|Today’s reading is drawn from Revelation 21:1-27.
In Two Worlds At Once
The marathon runner crests the last hill and glimpses the finish line. His eyes widen while his frenzied heart beats even faster. His race is nearly done. So he shakes the sweat from his head, grunts as he accelerates and gives one last kick at the end—sprinting toward the finish line. What inspires such effort from someone so clearly fatigued? How can he muster even more energy when his lungs already burn? The prize at the end of the race makes each ache and every pain worthwhile.
Of course, the apostle John, now an old man, isn’t running any marathons. Yet inwardly his heart continues to race. Before him hangs the finishing tape of his apocalypse, the entire Bible, the Christian faith and history itself. Just across the finish line awaits the prize that makes every pain he’s endured worth it in the end. But what is the prize?
We might be tempted to conclude, “No more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). That’s the prize! Or we might posit, “The Holy City, Jerusalem” shining like “a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:10–11). We might expect that the prize is being reunited with our Christian friends and loved ones. While all of these are certainly treasures, however, a far greater treasure awaits, the one that confers value on each of these lesser prizes.
The treasure of heaven is God himself! He’s the prize we race after all our lives. God’s presence with his people wipes away their tears of mourning (see Revelation 21:3–4). God’s glory causes the city to shine (see Revelation 21:11). The glory of God illuminates the New Jerusalem and attracts the praise of the nations (see Revelation 21:23–24).
Imagine John returning to his daily life after catching a glimpse of God’s glory at the finish line. Do you think that, following that experience, he could yawn and then waste his time with the trivialities of this world? No! In his heart this aged saint had run the race of faith with incredibly renewed vigor and abandon. He had seen the prize.
By faith you can also gaze at the prize as you meditate on this portion of Scripture. Then run! Chase after the treasure of heaven—God himself!
What aspect of heaven excites you the most? Is it being with God and Jesus, or is it something else?