31 August 2013Revelation 22:1-5
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (v. 1)
This vision of heaven really does have more than a touch of the Hollywood spectacular about it. Imagine the scene: magnificent golden buildings shining in sunlight; a great ornate throne set up at the entrance to the palace; a crystal clear river sparkling and tumbling its way through the street; 12 tall fruit trees with a continuous crop of varying fruits throughout the year and all illuminated day and night with the light coming from God and Christ, enthroned above the scene.
What a stage set!
What a spectacle!
But there is more. Throughout this city there is a vast crowd of servants, identified by God's name on their foreheads, bathing in perpetual light and waiting to serve God for ever. Granted, they are beside that constant river of blessings and they have received justice and mercy from God, but would those who have spent their lives as the poor, oppressed, neglected and violated really be reassured by a picture of heaven that places them in perpetual service - even if that is to God?
Slaves, of whatever kind, who have fought for freedom throughout their lives, may have a jaundiced picture of a heaven that hints of more captivity. Visionary language like this can be dangerous if used thoughtlessly.
A city of gold wrapped in a vision of light,
where there is no night, nor a temple in sight,
but with a river pure and crystal bright
flowing between twelve trees of life
planted to heal the nations' strife.
Such is one vision of heaven.
But what of those whose place on earth
would seem to be of little worth?
Or those who pray their war may cease
and they, one day, may live in peace?
Or those who sigh with broken heart
to see their nation torn apart?
What heavenly vision is theirs?
A promise of peace wrapped in a cloak of care;
a place of hope where each may find a share
of a sacred space, just any place, so God can meet them there.
This is their vision of heaven.
© Marjorie Dobson
- What does this heavenly vision mean to you?
- How would you explain the difference between service to God and the exploitation by one person of another, if an exploited person challenged you?