Heaven From the Cesspool
Vol: 137 Issue: 28 Thursday, February 28, 2013
It’s been observed that, ‘Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die’. It makes you wonder – why is that? Since the worst thing anybody can do to another human being is kill them and the most desirable outcome for any Christian is to go home to glory. . . what’s up with that, anyway?
The Bible describes heaven as a place where the streets are made from gold, and where the ‘pure river of the water of Life proceeds out from the throne of God and of the Lamb’ where there shall be no night, since God Himself with illuminate it and so on.
What kind of mental image does this give you?
To me, it sounds pretty neat, but . . . somehow, not.
Please don’t run screaming from the room screaming ‘blasphemy’ just yet – I’m not finished. Give me a few more lines.
I recall sitting between a couple of sand dunes, surveying the wind-swept beach on one of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, watching as the breakers crashed into the pilings on the nearby pier. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm; it was altogether an idyllic scene.
The beauty was breathtaking. Alone with the Lord, I mused about what heaven must REALLY be like, if this wasn’t it. Indeed, as I pointed out earlier, John’s description of heaven was, um, nice, but where I was sitting was pretty nice, too. There were no rivers of living water, but I know that I am saved and have eternal life already.
The sand isn’t made of gold, but what value will gold have in eternity, anyway? It will pave the streets, as common as the sand. I like the sand.
And I LIKE the night; I’ve sat in that exact same spot at night, and when the breeze is warm and the stars are out, with the moon reflecting off the ocean it is no less idyllic than it is during the day.
I inquired of the Lord, and I began to get a bit of the Big Picture, as seen from outside of space and time. (No, I wasn’t smoking anything and I didn’t start to hear voices).
Instead, I thought about what the Bible said about heaven, and more to the point, what the Bible says about our Big Blue Marble.
The Bible describes the fall of Lucifer, his sin, and his ejection from heaven, together with the third of the angels who rebelled with him. When they were cast from heaven, where did they go?
The Book of Job says:
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:7, 2:2)
It has been my experience in studying God’s Word that when He causes something to be repeated, as in this case, it is worth giving it an extra look.
When Satan and his crew cast from heaven, they were cast to the earth, what the theologians call the ‘cosmos diabolicus’ or literally, a world of evil. To the angels, it was the worst place they could imagine — a place of involuntary and horrific exile.
Planet Earth is the one place in the universe where sin can exist without throwing the entire universe out of balance, thanks to the fact it has an environment that contains it.
Our environment, which sustains us, also contains us and keeps us from doing to the universe what we have already done to our planet.
Indeed, we managed to get to the outer fringes of our planet and what did we do? Filled it with orbiting space junk, some of which threatens OTHER orbiting space junk, such as the international space station.
Meanwhile, back on earth . . . when the fallen angels were cast to earth, it was an astonishing drop.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12)
To the angels, the beautiful seaside scene I described earlier is a cesspool of sin, a place of punishment to the angels who rebelled, a place so horrible, that seen from the heavenly perspective, merely being stuck here was enough to turn Lucifer the Archangel into Satan the Destroyer.
Imagine our planet from God’s perspective. Everything is stained by sin. The beautiful beach scene? Stained by sin. The ground we walk on? Stained by sin.
I tried to imagine that stain for what it is, and of course, I cannot. I can only defer to the Bible’s description of sin. It is so filthy, so repugnant, so disgusting, that God can’t bear to view it.
When God created Adam, He created a special place for him. The Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve fell, they were first cast OUT of the Garden, and into the cesspool where sin was allowed to operate freely.
Jerusalem sits in the middle of the cesspool. In the center of Jerusalem was the Temple, a place kept scrubbed of the taint of sin by the Levitical priesthood, and the Holy of Holies, a place scrubbed even more carefully.
The only place where God would commune with sinful man on this sin-stained planet was that tiny place where the muck of sin was scrubbed away as much as possible.
Until even that place became so buried in the muck and mire of sin that, after four hundred years of silence, He decided to Personally scrub it –and us — clean of it, once and for all.
Scripture says the angels were astonished that the Lord of Glory would assume human form, step out of sinless and perfect eternity, and wallow in the mire of sin with sinful humanity. Every step for Him must have been an agony, like walking knee-deep in sewage.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)
It is a measure of how disgusting sin is to God. The fact it was the place God cast the rebellious angels is revealing. To the angels, our beautiful planet earth is a leper colony. We mortal humans are little more than bugs, willingly wallowing in the yuck of sin, yea, REVELING in it.
Yet the Scripture says that the angels are fascinated by us, and by our plight, and astonished by our unwillingness to climb out of the muck. It amazes them that men love the world, since they see it for what it is, and have some basis for comparison between it and the things of the spirit.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us . . .” (Hebrews 12:1)
“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and TO ANGELS, and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:9)
Scripture tells us that;
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We cannot imagine heaven, we can only compare it to earth and all its beauty and wonderment, and realize that the earth is the universe’s garbage dump. Heaven is like the Bible describes it; but it is much more.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
What IS death, that we fear it? In a word, separation. Death separates us from our loved ones. Death takes our loved ones from us, separating us from them until eternity.
Sin is a form of death. It separated the fallen angels from fellowship with God. It separates the unsaved from God. Revelation 20:14 speaks of the Great White Throne Judgment in which unbelievers are cast into the Lake of Fire as ‘the second death’ — a second – and permanent separation.
Sin separates us from God, our sin nature blinds us to that fact and so we love the world, and thereby astonish the angels. Picture the nastiest, gooeyest, smelliest substance you can think of, and imagine being in it up to your neck. From the angelic perspective, that’s where we are, and most of us are loving it, until we get saved.
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10)
The angels know what that sinner has just escaped from.
Jesus also describes what we become in eternity in Luke 20:36,
“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”
Paul tells us that we will receive new, immortal bodies.
“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:49-50)
What is heaven like? I don’t know.
But I know what a beautiful, sunny day, a warm ocean breeze and the sights and sounds of the waves as they gently break on the shore is like.
And compared to heaven, it’s a cesspool.
To the angels, it is a place of exile, a leper colony, a place where the fallen angels were sent to await their fate at the Great White Throne. Our ‘beautiful’ planet is the angelic ‘hell’ to which they were cast to await sentencing to the Lake of Fire.
But we will be ‘equal to the angels’ says the Lord, in our immortal, sin-free bodies, and equal to the angels in understanding just HOW evil and repugnant this place really is, from the perspective of the spirit.
Why is it, then, that everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die?
Because if we knew what awaits us there, we’d all jump off a cliff tomorrow.