Tuesday, December 25, 2012
God didn’t stay way off in Heaven, but came down to live among us. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Jesus promised his disciples, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). Incredibly, that’s how much he wants to live with us.
Revelation 21:3 says “God himself will be with his people.” Why does it say God himself? Because God won’t merely send us a delegate. He won’t just send down the angel Gabriel to represent Him. He himself will actually come down from Heaven to live among us on the New Earth.
Immanuel does not mean “us with God.” It means “God with us.” Where will He be with us? In the eternal home he is preparing for us.
It’s sometimes said, “This world is not our home.” It’s true, but it’s a half truth. We should qualify it to say, “This world—as it now is, under the curse—is not our home.” But we should also say, “This world—as it was originally was our home.” And we should add, “This world—as it one day will be, delivered from the curse—will be our home.”
When we die and go to live in the Present Heaven, we’ll be with Christ, and we’ll be full of joy. But it won’t be our permanent home. It will be a layover, not our final destination. Those now with the Lord are looking forward to their bodily resurrection and relocation to the New Earth, where Christ will reign forever.
The incarnation of Christmas isn’t temporary; it’s permanent. Christ rose in a glorified human body which he will have forever. It’s not that Jesus became a baby at Christmas, and then 33 years later came the resurrection and ascension and then he suddenly stopped being a man. No, the second member of the triune God will be a human being for all eternity, reigning from a throne on the New Earth.
Often we think of Heaven as our going up into a disembodied angelic realm to live with God in his place. But the Bible says the ultimate Heaven will be God coming down from Heaven to live with us in our place—the New Earth. That’s the place He’s preparing for us.
We are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. And the resurrected Jesus will bring Heaven down to the resurrected earth.
One thing I love about Christmas is relaxing and celebrating and laughing with my family. Heaven will be the best of Christmas every day. We’ll be able to relax and laugh and celebrate, with no tensions or arguments. The other shoe will never drop. No skeletons will fall out of our closets.
Christ paid the ultimate price so that we would be forever free from sin—and the fear of sin. All barriers between us and him will be forever gone. He will be our best friend. Jesus will be God with us, forever.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to walk the earth with Jesus, as the disciples did? Have you ever wished you had that opportunity? You will—on the New Earth.
Jesus promised we would eat and drink with him in his Kingdom. To eat a meal with Jesus will be to eat a meal with God, because he is Immanuel, God with us.
The best part of Christmas is not the presents we receive, but the presence of God with us. Christmas can be a hint, a foretaste of the celebration God’s family will enjoy together.
Christmas means that God loved us so much he came to live with us, and die for us so that we can live with Him forever.
Christ promises He will wipe away all our tears, and there will be no more death or suffering, no final goodbyes. If you know Jesus, the great reunion awaits you. God will live with you and your spiritual family forever. And that’s the best Christmas present anyone could ever receive.
Merry Christmas to you, and all glory to Immanuel, the God who is with us, and will be with us forever.
Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 206, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, http://www.epm.org