Allow me just a wee bit of thinking outside the religious dogma we call “the box”. I promise I’ll try to stay in view of it, but sometimes a feller just needs to get out and stretch. Know what I mean?
Please read this passage from the Bible; the Book of Revelation. This is from the apostle John, as he described the things he saw while “in the Spirit”.
“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12 NLT)
To me, this is an awesome picture. I’m even wondering if John could see me in that crowd? After all, he seemed to indicate he was being shown the future; the final days of man’s time on earth, the devil’s judgment, man’s final judgment, and the new heavens and earth.
I’m sure he saw me!
John said he saw a vast crowd, too many to count. People from every nation, people, tribe, and language. The vast, innumerable crowd stood before the Lamb of God. They were in Heaven because of the Lamb; who had carried their sin all the way to the cross, shedding His blood for their complete salvation.
Okay, up to now, I haven’t left the box. But my hand’s on the door knob, I’m turning the knob, opening the door…
…here we go!
“Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”” (Revelation 7:13-14 NLT)
Have you ever stopped to consider who all make up the innumerable crowd John saw?
May I enlighten you? Thanks.
First of all, they are people who didn’t have all the answers. Not even after they got to Heaven, did they know everything.
Keep walking, the box is still within view.
So many times we think we have to know everything about the one who is so far beyond our comprehension. We feel obligated to answer every doubt, and every accusation against God, as if we could be his defense attorney.
Secondly, there are people in Heaven who didn’t get all their questions answered while on earth. Within the vast, innumerable crowd are people who never knew why their daughter was raped and killed by a maniac. Others never found out why their spouse was taken by cancer at such a young age, leaving four children with only one parent. Some of the redeemed saints never felt they could ask God why they were born in a war torn country, seeing nothing but bloodshed and cruelty every day of their life.
They never did learn about the dinosaurs, or just really how old the earth was. No one explained to them where Cain found his wife, or why God permitted some men to have more than one wife.
Within that heavenly throng there are people who probably believed in evolution. Some believed in an old earth. Others probably believed that Luke, the beloved physician and writer of the third gospel, was really Martin Luther; the first Lutheran. I believed it at one time. I thought Luke was a nickname for the Lutheran founder.
There must be people in Heaven who couldn’t understand why God seemed so mean in the Old Testament, but so kind in the New. Without a doubt there are those who couldn’t figure out why God seemed to have an anger problem, as evidenced by his treatment of Sodom and Gomorrah. But there they are, included among Heaven’s throng.
Oh, are you wondering why I felt the need to get out of the box for this kind of post? It’s like this. Inside the box you can only ask questions that can be answered. Inside the box people really don’t care about the questions anyway; especially from rabble rousers. Inside the box everything is neat, and can be explained with a “God works in mysterious ways” comment that is supposed to fix everyone’s situations. Problem is…it hasn’t, doesn’t, and won’t.
Inside the box life is grand, religion is properly scheduled and minutely organized. Inside the box there are no gray areas, no emotional meltdowns in people mad at God. Inside the box, everyone smiles at everyone else, says “please and thank you”, and never make a mess in the kitchen.
Because no one really lives inside the box. Understand?
An “outside the box” answer, for the “why is this happening to me” kind of question, would be “I don’t know“, if that’s the truth.
I realize there are many people in Heaven, yes, Heaven, who may still wonder about things. Why were some people punished so severely, while others literally got away with murder? Why were kids mauled by a bear for making fun of a prophet’s receding hairline? What did the people of Jericho do that was so bad they were all killed, save for a harlot and her family?
What kind of people did God want in Heaven, anyway?
I’m finding there are people who don’t really want answers, they only want to ask questions. Which is fine. Ask away.
But the vast, innumerable crowd isn’t made up of people who have all the answers, or had all their questions answered. They didn’t care if they “stumped” the preacher or embarrassed the teacher. They didn’t rely on their ability to figure everything out, or push aside every nagging doubt.
God somehow became more than an opiate to their troubled soul.
Something happened to their heart. Something that caused them to stop looking for a God cast in their image. Or a God who reasoned like them.
They only had one question to answer. Just one. All the other questions seemed insignificant to that one, all important question that had begun to consume them.
What were they going to do with Jesus and the gospel?
The vast crowd, too great to count, are in Heaven because they answered the question with faith in Jesus. Simple? Yes. Powerful? Even more so. For everyone? Absolutely!
Including you and your vast, innumerable amount of questions.
Because questions aren’t necessarily an enemy of faith.