Sunday, July 21, 2024
Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTAND FIRM: Heaven is Better Than We Imagine (Part 4)

STAND FIRM: Heaven is Better Than We Imagine (Part 4)

I love Mercy Me’s hit song, “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s one of those songs where I can remember where I was when I first heard it. It’s an amazing song, but we don’t have to only imagine because the Bible gives us details about the age to come. To be fair to Bart Millard, he was writing about what his reaction would be to seeing Jesus — which is truly the highlight of all the details of the age to come. From the details we do have in Scripture, not only can we know a lot more about the next age(s), we can also see Heaven is better than we can imagine.

We see this amazement of Heaven through the phases or stages believers will experience. First, those that pass on this side of the return of Jesus will have their soul be in His presence in what Jesus called Paradise. Next, believers will be given brand-new, eternal bodies in the resurrection and rapture. We will all return with Jesus as He rules on earth for 1,000 years in the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom. After that 1,000 years, the party is just starting as the earth and heavens are made new. We then live on a new Edenic Earth with this amazing city, New Jerusalem, for eternity. The greatest highlight of the final phase is that God the Father will dwell with us like He did with Adam and Eve. As believers, we have so much to look forward to.

In talking about the Millennial Kingdom, we realize that we’re going to be there in our new, glorified and eternal new bodies. Jesus will be there, but who else? Scripture reveals four groups of people who will live together in the Kingdom:

• As mentioned, the resurrected and raptured saints will reign with Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom — There are many passages we could read to see this reality. One of them is in the passage that ties together the resurrection and rapture. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (I Thess. 4:16-17 NIV). Notice that, following the resurrection and rapture, the saints are with Jesus forever. Another place we see this is in Revelation 20, where it says we will reign with Christ during this time.

• Surviving ethnic Jews who have come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah — As covered many times before, Israel is center stage during the final days. Prophecy warns that Jews will go through a time more horrific than they have ever faced, but through that they will come to be saved. Seemingly, all surviving Jews will be saved through faith in Jesus at His return. They will continue into the Millennial Kingdom but will have finite bodies. They will still die during the 1,000 year period. I believe it is likely, as time goes by over the Millennial Kingdom, life expectancies will begin to grow longer. The Apostle Paul deals this in Romans 11, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this wayall Israel will be saved. As it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this ismy covenant with them when I take away their sins.’” (Rom. 11:25-27). In this passage, Paul is pulling from possibly Isaiah and Jeremiah. This final salvation of Jewish survivors at the end of the age is mentioned throughout the prophets. Eitan Bar of One for Israel explains it this way: “The existing hardening of Israel (albeit partial) will continue till the culmination of this age, at which point, they will turn to Christ at that time and accept His salvation in accordance God’s faithfulness to fulfill his covenantal promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Despite the majority of Israel currently still being in rebellion, God will not forget His people, and will pour His Spirit on Israel at a specific point in time, in agreement with the covenantal promises. At that specific time, the people of Israel living in those days will accept the Messiah.”

• Surviving Gentiles — This category is odd because Scripture doesn’t indicate if these are initially believers. Likely they are mostly not. They likely will become believers in the kingdom. Though Ezekiel 38 and 39 indicate many will be killed even in the homelands of the final invaders of Israel; also, even those who remained neutral. There still will be survivors from the nations. They will continue into the Millennial Kingdom and will be in finite bodies like the surviving Jews. They will die also. “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16-18).

• Children of surviving Jews and Gentiles — Though it doesn’t seem that resurrected and raptured saints will marry or have children in the age to come, finite survivors will. Both Isaiah 59 and 66 connect descendants of survivors continuing into the Millennial Kingdom. To go back to the Mercy Me song, one thing that is hard for me to imagine is how infinite resurrected and raptured saints will coexist with finite survivors and their children. Heaven is truly better than we can imagine.

— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (