The Heart of Home

2493316801_0511dab162This evening I sat in my outdoor rocker and watched an elusive Colorado sky filled with puffy white clouds resolve into a saffron canvas dancing in technicolor antics.  Like a chameleon, it  transformed further in shape and color — becoming a melon landscape which melted into crimson and then evolved into a violet-blue mass of encroaching shadows.  At that revelatory moment, I knew I was home.  It was an odd feeling of sorts but still, a solid feeling that I am home.

As I watched the sky’s magnificent display of the handiwork of God, I reflected on some words I heard yesterday at an outdoor worship service.  The speaker mentioned the phrase “home is where the heart is.”  He went to to say that maybe the phrase should be reversed — that we might consider that our heart is where our home resides.

Today’s sunset afforded me the opportunity to reflect upon my heart — that unique and strange heart that God created in me — that unique, strange heart that mystifies and scares most of my friends and family.  In my heart, He has placed a desire for home…..home. As wonderful as our earthly home in Colorado is, the fact is:  my heart longs for the eternal home promised to us in scripture.  Because of this intense longing, some of us often try to figure out all of the minute details of our future home.

Dr. B. B. Warfield has said something beautiful we should consider: 

A glass window stands before us. We raise our eyes and see the glass; we note its quality, and observe its defects; we speculate on its composition. Or we look straight through it on the great prospect of land and sea and sky beyond. So there are two ways of looking at the world. We may see the world and absorb ourselves in the wonders of nature. That is the scientific way. Or we may look right through the world and see God behind it. That is the religious way.

The scientific way of looking at the world is not wrong any more than the glass-manufacturer’s way of looking at the window. This way of looking at things has its very important uses. Nevertheless the window was placed there not to be looked at but to be looked through; and the world has failed of its purpose unless it too is looked through and the eye rests not on it but on its God. (1)

When I look at all that God has created I have to ask myself, “Am I looking through creation and seeing God behind it?”  This creation will pass away.  It makes me wonder what the next earth and heaven will be like.  Will it be like this only devoid of the hatred of mankind?

People have speculated over centuries just what is meant by the new heaven and the new earth.  Bob Deffinbaugh, a layman who writes many interesting articles on Bible.org says, “Revelation never is given in a historical vacuum.” He admonishes us to consider “What did this passage mean to those to whom it was originally given?”  How I wish that people would take strong notice of this statement!

The facts are, God created the heavens and the earth – the ones that we know today.  The heavens are telling the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1-2For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes have been seen. (Romans 1:20)  Yet we want to know more – we are always searching for revelatory clues to our future with God.

2 Peter 3 is what I would call “revelatory.”   It tells us that we should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandments given to us by Jesus and the apostles.  It warns us that people will scoff at us because the everyday activities we experience continue day after day with no further revelation as to His coming.  (Did you get that?  No further revelation?)  They, it says, will deliberately overlook the fact that the heavens existed long ago and that the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God — and that by these means, the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

BUT—by that same word, the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly.  (Yes, the ungodly will be destroyed.)  This chapter concludes with the thought that when the coming day of God arrives, the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved — the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  But according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. He has promised us! 

In the book of Revelation, John tells us in Chapter 21 that he saw a new heaven and a new earth — because the first heaven and the first earth had passed away — and there was no more sea.  3480223314_d6ab6bc24dThat tells me that the new heaven and earth are new creations not reconditioned versions of the ones we know.  Isaiah 65:17 tells us that we will not remember the former things of the old earth and heavens.  2 Peter 3 tells us that righteousness will reside on the new earth.   (It certainly doesn’t dwell on this earth.)  We also know from Revelation 21 that God will dwell with us — that we shall be His people — that He will wipe all the tears from our eyes and there shall be nor more death, sorrow, crying, nor pain.  All of these things shall be passed away.

Certainly, we could try to develop the details regarding the City of God or the details of what this future earth will look like, but these days I prefer not to try to diagnose the imagery of the Book of Revelation anymore.  Previously in my studies I might have been tempted to do so.  My brain is always reeling with ideas which try to understand and digest each and every little thing, especially the things of God.  It’s the nature of being a researcher, I suppose.  However, a wise older woman who led our study last year on Revelation kept reminding us with these words:  “So, what is the message of Revelation?” Her steady and constant reply:  “The message of Revelation is that God is in control.  He is sovereign.

Because of her shared wisdom, I am able to let go of the details and lay aside the desire to “know it all.”  Knowing it all only causes arguments anyway.  I don’t have to try to figure out whether the city will be a cube or a pyramid (because of its measurements) as some people have tried to envision.  I don’t have to worry about whether the walls of the city will be made of jasper or whether the city will be made out of pure gold.  Or rather, is this imagery that John describes to us intended for us as a painting in which we discern “it’s more than you can imagine?”

How can you truly describe the glory of God which will emanate over all?  Somehow, I don’t think we will care about precious gems, a sea of glass that looks like crystal, or whether the streets of the city are pure gold, transparent like glass.  We won’t care about these things because all we will desire will be our Father.  We will be home. He created our heart to desire to be home with Him.

Perhaps this is why reformed theology speaks so loudly to my heart.  Those who were chosen by God know Him — they know home when they see it.  He created the desire for home to reside in their hearts.  They recognize it.   He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecc. 3:11 Maybe God doesn’t want us to know the beginning from the end yet.  I perceived that whatever God does endures forever – nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. Ecc. 3:14 Maybe God doesn’t want us to care anything except that which endures, which are the things of God.

Lord, in my heart, I desire to know you more.  One day, I will understand everything in detailed context.  Until that day, Lord, lead me home.

1.  Image by Kevin Wong (Creative Commons Attribution License)   2. Image by Alosh Bennett (Creative Commons Attribution License)

(1)  Benjamin B. Warfield, Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. I, edited by John E. Meeker (Nutley, N.J. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1970), p. 108.

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