By Maurice W. Jackson, Jr.
The word “home” is surely one of the most comforting and consoling words in the English language. There are so many enjoyable things associated with home that both time and space will disallow the mention of more than but a few. Home is especially looked upon as a place of rest, peace and happiness. Home is a place of relaxation from the toils of the day, or from a long and tiring journey. How many times we all have said, “It is good to be home!” But even more importantly a godly home is a place where love reigns supreme. It is our loved ones who live there that make the home far more than a house. The fellowship of a family, bound together by genuine love for each other and for God, makes the home what it ought to be.
It is significant to note that in 2 Corinthians 5:8 the apostle Paul expresses the desire of all faithful Christians: “We are of good courage, I say, and arc willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home (“present” – AV) with the Lord.” It is surprising to no one in the family of God, the church, to find the word “home” used to describe the place where the faithful shall spend eternity! (cf. Eccl. 12:5)
But how could an earthly home be truly a home if no one knew or recognized each other? One of the great joys of home is knowing and enjoying the company of those that we love so dearly. A godly home here is indeed a foretaste of the heavenly home hereafter! Yet, even the most Christlike home here is not characterized with perfect love, peace, joy and happiness. Our earthly home is not entirely free of sorrow, pain, selfishness, and disappointment. But in our heavenly home there will be no imperfections or failures. God has promised to wipe away every tear, and “death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more, the first things are passed away” (Rev. 21:3,4).
Enlightening the Thessalonians regarding those who had died among them, Paul said that Christ shall descend from heaven, and will bring with him those who had “fallen asleep in Jesus.” And together with them, the faithful then living on earth, would be “caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: And so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:13-18). To ever be with the Lord is to be with him eternally in the heavenly home (cf. Matt. 6:9; Jn. 16:28; 1 Thess. 4:17). Heaven is a place of reunion! Who for a moment can believe that the Thessalonians to whom Paul wrote, and who recognized and knew each other on earth, would immediately cease to do so, upon being caught up to meet the Lord (had he returned within their lifetime)? Shall we know and recognize each other in heaven? There can be no doubt that we will.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob remained alive after physical death, and maintained both their names and their identity (Matt. 8:11). Statements in the Old Testament, such as concerning Abraham, when he passed from this life, that he was “gathered to his people,” teach us that heaven is a place of reunion, and where those there shall recognize and know each other! (See Gen. 25:8; Lk. 16:24-26; Phil. 4:3; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 3:5.) There appeared with Christ, when he was transfigured before Peter, James and John, both Moses and Elijah (Matt. 17:1-5). These apostles of our Lord had never before seen these prominent Old Testament characters, but evidently from what they saw and heard then they quickly came to know, recognize, and distinguish Moses and Elijah, and called them by name. We suggest to you that heaven is just such a place; where all will know, recognize, and enjoy each other.
While heaven is a place of reunion, and where love reigns supremely, and where all will know and enjoy each other, it will by no means be a place of inactivity. One of the most well known passages in the Bible is Revelation 14:13 “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.” But let no one think that while heaven is a place of “rest,” that heaven will be a place of doing nothing. A place of eternal inactivity is not the heaven of which we read in the Bible. It is true that we read that God rested from “all his work which he had made” (Gen. 2:2). But this does not mean that he ceased from all activity forever. Jesus said in answering the Jews, “My Father worketh even until now, and I work” (Jn. 5:17). In Hebrews 7:25 we read that Jesus “ever liveth to make intercession for them,” i.e. those who draw nigh to God through him. The labors from which those who die in the Lord will rest, are the labors which are characteristic of this sinful world which is left behind. In Revelation 7:14-17, those who come out of the great tribulation are seen before the throne of God serving him day and night. Heaven is by no means a place of inactivity. This same truth is again stated in Revelation 22:1-5 – “His servants shall serve him.” Exactly what the nature of this service shall be has not been made known. But it will be a glorious service, filled with joy and a happiness even beyond the most fertile imaginations of mortal man. A service that only the Divine mind can conceive and prepare! It is with great anticipation that the faithful look forward to that uninterrupted and eternal service rendered to him who deserves it all.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 20, p. 614
October 17, 1991