One of the more delightful passages of the book of Revelation describes the uncountable throng surrounding the Throne, joining the 144,000 freshly sealed saints from the tribes of Israel and the 24 elders, the specially commissioned angels, and the four living creatures, singing, shouting, and praising the Lamb, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 7:12).
They had just witnessed the coronation of the Lamb. Our great Creator and Redeemer had opened the seven-sealed book, given white robes to the martyrs beneath the altar, issued the final trumpets to the seven angels, and set the stage for the Tribulation saints to “serve Him day and night in His temple” (Revelation 7:15).
It’s as though these billions of people and angels could contain themselves no longer! The restraint of sin and shame is removed, the pain of age and death are no longer in memory. Everyone present bursts into the unrestrained praise that was pent up for thousands of years while “the whole creation” was groaning and laboring “with birth pangs” until the longed-for day became reality (Romans 8:22).
Eternal World Begins
“The holy city, New Jerusalem,” visible in the distance, is “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). We who are the twice-born are either present already with the Lord Jesus or soon to be caught up to be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Last Days are being consummated, and immediately on the horizon is the long-promised destruction when the “heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
Then! With the indescribable glory that caused all the angels to sing during the creation week (Job 38:7), a new heavens and a new earth are fashioned before our eyes, anchored by the physical presence of the “Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” as the temple in this new city, and there will be no need for “the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” The pomp and awesome majesty of the kings of Earth stream constantly into the city to pay homage to the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 21:22-24; 19:16).
I wonder if this new heavens and new Earth will ever be quiet!
Eternal Body Gifted
The Bible gives us a small glimpse into the resurrected and immortal body of the Lord Jesus. He could appear and disappear (Luke 24:30-31), He could eat regular food (John 21:9-12), He could walk through walls (John 20:26), and He went straight up into the Throne room (Acts 1:9). All of that is marvelous, to be sure, but we are given the promise that “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
That phrase in and of itself is worth rejoicing over. But there is much more. We are predestined “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Think of that! Before the first atom of the world was ever created, we were predetermined to be made just like the Lord Jesus—the second Person of the triune Godhead. We will not “be” Him, but we will share His image and His likeness as we were first created, and will be “raised in incorruption…raised in glory…raised in power…raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). We shall (no maybes, no exceptions, no exclusions) bear the image of the heavenly.
There is no doubt. When eternity starts and time ceases (Revelation 10:6), we will be immortal and incorruptible and changed! No longer weak and dying, no longer merely coping and barely surviving, we shall be “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).
Eternal Kingdom Service Begins
In America, we have for many years celebrated Thanksgiving Day. Yet, it has become so mixed with “turkey day” and various football games, or masked by Halloween or Christmas, that we have lost sight of the purpose and reason for the celebration. But the legend of the Pilgrims giving thanks for their survival after the harsh winter and the generous help of the Native Americans has not been lost on everyone. Many still gather around their tables to re-bond as a family and remember the blessings of the past year. Some of us read the Scriptures together and give our Lord Jesus the thanks He deserves for bringing us through another year.
We should never stop those efforts to rekindle our love for God and the expectant delight of His blessings—sometimes unlooked for.
As an example, an unlooked-for gift came to ICR just prior to my writing this article. Many of you know that ICR is trying to raise a large amount of funds to build the ICR Discovery Center of Science and Earth History. God continues to supply, and we had long ago learned to wait until He supplies before we begin any major project. Well, the deadline for a matching gift was approaching with little sign that we were going to reach sufficient funds to trigger that match—until the day dawned that a decision had to be made. Without our prior knowledge, a huge gift showed up in the mail from a donor and a foundation we had never heard of. I can’t tell you who or how much, but it was a total surprise and sufficient to make all of us admit to our previously waning faith—and to rekindle our confidence that God did hear our prayers and was going to build the Center as planned.
While we are serving our Lord here on Earth, we are under a number of restraints, not the least of which is a constant dilemma of a lack of resources and just as often a lack of insight or clarity of vision. While some people seem to have little difficulty with “big” things, it is often clear that “not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Most of us are involved in smaller churches or unknown schools or unimportant ministries (in the world’s eyes) and struggle to find the freedom to support the various efforts we firmly believe are needed in one facet of the Kingdom or another.
Yet, when we look at the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11, most of them are unnamed and their hopes were unfulfilled.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. (Hebrews 11:37-39)
Even the great man Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was going….for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8, 10). Every example in the Old and New Testaments tells the story that we are “training” down here for eternal responsibilities. Two of Jesus’ parables (the talents and the pounds) confirm for us that our use of money (as a display of our understanding how to use the opportunities and attributes granted to us by our Lord) will be rewarded in eternity with authority over cities during the eternal new heavens and new Earth.
Eternal Authority Granted in Direct Proportion to Value
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Lord Jesus presents Himself as a nobleman who travels to a far country and delegates a portion of his wealth to his servants. The amount given varied “to each according to his own ability”; to one the lord gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. Immediately, the lord left on his journey, and the servants got busy and “traded” or “gained” or “dug in the ground” as suited their abilities and faith.
“After a long time,” the lord returned and “settled accounts” with each servant. The servant who had been given five talents of his lord’s wealth had gained another five and received the lord’s blessing and was made “ruler over many things.” The servant who received two talents had gained another two talents. The lord’s judgment was, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (v. 23).
But the servant who only received one talent (remember, the lord’s disbursement was based on his knowledge of the servant’s ability), that servant began to make all kinds of excuses why he had done nothing with the provision granted. Please note what the lord said to this awful servant.
“You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:26-30)
Four principles are clearly established here. One, the money belonged to the lord, not to the servants. People—and especially redeemed people—are the doulos (house/bondservants) of the Lord Jesus, not the co-owners. Two, the reward is in direct proportion to the value of investment (double). Three, the most valuable servant is given the most reward. Four, the “wicked and lazy” servant is sent to hell for eternity. There is no second chance for a “do-over.”
Eternal Authority Based on Return on Investment
In the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:12-27), the Lord again presents Himself as a nobleman going into a far country to receive a kingdom. As he was leaving, he called all of his servants and gave them each a pound (a day’s wages) and immediately left them with the instructions to “do business till I come.”
We are told that the citizens of the native country the lord left hated him and did everything they could do to disrupt his affairs and marginalize the servants who were still in charge of those affairs. After the lord returned, having received his kingdom, he commanded each of his servants to be called to him so that “he might know how much every man had gained by trading.”
Then came the first, saying, “Master, your mina [pound] has earned ten minas.” And he said to him, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” And the second came, saying, “Master, your mina has earned five minas.” Likewise he said to him, “You also be over five cities.” Then another came, saying, “Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” And he said to him, “Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?” And he said to those who stood by, “Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas....For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:16-27)
Once again, four clear principles are established. One, the servants do not own the money—it belongs to the lord. Two, since each servant was given the same amount to start with, the only way to accurately judge how effective each servant could be with cities was to see how much they had done with “very little.” The reward was based on the return on investment. Three, the most valuable servant is given more than he actually earned; he had proven himself to be both trustworthy and effective. Four, the enemies of the nobleman who hated his rule and kingdom were dragged in front of the whole crowd and publicly executed.
There are many warnings in Scripture that tell us our affection needs to be placed on “things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Unfortunately, our lifetimes are filled with “stuff” that tends to keep our focus on the troubles rather than the blessings. Oh yes, we can and do rejoice when the special things happen (like ICR’s “surprise” gift for the Discovery Center). But more often than not, the humdrum work of the day and the “grind, grind, grind” of our sin-cursed culture keep our sight flipping back and forth between the joyous (but all too rare) events of God’s particular answers to our prayers and the draw of the flesh toward the gory “accidents” of sinful catastrophes on the six-o’clock news.
Rather than dwell on the obvious, permit me to remind all of us that we should not “look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. 2016. Eternal Thanksgiving. Acts & Facts. 45 (11).