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Category: Faith, Religion & Spirituality / Topics: Beliefs Current Events, News Faith God Government Hopes & Dreams Politics Racism and Inequality Voting & Elections

Thirst-Quenching Heavenly Reign

by George Garrison

Posted: January 22, 2021

A pastor reflects on the contrast between earthly government and the promise of the heavenly reign to come…

Pastor George Garrison continues his occasional series, "Thursday Thoughts," on topics prompted by the American struggle with COVID-19, racial inequality, and a presidential election in a deeply divided nation. This Thursday Thought came in the week of the transfer of power in the U.S. with the inauguration of Joe Biden as president on Wednesday, January 20.

Streets of gold. No more bodily ailments. Re-uniting with all of our departed loved ones. Knowing we will never lack for any form of sustenance, physical or spiritual. What glorious feature about heaven are we anticipating most?

Throughout the ages, Christians around the world could make a strong case for any one of the above scenarios, based upon their own earthly experiences. For a good portion of the world that has lived in hunger, merely the idea of a heavenly banquet is blissfully empowering. For those whose earthly existence was dominated by others either through slavery, oppression, or persecution, the idea of heavenly freedom fulfills a deep longing.

For those who lived in poverty and great lack, knowing that the most precious metal on earth will be so plentiful it will be used for heavenly pavement is a joy they can hardly fathom. For those marginalized and deemed unimportant, being recognized as a child of the King, with all its accompanying privileges, is almost beyond the realm of the imagination. For those who have lost loved ones or lived without family members for far too long, the thought of an eternal reunion is something no earthly joy can touch.

The difficulties of the people of God have been experienced throughout history in varying degrees. Therefore, it might be tempting to conclude that there will be a variety of experiences that will make heaven heaven. But I believe there will be one experience that transcends all others. The presidential inauguration is a powerful case in point.

The inauguration that transpires with each new president ushers in hope and optimism, but also disappointment and disillusionment depending upon one’s political position. It’s a time of great anticipation. It’s also a time of skepticism. While Americans take great pride in establishing and maintaining a democracy “for the people,” our great strength is also humanity’s greatest weakness: we are governed by people.

While Scripture makes it clear that it is God who establishes governments and leaders upon the earth, Scripture also makes it clear we weren’t created to live under the reign of fellow humans. It is the struggling and bristling of humanity under human leadership that is the common plight of humanity on earth. Not every human has experienced hunger or poverty or oppression or great loss while on earth, but every human has experienced the inherent weaknesses of human governance. There are perhaps very rare snapshots in history when a nation (perhaps a monarchy under a wise, benevolent leader) experienced an extended period of peace and prosperity, but the succession of such idyllic times usually came to a screeching halt with that rare leader’s passing. 

And more than the ubiquitous presence of gold, or the lack of suffering or want, or the reunion of the saints, it is the presence and reign of Christ on the throne that will fulfill all our hopes and dreams in heaven. It is under His righteous reign that we were created to thrive, a reign that has no successor, a reign that does not cater to privileged cronies and constituents, nor knows any political affiliation. It’s a reign not subject to the electoral process or its incongruities. And because of the righteousness and holiness of the One on the throne, no talking head can criticize or influence public opinion against Him.

We must commit to pray for our new president with all of his shortcomings and challenges, just as we prayed for his predecessor and every president before him. But our prayers of intercession are also a merciful mixture of prayers of praise for our eternal King. The inauguration of this week whets our appetite for the fulfillment of Christ’s already inaugurated kingdom.

All the world knows what it is like to live under the governance of flawed, finite, limited individuals. No one on earth knows what it is like to live under the perfect, infinite, eternal, loving reign of our King of kings, whose glory will be so splendid and radiant the sun and moon will be obsolete! (Revelation 21:23). But the day is coming when we all will know. Forever.

Christ and His reign will make heaven, heaven.

Longing for His heavenly reign along with all of you, 

Pastor George

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George Garrison is Senior Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois.

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Posted: January 22, 2021

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