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Pictures of heaven (4)

October 1995 | by William Macleod

The tabernacle of God is with men.

The mention of a tabernacle immediately brings before our minds the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness and the tabernacle of witness. God was present as a cloud in the Holy of Holies but only in a partial and symbolic way, and normally hidden behind the veil.

Now, in heaven, God will be fully present, taking up permanent residence with his people. The reality will be there rather than types. No curtain will separate us from his presence. ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God … It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is’ (1 John 3:1-2).

John saw One that sat upon the throne (Revelation 4:2), and he saw the Lamb approach that One and take the book out of his hand (Revelation 5:6-7). There will be a conscious awareness of the Triune God. Heaven will be in Rutherford’s words ‘Emmanuel’s land’. The name Emmanuel means ‘God with us’, and was specially given to Christ (Matthew 1:23). ‘The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters’ (Revelation 7:17).

The Israelites made a golden calf and worshipped it. God is a jealous God. In his anger he withdrew from their camp and would only return when the people had been punished and had repented (Exodus 32:33). He is a holy God. How can sinners like us approach the ‘everlasting burnings’ (Isaiah 33:14), and contemplate such a God dwelling among us? Cleansed in the blood and clothed in the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness we can come with boldness to the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Our merit is not our own but that of Christ imputed to us. No tempter or sin will ever enter heaven. Nothing will come as a barrier between us and our God or cause him to be angry with us. ‘God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved’ (Psalm 46:5). How different it will be in hell! There men and women will be without God and without hope, God-forsaken in outer darkness for ever.

How precious are moments of God’s presence in this world? Perhaps we are praying and suddenly the veil parts a little and we see something of the glory and our hearts melt. We are reading the Scriptures and we feel his Spirit enlighten our minds in the knowledge of Christ. We are listening to a sermon and the minister disappears from view as we hear Christ speak to our souls. It is only for a second or two yet it thrills our hearts.

If such moments are so precious how wonderful it will be to be with him for ever. The Queen of Sheba was left faint at the wisdom of Solomon and exclaimed: ‘The half was not told me’ (1 Kings 10:7). We will say, ‘the millionth part was not told me.’ Paul was writing of the gospel when he said: ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him’ (I Corinthians 2:9), but it is also true with regard to heaven.

O let us make sure that we do not come short of, and miss out on, this ‘rest’ that remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).

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