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And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:14-17
Prior to the 16th century, Spanish coins were imprinted with the phrase “Non Plus Ultra,” meaning nothing more beyond, a reference to Spain’s position as the most western country at the end of the known world beyond which no ship should go. This was the case until Christopher Columbus became persuaded that there was something beyond and discovered the new world. Thereafter, Spain removed the “nothing” and adopted “More Beyond” (“Plus Ultra”) as its motto. The discovery of the new world changed everything for Spain.
The Bible tells us there is more beyond what we currently see. The Bible commonly refers to God’s throne room as heaven, where he is surrounded by the angelic hosts and saints who have entered into their eternal rest. As Christians, the reality of heaven influences the way we live on earth. Knowing there is “more beyond” gives us hope amidst suffering and a new perspective on our present experience.
When the apostle John was given a vision of heaven, he used the word “throne” more than any to describe what he was seeing. (Rev. 7: 9, 10, 11, 15, 17). The center of attention in heaven is the throne, where the Lamb sits surrounded by the heavenly throng. The multitude is fixated by his presence and voices their continual praise. Though Christ is the center of attention, his presence leads to all sorts of goodness.
In heaven, we will be SINLESS. The same Lamb whose blood frees us from the penalty of sin will free us from the presence of sin.
In heaven, we will be NEEDLESS. We will have no want nor desire for anything (“they shall hunger and thirst no more”). Our shepherd will supply our needs.
In heaven, we will be TEARLESS. We will be tearless because we will be freed from those things that cause sorrow. Death, sin, and suffering will be finally vanquished.
In heaven, we will be ENDLESS. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.
Because God is good and heaven is his throne room, heaven is a place overflowing with his goodness. When we lose sight of this, we try to create our own heaven on earth. But when we keep sight of our heavenly destiny, we donate our wealth to bring God’s kingdom and to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. We give to see the establishment of Christ’s throne in human hearts and his reign manifested over sin, poverty, and suffering. In God’s presence, before his throne, is fullness of joy.
Though heaven is a future reality for us, it changes the way we think and live in the present age:
The good life is keeping the goodness of eternity with God in view. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Hopefully, this statement is true of our relationship with our risen Savior. We long to be with him, where he is. We long to be like him. As God’s children, we long to be gathered into the presence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is no wonder that the early Christians prayed, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Holy Spirit, we groan as we wait to see all things made new! You are the giver of life, and we long to see our lives and our world free from sin and suffering. Until that day, grant us faith to persevere with our eyes set on heaven. Give us the mindset that to live is Christ and to die is gain. May the reality of eternity change how we live today for the glory of your name!