I once belonged to a Christian youth group where as a frequent feature of our meetings, we held panel discussions. One discussion that I recall rather well raised a good deal of speculation. The topic: How will we spend eternity? One speaker put great emphasis on a couple of Bible passages that suggest we will build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat the grapes (see Isaiah 65:21).
When my turn came to speak, I said that I had no desire to spend millions of years building houses and growing grapes. I’ve always been far more interested in space travel. I read lots of science fiction in my youth, in spite of the fact that my mother did her best to talk me out of it. “Jim,” she’d say, “don’t waste time on that rubbish. No one will ever get to the stars.” By 1969, when our astronauts landed on the moon, her memory had faded, so she knew nothing of that giant leap for mankind. And, since this panel happened before 1969, neither did I at the time.
I eventually lost interest in sci-fi, but at the time of the panel, I told my listeners that I believed we would visit myriads of other worlds in the hereafter. Not everyone agreed. I would have been surprised if they had. We all have cherished ideas and, if possible, try to back them up with our favorite Bible verses. I’ll try to do that now.
Jesus is the Creator
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus Himself made the worlds. John wrote that “through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). We have no idea how many other worlds may exist, but we know that astronomers have located planets orbiting some of the stars. Christians would be surprised if it were otherwise. Why would a loving Father make such a universe if not to populate worlds like ours?
This raises a pertinent question: Should we not expect that as their Creator, Jesus will visit all of those worlds? God is Love. I am sure that He will do so. As a father myself, I like to spend time with my children. But I read in Revelation 14:4 that at least some of the redeemed will follow the Lamb of God wherever He goes. I want to be one of them! I want to see Orion and take a close look at its Great Nebula. Then there is Antares, the pulsating star in Scorpius. I want to know why it swells and shrinks. Andromeda has always been a source of fascination since I first began to read about how vast the universe is with its billions of galaxies, each of them containing billions of solar systems.
Science fiction sees the cosmos as dangerous, with many hostile aliens invading earth, our only place of safety. While the Bible is silent on this matter, it seems to indicate the opposite, that planet Earth is the only spot in all creation where sin and rebellion exist. Therefore, when we get to heaven, we can expect a warm welcome wherever we may travel. Oh, if only I could visit each one of those pinpoints of light that I so often gaze at in the night sky!
But there is more to this than mere curiosity. As a child of God, part of His family, I want to be friends with all of His family members, and I believe He wants that unity to happen.
Of course, with all eternity ahead of us, having made new friends, will we have to wait millions of years before we visit them again? Or is there an alternative? First Corinthians 2:9 says that “ ‘No eye has seen, / no ear has heard, / no mind has conceived / what God has prepared for those who love him.’ ” Our minds can’t begin to take in the wonders God has in store for us, but I like to try.
In Revelation 10:6, I read that “there should be time no longer” (KJV). While that statement is in the context of our experience on this earth shortly before Christ’s return, could it have a deeper meaning? As I watch the animals, I begin to grasp the concept of a timeless existence. Migrating birds know by instinct when they must go, but they don’t try to figure out why. We humans do. We thirst for knowledge.
The closest I can come to understanding the relativity of time is illustrated by a book I am writing. I can turn off the computer and forget the story for weeks. Then, when I’m ready to start again, I open the document and go to the last page or two, and presto! I’m back in the story. Yet for the characters in my story, no time has elapsed at all. God is the Author of our human story. He exists outside of our time sequence, and I live with the hope that He will, in His eternity, somehow fit me into His timeless program.
Someone may ask, “Are you suggesting that the redeemed will enjoy omnipresence?” Omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence—these are theological terms that mean God has unlimited power, complete knowledge of all that is, and He’s totally present everywhere. None of us will ever be able to match that! In fact, I get the distinct impression from the Bible that Lucifer’s sin lay in coveting those three divine attributes. But our Maker made man in His own image, and throughout all those ages of eternity, He will be imparting His knowledge to us, with infinite wisdom yet in store. He’s given us humans the gift of procreation, which is a tiny sample of His creative ability. Therefore, I can believe that He’ll also make it possible for His redeemed children to travel the universe with Him, unhindered by those time limits that we find so frustrating now. Even here on this planet, I have wished that a vacation could be extended, but clock and calendar have always been my enemies.
I long for the day when my wife and I will meet again. As year after year drags by, I wish I had a “fast-forward” time button I could press. Oh how sweet the concept that when we see Jesus, He will loose the fetters of time and space that bind us now. I remember the words of one writer: “The Redeemed of Earth shall wing their tireless way to worlds afar.” I am sure God understands why I chafe during this waiting period. He loves me. He will share Himself with me.
Looked at in this light, the promise of 1 Corinthians 2:9 grows ever more precious and meaningful: “ ‘No eye has seen, / no ear has heard, / no mind has conceived / what God has prepared for those who love him.’ ” I also cling to verse 11 of the same chapter: “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. He’s on our side. He’s our Friend. Therefore, I can echo the final words of John in the Revelation, indeed the closing words of Scripture: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20, KJV).
I can say a heartfelt “Amen” to that!