Like many of you, I enjoy having music playing in the background…and there are times I can’t help but sing along. One recent incident reminded me of a truth we need to dwell on.
I was washing dishes and listening to some worship music, and “Is He Worthy” came on by Chris Tomlin. It describes how worthy Jesus is and all that He has promised. It’s a truly beautiful song. In part of it, it says, “Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? It is” (1).
Immediately, I started thinking about what I had been reading in Hebrews. Here are a few of the verses that came to mind—
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”Hebrews 11:6
“For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”Hebrews 11:14-16
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”Hebrews 11:24-26
That last one is powerful. “He was looking to the reward.” Amen. It is not wrong to look forward to and long for heaven. I mean, Jesus commanded us to pray, “Father…Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:9, 10). Paul said that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
But back to Hebrews. Over and over again within Hebrews 11, you see the concepts of reward and promises coming up repeatedly (vv. 6-11, 13, 16, 17, 26, 33, 39, 40). And even as you read through the entire book, you can’t help but notice the twin themes of endurance and hope standing out from the pages. Just consider this—
“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast”.Hebrews 6:17-19a
Or how about this—
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”Hebrews 10:36
True, the words hope and endurance aren’t always listed together, but the themes are there. God uses hope to motivate us to endure through the trials now. Even Jesus set this example (Hebrews 12:1-2). He pressed on for the reward of reconciling the world to God.
But some people are put off when it comes to this. With a plethora of books and movies which take so many liberties, it is hard to know what is real. We don’t become angels when we die (no matter what It’s A Wonderful Life says). We don’t see in Scripture that we’ll be sitting on clouds playing harps of gold. We don’t even read that we’ll be sitting around with nothing to do. Those are man-made ideas.
But what Scripture is very clear about is that “God Himself will be among them,” meaning His people (Revelation 21:3). “He will” personally comfort us (Revelation 21:4). “Death” and the “curse” will disappear forever (Revelation 21:4; 22:3). And best of all, we “will see His face” (Revelation 22:4).
So rather than dismissing thoughts of heaven, we ought to cling to that hope. Yet at the same time, we cannot try to make the Bible say things it doesn’t. We must study the Word, see what God has revealed about our future home, and praise Him for this glorious promise. It is a great reward, and it should motivate us all the more to serve Him. Let us do it as we look forward to our Lord’s return with great expectation.