Citizens of heaven

An acronym that has been associated with the Bible is “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” Another acronym that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years is NOTW, “Not of this World.” In Psalm 119:19 the psalmist states, “I am a stranger in the earth.” The word translated stranger, gêyr (gare) is properly translated as a guest and by implication a foreigner, but a geyr was not simply a foreigner, “he was a permanent resident, once a citizen of another land” (1616).

The idea that a Christian’s citizenship is in heaven is what prompted the apostle Paul to write, “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). The word translated affection, phroneo means “to exercise the mind” (5426). Phroneo is derived from the  word phrao which means “to rein in or curb” (5424). The point Paul was trying to make was that it takes a conscious effort to think about heaven rather than earth because we live here. The things of earth are constantly before our eyes.

The Bible is meant to give us a glimpse or view of heaven that whets our appetite. Reading the Bible should make us long for our heavenly home. Unfortunately, the language of the Bible is sometimes an obstacle instead of a help to our understanding of what heaven is really like. When the Psalmist said, “I will delight myself in thy statutes” (Psalm 119:16) and “Thy testimonies also are my delight” (Psalm 119:24), he was talking about what is now recorded in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, our least favorite parts of the Bible.

One way to look at the Bible is a secret decoder ring or map of buried treasure. What you see on the surface makes no sense at all. You have to look intently, with great care, and even meditate on it for awhile before the message begins to be clear. The psalmist said, “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways” (Psalm 119:15). The word translated respect, “nabat means ‘to look, regard, behold.’ The first use of this term is in Gen 15:5, where it is used in the sense of ‘take a good look’ as God commands Abraham: ‘Look now toward heaven, and [number] the stars…'” (5027).

When we look at the vastness of heaven, it is incomprehensible that the Creator of the universe would bother to communicate with us in a personal way, in our own language so that we could understand him perfectly. As Abraham was gazing into the sky, I think he realized who was talking to him. It says in Genesis 15:6 that Abraham “believed in the LORD.” In other words, Abraham opened his heart to the LORD and began to see with spiritual eyes.

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