By Richard D. Gant
A couple of years ago, we turned on our television sets expecting to see the World Series, when it was announced that the game was being canceled because of an earthquake. As we stayed tuned to learn of the condition of things in the aftermath of the quake, we were saddened to see the footage of helicopters beaming bright lights down at the darkened city of Oakland. The commentators said this was an effort to keep looting and crime to a minimum. What a terrible commentary on our world when crime is a given in the midst of such tragedy.
Isn’t it pitiful how people conduct themselves when left without any light from above? When we consider that night in Oakland and the wickedness which lurks on the darkened corners of our streets every night, we are not surprised that the symbols of darkness and night are universally chosen by men to represent all that is evil.
Recently, while talking to a friend, I found that he was confused by the imagery used in Revelation 21:21f. He asked, “How can heaven be described as a place of rest when there isn’t going to be any night?” He also wanted to know how the martyred saints could be described in Revelation 7:15 as serving God in the temple day and night since there is to be no temple nor any night. These are good and sincere questions, but they reflect an attempt to use a literal methodology on a largely figurative book. Each image needs to be understood in its own context and not interpreted by mixing metaphors. In Revelation 7:15 what is being stressed is the continual nature of the saints’ service in the presence of God, while Revelation 22:21 f is stressing the resplendent radiance of God that fills every corner of the golden city of God. So what encouragement can we to glean from the statement that “there shall be no night there”?
No night means absolutely no darkness in which men try to conceal their evil deeds. We won’t have to worry about locking our doors and fearing evil intruders for there will be nothing to fear in heaven. God’s light is so brilliantly bright that it makes the approach of any kind of darkness an impossibility. Perhaps one of the reasons sinners will not go to heaven is that they would be so terribly uncomfortable in the presence of the effulgent glory of God. Imagine, if you can, the feeling of guilt and shame that will overcome us if we have loved the darkness of the prince of this world rather than the light of the Sun of Righteousness. We should seriously reexamine ourselves if we really think that we can harbor any kind of darkness in our lives and still go to heaven (1 Jn. 1:5-ff).
No night means our service unto God shall not be hindered at any moment. When we sing “Where the Gates Swing Outward Never,” we are alluding to Revelation 21:25. What that depicts is the saved of every nation bringing gifts of glory and honor unto God. Since it is always day and the gates are never shut, we have free access in our service to God. Are you ever frustrated by the fact that we let things like the death of loved ones, disease, or the drudgery of our worka-day lives, get in our way and disillusion us in our service to God? We often sing, “God shall wipe away all tears,/ There’s no death, no pain, no fears;/ And they count not time by years,/ For there is no night there.” When we sing this song, what we are saying is when we get to heaven there isn’t going to be anything to deter or discourage us.
No night means the glory of our God is not confined to an inner room unapproachable by any but the High Priest. In the earthly Jerusalem the presence of evil was so repugnant to God that he could not reveal himself as he would have liked to. Therefore, even in attempting to show his willingness to abide with Israel, God chose to confine his “glory” to the Most Holy Place, a room in the temple that was a perfect cube 10 cubits in length, in breadth, and in height. However, in the heavenly Jerusalem we find the dimensions of the entire city are equal in length, in breadth, and in height (Rev. 21:16-17). This signifies the temple is no longer needed, because God’s glory radiates throughout the whole city (Rev. 21:22-27). His light shines throughout the city because “there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). In that sinless city the Lamb’s lamp shines unabated eternally.
This heavenly scene should be a present reality for us in this life to some degree. Isaiah 60 uses the same imagery to describe our life as members of the kingdom of light. If Christ is our king, then we should be walking in his light and in the light of his word. We should trust God to deliver us from evil. We should no longer behave as of the darkness but as “children of light” (Eph. 5:8). We need to make sure that we never let Satan distract us, but whatever we do in word or deed, we should do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17). And, most of all, we need to realize that our God does not live in temples made with hands, but is near to each of us. He has sent his light into the world, and we are to be reflecting his brilliant glory, so that men may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
What a wonderful place heaven must be! No night. No sin. No discouragement. Only the light, life and love of our Lord. In heaven we see a picture of what this wicked world could have been had man never rejected that light from above.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 20, pp. 617-618
October 17, 1991