Day 2 – The Host and the Guests: Who Will Be There?
Even when headed to a glorious destination, we would feel extraordinarily deprived if the people we enjoy spending time with the most were not going to be there, right? As one of five siblings—and married to one of six—I can hardly imagine what it would be like to take a solo vacation. Would a holiday spent far away from my husband, children, family, and friends really be something to look forward to? Even if I occasionally long for a break from the pressures of life, I truly don’t think so.
As we discuss Heaven this week, we simply cannot go any further without mentioning who will be there. Let’s take a look at what the Scriptures say about those who are and will be present. Who is our host? Who are the guests? Who is there now and who is set to arrive? These are essential questions because, frankly, if we do not want to be with our host and our fellow guests, why on earth would we go to Heaven?
First of all, we know that our omnipresent God lives in Heaven. The Bible calls Heaven God’s “dwelling place” (2 Chronicles 6:21) and God’s “throne” (Matthew 5:34; Psalm 103:19). Jesus ascended into Heaven after His resurrection (Acts 1:11) and remains there, interceding for His people (Romans 8:34). Throughout the Gospels, the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are also often used interchangeably (Matthew 13:11 and Mark 4:11), suggesting that essentially, Heaven is not really Heaven at all if God is not present and ruling. It is precisely God’s role and reign that make Heaven the paradise it is! God created Heaven (Isaiah 45:18) and He will use it to accomplish all His purposes as the King of Kings.
Second, we know that angels live in Heaven. While there is no exact number for how many angels live there, Scripture is clear that there are many—at the very least, several thousand. Several times in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus Himself refers to the presence of God’s ministering angels in Heaven. When teaching the Sadducees about the resurrection, Jesus tells them, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). While He discusses the timing of His second coming, He says, “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). As He confronts Peter about using violence during His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Countless angels are in Heaven right now, ready to serve God Almighty at a moment’s notice.
Now that we’ve established the somewhat obvious truth that God and angels await us in Heaven, how can we know who else will join us there? Well, contrary to what the world would have us believe, there are precisely 2 categories of beings that are in Heaven according to God’s Word: 1) God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and 2) those who worship God—namely, angels and believers.
Yes, the angels were created to worship God, but so were humans! Since the fall of humanity in the garden of Eden, however, we have been separated from God by sin, and this fallen, sinful nature we now have does not want to worship God (Romans 3:10-11). This is why Jesus Christ came into the world—to save us from the sin that pulls us away from our Creator, to restore our relationship with Him, and to transform us into true worshippers (John 4:23). When people trust in God for salvation, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God turns their hearts to worship Him and gives them an eternal future to be spent worshipping Him forever (Romans 5:10-11).
This means that the only people who will be in Heaven are those who have come through obedience to God: those who turned to God and followed His ways in faith prior to the coming of Jesus (e.g., the Old Testament patriarchs), and all those who have trusted in Jesus since. Believing people from every corner of the globe will be there (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:29). People of every age and from every generation will be there (Mark 10:14). People from every political persuasion, every race, and every social class will be there (Galatians 3:8-9,26-29; Ephesians 2:11-22; James 2:5). People who are markedly different from each other in every conceivable way—except the gratitude in their hearts for Christ’s redemption—will be there (Matthew 21:31-32). Take a thoughtful look inside your own heart and see if that is the Heaven you have imagined.
If so, does it thrill you? Does it fill you with incredible hope and joy that one day all the barriers that keep us distant from one another will be removed as we worship our Savior? It should thrill us. It should fill us with excitement. If God, the ultimate host and ruler of Heaven, is not beautiful to us today, Heaven will not be beautiful to us. It is a place created for and centered on God’s glory. And if worship with God’s people does not appeal to us now, why exactly are we anxiously waiting for Heaven? This is precisely how we will be spending our eternal days. Most importantly, why would we not tell our loved ones how much we want them to join us there? Why would we keep to ourselves an invitation to the King’s table when there is always room for more? God desperately wants them there and so should we. The Word tells us that there is “joy in Heaven” when one sinner turns from sin and is added to the family of God (Luke 15:10).
May we look forward to an eternity of celebrating God’s glory with fellow Christ-followers and take as many people as we can on that journey with us!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time….Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-5,8-9, ESV)