Read Hebrews 12:22-24. In what sense have we arrived at heavenly Jerusalem into the presence of God?
It is argued that believers “have come” to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, through faith. In this sense, their experience anticipates the future. Thus, the heavenly Jerusalem belongs to the realm of the things “hoped for” and “not seen” but nevertheless assured to us through faith (Hebrews 11:1).
While true, this is not the whole meaning of this passage. We have also arrived at Mount Zion, in the very presence of God, through our representative Jesus (Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 3:1). Jesus’ ascension is not a matter of faith, but of fact. It is this historical dimension of Jesus’ ascension that provides compelling force to the exhortation of Hebrews to hold fast to our confession (Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 10:23). Paul says: “Since … we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, … let us … with confidence draw near” (Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 4:16, ESV).
Thus, we have already arrived through our representative and, therefore, should act accordingly. Through Him, we “have tasted the heavenly gift … and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:4-5, ESV). The reality of Jesus’ ascension and ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19, ESV), the guarantee that the promises have substance and are worthy of confidence (Hebrews 7:22). For us, faith has a historical anchor.
God’s purpose will be fulfilled not only in Jesus, however, but also in us. We have said that Jesus’ ascension fulfilled the typology of the first two yearly pilgrimages of Israel, Passover and Pentecost. According to Hebrews and the book of Revelation, the last pilgrimage, the Feast of Booths, is yet to be fulfilled. We will celebrate it with Jesus, when we are in the “city … whose architect and builder is God,” in the heavenly homeland (Hebrews 11:10 [NIV], Hebrews 11:13-16). We will not build booths, but God’s booth, or tent, will descend from heaven, and we will live with Him forever (Revelation 7:15-17; Revelation 21:1-4; Revelation 22:1-5; Numbers 6:24-26).
|How can we learn to make the promise of eternal life real to us now, amid a world so full of pain and suffering? What answer can you give to those who say that this is all just a fantasy to help us feel better about our life here and now?|