And there shall no longer be any death.
A timely statement as I am attending a fellow contractor’s funeral this morning. I wonder if the minister will mention that one day, in the blink of an eye, death as well as mourning, crying and pain will all be old news. This passage is about new things – a new heaven, a new earth. He even saw….
the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
I have always wondered if I was being irreverent since my imagination has never been awakened by a massive cube of real estate descending from heaven. I am attracted though to the idea of the bride made ready. But then I read on;
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them,
As enamored as a paving contractor might be with streets that are paved with gold (as opposed to asphalt); ones that will never know a pothole, I was far more attracted to the fact that God, at this time, has claimed His own and dwells among them. I pray that our hearts are not just saying something foolish like, “Ah yes, the sweet bye and bye, it will undoubtedly be an improvement over our current circumstances; I shall look forward to that day off in the far distance. I pray that if all goes well, I shall someday see it.”
I suspect if my deceased associate, who has reached his own, could speak, he would testify, now that he is outside of time, that our ends too are not at all far off, rather they are but a moment or so from what we are thinking of as now. That is why scripture reminds us that…
today is the day of salvation.
This means that for all of us, all the time, the hourglass is nearly empty. It is only a mirage that our time is spread out before us like a never ending road over the horizon. It is a fool’s gamble to assume that since we did not die yesterday, we will not die today. Even though verse 7 and beyond are frightening, I think scare tactics to motivate those yet-to-be-saved ones have limited value. I am concerned that those who make decisions under the stress of fear are not really entering into relationship with God; they are just trying to purchase a little insurance policy that may or may not pay the death benefit they anticipate. It would seem much better to me that we come to God drawn by his loving incentives rather driven by His wrath-filled disincentives.
The question always at hand is, will we take Jesus at His Word; will we respond when He says,
I will give to anyone who thirsts from the spring of the water of life (who is Christ Himself) without cost (what a great incentive).
How sad that many of the wheeler-dealers in this world overlook the bargain of eternity. While successful business negotiations in this life do not necessarily preclude one from entering eternity on heaven’s side, having ones heart invested wrongly can. If the ambition of a life is grounded solely in time, motivated solely by profit, status and the comfort it might secure, it is sad to say that this life will not qualify as the overcoming type which will inherit eternal life. And, it is important to say that this horrific outcome will have had nothing to do with the perceived relative goodness or badness of that life. It will have resulted exclusively from the fact that the timeless One was not present reigning as the Life within and the Light of that heart.
He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.
That some believed they had not seen adequate evidence that there is a God or that, if there was, that He was worthy of their attention, will not matter at the end when God wraps up the old business of this world and pounds His gavel, closing the proceedings with these words,
IT IS DONE! I am the ALPHA and OMEGA (always having been outside of time), the beginning and the end. My words (not our perceptions of them made inside of time) are faithful and true.
If you read Revelation you must allow that the apostle John was either hallucinogenic, a gifted and creative charlatan, or an oracle. I’m betting on the latter. Even though scripture tells us that…
eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which has not yet entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him
God permitted John, who was in a trance or dream, to leak out some things that, at the very least, stretch our hearts and minds. I think the book of Revelation was offered to us for the same reason all of scripture was given to us – to penetrate our hardened and deluded time-bound hearts with the hope and life of His Words which are by nature outside of time, always spoken in love, to invite us to partake of Him who is the water and the bread of life. (HUGE incentive)
If I were the minister at my deceased associate’s funeral. I would say……
“I am sure it would be the desire of the deceased and his family for us to take this precious fleeting moment in time that is before us as a gift so that we may each personally consider our relationship to eternity and to time; our relationship to the idols of this world; and most importantly, our relationship to the God of this world and the next. We contractors have been conditioned to think of life as a series of contracts, each with an alotted number of days to complete; each of them with their own unique incentive and disincentive clauses (to properly motivate us). The similarities between our vocation and life are profound….
We too, as individuals, each have an allotted amount of time. However, in these contracts we do not know exactly when the Owner of it all will says, “Time’s up. It is finished“. We professional managers of risk must consider our lives from the ultimate Owner’s “timeless” perspective. He who is faithful and true is saying, “Today (this moment actually) is all I have given you. You bargain drivers out there, please understand that receiving eternity as a gift is the best deal you will ever encounter. I am sure our friend, who has gone before us, would encourage each of us, in this very moment, to do business with the One to whom we will all ultimately give an account.”
I would then close in prayer;
Father, may You continue to assault and penetrate our time-driven illusions of reality with Your eternal words of abundant life. Teach us to number our days that we may present to you hearts of wisdom. May you teach us to embrace what we cannot see now so that we may one day be among those who overcame and enjoy a tearless, painless, joy-filled eternity as a part of Your very own family. And…. may you truly comfort those who have lost their loved one today. Amen.”