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Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Bible Speaks Less About Heaven As A Future Destination And More As A Source Of Divine Direction

A nice pair of Jehovah's Witnesses came to our door some time ago and asked, "Where do you expect to live forever after you die?"

It was clear they expected me to say "heaven", but having done some recent reflecting on the subject, I responded with, "I hope to live here, on a renewed and restored earth."

On that point we found some surprising common ground. We agreed that according the last chapters in the book of Revelation, multitudes of God's people will come down from God's heaven, like a radiant bride (represented as a grand city of light, pure as gold) to live as God had first intended when the first heavens (atmosphere, sky) and earth were created, as described in Genesis.

And the eternal God will be their source of light, according to John's vision in the Apocalypse, and God will live among them forever.

I'm the first to recognize, of course, that everything about the future is shrouded in mystery, as something beyond what mortals can fully comprehend.

However, what is clear in scripture is that heaven is first and foremost God's throne room, God's headquarters, where the eternal God, together with beings both human and heavenly, reigns supreme over creation.

Thus in the Bible, heaven is first and foremost a supreme source of direction for the living, and less about a final destination for the dying. And in fact, God's eternal plan for humanity may be to have us live on a planet just like this one, only one free of deprivation, death, violence and evil.

In this way, God's original plan for creation is perfected and fulfilled. It was never destined to fail.

Meanwhile, we submit ourselves to a voice greater than our own, a rule that supersedes all the governments and institutions of our own making. Beginning now, we see ourselves as worldwide citizens of a God-governed, justice-ruled, love-lavished, wisdom-based universe, as a part of the supreme Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven.

The two terms are always used interchangeably in scripture.

So this is our daily prayer, "May your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

This means living on the basis of an entirely different reality, today and every day. If we do that now, God will take good care of our future.

Here's a link to some other thoughts about the after life:
http://harvyoder.blogspot.com/2014/09/why-does-jesus-preach-so-much-about-hell.html
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