Day 204: Zion’s Treasure (Isaiah 33:6)

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
    abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

Isaiah 33:5-6

Growing up, I was a little obsessed with what heaven would be like. Some of the images were biblical: Heaven will have twelve gates, each made of a single pearl, There will be streets of gold (Revelation 21:21). Each of the twelve foundations of the city will be made of precious gemstones (Revelation 21:15-20). Everyone gets their own mansion (John 14:2-3).

From there, though, my mind filled with my own ideas of what ultimate opulence would be. Looking back on it, these ideas were a mashup of Richie Rich comics, The Beverly Hillbillies, MTV Cribs, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and The Apprentice. In heaven, my mansion would have a swimming pool with a waterslide, and a game room with a giant flat screen TV. There would be a diamond doorknob on my front door. All the fixtures would be solid gold, just like Mar-a-Lago. And the kitchen would have taps with hot and cold running chocolate. I suppose you have to add Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to the list of what influenced my image of heaven.

I also imagined what I would do with eternal life and a supernatural body. I could swim from California to Hawaii–underwater! I could read every single book in the library! I could fly to the edge of the Milky Way and dive into black holes. The universe would be mine to explore, and I would have all eternity to explore it.

No doubt by now you have seen the flaw in my childish fantasies of what heaven will be like. In my mind, it didn’t really have much to do with Jesus at all. It was about me receiving my reward. It was about me becoming reunited with all my friends and family members who had died. It was everything I had ever coveted in life, only I wouldn’t have to covet, because it would all be at my fingertips.

It wasn’t until I actually started reading the Bible that I realized there are almost no descriptions of real estate or or opulence in the Bible. Most of the physical descriptions are confined to Revelation 21, and even the idea that everyone will get their own mansion is undermined by what the Bible actually says. The word “mansions” in John 14:2 is actually better translated “rooms.” Not that you can’t imagine what your perfect room would look like (mine would have had a monster stereo system and every Lego ever made). But when you read the Bible, you learn that Jesus was emphasizing that we would be in His Father’s house, not that we would have our own Barbie Dream House.

In Isaiah 33:6, The prophet didn’t shy away from talking about all the treasures of heaven. It’s just that he had a different idea of what treasure really is. According to Isaiah, Zion, the heavenly city, is filled with justice and righteousness. It will be a place where God is the stability of our times. Rather than hot and cold running chocolate, a hot tub, and a trampoline, the New Jerusalem will be filled with an abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.

And best of all, the fear of the Lord will be Zion’s treasure. Forget streets of gold and pearly gates and diamond doorknobs and and foundations of precious stones. The real treasure of Zion will be the privilege of knowing and fearing the Lord.

Ironically, the older (and presumably closer to heaven) I get, the less interested I am in the diamond doorknob. When I was twelve, I thought that the first thing I would do when I got to heaven was ask God why there were roaches. At fifty six, the only thing I can think to ask Jesus is, “How could you love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.”

Maybe all of us could do with a little growing up when it comes to our idea of heaven. Ask yourself, what is central to your concept of heaven: your reward or Christ’s reward (see Revelation 22:12)?

Who are you most looking forward to see? As tender as my pastor’s heart is toward people in my church that have lost loved ones, any answer other than “Jesus” is the wrong answer to that question.

What do you think you will do in heaven? Will it be about fulfilling all the fantasies of “the good life” that you had on earth? Or will it be about falling at the feet of Jesus, and joining with the nations in singing,

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” … Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Revelation 7:9-10

Oh, beloved, do you need to grow up in your understanding of heaven? Let go of the diamond doorknob, and take hold of the true treasure of heaven: the nail-scarred hand.




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