THE GLORIOUS HEAVENLY HOPE - PART 3
ANTICIPATIONS AND HOPES
May 26, 2012
We can make many speculations about the glimpses of the heavens provided in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Such mental excursions can be refreshing and can provide great conversations among the brotherhood.
For example, in the Hebrew scriptures, we learned that the heavens include the material universe of stars, suns and planets. Perhaps when we are perfected as spirit creatures, we will have the ability to travel through the material universe and possibly visit other planets. Since at least some of us are said to be kings and priests of God, perhaps we will serve in that capacity for not only humans still on earth, but beings on other planets.
And what about the “many abodes” in the heavens. Maybe there are so many because of the sheer number of us that will be received in the heavens. And maybe there are many abodes because of the different stages of development that the resurrected ones find themselves in. Maybe there are abodes for infants, children and adolescents where they will learn about the Father. Maybe there are abodes for adults who did not have an opportunity to accurately learn about the Father so as to be able to make an informed choice. Maybe there are abodes for spiritual adults who are firmly on the path to personality perfection. Since the scriptures put a great deal of emphasis on obtaining knowledge, maybe all of these abodes are in actuality schools of learning where our faith is perfected!
We also have the unusual experience of the Apostle Paul:
“I know a man in union with Christ who, fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know; God knows—was caught away as such to the third heaven. Yes, I know such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows— that he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:2-4
So we have confirmation that there are indeed various levels of heaven! Paul was aware of at least three. He referred to the third heaven as a heavenly paradise! When we think of a paradise, we automatically think of beautiful gardens. Does that mean that in the third heaven, there is plant life? What would those plants look like? What colors? Our plant life is basically green due to the activities of our sun. Maybe plant life in the heavens is of a different color entirely – maybe colors that we have not even imagined.
Paul says he heard unutterable words. Maybe he heard one of the languages in the heavens. Maybe the language is so foreign to the human mind that we cannot even form our mouths to make the sounds! He also says the words are unlawful to speak. Maybe there is knowledge that we will gain that can only be of benefit in the heavenly realm.
And if there are unutterable words, maybe there are new and different sounds. Maybe music is wholly different in the heavens. Though presented in signs, the Revelation makes references to complex heavenly music:
“And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth.”
– Revelation 14:3
Perhaps our new heavenly bodies can detect all kinds of new realities. We tend to think that those in the heavens do not have any material pleasures. Jesus told us:
“[I]n the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.”
– Matthew 22:30
But that only rules out sex. Perhaps we will continue to have affectionate relationships with one another. Perhaps our new bodies will have eyes that will be able to see colors that our human eye cannot detect. Perhaps we will have ears that will be able to hear sounds that the human ear cannot hear. Perhaps we will have palates that will be able to taste flavors that our human tongue cannot pick up. Clearly, we will continue to have sensual and tactile experiences for we are told:
“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9
But what about the other beings? We know of angels. But surely there are many more different types of beings. Based on the way angels manifested, we suspect that the basic body form would be similar to our own – a head with a brain, two arms, two legs. But if not, we are certain they are all beautiful. We need not worry about grotesque or frightening figures.
Perhaps even our definition of beauty will be different. And given the Bible’s repeated references to beauty, we are certain that the aesthetics of the heavens will overwhelm us. Although our destiny is in the heavens, we all begin our lives on the earth. This is the place where mortal life begins – where we develop our personalities. As we translate from body to body, our form may change, but our personalities remain constant. Otherwise, how would our fellows recognize us.
But on earth, our outside appearance can be quite different from our inside. We can be physically beautiful, but inside mean and hateful. We suspect that as we get closer and closer to the Father, our outside appearance will reflect what is inside. Eventually, everything will be exposed and transparent. No hypocrisy. No deception. Finally, we are told about the Father:
“You are opening your hand, And satisfying the desire of every living thing.”
– Psalms 145:16
So we can rest assured that in our heavenly abode, all that we desire will be satisfied – and more! Truly, when we begin to open our minds to the possibilities of the heavenly hope, our spirits soar! We stand tall because we know there are untold blessings that await us.
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things upon the earth.”
– Colossians 3:1-2
“[W]e keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:18
We encourage you, yes you, the reader of this article, to engage in your own contemplations of what the heavenly hope holds out for you. And share those contemplations with your brothers while we keep on growing in knowledge, understanding and service of one another. As the Apostle Paul said:
“So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out. Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to [us] in the faith.”
– Galatians 6:9-10
In closing, we are reminded of the illustration of the dog who followed his master to a neighbor’s house. When the dog was left out, he jumped at the door scratching to get in. When the door was finally opened, the dog rushed to his master and leapt on his lap. The dog had never been in that house before. But it did not matter to him. All he knew was that his master was in there, and that was good enough for him. Likewise for us – whether what we believe about the heavens is wholly accurate or purely speculation, it does not effect the hope. In the final analysis, we know our Father is there. We know the Christ is there. That is good enough for us!
We welcome your comments. Please continue reading Heavenly Contemplations - Part II