No More Separation

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NO MORE SEPARATIONThe throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 23:3b-5)

The Throne – The New Jerusalem will not have a temple in it. The New Jerusalem will be
the temple of God (Revelation 21:22). The throne of God will be in the city. God the Father and the God the Son (the Lamb) are specifically mentioned here as being in the New Jerusalem (see also Revelation 21:22–23 and 22:1).(1) The Holy Spirit is not missing, but is referenced later (Revelation 22:17).

The Service – Many wonder what it is that we will do in Heaven for all eternity. Certainly, we will offer praise to the Lord. But we will also serve Him. As we seek to serve the Lord here on earth, we are constantly handicapped by sin and weakness. In glory, all hindrances to service will be removed. We are not specifically told what this service will be, nor do we really need to know that now. It should be sufficient for us to know what it is that God wants us to do today, for our faithfulness in this life prepares us for higher service in the next.

We will not be ordinary servants in Heaven, for we will also be kings, reigning forever with Christ. As believers, we are figuratively seated with Christ in the heavenly realms today (Ephesians 2:1–10). In the eternal state, we shall reign as kings over the new heavens and the new earth. What an honor! What grace! Certainly, many interesting questions could be asked about our future abode in Heaven, but most must go unanswered until we reach our glorious home. In fact, John closed his book by reminding us that we have responsibilities today that we must not neglect just because we are going to heaven.(2)

The Likeness – Little else is said here in Revelation about the future of mankind, other than the implication that kings and nations still exist. Men are still men, not angels. Yet none who are rewarded with this new and endless existence will be tainted by sin. To learn more of what the future holds for the saints we must look at other New Testament passages. These words are a preview of a glorious promise. But the promise is so far removed from our present situation that it is hard to comprehend (“now we see through a glass darkly”).

Transformed – When we stand in God’s presence, John tells us that we will be transformed into Jesus’ likeness. “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Paul adds that God has predestined us “to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29). All that mankind potentially could have been if there had not been the fall … all that Jesus was as a Man … we will be. We will not be cloned Christ’s, rather we will have the “likeness” of Christ.

Imperishable – Paul told the Corinthians that the believer’s resurrection body will be imperishable in contrast to our present perishable body. It will be marked by power rather than weakness. It will be controlled by the spiritual, rather than subject to the physical. The dead “will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52, see vv. 35–54). When the mortal becomes immortal, then death itself will be swallowed up in our great victory.

Glorified – Some things are revealed in the Gospels’ description of Christ after His resurrection. He could eat with His disciples. He had flesh and bones (Luke 24; John 21), yet He also could instantly appear among them in a locked room (John 20:19). He was recognizable as the same individual He was beforehand, yet He was also different. Jesus’ new capacities will likely be ours as well in resurrection. The greatest wonder of all is that we shall be like Him, freed from every stain of sin. To be perfected and yet retain our individual self is our destiny. To those who overcome, God promises that “I will be his God and he will be My son” (Revelation 21:7).

One of His first gifts was the gift of work to Adam and Eve, so they could share in the Creation act (Genesis 2:15). He made people able to have dominion and capable of taking an active role in the supervision of God’s creation. In the Church, God has gifted each believer for ministry, and each one of us participates in the great work God is doing in our world today. It thus seems unlikely that our creative and active God would prepare us for a passive existence in eternity.(3)

Not only will we be in God’s presence in our glorified bodies (1 John 3:2),(4) we will also be able to see His face (compare 1 John 3:2; Matthew 5:8; Exodus 33:20; Psalm 17:15).(5) God’s face, once hidden (Exodus 33:20) will now be fully disclosed to his people.(6)

The Seal – Documents and merchandise are often sealed or stamped to guarantee that their contents have been secured and to prevent tampering until they are received by the rightful recipient. The idea of a protecting seal is an Old Testament image (Genesis 4:15; Isaiah 66:19). God previously protected his people in Goshen during the plagues. In eternity, God’s servants will be similarly marked as belonging to Him (Isaiah 44:5). Here in Revelation, however, it is taken directly from Ezekiel 9:4–6, where judgment could not begin until the foreheads of the righteous (those who mourned over the sin of their land) were marked.

Except for Genesis 4:15, all these Old Testament passages probably meant the seal to be taken symbolically (despite more literal postexilic Jewish practice of phylacteries). Ezekiel 9:6 certainly did not mean a humanly visible mark, and Revelation presumably means it in the same sense as Ezekiel.(7)

Up Next – No more darkness, death, doubt or delay.

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References

  1. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 624). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (pp. 1088–1089). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 571). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  6. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 22:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 7:3). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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