Where is your Heaven?
The text for our morning service today was Psalms 49:17 For When he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. It is rather easy to remember that when you die you don’t take it with you. All the wealth, prestige and influence are all left behind. There isn’t a Christian alive who has attended Church for any time at all has heard messages about the foolishness of investing every effort in life towards those things that are confined to this earth, they are temporary and will fade away. But a point was made today in the morning service message that caught my attention.
The context of this verse is the “profitability” of the wicked. I would say that I know very few (if any) people who are truly wicked, but I do know a lot of people who are Godless. They don’t seem to suffer the ills of the world any more than I do or other Christians that I know. It seems that the Godless can get away with investing their energies in this world without consequence, after all Matthew 5:45 reads “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
But the new side of this truth – that the saved and the unsaved suffer equally life’s ills – was that as believers we have a Heaven that awaits us. One that is free of the suffering that befalls us from time to time or is the theme for the truly oppressed. But for the unbeliever the closest they will ever get to heaven is the joys and rewards that this world has to offer.
When I considered how those who seem to have everything the world has to offer suffer pains, difficulties, dissatisfaction, loss and feelings of emptiness just like those who do not have all the worldly gains, it was striking that their heaven would be this cheap imitation that is a response to the fleshly appetites but is still polluted by the sorrows of the world. For those without God, this world is as good as it gets. But for the believer, there is a much better destination to which we are headed. Praise God for His mercy and Grace that has given us such a tremendous gift.
Israel Goes Home
Or at least some did, well 50,000 did. Cyrus decreed that the children of Israel should return to their homeland and re-establish the temple. This was after 50 years in captivity, but only 50,000 returned to Israel, so a good number of Jews stayed in the Babylon and Persia. While it would be easy to fault those that stayed for their lack of faith our Sunday School class upon further reflection concluded several things about those that stayed behind in Babylon and Persia.
There was no command from God that they go, so they were not disobedient. Most would have been born or had spent the majority of their lives in Babylon and Persia. They would not have had any emotional connection to the promise land and they had full lives in Babylon and Persia. We were pretty sure that the Jews did not feel that this was so much captivity any more, but that it was their home. After all most probably had gone to middle and high school in the same town in which they currently lived ;).
And a number of years later after Ezra and Nehemiah return to rebuild the temple, Haman attempted to destroy Mordecai, God uses both Esther and Xerxes to deliver the Jews from Haman’s plot, showing that God still cared for His people the Jews. This deliverance occurred even though these Jews had stayed in Babylon/Persia.
We are always his children no matter where we are, no matter where we live. God’s grace reaches everywhere.