The Ultimate Destination
A leading travel agency advertises that “happiness is planning your next vacation.” If the Lord tarries, my wife, Rodica, and I will celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary this coming May, and it has been a lot of fun discussing destination options to commemorate that event.
There are many considerations to evaluate as we begin planning a vacation. First of all, it needs to be a desirable location. Being from Portland where we have a lot of rain each year, we often look for a tropical setting with warmth and sunshine. Something else that we look at is safety and security. It is desirable for a United States citizen to go to a place which has the same security that the United States offers, and I suppose this is true of any nation and its citizens. We must also decide on transportation. Will we drive, fly, or take a cruise? Another factor is the accommodations. Will we stay at a hotel or a resort? Will the rooms be nice, clean, and well-equipped? We want to plan how we will spend our time, so the amenities and nearby attractions are of interest. Another consideration is how long we intend to stay. Will this be three days, five days, a week, or maybe two weeks? And of course the reality check to all of this is the cost consideration. We may have all sorts of wonderful ideas of places we would like to go, but it must fit within the budget we have set aside for our vacation.
A lot of effort goes into planning a short time of rest and relaxation here on earth. Yet how much consideration do we give to our “eternal vacation”—the rest that God has planned and promised for His people? How much thought do we give to that heavenly destination? Do we offer it the appropriate level of expectation? Do we spend as much time planning for it as we should?
Disneyland is advertised to be the “Happiest Place on Earth” and I once read about the great lengths to which that operation goes in order to make it a desirable destination. For example, the staff repaints the knobs at the entrance every night, some decorations are real gold instead of painted-on gold, they have a meticulous twenty-four-hour maintenance and repair program, and incorporate strategies to respond quickly to any dissatisfied customer or even crying children.
Yet, consider what God has in store for us in terms of a desirable location: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:2-5).
Despite Disney’s greatest efforts, children have tripped and skinned their knees. Others have gotten sick from one of the rides. Tears have been shed over not having enough money to buy a special gift. Given the length of time the amusement park has been in business, probably even a few people have died at their facilities. However, in the New Jerusalem there will be no tears and there will be no death. There will be no crying, no sorrow, no pain. All of those things will be forever gone. The New Jerusalem will not be a spruced up, remodeled, open-under-new-management type of place. No, God said, “Behold, I make all things new.” It truly will be happier than any place on earth.
Do you prefer to visit a bright, sunny destination? Revelation 21:10-11 says: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” The glory of God, Himself, will light this place with such radiance that the writer of the Revelation could only describe it by referencing precious and costly stones. He said that light will be “clear as crystal” to convey its absolute brilliance. And the warmth we feel from that light will make the best tropical setting cold in comparison. Oh, the blessing that we will feel in the sunlight of God’s glory!
We live in a troubled world, and safety is a priority when we travel. If you are planning to go by plane, you hope it will not be hijacked. If you are on a cruise, you hope the ship will not run aground. No matter how statistically unlikely such an event is, there is cause for concern. But there will be no such anxiety at our heavenly destination. Revelation 20:10 declares that “the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” The very one who has brought all the evil on this world will be forever banished. There will be nothing to worry about. Sin and evil will not have any part in the Holy City.
What about the accommodations? Do you like a nice room? We are a family of five and that’s an odd number when considering sleeping arrangements. My son, Johnny, often ends up on a hideaway bed, a couch, or sometimes even the floor. But there will be no such worry in this place. Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). There is plenty of room in this place. Not only a room, but an entire mansion will be prepared and set aside just for you!
It can be challenging to arrive at a location where you’ve never been before. Perhaps you must try to find your way to a hotel during the middle of the night in a strange city. Just the prospect of getting to your accommodations can be stressful. But in John 14:3, Jesus continued: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Just think, transportation is included with the mansion! That is how much God cares for you and me. Not only did He go to prepare a place, but He will come and gather us to be with Him throughout all eternity.
Amenities and Attractions
What about the amenities? When our family goes on a vacation, my children always ask if there will be a swimming pool. Heaven offers much better than that! John wrote: “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2). Consider these attractions: a river with absolutely no impurities, the Tree of Life, and the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
We will not worry about having enough time or enough daylight to take in all of the attractions either. John’s description continues, “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light” (Revelation 22:5). There will be plenty to see, there will be light all of the time, and we will enjoy the very presence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Length of Stay
Sometimes a vacation can feel somewhat frantic. You’re in a hurry to get to your destination, then in a hurry to maximize your time, then in a hurry to get home! Even a leisurely-paced vacation can feel short. But the last part of Revelation 22:5 says: “And they shall reign for ever and ever.” This is no two-week-long vacation. This rest will last for all eternity. We will have time without end to be with our Lord and Savior and enjoy what God has created for us.
Invitation and Cost
Are you concerned about the cost? A formal invitation establishing the cost has been issued to each one of us. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Did you notice that last word? This trip of a lifetime is offered freely to everyone! And it gets even better than that. Revelation 21:7 says: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things.” Not only is your cost covered, but the whole place is given to you as an inheritance.
Make Your Reservation!
Though the cost has been covered, our eternal destination did have a price. Jesus paid that price on Calvary. However, to take advantage of this offer requires reservations and preparation on our part. We must be saved and living according to God’s Word. Revelation 22:14 says, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” God wants you to enjoy the eternal rest that he offers to each one of us. If you are not sure your travel arrangements are in order, confirm them today. You do not want to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!