of praise—they will all be there, with the holy ones of the New Covenant.
And the King of Sweden, who gave his life striving for Jesus in Lutzen, will there meet the kings of Israel who also served God in righteousness. And poor Lazarus will there wear a crown, just like the magnificent Solomon—for there no one will rank lower than those who were once kings.
There Job will never curse the day he was born; and Jeremiah will find no cause to lament. The Exile of Patmos will be in his Fatherland. No more fearful visions of woe will be revealed to him.
Heavenly music will sound from golden harp-strings, and songs, transcending the finest music earthly skill ever produced, will fill the courts of Heaven with praise to the Almighty Creator, the Loving Deliverer, and the Holy Comforter.
And there will be beauty that the eye may drink in without being tempted to sin; and there will be joy that never turns to foolishness; and there will be no more Fear, or Doubt, or Suspicion, but eternal love will surround and keep all. Each breath will bring JOY, each glance will see glory, and each sound will be melodious.
Is it any wonder that Moses, “looking to the reward”, rejected Egypt’s treasures and pressed on toward that wonderful inheritance?Written by Eduard Marinus van der Maas in 1893. Translated by his granddaughter Margaret van der Maas – Osborne.