Monday, July 9, 2018
People have all kinds of ideas about heaven. What will it be like? Will we float around on eternal clouds pulling on the strings of our literal harps? Will we all wear white robes, have halos, and be barefooted? Will we see loved ones who were believers, but not remember those who weren’t? Will it be a big homecoming event? Will we walk and talk with the apostles and Jesus, receiving answers to all our questions? Will we have literal mansions to reside in? Will it be a new Garden of Eden for us to work and live in and this time happiness will keep us from disobedience? Will it be an everlasting, continuous worship service where we sing non-stop praises to Yahweh?
Would you be shocked if the description of heaven is only symbolic? The streets of gold may be described in physical terms, but the spiritual reality may present that metal as rust in comparison. Will we make our worship in heaven a mirror of our Sunday assemblies to be practiced throughout eternity? If so, what will that heavenly worship look like?
If our worship in heaven is exactly like what we do on Sunday morning, there would be no Cracker Barrel to beat the Baptist to! Worship would never end! It would make our impatience with the preacher’s “and in closing” promise look heavenly! If our worship was one where we were on our feet, we would be in an eternal standing mode. If it was one where we remained seated, let us hope that bed sores don’t migrate to heaven! Fidgeting would be out of the question since discomfort would be no more! For the very young, as well as those in advanced age, such a condition is incomprehensible. Bathroom breaks would no longer be needed!
Will there be any emotions displayed in heaven? Would “joy” or “rejoicing” be a foreign activity? Would that emotion be exhibited with shouting, clapping, or other human movements? Or, would that excitement be strictly stifled because it mirrors activities we believe are unscriptural in our earthly worship? Would we sit or stand without visible movement beyond what it takes to get up or sit down? Would we be shocked that the harps mentioned in the book of Revelation were figurative and our voices were all that God desired? Would we wish we weren’t there if the harps were literal? Would we be shocked if the adoration for Yahweh was exuberant and exciting rather than repressed because such would be “too emotional”? Would the host of heaven express their love and joy to God in whispers to display their reverence void of all such emotions?
Inspiration depicts our relationship with Jesus as a marriage (Romans 7:4; Revelation 21:2). What were marriage ceremonies like in first century Judaism? Was there an absence of emotionalism? When Jesus and the apostles observed the Passover meal, was reverence revealed as silence? What about that moment when he introduced the Lord’s supper from the Passover bread and wine? Was it without emotions? Was joy repressed? Was it an activity of silence? Is there any difference in the way Jesus introduced and partook of it with the apostles and our habitual way of doing so today? How would we work foot washing into our activities since it was part of Jesus’ assembly? Perhaps it would not be needed since dirt under foot or from the mouth would be no more!
When the Philippian saints received Paul’s letter, what were their thoughts when they read “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)? Was he talking about rejoicing” before the opening prayer or wait to do so after the closing one? How was reverence expressed by the host in the presence of Yahweh in Revelation 4:8-11? Was it stoic? When the Lamb appeared, how was their reverence expressed (Revelation 5:1-14)? Was it without emotions? Was the atmosphere subdued and without conversation?
Even if these Revelation passages contain symbolism, do we see any correlation between that worship and what we call worship today? The only time the word “worship” is used in God’s word with an assembly, it isn’t the worship we describe as being “in spirit and in truth.” In fact, most would be horrified if such worship took place in our assemblies (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). Would our modern worship fall under the heading of “Silence is prohibitive” because it isn’t described as we phrase it? Would the glories of heaven shock our sight when we behold it for the first time? Will we rejoice? If so, how will that rejoicing translate into actions? Will we have tears of joy, or shouts of rejoicing? Will anyone be silent and explain that silence as the only emotion lawful to display?
One of the older songs, “No Tears in Heaven,” has the following lyrics,
No tears in heaven, no sorrows given.
All will be glory in that land;
There’ll be no sadness, all will be gladness,
When we shall join that happy band (Emphasis mine, RH).
What will heaven be like? How will “gladness” be displayed? What will “that happy band” look like? Will our visions of heaven’s activities be shocking or satisfying? Is our understanding and practice of “worship” what we can expect in heaven?
“Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when he comes we will be like him, as a result of seeing him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2-3).