Do You Need Heaven?

These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from which they came out, they might have had opportunity to return.

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:13–16

We don’t hear much about Heaven these days. The reason is quite simple. For a generation now, we have been occupied with being well-adjusted people in the here and now and enjoying our affluence—a sort of Heaven on earth exercise.

Even much of our prophetic teaching and preaching, while delving into areas important to interpreting end-time events, seems to stop short of moving into the realm of the glory that is to follow.

Westernized Christians appear to have lost Abraham’s desire to look “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). For that matter, the perpetual “Maranatha” (O Lord, come) greeting of early believers, in anticipation of the Lord’s coming and Heaven, is virtually extinct nowadays.

Perhaps it is because we haven’t suffered enough to whet our appetites and create a feeling of urgency about the matter of getting on into the sphere of the “new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).

Ancient Israel is a superb example of what suffering can germinate in the lives of God’s people. Debilitating servitude to the taskmasters of Egypt turned their hearts homeward, a manifestation consistent with a Jewish historian’s observation that in the times of distress and persecution, two things stir in the Jewish anatomy: (1) the desire to go home, and (2) a rise in their desire for the Messiah to appear and lead them out of their present dilemma.

Those of us who sat mesmerized by Ken Burns’ poignant TV documentary on the Civil War have some excellent background material against which to recast our thoughts.

The tragedy of a shattered nation caught up in a conflict that pitted friend against friend and brother against brother was still-framed in often shocking depictions of the brutality that is a staple of war. Slavery was the stark centerpiece of the episode, as the dark legions of ragged chattels flowed in and out of the flesh-mangling battle scenes. One was struck by the haunting refrains of the spirituals of a people who were in the process of shaking off the twin manacles of slavery and paganism.

Have you ever wondered why those old spirituals move us so? What is there about them that constricts the throat and wets the eye? Why do songs about chariots swooping down to snatch away weary saints; heavenly mansions; stealing away to Jesus; or the redeemed, home at last, walking God-shod down golden heavenly avenues warmed by the radiance of the Lamb thrill us so?

Well, just stop and look at the people who sang those songs. They were barefoot, ragged, ill-housed, dusky captives living in a far country who, as the gospel message broke over their souls, began looking “for a city.” In other words, they were a people who desperately needed Heaven.

We do too. Many of us just haven’t been placed in the proper circumstances to realize it vet. But you can be sure that we will. Perhaps it will come corporately, through persecution. It may fall upon us as our health declines, families disintegrate, or fortunes crumble. If you take a moment to look around, you will find our need of Heaven more obvious as the world about us becomes even more violent and fragmented.

If only He can get through to us somehow and revitalize our spiritual lives in time to make us the kind of people who can make a difference. A proper perspective of earth and Heaven will do that for you. Those who have a proper vision of where they are going will have a pretty good idea of why they’re here.

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