Saturday, 3 December 2016

THOUGHTS ON HEAVEN

First, who is there?  The Son,
Having made purification of sins,
Jesus the Son of God, able
To sympathise as High Priest;

The Minister of the holy places
And of the true tabernacle,
The Leader and Completer of faith,
Who endured the cross, Jesus,

And the One who says to faithful
Saints, “I will be to you for a Father”,
The Father of lights in whom is neither
Variation nor shadow of turning,
The God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Father of glory, of whom Jesus
Said not only, “my Father” and “my God”.
But also, “your Father” and “your God”

And the Holy Spirit of God
Is privy to conversations
Of heaven.  He brings to saints
On earth communications heard
Above, so that God’s thoughts
Are known by alert Christians.

There are books there – one
Written before God, His record
Of those who fear Him, who often
Speak together; and the book
Of life of the slain Lamb – where
Are registered the names of the firstborn;
And – rejoice! – my name is written.

And are there the books
The movements of Christ here
Which the world cannot contain?

Blessing is there, stored
For outpouring through the windows
Of heaven; and mercy in which god
Is so rich; the riches of his
Grace; and the kindness of God.

And there are thrones there:
The throne of grace to which approach
Is so welcomed, facilitated by
Our sympathizing High Priest,
Where is store of mercy
And grace for seasonable help;

And the Father’s throne, where sits
Jesus, the Overcomer, crowned
By the Father’s pleasure, while all
This dispensation blessing descends
In the glad tidings of the glory;

And the throne of the greatness
- For “the greatness” is there -
Where our holy, harmless,
Undefiled, separated-from-sinners,
Gone-higher-than-the-heavens
Great High Priest abides
Serving both God and us;

And the throne of God - but
I do not merge or demerge
Thrones – for the Lord Jesus says
The heaven is the throne of God -
But take the force suggested,
And acknowledge divine authority
In the throne of the Supreme Ruler.
And what a display of thrones will be
When Christ takes His own
And enthroned round Him
Will be twenty four elders!
But even now, since we are seated
In the heavenlies in Christ we
Have a place for sitting there,

And there are many abodes
Fitted for the many families
Named and owned by the Father
For His eternal pleasure.
Yet for us the Lord Jesus
Has gone to prepare a place
By His presence in heaven, whence
He will receive us to Himself

And there are angels in heaven,
Demonstrating in created beings
The holy dignity of subjection.
How beautiful is their attendance
On their Master and Lord!  How
Beautiful their attention to us,
Lower than angels, but made,
Sons of the Living God;
But what their privilege as having
Before them the evidence of repentance
Of a sinner, seen in the joy
On the face of the Lord Jesus.

For there is joy in heaven,
And peace in heaven, secured
Also by the work of the Lord,
For heavenly things are too
Purified by the better sacrifice;
And there is power to forgive sins.

In vision Peter saw the sheet
Caught up to heaven, to its place
In concept, in Christ, where it remains
Till the time of actuality; when
She will descend with not only God’s
Glory, but with her own shining.

“Suddenly the sentence fell upon
My soul, ‘Your righteousness is in heaven’”;
In Jesus Christ at God’s right hand:
With wisdom, and holiness, and redemption,
For how much there is in one Man,
With everything entirely secure.

And there are relationships: heavenly
In character for a heavenly resolution:
Brethren of Christ, in purpose
And practice; the assembly for Christ;
Sons of the living God:
All established through Christ’s death
His resurrection, ascension and glory:
Relish these heavenly joys!

Heaven is the place of reception
Of prayer: “hear thou from the heavens”
Their prayer; “and their prayer came up
To His holy habitation, to the heavens”.
So the prayers and alms of Cornelius
Went up for a memorial before God.

And Enoch is there, and Elijah,
Caught up into heaven; and I doubt
Moses was returned to his grave.

“Jehovah will open the thee,
His good treasure, the heavens”;
For what a good treasure it is!
The stores of blessing abound,
As what in the past was eternally
In His mind, which will not diminish
In an eternal future, is unladen
Already upon the willing-hearted.

And in heaven’s impregnable vaults
I too keep treasure; where maggots,
Or oxidation can have no effect
And the burglars who make entry
Have jimmied there by repentance!
For I have a deposit entrusted
To heaven, to expend at my coming.

Jehovah stretched out the heavens by
His understanding – amazing to ponder
God presenting Himself as having
“His understanding”; what could be Greater
Than His understanding; everything
Not only created and sustained
But understood by God! Making
The heavens wisdom was beside Him
And now our wisdom is there in Christ
And wisdom is the benefit of His headship.

“But the wisdom from above first is
Pure, then peaceful, gentle
Yielding, full of mercy
And good fruits, unquestioning,
Unfeigned”: all that was seen
In Christ here – and in heaven.

Yet there is fire there; needed
For a holy God; needed
By a loving God’s favour
Who marked by fire His approval
Of the burnt-offerings and their givers,
Moses, and David, and Solomon,
And Elijah …  Yet what intensity
When it says, “the mountain burned with
Fire to the heart of heaven”:
Where has the concentration of holiness
Been seen?  And where the concentration
Of love?  Both at the cross.
How the heart of heaven felt it!

A Philippian was born with the rights
Of a citizen of Rome; the city
Was a colony of that polity;
And we are a colony of heaven
For our commonwealth exists there.

In God’s view it is normal
To have a representative in heaven;
So the children have their angels who continually
Behold the face of the Father;
But the believer has the High Priest
Appearing before the Father’s face
And the righteous Patron with the Father.

Once in actuality a man
In Christ was in heaven, and heard
Things unsuited to our state
In our present mortal condition;
Yet, wonderfully, he could
Hear them, and they embrued his ministry.

LAMED says, “For ever, O Jehovah,
Thy word is settled in the heavens”,
At the mid-point of ALEPH to TAU,
In the grand meditation on “the word”.
Blessed that the active word,
Which runs, which is glorified, which returns
Full, has its place of settledness.

Perhaps I should settle at that.


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