Matthew 24:30b-31 They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Although I might not sound like it, my family is from the South and I still have a number of relatives there. My parents came from the area where Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia all come together. My mother said it was so my father’s relatives and ancestors could slip over the border and elude the law more easily. I think she was kidding. I grew up hearing gospel music at church services and something called an “all night sing” which I slept through mostly. Someone said it is the kind of music that “touches people’s souls” and I think it certainly did that.
A friend said quite accurately that the time we spent together singing and praising God was a good picture of what heaven would be like. I got to thinking about picture of heaven that we have. The earliest is the Garden of Eden where Paradise was earthly until sin entered the world and ruined it. Revelation has visions of the heavenly realm, with the Great White Throne, the blessed under the protection of God, a city made of precious stones and all creatures praising God. The idea of pearly gates and golden streets gained popularity from a book that appeared after the Civil War called Beyond the Gates. It was a tremendous best-seller after the war with so many people losing family members, and its images and ideas entered into the popular imagination.
Someone once said we do not know that much about heaven or else we should grow too fond of it and neglect our lives here. I think we do know several things about it from Scripture:
1. We will have spiritual bodies which will be perfected
2. We will be with fellow believers, friends and loved ones.
3. Jesus will prepare a place for us there.
4. We will be in the presence of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a different way.
5. We will be part of a great Messianic feast.
Jesus spoke of those who do the will of God as being his family. We are the family of God at church, in some cases closer to each other than we are to our biological families. We experienced being the family of God when we sing together, and it provides a glimpse into our future where, gathered with friends, relatives, and fellow believers we will sing and praise God forever. That’s why we say it is a glimpse of heaven as we all gather and sing the familiar songs. It is truly a “foretaste of glory divine.”