The Father's House and the Family of Heaven
Among my readers there may be many lonely,desolate ones. Perhaps years ago you may have known the cheerfulness of a happy home, but of late you have walked alone through life. Your lot is a solitary one. You seem to stand alone, like a pillar in the desert, on which every stormy wind beats. Neither parent nor child, brother nor sister - is near to speak a word of sympathy when you need it. But after all there is a bright side to this dark cloud. There is blue sky overhead, if you will only look for it. If you make the Lord your stay and confidence, and if your trust is in the saving name of Jesus - you are a child in the great family of Heaven, a citizen enrolled in the books of the celestial city; you are not a solitary traveler on the way to Zion, but journeying on side by side with a goodly host, and shall soon share with them the pleasures which are at God's right hand!
In these chapters we have seen much of the evil that mars the comfort and happiness of the home is appointed for us now. From within and from without, from God's chastening hand in sickness,and from numberless causes over which we have but little control - there comes perpetually something that disturbs and distresses us. But we must look beyond. What is lacking in the earthly home, may be found in the heavenly home. What our hearts have long yearned for in vain here below, may yet be found without alloy before the throne of God.
A few words addressed to the believing Hebrews show the lofty privileges and blessed fellowship which Christians possess. The inspired author contrasts the bright and cheery hopes of believers now, with the fear and dread that belonged to the earlier dispensation.
"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (Hebrews 12:22-24). We are struck here with the bold, startling way in which the apostle puts forth the present standing of Christians. "You have come," he declares, "unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God."
"But how can this be?" might believers ask. "Are we not still in the valley, struggling with our sins and temptations and sorrows? Are we not still in the valley of tears, the land of trouble and woe?"
"True," would the apostle reply; "but by virtue of your union with Christ, you are even now to be reckoned as sitting down in the heavenly places. In Him you are justified, in Him accepted, your name is in the books of the city, and He, your Forerunner, has already taken possession of it in your name."
But what is the Christian's home? Where shall the family be gathered together? The apostle describes it as "Mount Zion," "the heavenly Jerusalem," "the city of the living God."
It is an abode of purity and love. Sometimes we see a spot so fair, that we might imagine that the curse had been removed and that Eden had opened again its gates to the inhabitants of earth; but we find after a while that we have been mistaken. The presence of evil makes itself felt; and the strife of tongues,and sin abounding, soon make the vision vanish away. But within the Father's house, nothing can ever defile. Love reign sin every breast, and God wipes away every tear from the eye.
It is, moreover, the unchangeable city, the city of immortality. It is the city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. Man can build cities which may last for many centuries, and whose renown for beauty spreads far and wide - but what shall be the city whose foundation has been laid by God Himself, and which He has prepared for His own people?
Ah, believer, lift up your eyes to that blessed abode of rest and joy. Now we dwell in homes which soon crumble into dust; but there is an abode which shall never be taken down. Now we dwell in a land where sin meets us at every turn - but that is an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. Now we dwell in cities and towns and villages of dying men and dying women, and we with them soon to lie side by side in our cemeteries and churchyards - but then our abode will be the city of the living God, where there shall be no more sorrow, nor crying, nor death.
But let us now look at the glorious inhabitants of the heavenly city. We are told that there will be "an innumerable company of angles."
We read of angels as "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister" in some way to God's people. We read of the Angel of the Lord encamping round about those who fear God, and having charge over them to keep them in all their ways. We read of angels accompanying the spirit of the believer to the world above. But as yet, while in these bodies of clay, our eyes are too dim to discern those who are thus mercifully sent to guard or assist us. But we shall see them by-and-by. We shall see ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of angels.
We often mourn that the ways of Zion are so infrequented, and that so few are the pilgrims to the better land. But it is a joyful thought that perhaps for one we have lost on earth, we may find hundreds to take their place. It will be a blessed addition to the Church triumphant to meet with myriads of holy angels who have never known sin, and yet who are all joined with us under one Head, Jesus Christ our Lord.
But not only will the angels form a part of the great family gathered together hereafter, but redeemed sinners, pardoned sinners, those who once seemed the most unlikely to reach the heavenly Canaan.
Heaven is gathering in one by one into her capacious bosom, all the holy and excellent of the earth. From all churches where Christ has been exalted as the sinner's only hope, from all congregations, from all cities and towns and villages - there come the Lord's children, made fit by Divine grace to sit down in the eternal kingdom.
Here comes a child out of an ungodly family, raised by a special manifestation of God's grace to be a witness for Christ amidst surrounding darkness. Here comes a whole family led on and trained for the kingdom by a devoted Christian parent. Here comes one who for years has been a stranger, a sufferer, living a life of bitter poverty among those who had no sympathy with her, nor shared her hope of coming glory. Here comes one in humble life, a faithful servant, who has used her one talent for the Master's glory, and whose holy consistent life has left a savor of Christ wherever she has dwelt.
All these form a part of that "church of the firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven." These are those who are "the first fruits of earth unto God and the Lamb." These are those who have the birthright and blessing of the Father's eternal love, heirs of His kingdom, and joint heirs with His dear Son. And as soon the burden of the flesh is laid aside, they are made at once, as to the spirit, perfect.
In this present life they are justified in Christ, sanctified and made righteous by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit - yet still troubled by manifold infirmities. But by-and-by it will be otherwise. We read of "the spirits of just men made perfect." No fears or doubts remaining, no evil in the flesh to be resisted, no assaults of the tempter to be overcome - but every imperfection subdued, and every soul perfected in the image of Christ.
But not only is there to be communion with God's people, but with the Lord Himself. We have come to "God the Judge of all."
"You have come" close in holy fellowship to Him who is the righteous King and Protector of His Church. In the upper kingdom we read of "the throne of God," and that "the glory of God lightens it." And though we may never be able to behold, even in eternity, the full light of the Father's presence - yet still we shall be nearer to Him than even before. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
And there is fellowship with the Saviour. You are come "to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel."
Ah, it is the presence of Jesus which makes Heaven on earth - or Heaven above! Without His presence, all else would be in vain. Heaven would be no Heaven, were Jesus absent.
I have heard of a Christian being asked "what she would do in Heaven if Jesus were not there;" and the answer she made was that "she would ask them to let her out again." Yes; there might be the glorious city, there might be the home where none of earth's trials could ever enter, there might be the countless myriads of angels, and the hosts of the redeemed; but the sun of Heaven's glory would be dark, the light which should illumine the whole would be absent, if Jesus were not in the midst of His glorified Church.
And mark it, dear reader, here is the link binds all together in the everlasting fellowship of love. How could fallen man ever be united to the holy Jehovah? How could sinners ever have communion and fellowship with the holy angels? Here is the link - even Jesus and His blood. God and angels and man, those yet in the flesh and those now delivered from the bondage of corruption, saints militant and saints triumphant - all are knit together in one blessed family, in one glorious fellowship, by Jesus and His precious blood.
Ah, come to the Saviour, and so trust in Him that His precious blood may be sprinkled upon you, and speak to God on your behalf. Abel's blood cried for vengeance - but Christ's blood cries for mercy. It brings down mercy,pardon, salvation, and life eternal on every soul that is sprinkled with it.
If you wish to belong to the great family, the household of God, if you wish to share their glory and partake of their endless joy - then come then to Jesus without delay. He is the Mediator of the new covenant. God has laid up all its precious gifts in His hand - wisdom, righteousness, grace,and everlasting mercy - all these come to us through Him, and by no other channel. And the gracious and merciful Saviour delights to welcome those who turn to Him.
A Swedish sailor was on the deep. The Holy Spirit had convinced him of sin, and he could not rest without the mercy for which he longed.
"I was ready to cry out, 'Who will deliver me - who will help me?' " And my heart sunk down in despair. What a miserable sinner I felt I was! My heart was sick and sore. I know not what to do. I had no one to guide me.
"One night I was standing by the helm; I thought of Christ, and my heart turned to Him for help. And with my very first thought of Him, He met me in His grace; and oh, what words of mercy and love I seemed to hear Him speak to me! Come to Me, you heavy laden one. Come to Me; I cast none out. I am meek and lowly of heart. Learn of Me. Take My yoke, it is easy. Take My burden - My grace shall make it light."
"There at the wheel, the Saviour showed Himself to me. I love Him now, because He first loved me. I cannot speak your language well; but Christ understands me, and I understand Him. And ever since I met Him at the helm, I live very close to Him. I hear Him tell me to hold up my sails to the gales of the blessed Spirit, and He will waft me straight to the heavenly land."
May every reader of these pages have the same blessed hope possessed by this sailor! May every day spent in any earthly house be a day of preparation for that Home which shall never be broken up!