“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple… [T]he glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it… The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.” (Revelation 21:22-24, 26 NIV)
I’ve recently finished the school year studying the book of Revelation with BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). Because my task throughout the year is to pray for 18 women daily as well as lead our weekly discussion, I needed a Revelation refresher in June to wrap up the study and truly absorb what we’d learned all year. For the past month, I’ve been handwriting Revelation chapter by chapter and restudying the book through BSF lessons and extra commentaries. One particular thought about heaven has blown me away.
Many times in Revelation the words “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9 NIV, see also 7:9, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6) are sung in the throne room. Everyone?! There are almost 200 countries in our world and 6,500 languages. They all come together, with all their different cultures and sounds and colors and FOOD? (Here’s me hoping.) But the kicker is in chapter 21, verse 26, which says, “The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it [God’s eternal kingdom].” So, each nation has its own glory and honor and is welcomed by God?
When I was a child, I didn’t really learn about diversity within Christ. Kids I met who were of different culture than me were outside my church heritage. There was one black family in our church, and I worried I was racist because I simply recognized that my friend looked different from me. The concept of “all nations” was represented by flags on Missions day at church. It seems to me that I did not learn that all nations were good or beautiful on their own but only as we Western Christians brought the word of God to the un-churched (meaning: different from us).
This whole concept is so beautiful! As a child, I only learned about the God of my culture and of my understanding, but as an adult I’ve been able to experience the richness of the unimaginable diversity of God. All nations and people are different because God created them unique, but also because God himself is all those different things. In his grace, God makes himself known to each culture of people so that we can understand his love for us, but oh, how multi-faceted he must be, relating to each nation as they understand him.
Also, something about our humanity is of great value to God. He invites our glory and honor into heaven. One of the BSF notes put it this way: “kings of the earth who have believed in Jesus Christ enter and bring their diverse cultural splendor into the great city in full submission to God. As a result, the best of purified human civilization—art, music, government, loving human interaction—comes into his city. The kings and nations of the world will honor the Lamb through the joyful diversity of his people.”
I cannot wait to see and witness how immense and limitless is God! And the food is going to be amazing!
Beth can be reached by email here.