Chapter 26 - Our Final Home

As children of the Most High, we are in the world, yet we are not of this world. As “strangers and pilgrims,” we are simply “sojourning here” (I Pet. 2:11; 1:17). “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20, ASV). For this reason we set our “affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). All our hopes, our desires, our aspirations, our longings are there.
This has ever been the conviction of all true saints here. The patriarchs of the old dispensation knew that their period of earthly existence was transitory; therefore, they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” They were indeed seeking a country, but not an earthly one, for they desired “a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Heb. 11:13-16). We of the new dispensation share with them in the same future hope, “for here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (13:14). Nor will this desire of God’s people during the ages go unsatisfied, “for he hath prepared for them a city” (11:16). It is not to be found in this world, for all the promises of future blessedness point us away from earth to another country, a “better country,” “an heavenly.”
How inspiring this thought amid the trying scenes of life! When tossed by the billows of earthly woe, the soul cries out. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19), but courage survives and faith brightens in view of “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5). What “strong consolation” is this “hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (Heb. 6:18-19). When earthly reverses and losses come we accept them joyfully, knowing in ourselves that we “have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (10:34); for we have laid up for ourselves “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6:20).
We are adjusted to every circumstance. When things go smoothly, we rejoice and give God the glory; when fiery trials are our portion, we rejoice also, inspired by the hope from above. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you” (I Pet. 4:14). What does a little opposition or persecution amount to? “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:12). The eternal reward comes to those who endure to the end, for they shall have an abundant entrance “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 1:11).

A Sure Friend

Are we certain of this happy termination of earthly things? Yes, thank God! “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5:1). “For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (4:18).
We look not at the life which now is, but with eager joy and anticipation we press forward to that life which is to be. “We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21).
Worldly possessions, which are only “temporal,” cannot hold our affections; we are “heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” (Jas. 2:5). We have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (I Pet. 1:4). Away with earthly attractions Jesus and heaven are ours! The beauties of this world cannot charm our souls; we are citizens of another country, “a better country,” “an heavenly.” Scenes of heavenly beauty and glory have passed before our spiritual vision; celestial music has fallen upon our ears, and onward we press to that land of eternal rest.
When shall we enter this everlasting abode of the righteous? “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). Where did Jesus go? “He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). When will he come again to receive us? “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:16-17).
The plan and purpose of God have been complete in the mind of the omnipotent One from the beginning. Redemption itself has ever been present before him. Christ was a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8); still, actual fulfillment did not take place until after the lapse of many centuries. The future and eternal home of the redeemed is but another part of the same great redemptory plan, and it, too, has been in the mind and purpose of God from the beginning; hence it is a “kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34); still, its actual preparation was a later accomplishment, for Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you and … I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” Then, and not until then, will the heavenly world be brought to view.

A New Heaven and a New Earth

This second coming is described by the Apostle Peter thus: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Pet. 3:10-13).
This new heaven and new earth will be our future and eternal home. All the promises point forward to it. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). The new earth is the earth that we shall inherit, for our “inheritance” is one that is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (I Pet. 1:4).
The description given by the Revelator is still plainer: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:11-12). “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (21:1).

The Golden City

This new heaven and new earth, brought to view after the passing of the present earth, will be the place of our future and eternal abode; “for here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. 13:14). When this heavenly world was opened before the Apostle in apocalyptic vision he saw therein the eternal dwelling place of God’s saints symbolized after the pattern of a great city, the “new Jerusalem” (Rev. 21). The actual elements that make up the paradise of God are of such an exalted and transcendent character that it is not possible for man to utter them in the ordinary language of earth (II Cor. 12:4, margin); therefore they must of necessity be represented symbolically, the symbols chosen being, of course, in their nature vastly inferior to the things thus foreshadowed.
What city is this laid out before us in splendor and magnificence? It is “the holy city, new Jerusalem,” the city of “pure gold.” Even its streets are of purest gold. It is surrounded by a “wall great and high,” and twelve gates, each a solid pearl, give entrance. This wall is of jasper, built on foundations garnished with all manner of precious stones—jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, and amethyst. The glory of God itself illuminates this city continually. Here is “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb,” and on each side of this beautiful stream stands the tree of life, rich in luscious fruits, and no cherubim with flaming swords are there to guard it. This is paradise restored. “There shall be no more curse.” “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).

Our Home Eternal

This will be our eternal home. “There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest” (Job 3:17). There in the city of light we shall “shine as the brightness of the firmament”; yea, “they that turn many to righteousness” shall shine “as the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
O bliss of heaven! Joy unspeakable! when we shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, or shall gather with the ransomed around the great white throne, and there pour out our anthems of praise and thanksgiving unceasingly. O my soul, press onward! There is nothing in this world to hold thy affections. “Pleasures forevermore” beckon thee on to that land of excellent delights where comes no setting sun! My brethren, take courage! Thrones and dominions, glittering scepters and crowns of dazzling splendor are the symbols of our glory in the life that is to be. Heed not earth’s sorrows. No sickness, no pain, no sorrow, and no death shall mar our happiness in the eternal paradise; for God himself shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. With time behind us, eternity before us, the angels and the redeemed of all ages around us—that will be heaven, our eternal home.

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