Heaven is a place of intensest and tenderest interest to every one. It is true that there is less emphasis on getting to heaven as a result of being saved than there was a generation ago. Indeed, no emphasis at all. The whole thought now is about our life here on the earth. We think less about dying and more about living.
This is true. Yet every one of us has loved ones who have slipped from our grasp, and gone from our midst. We think of them. The tenderest memories brood over us, and come like a flood sometimes.
We may have the sweet sense of assurance that these loved ones are saved. But there is an intense longing at times to know more about them, where they are, what they are doing, how much they know of things down here. These thoughts will come crowding in upon us.
Now here is some light. All the questions are not answered. But there comes clear, sweet light to comfort our hearts during the waiting time until we shall be joined with them again. We are given here in John's Revelation the first clear, definite glimpse into the upper world. It is told us in the language of earth of course. It must be, else we would not understand. But clearly there is a glory and happiness clear beyond what earthly words can tell.
This is the first glimpse into heaven given us in this old Book of God. Jacob wakes up in his dream and sees a ladder set up connecting earth and heaven, and the angels going up and returning again while God talks with him. It means much to him, but gives us no answer to our questions, except to make plain that there is a very real and wondrous world up there where our loved ones go.
Moses is up in the mount with God for six weeks nearly, twice over, but there is no suggestion of what he may have seen; only the transfiguring change in his face, and the strongly gentling change in his character.
Ezekiel finds the heavens opening and sees the vision, so like John's, of the wondrous Man. Stephen looks up steadfastly into heaven and sees the resplendent glory of God, and the crucified Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Paul is caught up into heaven, not improbably at the time that his body lay bruised and bleeding and apparently lifeless outside Lystra. But the sights he sees and the over-awing glory are too much to be told. But here John is taken up in vision into the heavens, into the presence of God, and sees much, and tells us what he sees.
It was after the vision of the glorified Man and His message. John is sitting thinking on all he has seen and heard, thinking back to Ephesus and the other Churches he knew so well. He is wondering perhaps how he can tell them what, whom, he has seen; and wondering too how he can tell them this message entrusted to him.
The holy spell is still strong upon him, when all at once he noticed what looks like a door, a door opened above him in the blue. And as he is looking, astonished, that same voice that had been speaking with him before speaks again. He is bidden to "come up hither," and he will be shown the things that are to happen some time in the future. At once he is conscious of that same gentle, enveloping presence of the Holy Spirit as before. At once He is up in heaven. And he tells us the scene that opens to his eyes.
There is a throne set. What a comfort! There is a throne. There is a centre of authority and power to our world. This Revelation is peculiarly the book of a throne. Up yonder above the moral tangle and confusion of earth is a reigning throne.
There is One sitting on the throne. That throne is occupied. It has not been vacated. Men down here may push God off the throne of their lives, and try to push Him out of the affairs of the earth. But He sits on the throne above. And that throne dominates the life of the earth. Nothing can be done without permission.
John can't describe this one sitting on the throne. The sight is too much for his eyes. When the seventy elders of Israel see God, all that they can remember is the dazzle of glory in the wonderful pavement under His feet. It seems like a pavement of precious stones of sapphire, but as clear as crystal. So now all that John can see is some One who seems to his eyes like transparent precious stones blazing with light. This is the only thing he can think of to tell of what he sees.