Heaven’s Hope Here on Earth
Scripture: Revelation 7:9-17
Recently I saw how one major city decided to invest in park benches that could double as makeshift shelters for those in their city who found themselves without a home during harsh weather conditions. The ordinary place of rest for the passerby could transform into an extraordinary place of shelter for the person in dire need. The benches include a sign which reads “Find shelter here… Find a home here [ and include the address of a shelter assisting those in need.]” These benches acknowledge the fierce urgency for shelter in uncertain climate for the cities most vulnerable population. They also acknowledge that temporary shelter is not the greatest and lasting need.
This both/and approach is reminiscent of John’s apocalyptic Revelation. John’s fellow Christ followers were entering into an era where their faith would increasingly cause conflict, hardship, and persecution. John receives a vision of God’s throne room which shows the believers the total supremacy, goodness, and wisdom of their Rescuing God. Suffering will not have the final word. The Savior will. Pain will not be permanent. God’s Presence will. God will be the ultimate comforter, rescuer, and redeemer of their lives and of our world. They will come out of great tribulation and be sheltered with God’s Presence. God will be their tabernacle. It is the same word from the Gospel of John’s opening where it says “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jesus will be our dwelling/shelter in all seasons. Always has. Always will. Forever.
This final hope is also an ever present hope. No matter the diagnosis we are handed. No matter the economic health of our investments. No matter how misunderstood, alienated, isolated, or hated we may experience our present situation. No matter how trapped in cycles of addiction or stuck in unhealthy compulsive behaviors we find ourselves. No matter how far away our loved one may be drifting. God shelters us in Divine Tabernacling Presence. We may endure awkward afternoons, and turbulent nights, yet God surrounds us, watches over us, strengthens us, and ultimately rescues us.
This hope isn’t merely for a privileged few. It is not sole property of a certain denomination, political party, economic class, ethnic heritage, or nationality. John’s vision reminds us there is a countless multitude gathered from every type of group you can imagine. All who have opened up their lives to God’s rescue in Jesus Christ are there! No one is beyond God’s reach and rescue. That’s a good reminder for us to remember, not only in how we regard others’ condition, but in how we regard our own.
– Christopher Mack