Heaven on earth

“To you I lift my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!” Psalm 123:1

Mankind has always been fascinated with the skies. Who has not looked up at the nighttime tapestry with transfixed awe, gazing at the marvels it holds forth, and wondering what secrets it keeps for itself? And with good reason. For these things have been built into the heavens by God, as a testimony to his majesty.

The heavens as God’s dwelling place

Scripture constantly speaks of the heavens as the dwelling place of God. He looks down from heaven upon all the sons of man, knowing all their ways and searching their hearts to the very bottom (Psalm 33:13-15). Of course, heaven cannot contain God. He fills all things to overflowing (1 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:24). But heaven is the place of his special dwelling (Isaiah 57:15). And while this dwelling place is what the Bible calls “the third heaven” and “the paradise of God” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), it is also true that the first and second heavens (earth’s atmosphere and the physical universe, respectively) direct our attention to him.

Looking upward

We are wont to pray with our heads bowed and eyes closed. This is certainly a lawful posture for prayer—a downward gaze, such as the justified tax collector exhibited (Luke 18:13). However, there is also the looking up to heaven. Jesus did this when he prayed for the loaves and fish (Luke 9:16). I think we ought to do it as well, for even the psalmist does so in the present verse, as he directs his prayer to the living God.

As we consider the sun and the stars, the clouds and the galaxies, we are to think of the one who fashioned them, who rides upon the heavens, the great Helmsman of the universe (Psalm 8:3; Psalm 19:1). For though he is everywhere present, he is uniquely revealed in the skies, a wonder-work to man, and it humbles us (Psalm 8:4).

But, something has changed. For, while God is omnipresent spirit, there is now someone physically up there, so to speak, and seated on a throne. In fact, it’s a human, like us. For that is where our elder brother Jesus is seated in victory at the right hand of Power, directing the course of all things and ever interceding for us.

Now we look up to him, as we await his return, and we find our hearts stirred when we think that this God-Man will soon blast through the universe and ride on the clouds of the sky to harvest the earth with the great sickle of judgment and redemption. For then it will be that heaven, real heaven, comes to earth, and men may regret having prayed so often, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! Crack the sky and take us home, for we long for our adoption as sons of the living God.