The Revelation passage gives an image I find incredibly valuable. Here John speaks of Jesus on his throne with many books that record the entirety of our lives. We will be judged on what is in our book – every thought, action and word. Yet he has another book: the Book of Life. Anyone who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour has their name written in this book. Anyone with their name in this book will pass through into life with God, anyone without will go into ‘the second death, the lake of fire’ (v14).
Jesus used similar images of separating sheep and goats or wheat and weeds. There will be a judgement and those who know Jesus will be with Him forever in life, those who do not will pass into Hell.
Now, a brief word is needed here. In our modern enlightened age we hate talking about judgement, heaven and hell. It makes us uncomfortable. Firstly, it should. Even God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. If we share even an iota of His compassion then we shouldn’t find it an easy concept!
But we often wonder whether a loving and just God is compatible with the notion of hell. Here’s the thing. Sin is not a problem that can be controlled, it has to be removed permanently – destroyed. Just look at how peacekeeping missions exacerbate terrorism or corporeal punishment accentuates criminality and you get a sense of how sin cannot be controlled. More than that, justice requires that misdeeds are punished – our own consciences reflect that truth.
God is fully just and has acted to fully deal with sin. Yet because he is also fully loving He came as Jesus, took all our sin on Himself, and died in our place. Jesus took our punishment so that we don’t have to. Moreover, because God made us for genuine love, He gave us free will – forced love is not love. We have a choice: we can accept the free gift of what Jesus has done for us and so live in relationship with Him, or we can not. Hell is God’s honouring the choice we make in this life in the next. As is heaven. And here it gets good….
Second, when Jesus comes there will be a new heaven and a new earth – Revelation 21.
People often talk about ‘going to heaven’. It is far more like heaven comes to us. ‘Heaven’, as understood in the Bible, is the spiritual realm where God lives. It interacts with the natural world even though we can’t see it. It’s like there is a veil between us and heaven.
Yet John describes in Revelation how the New Jerusalem (an image of heaven) will come down and be on the earth. There will be no need for Sun or stars because God himself will be our light. In other words, when Jesus returns, all creation – heaven and earth – will be made new. All the mess, rubbish, decay and sin will be removed and there will be a new unity between spiritual and natural – between heaven and earth. We will live with God face to face.
This is no airy fairy playing harps on clouds. This will be a creation like the original but perfect, not marred. We’ll continue with creativity, exploration, discovery, relationship and above all worship and unity with God. This will be life in all it’s fullness, this will be the ultimate kairos moment.
This is the hope that stirred the early Church even in the midst of persecution. It is the hope Jesus proclaimed and called us to stand on. It is the hope we need to keep our eyes fixed on every moment.
Just as we get the odd day of sunshine before the summer really kicks in, the kairos moments we experience now are like foreshadows of that great day that is to come. We don’t know when, but we know it will. We work and wait, paddling to where the wave should break, ready for when it comes.
But how do we get ready? That is the question for next time, but for now go and read Revelation 21. Remind yourself of the hope we have. Check out what I’ve been saying. Ask me questions and study for yourself. There is nothing more important to understand.