“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
Beyond Our Dimensions of Space and Time
Recently, I was looking at a beautifully calm and sunny scene of a long wooden pier with its white railings, on a deserted beach, stretching out into a vast body of water, under a blue sky with large, white clouds widely extended, and all appearing pleasurably peaceful.
While gazing at it, it also led to my thinking of three linear dimensions — as well as a realm not yet experienced by us: 1) the length of the pier, 2) the much greater distance across that vast body of water, and 3), even more awesome, while looking at the sky, the endlessness of space, which, though pertaining to distance, seems to also symbolize and evoke thoughts of the timelessness of eternity itself. For would it not take that long in imagining all of infinity?
But even though our immeasurable universe is so mind-boggling to even try to contemplate its totality, yet the Bible shows that it is all just temporary. For there is a major event coming, when “…the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat…” (2 Pet. 3:10-12), for there will then be no more purpose nor need for this physical realm.
But when that happens, will there still be an empty void of space left behind? Or is that also part of God’s creation that will cease to be? Though this is conjecture on my part, yet it certainly is an amazingly bizarre thought to ponder. For how could that which is an empty void become nothing? Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Of course, with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26) and nothing is too difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17); and would we not think of heaven as being somewhere apart from our infinite, physical universe — such as in something similar to a parallel universe? If that be the case, could not even the empty space in which our universe dwells cease to be, along with all its contents, like a printed page torn out of a journal or diary and consumed in flames? But unlike that page, for not even one ash or any trace to remain?
This, of course, as to what will happen to the “empty space” is speculation; but we who believe in God know that He can do far greater than all we can even imagine! Yes, He can do that which, to us, would be so impossible!
I do not think of heaven, where God dwells, as having a physical location somewhere in the universe that if we just had the technology, the time, and knew its whereabouts, we could travel to it by spaceship. Rather, heaven is in a far greater realm — a spiritual one — and one with a “substance” of exceedingly superior quality compared to our physical realm. For heaven is eternal, where things do not age, wear out, nor perish; while all of our physical realm continues to decline, to waste away, to cease to be — and with some things even more fleeting than others.
This is why the apostle Paul shows that God’s children will have their temporary tabernacles of flesh replaced with imperishable bodies suitable for heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 5:1-4). For “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49). And the need for that can be seen in what he goes on to declare:
“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on this imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (vv. 50-58).
Though what will become of the empty void of our universe, after all the elements in it are destroyed, perhaps we cannot know. But I still find it very amazing to believe that God could do away with even an infinity of emptiness if He willed it so!
What wonders are in store for those who will spend an eternity in heaven! What an amazing place heaven itself must be! For its dwellers will be enjoying those things of God “…who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” (Phil. 3:20).
Let us, therefore, conclude with what Peter goes on to say. After speaking of the heavens passing away with a roar and the elements being destroyed with intense heat, along with the earth and its works, he then gives this following exhortation to the brethren:
“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (vv. 11-13).
This phrase, “new heavens and a new earth,” figuratively represents heaven itself, just as that same wording is used in Isaiah 65:17-25 in metaphorically referring to the new system of the Gospel Age, which was to come after 1,500 years of the Mosaical Age. For by Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, He annulled the Old Covenant and established the New (cf. Eph. 2:11-16; Col. 2:13,14; Heb. 10:8-12). Therefore, what a major, great, and glorious change that phrase “new heavens and a new earth” expresses — whether of that New Covenant, which was far superior to the Old, or of heaven itself compared to our earth-life in this physical realm!
Though heaven goes way beyond what we can even imagine now, how important it is for each of us to look to God’s word to acquire faith (cf. Rom. 10:17), to have that child-like trust in Jesus Christ, to truly believe in Him (Jn. 8:24), to repent of our sins (Lk. 13:5), to publicly acknowledge our faith in the Lord (Rom. 10:9,10), to be baptized as part of God’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21), and to continue in the faith (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10), as we press on for that glorious realm where Jesus now is, as the great King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) — in that heavenly place, far superior to any region we have ever known!
“Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing” (Psa. 100:2).
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)