heaven

1 Kings 18, Ezekiel 48

Today’s OT18 readings are 1 Kings 18 and Ezekiel 48.

This devotional is about Ezekiel 48:35b: "And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”

This final chapter in the prophecy of Ezekiel described in detail the land God promised to a restored nation of Israel. The chapter reaffirms the land-based portion of the covenants God had made with his people. It states that the promise of land given to Abraham in Genesis 12:7b: “To your offspring I will give this land” will be fulfilled literally. The chapter promises again that the portions of land promised generally to the twelve tribes of Israel in Genesis 49 and more specifically in Joshua 13-19 would be given to those tribes.

There are good, godly men who believe that the promises God gave to Israel in his covenants have been fulfilled in us here in the church age. I do not agree with that interpretation and I don’t see how passages like this which are so specific could be fulfilled generally or “spiritually” in the church. The only alternative, then, is to believe that these promises have yet to be fulfilled and that they will be fulfilled in the time period we call the Millennium.

This is not the place to go into specifics about the Millennium or other prophecies in the Bible about the end times. The final verse of Ezekiel, however, sums up the great hope that all believers in every age have: “And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.” This is the realization of the promise lost in the Garden of Eden, that humanity will live under the loving rule of God, knowing him, worshipping, and fellowshipping with him constantly. When the Lord lives on earth among us, when his name is the name of the city because he is there, when we are free of our sin and shame and can worship him truthfully, fully, constantly and live completely for his purpose--then life will be everything it could be and should be but cannot be in this unredeemed state.

Is this a focus in your life? As you live each day, do you think about what it means to live for the glory of God? Do you think about Christ’s return ever and ask for him to come? Is there anyone around you today that you could speak to about their need for Christ and what Christ has done for them? This is how God wants us to live once we come to know him by faith. We live faithfully for him, obeying his word and trusting him while also longing for and looking for his return.

Numbers 33, Isaiah 25, Psalm 138

Today we’re reading Numbers 33, Isaiah 25, and Psalm 138.

This devotional is about Isaiah 25.

What will heaven be like? This is a question that most Christians have probably considered and plenty of non-Christians, too. When Hollywood believed in an afterlife, they created a picture of heaven that many people may still have: people become angels, float on clouds, and play the harp.

What an incredibly boring way to spend eternity!

God’s Word doesn’t reveal us a whole lot to us about what we call “heaven,” but there are a few things we can discern about it.

First, we don’t really spend eternity in heaven. The spirits of departed believers live in heaven with God now, but eternity will be spent on earth--first on this earth in what we call the Millennial kingdom, then on the new earth which God will create. So we really should be talking about “eternity” or “the eternal state” instead of talking about “heaven.”

Secondly, the eternal state happens in a city, the New Jerusalem, and this passage, Isaiah 25, gives us some detail about life there. Isaiah 25 is a song of praise to God (vv. 1-5), giving glory to God for what he has done for his people. Beginning with verse 6, however, Isaiah returned to describing the future, a topic he had begun discussing in chapter 24. How did he describe the future here in chapter 25?

First, he described a feast in verse 6. When God’s kingdom begins fully, it will start with a great celebration. Verse 6 described it as “a feast of rich food” which indicates an occasion of great pleasure and enjoyment for God’s people. And, the next phrase in verse 6 tells us that God’s people will be “all peoples” indicating that all kinds of people, not just Jewish people, will be welcomed guests at this feast.

Second, the eternal state is a place where death no longer exists and cannot trouble anyone. Verse 7 described death as a shroud, a sheet that covers everyone. But God “will destroy” that shroud and “will swallow up death forever” (v. 8a).

Third, eternity will be.a state in which there is no longer any unhappiness. Verse 8b says, “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.” The sadness and disappointments of this life will not be present nor will they affect us when we are with the Lord. This seems particularly tied to the sadness that sin creates; verse 8b says, “he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.” The things we do and have done that we are so ashamed of will be completely forgotten. Atoned for by the blood of Christ, they will no longer trouble us anymore.

Of course we bemoan the senseless tragedies, terrible injustices, and brevity of life that marks this world. The truths in this chapter, however, can encourage our hearts and give meaning and purpose to our lives. Our short time on this earth is not the end; it isn’t really even the beginning when we compare however many years we get in this life to an eternity with Jesus. So let your heart hope in God’s plans and let them focus your mind to help you serve him.

Deuteronomy 24, Psalms 114–115, Isaiah 51, Revelation 21

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Deuteronomy 24, Psalms 114–115, Isaiah 51, Revelation 21. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Revelation 21.

This is it; the chapter that describes what everyone who loves God is waiting for. As beautiful as this earth is, as joyful and loving as this life can be at times, we all know that something big is amiss. This world is fundamentally broken and that is because the most important piece is missing—God. He’s not missing in the sense that he is absent, for we believe that God is omnipresent—everywhere present in the fullness of his being. No, God is missing from this life in the sense that he is not the center of our worship, the source of our joy, our reason for living, our hope for the future. When Adam and Eve chose to sin, God graciously let them live and decreed for the human race to continue, but we have never experienced the kind of fellowship they had with him. We do not know what it means to “walk with God” without trying to hide ourselves with fig leaves. 

But, when Christ returns and the events that end this age are over, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (v. 1) and God’s dwelling place will be “now among the people” (v. 3). The pain and sorrow and death that pollute the joys and love of this life will be over (v. 4). We will have a joyous welcome into God’s kingdom that rivals any joy we can have in this life; the closest we can come is our wedding day, which this passage uses to try to describe for us what it will be like (vv. 9-14). 

And who gets in? “Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Not Donald Trump or the Clintons or Kim Jong-un or anyone else who can claim to be great in this life. The only people who get in are those who have been rescued from sin and the punishment we deserve for it by the sacrificial death of our Savior, Jesus Christ, for us. Here is hope and encouragement for you this morning; it will be perfect someday, if you’re in Him. No matter how badly this life treats you, there is a perfect hope of eternity in Christ. Let this truth prepare your heart as we gather together this morning to worship our Lord.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/calvarybiblechurch/. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.