Finding words on Earth for the other-worldly ideas
The book of Revelation is a difficult book to understand, but I wonder if we appreciate the difficulties John had in writing it.
While worshipping, in exile, on the Island of Patmos, the Holy Spirit gave him a number of visions depicting heavenly things to come. Here in was John's challenge. How does one accurately describe other-worldly situations using this world's terms?
John does a great job describing the glories of God and His heavenly kingdom. Yet we err if we believe all his descriptions are exact.
When John depicts what he sees it is usually as a comparative. God, seated on the throne has the appearance of jasper and carnelian. The rainbow that encircled the throne resembled an emerald. The brilliance of the New Jerusalem shone like a very precious jewel.
The glory of God's kingdom is far beyond anything that we will see or experience on earth, that even earth's most precious items fail in comparison. A friend of mine sets the perspective by observing, "Heaven is so splendid, they use Gold for asphalt!"
If the splendors of heaven are greater than we can describe, sadly the opposite must be true with the terrors of hell. As horrible as this place of punishment is depicted, human language is equally as limited in describing its woes. There is no suffering on earth that can equal the experience of Hell.
As the saying goes, "We have a heaven to gain and a hell to shun." These thoughts should give us all incentive.
Pastor Mark Holmes is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and has served the Darrow Road Wesleyan Church since 1997.