Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How Much Are You Worth?

The twelve gates were made of pearls--each gate from a single pearl! Revelation 21:21
We've all heard the term "pearly gates" and have probably developed varying pictures in our minds of what we think heaven looks like and what it will be like. Television and movies have portrayed heaven in a myriad of ways, most of which probably have nothing at all to do with reality.

For starters, despite popular belief, we do not become angels when we die. Angels are created by God as beings which are wholly separate from humans. Once a human, always a human.

We won't be floating around on clouds, strumming harps. The Bible doesn't really give us any indication as to what kind of "work" we will be doing in heaven, but it does tell us very clearly that we will have work to do for the Lord once we get there. We're going to be busy doing something, and I have a sneaking suspicion that whatever job God has prepared for each of us will be thoroughly enjoyable; I am positive that we will be fulfilling the roles that God has designed each of us to be good at and to love.

Above all, I am certain that heaven will not be underwhelming, and it will not be boring!

The Bible has quite a bit to say about heaven, but as much information as we are given, it still says...
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
 "No mind has imagined..." Wow! I think I can imagine some pretty great stuff, but the best I, or anyone else, could possibly come up with will drastically pale in comparison to the glory of what's waiting for us! In the next few posts, I plan to spend a little bit of time walking us through what the Bible does have to say about heaven. We may never be able to wrap our heads around the entirety of it, but the little glimpse we do get is extraordinary!

For today, I'll leave you with this: Look back up at the verse at the top. These enormous gates are each made from a single pearl! That's one big oyster! Now, mind-boggling magnitude aside, the fact that these gates are made of pearl is in and of itself a significant thing. Nothing that God does is arbitrary. Everything He does is intentional and purposeful. So, why are the gates made of pearl?

It is important to note that pearls are not a Jewish stone. Pearls come from oysters, which are a shellfish, and shellfish are considered unclean in Jewish culture. Pearls, especially at the time that the Scriptures were written, would have been known as a gentile stone. What other verse comes to mind when we think about pearls? How about the parable of the pearl of great price...
Jesus tells us in Matthew 13:45-46, "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!"
God's choice of material here is a sweet reminder to the gentile believer that God's home is our home. We have been adopted into God's family. The Jews are God's children by birth, so to speak. We gentiles, on the other hand, were adopted into the family when Christ's blood was spilled on the cross. He gave everything he had; he gave up his seat on the throne to be born as a baby, live a life of servitude on the earth, and die a criminal's death, our criminal death, on the cross, all to purchase us, the pearl of great price!

Those pearly gates are a reminder of the great worth and value we have in God's eyes, and the price that he was willing to pay in order to purchase us and adopt us into his family! Now, that's a home I can't wait to get to!

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