Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thy Dwelling Place

With such provoking thoughts as we have just considered, the question now arises: Where is heaven’s dwelling place? Will we inhabit the vast nothingness of space, or will we reside in mansions prepared for us by the Lord as He promised? (John 14:2.) Also, Where will those mansions be located? Let’s consider this question as we search the scriptures for the answer. In my personal study, I have found only a few vague generalities, with little satisfaction. However, the Bible does give us some clues to the real enquiry.

Heaven on Earth
Simply put, a sanctified and redeemed earth will be the eternal abode of the Lord’s people. This is where their heaven will be. Recall the Sermon on the Mount? Why shall the meek “inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5) if the earth is become nonexistence. Speaking of man, the psalmist wrote: “His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth”; “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth”; and speaking of the Lord the psalmist continued, “For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.” (Ps. 25:13, 37:9, 37:22 respectfully.) Along these same lines we read in Proverbs 10:3 that, “The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.”

Therefore, we find that the meek shall inherit the earth; those who wait upon the Lord shall inherit the earth; such as are blessed of the Lord shall inherit the earth; and the righteous shall never be removed from it. Why would the Lord give His people the earth as an inheritance if it was not to be an eternal inheritance? We also find that it is NOT the righteous who will be removed from the earth, but the evildoers and the cursed of the Lord shall be cut off from it; and it shall not be the habitation of the wicked.

Elsewhere, John the Revelator wrote of the inheritance of the Lord’s people when he wrote, “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” (Rev. 15:2.) Earlier he wrote of God’s throne: “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal...” (Rev. 4:6.) If God’s people are to inherit the earth and “stand on the sea of glass,” then it should be logical that the sea of glass is the earth in its sanctified, immortal, and eternal state. The Saints, therefore, who inherit the earth, reside in the presence of God on this sanctified earth which will be as a fiery sea of glass.

Powers of Heaven Shaken
John also wrote that he, “... saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away...” (Rev. 21:1.) John was shown in vision that not only the earth, as we know it, will pass away, but that it will become a new earth. He was also shown that the heaven that we know, speaking as the stars above as heaven, would also pass and a new heaven would appear. For this to take place, as Isaiah said, the “earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard...” (Isa. 24:29); and we read that, “...the powers of the heavens shall be shaken,” and that, “The earth shall quake...the heavens shall tremble...” (Matt. 24:29, Joel 2:10 respectfully.) In that last verse the Prophet Joel also records that, “the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.”

This latter phenomenon is also mentioned by Isaiah and Matthew: “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine”; and “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Isa. 13:10, Matt. 24:29 respectfully.)

There have been many interpretations of what is meant by the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light, and the stars falling from heaven. Some understand that when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, not only did mankind fall, but the earth fell as well. What is little realized, though, is that the earth literally fell; it fell and rolled away from the presence of God, for no unclean thing can dwell in His presence. He created it in His presence, but due to transgression, it fell away from that divine being.

Now what will cause the earth to quake and reel to and fro like a drunkard, and the powers of heaven to tremble and shake? What could cause such an upheaval? It most likely will be the earth rolling back to its previous paradisiacal state as it was before the fall. As it moves back, it will actually leave its present orbit in this solar system. At that time the sun and the moon will no longer give their light, and the stars will appear to be falling because the earth will be physically moving toward a higher sphere.

Going back to where John said that there would be “a new heaven,” as recorded in Revelation 21:1, let’s ask a question: Why would there be a new heaven formed? Isn’t the old one, where God dwells, good enough for Him? Of course the one where He dwells is good enough, but the heaven referred to in this scripture applies to the heavenly bodies known as the stars and galaxies of the universe. The old heaven will pass away and there will be a new heaven as the earth moves back to where there are more glorious heavenly bodies than the ones we now view from earth’s present position.

Sign of the Son of Man
As Matthew records, it’s “immediately after the tribulation” that these events occur. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and GREAT GLORY.” (Matt. 24:30.)

The Son of man will not be coming to a telestial earth incapable of withstanding His great and glorious presence. He will be coming to an earth prepared and qualified to receive Him. When He comes, His glory will be a consuming fire; it will be so brilliant that only those righteous and pure enough to withstand His glory will survive, just as the burning bush was not consumed when Moses communed with God. All the rest, the wicked and unclean, will burn at His brilliant and fiery coming because they will not be able to withstand it. During the thousand year millennium, Christ will reign upon the earth, which will be renewed and receive a higher glory than this terrestrial world we now live in; the wicked will be burned off as stubble, and only the more righteous shall remain. After that, the earth will be sanctified to its eternal state as a sea of glass, upon which His people will dwell throughout all eternity.

Earlier we considered 1 Corinthians 15:41 where Paul compared the differences in the resurrection to how the sun is different in brightness than the moon, which is different in glory than the stars, which stars differ from one another in their glory. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” This scripture is reminiscent of the fact that the earth will no longer need the sun for a light, for not only will Jesus Christ be its light, but that the glorified resurrected inhabitants of the earth will be magnificent and their radiance will be many, many times more brilliant than that of the sun.

There is a scripture related to man’s salvation that can also be applied to the earth in its glorious sanctified state; it is John 3:5: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This is a must. Man must be baptized by water, and baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost to enter into God’s kingdom. Now doesn’t it seem reasonable to expect that if man must be baptized of water and by fire to inherit the Kingdom, that the earth, which will be man’s eternal abode, must also be so sanctified? The truth is, it must.

The earth, also, must go through the same procedure as man for it to become sanctified and become as a glorious sea of glass for the inhabitants of the kingdom of God. How will this take place one might ask? The answer to that question is that the earth has already gone through a baptism. The flooding of the entire earth with water, during the time of Noah, was not just to eradicate its foul inhabitants. No! It was also necessary for its future rebirth of the Spirit when Christ gloriously comes again and cleanses this earth by fire and the Holy Ghost. After that glorious event occurs, the earth will be spiritually renewed to receive the mansions prepared by Jesus Christ for His pure and glorious people.