Today’s Bible Reading: Malachi 1-2:17; Revelation 21:1-27; Psalm 149:1-9; Proverbs 31:10-24
Today we start the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. Based on information in this book we know that Malachi’s ministry took place at the end of Nehemiah’s leadership over the Jews who had returned from exile from Babylon. Unfortunately, much of what God has to say to the Jews through Malachi is similar to what He had to say to them before they were conquered.
The people of Israel were full of doubt and misunderstanding. They doubted God’s love (Malachi 1:2) and they misunderstood their own actions and thoughts (Malachi 1:6-7, 2:17, 3:8, 3:13). I think this type of thinking is inherent in human nature. People ask the very same questions today. We see terrible things happen in our lives or somewhere in the world and we wonder if God loves us. We read in the Bible that certain behaviors are sinful and we wonder how so.
There are things that are true even though we don’t understand how they can be true. The way we find truth is through God’s word (the Bible) and by spending time with Him in prayer. God wants us to know, understand, and act upon truth. His goal isn’t to punish us for being “bad”. His goal is to correct us from being “wrong”.
God’s plan for mankind was intended to bring life and peace. But we have a part in making this happen to – we need to view God and His word with respect (Malachi 2:5). When we fail to do that we bring trouble upon ourselves because we will ignore God’s commands which He gave us in order to help us avoid trouble.
Yesterday we read about the culmination of human history on this earth – a time when hate for God runs rampant all over the earth only to be defeated upon Jesus’ return. Today we read about the beginning of the next phase of human history – the eternal phase.
After the final judgement this earth we are living on will cease to exist as will heaven (Revelation 21:1). The Bible uses the word “heaven” in three senses: the earth’s atmosphere, outer space (the universe and beyond), and the place where God dwells. All of these will cease to exist in their current state. They will be recreated on the new earth.
So too will the city of Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). It is here that God will live with His people (Revelation 21:3) as He hasn’t done since the Garden of Eden. We were created to be in community with God and with each other. That truth permeates the Bible from page one. Sin has damaged our relationship with each other and with God and has prevented us from having perfect community. We will finally experience this in heaven.
At this point God’s plan will be complete (Revelation 21:6). Unlike the “heaven” invented by man, such as in Hinduism, the true heaven is permanent. In Hinduism theology, people stay in heaven only until their cache of karma runs out. Then they must return to earth and earn more karma until they are allowed to return to heaven (if they are allowed to return). This is not true. God is offering an eternal, permanent experience of living with Him to anyone who believes and accepts His offer to be adopted into His family (Revelation 21:7).
John describes the city of Jerusalem in great detail but one interesting aspect is its size. This is no ordinary sized city. It is 1,500 miles on each side, about the size of the United States west of the Mississippi River. There will also be no Temple in this city (Revelation 21:22). We won’t need anything to help us worship God. Here on earth such things often distract us and garner more reverence than God Himself. That won’t be the case in heaven.
As with all prophetic concepts, we can’t fully understand this one until it happens. But certainly God has given us a wonderful sneak-peak at what heaven will be like. One of the best aspects is that there will be absolutely no evil there (Revelation 21:27). After living on this earth that will certainly be a welcome change.
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