Think Biblically!

The Saint's Heavenly Hope

The Saint's Heavenly Hope

God's ultimate purpose for His creation and His people
Prepared by Moe Bergeron

In the unfolding story of God's redemption, Scripture paints a vivid tapestry of transformation and renewal, where the hope of God's people culminates in the glorious unveiling of a new creation. At the heart of this divine narrative, the prophetic vision of Isaiah merges with the apocalyptic revelations given to John, alongside the theological reflections of Paul, to reveal a multi-faceted picture of God's ultimate purpose for His creation and His people.

Isaiah speaks with fervent anticipation of a day when Zion's righteousness and salvation will shine like a blazing torch, a time when nations will recognize God's glory within her, and her vindication will be evident to all (Isaiah 62:1-7).

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep still,

until her righteousness shines like a bright light,

her salvation like a blazing torch.

Nations will see your righteousness,

and all kings your glory.

You will be called by a new name

that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.

You will be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD,

a royal diadem in the palm of your God.

No longer will you be called Forsaken,

nor your land named Desolate;

but you will be called Hephzibah,

and your land Beulah;

for the LORD will take delight in you,

and your land will be His bride.

For as a young man marries a young woman,

so your sons will marry you;

and as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,

so your God will rejoice over you.

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen;

they will never be silent day or night.

You who call on the LORD

shall take no rest for yourselves,

nor give Him any rest

until He establishes Jerusalem

and makes her the praise of the earth.

Isaiah's vision sets the stage for a future where God's love and justice transform the reality of His people, urging constant prayer and watchfulness until the fulfillment of His promises.

Echoing Isaiah's hope, the book of Revelation presents a breathtaking vision of a new heaven and a new earth, where the first heaven and the first earth pass away, making room for the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2). 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

This city, unlike any earthly city, needs no sun or moon, for the glory of God gives it light, and its gates are never shut by day—and there is no night there (Revelation 21:22-27). 

But I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its lamp. By its light the nations will walk, and into it the kings of the earth will bring their glory. Its gates will never be shut at the end of the day, because there will be no night there. And into the city will be brought the glory and honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who practices an abomination or a lie, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

This is a place where only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life may enter, symbolizing the ultimate redemption and purity of God's people.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, adds depth to this vision by contrasting the present Jerusalem with the Jerusalem above, the free woman, who is our mother (Galatians 4:24-26, 29-31). Paul writes;

Verses 24-26. These things serve as illustrations, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present-day Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

Verses 29-31. At that time, however, the son born by the flesh persecuted the son born by the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? “Expel the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

The Spirit of God clearly states through the apostle that this heavenly Jerusalem represents the freedom and inheritance of those who belong to Christ, contrasting the bondage of the old covenant with the freedom of the new. 

This passage is not merely a historical recount; it is a vivid illustration of the stark contrast between living under the law and living by the promise. Hagar represents Mount Sinai, a covenant of slavery, while Sarah symbolizes the Jerusalem above, the mother of us all, free and unrestrained. This allegory transcends time, pointing us towards a spiritual reality where we are called to embrace the freedom of the children of promise, not to be ensnared again in the yoke of slavery.

The tension between the son of the slave woman and the son of the free woman is as prevalent today as it was in Paul's time. 

It challenges us to examine our own lives: Are we living as children of the promise, or are we still shackled by the chains of legalism and human effort? The freedom we have in Christ is not a license for lawlessness but an invitation to live in the liberty of God's grace, where our relationship with Him is not based on adherence to the law but on the unmerited favor found in Jesus Christ. 

As heirs according to the promise, our identity is not defined by our successes or failures but by Christ's finished work on the cross. Therefore, let us stand firm in this freedom, refusing to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery, and let us move forward, not as children of the slave woman but as children of the free, living out the reality of our heavenly citizenship with joy and purpose.

Paul further elaborates by declaring in Ephesians 2:19-22:

Therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. In Him the whole building is fitted together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in His Spirit.

Through these passages, Scripture weaves a narrative of hope, transformation, and ultimate renewal. The journey from Isaiah's prophetic declaration to the establishment of a new Jerusalem and the identity of believers as part of God's household illustrates a divine trajectory towards restoration and unity in Christ. 

As God's saints we are called to look forward with anticipation to the fulfillment of God's promises, where the glory of the new Jerusalem illuminates the reality of God's kingdom, and where we, as God's people, find our ultimate identity and purpose in His grand narrative of redemption.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the faithful saints who lived before the cross as a people who longed for the promised heavenly country. Hebrews 11:13-16.

All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Now those who say such things show that they are seeking a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

I'm now going to elaborate on our passages from Revelation.

In Revelation 21:1-2, we are transported to the culmination of all things, where John gives us a breathtaking glimpse into the future—a new heaven and a new earth, where the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and there is no longer any sea. This vision is not just a promise of what will be; it is a beacon of hope for all believers, illuminating the path through our present trials and tribulations. The sea, often symbolizing chaos and turmoil in biblical literature, is no more. This profound transformation signifies a place of unrivaled peace and divine order, a realm where God's sovereignty is fully manifested, and His creation is made whole.

As the Holy City, New Jerusalem, descends from heaven adorned as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, we are reminded of the intimate relationship between God and His people. This is not merely a divine act of creation; it is a divine act of reunion. The imagery of the bride speaks to a deep spiritual intimacy, a consummation of the long-awaited union between the Creator and His creation. Here, in these verses, lies the heart of our hope—not just in the physical renewal of the world but in the restoration of our relationship with God, where we will dwell with Him in perfect harmony. As we navigate the complexities and challenges of our current existence, let these verses anchor us in the promise of what is to come, driving us to live today in the light of that glorious day when all things will be made new.

Revelation 21:22-27 unfolds a scene of celestial beauty and divine presence so profound that it challenges our earth-bound imaginations. 

In this vision of the New Jerusalem, John notes the absence of a temple, stating, "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." This revelation is staggering, suggesting an intimacy with God that surpasses anything previously known. In the earthly Jerusalem, the temple was the epicenter of worship, a place where God's presence dwelt among His people. Yet, in this heavenly city, the distinction between sacred and secular is obliterated; God's glory infuses everything, His presence so palpable that no physical temple can contain it.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Here, the source of illumination transcends the created order, pointing us to a reality where God Himself is both light and life. This light is not merely physical but symbolic of truth, goodness, and the very essence of God's character. Furthermore, the gates of the city are never shut, and the kings of the earth bring their splendor into it. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life may enter, signifying a community defined not by earthly status but by their redemption through Christ. This passage invites us to long for and labor towards that day when our faith shall be sight, when we shall dwell in God's unmediated presence, fully known and fully loved. It beckons us to live as citizens of this future city, embodying its values of light, love, and eternal fellowship with God.

Hebrews 11:13-16 stands as a profound testament to faith, highlighting the experiences of the patriarchs and prophets who lived by faith in the promises of God, yet did not see them fulfilled in their lifetimes. This passage serves as a bridge between the Old Testament heroes of faith and the readers of the Hebrews letter, offering both encouragement and a model of steadfast belief in God's future promises.

These verses describe the faithful as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, emphasizing their longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Their faith was not anchored in the tangible realities of their current existence but in the hope of what God had promised, a city designed and built by God. This longing for a heavenly homeland signifies a profound trust in God’s promises, transcending earthly attachments.

To harmonize Hebrews 11:13-16 with the broader biblical narrative, several key themes emerge:

The first is The Nature of Faith: Faith, as illustrated by the lives of the patriarchs, is characterized by trust in God's promises, even in the absence of their fulfillment within one's lifetime. This enduring faith sets a pattern for New Testament believers, pointing to Jesus as the ultimate object of faith and fulfillment of God's promises.

The second is The Concept of Pilgrimage: The idea of being strangers and pilgrims on the earth resonates with the broader biblical theme of God’s people being in the world but not of it. This concept is deeply rooted in the Old Testament, as seen in the journey of Abraham and the Israelites, and is echoed in the New Testament's depiction of the Christian life (Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 2:11).

The third is The Heavenly Homeland: The longing for a "better country" connects with the eschatological hope found throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, this hope is often expressed in terms of the Promised Land and a future restoration. In the New Testament, it culminates in the revelation of a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-2) and the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22-24).

The fourth is God’s Acknowledgment of His People: God is not ashamed to be called their God, a statement that underscores the intimate relationship between God and those who have faith in Him. This theme of divine acknowledgment and relationship is central to the biblical narrative, from God’s covenant with Abraham to Jesus’ promise to confess before His Father those who confess Him before others (Matthew 10:32).

Lastly, the fifth, The Focus on Jesus Christ: Hebrews 11:13-16, while not explicitly mentioning Jesus, sets the stage for the subsequent chapters that present Him as the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2). The passage encourages believers to look to Jesus, who has secured for them the heavenly homeland they seek.

Taken together our selected passages invites God's saints to live as pilgrims, anchored in the hope of the heavenly city prepared for them, and to endure in faith, looking to Jesus as the embodiment of all God's promises.

Let us conclude with a prayer.

Heavenly Father, who art the architect of creation and the promise-keeper of eternity, we come before You as sojourners in a land not our own, yearning for the heavenly homeland You have prepared for us. By faith, our forebears walked paths unseen, guided by the assurance of Your promises, their eyes fixed on a better country. May we, inspired by their example, hold fast to the faith once delivered, steadfast in hope and unwavering in love.

Lord Jesus, pioneer and perfecter of our faith, in whom all promises find their Yes and Amen, teach us to walk in Your steps, to seek Your face in every circumstance, and to love as You have loved. Let Your light guide us, Your truth ground us, and Your love compel us as we journey toward the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Holy Spirit, comforter and counselor, strengthen us in our weakness, illuminate our minds with heavenly wisdom, and enkindle in our hearts the fire of divine love, that we might live as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, even while we traverse this earthly realm.

God of all comfort, who has prepared for us an eternal dwelling place, let the hope of this glorious future shape our lives today. May we live as reflections of Your kingdom, eagerly awaiting the day when faith becomes sight, and we dwell in Your presence forevermore. In the precious name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.