God left a lot of questions unanswered — primarily, I imagine, because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). I think He also happens to like surprises. However, what this world is coming to is not unanswered. According to Revelation 21, earth as we know it will come to an end, and God will usher into existence a new Heaven and new earth with properties beyond our wildest imagination.
Most folks agree that Heaven is a better option than hell but, comparatively speaking, only a handful of Christians really anticipate their futures there. Face it. We’re scared to death that it’s going to be like our church services, only instead of getting out at noon, it will last an eternity. For the life of us, we can’t picture how anything holy can possibly be lively. Let alone fun.
A few years ago I was studying the seventh chapter of Revelation for a series I was teaching, and God brought back to my mind a familiar Old Testament passage using the same metaphor as in the passage I had just read. A wonderful contrast jumped off the page at me and sent my imagination whirling. See it for yourself. The first passage refers to life on earth. The second refers to life in heaven.
Psalm 23:1–3 says:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. (NKJV)
Revelation 7:17 says,
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water.
Get a load of that: Still waters on earth. Springs of living water in heaven. Compared to the white-water existence we’ll have in Heaven, here we’re like toads perched on the lily pad of a stagnant pond. Despite our expectations, Heaven is where all the action is. Our present existence, replete with every sunrise, sunset, season change, mountain range, forest glen, and foaming sea, is a mere shadow of an unthinkable reality.
Get the idea out of your head that life in a perfected state has got to be a letdown.
Our hearts and minds still need considerable healing as long as somewhere deep inside we still associate fun with sin. No matter what somebody led you to believe, sin is not where all the fun is. As good as life on earth can be at times, clinging to this ride is like refusing to get off the barge that takes you from the parking lot to the gates of Disneyland.
I dearly love a great ending, and you need to know that we get one. The Author of our faith knows how to finish it. I want you to know what happens to the devil when all is said and done. It’s such poetic justice. Revelation 20:1–3 describes it:
Then I saw an angel coming down from Heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him. (NKJV)
There you have it. Before the Lord does away with Satan once and for all, He’s going to give him a taste of the pit. It’s the perfect plan, really. And sublimely scriptural. After all, long ago Psalm 7:15–16 promised that
He who digs a hole and scoops it outfalls into the pit he has made.The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.
In God’s economy those who dig a pit for others will invariably fall into it themselves (see Psalm 57:6). God writes perfect endings. He can’t help it. He’s a wordsmith if you’ll ever meet one. Every beginning will have a fitting ending. After all the dirt the prowling lion has gathered in his paws digging pits for us, he will eventually find himself caged in a pit. Maybe the reason his pit is so deep is because God is scooping it out until it reaches the total depth of all the ones the devil dug for us. By the time Satan looks at life from a bottomless pit, our feet will forever be firmly set upon a rock. The air will be clear. The view crystal. The fellowship sweet. And the sufferings of this present time won’t even be worthy to compare to the glory revealed to us (see Romans 8:18). We’ll ride raftless in rivers of living water then bask in the Son.
Until then, life on this battered earth will not be easy, but we never have to make another bed in the bottom of a pit. We’ll still have bad days, mind you. I had one yesterday and drank my sorrows to the coffee-ground-speckled dregs of my Starbuck’s cappuccino. As I shook the cup to see if anything was left, my eyes fell on the quote of a musician printed on the back. Here’s what it said: “It’s tragic that extremists co-opt the notion of God, and that hipsters and artists reject spirituality out of hand. I don’t have a fixed idea of God. But I feel that it’s us — the messed-up, the half-crazy, the burning, the questing — that need God, a lot more than the goody-two-shoes do.”1
I don’t know anything about this guy or his broader theology. I just know I’ve been completely messed up and more than half crazy. And right there in the worst of it, right there while I was waist deep in the pit for what seemed the thousandth time, Christ stretched out His mighty arm, reached into the depths, and said in a way I could finally hear, “Need a hand?”
He bids me “Rise up,” and well He may, for I have long enough been lying among the pots of worldliness. He is risen, I am risen in Him, why then should I cleave unto the dust? From lower loves, desires, pursuits, and aspirations, I would rise towards Him… But Lord, how can a stone rise, how can a lump of clay come away from the horrible pit? O raise me, draw me. Thy grace can do it. Send forth Thy Holy Spirit to kindle sacred flames of love in my heart, and I will continue to rise until I leave life and time behind me, and indeed come away.2
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. — Song of Songs 2:10 KJV
- Mike Doughty, The Way I See It #158 (Starbucks Coffee Cup Series, 2006).
- Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Morning, April 25 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994).
Excerpted with permission from Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore, copyright Beth Moore.
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Come join the conversation on our blog. We want to hear from you about the pits we will be freed from, the pit the enemy will end up it, and the wild ride of Heaven!