Don’t you sometimes wish that you could have a brief visit to Heaven to assure you that your loved ones there were alright and to encourage you for the rest of your life on earth? Even five minutes would be enough! Or even a few minutes looking through a telescope! But of course, we live by faith, not by sight. I like the NLT version that says, ‘For we live by believing and not by seeing.’ 2 Corinthians 5:7.
Lately I’ve been helping a couple of friends who become quite frail in their old age. They’ve been pastors and evangelists all their lives, loving people, living well and taking care of themselves (as well as all the others in their lives.) It’s made me wonder about God’s original plan for us. So I asked another dear friend, someone gifted in biblical exposition and with a rare and precious gift of inspiring others with his love of it. Listening to him is like leaning over a box of the finest Belgian chocolate; the fragrance and anticipation is almost palpable. He is retired pastor Revd Roger Hitchings, and we’ve shared conference platforms many times over the years. So I put the question to him. I hope his answer inspires you as much as it did me!
Q: ‘Do you think that God actually intended us to live in these bodies for ever, but then the Fall brought in death? Or were we intended to live for a thousand years and then step out of these earthly tents and go home? I’m imagining a world without disease, because God definitely put in place time, and the food growing cycle… so there would have to be human ageing, too. Otherwise we would grow to a certain age, and then stop. I’m thinking of how trying physical ailments can be when we are older!’
A: ‘It seems to me that Adam and Eve were given perfect bodies that would never die. It is sin that brings death not God’s design. So they were designed to last for eternity. Adam and Eve were on probation in the Garden and, if they had not sinned, would have had access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22). Paul’s reference to our bodies being “tents” is because of the temporary nature of them due to sin. At the Resurrection our bodies will undergo a wonderful transformation and we will have bodies like the Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2). He is now in a physical body in heaven – He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven as a physical man. He retains that body. Paul refers to it is as a body of glory, or a glorious body and ours will be the same (1 Corinthians 15:43 & 49). So we will be without pain and anxiety, disease and fear. We will have intellectual powers and physical abilities that were denied us by the frailty of our humanity. Our physical appearance will probably be largely unchanged, but all the blemishes will be gone. Remember that Moses and Elijah were recognizable on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3).
‘Well that’s a summary of what I think the Bible teaches us about our bodies. We are heading for great times.’
AMEN to that! I hope it encourages you as much as it does me. I like, ‘all the blemishes will be gone!’ Sometimes, during my talks when I refer to Heaven I say that I’d like to be about 5′ 7″ and many pounds lighter! But putting aside the trivial, what a wonderful prospect in front of us. Great times, indeed!