The Rainbow Kingdom
Matthew 5: 1-12 and Revelation 7: 9-end
Heaven must be like a rainbow kingdom with people of different races and cultures rejoicing together as one in praise of God — and this is my vision for earth. This IS the will of our Father so may it be done and one day come to earth.
South Africa was described as “the rainbow nation” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu after the first fully democratic election in 1994 following the end of apartheid. The phrase was elaborated upon by President Nelson Mandela in his first month of office, when he proclaimed:
“Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”
We think of heaven as the end of our story on earth, but scripture suggests that our family and friends who are no longer with us are still playing their part in God’s amazing mission to “create new heavens and a new earth.” (Isaiah 65: 17)
South Africa’s ‘rainbow’ has been hidden by clouds and many storms, but it remains the symbol of our hope and a bright future of peace when it appears. The will of God is a mission in progress on which earth will experience storms, but the rainbow will appear in the clouds as our reminder of the hope to come. (Genesis 9: 11-17)
We pray the words of our vision when we say: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.” We can look through the window of scripture and see the heaven that God wants for earth with our family and friends among the great multitude all serving the Lord in his temple. (verse 15)
When heaven comes to earth there will be no more hunger and no more thirst and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. If anyone has been to heaven and back please tell me if I am wrong, but I believe you’ve got family and friends who are working harder than ever before to help God’s kingdom come. They have come out of the great tribulation of earth to sing in celebration: “Praise and glory, wisdom and strength, thanks and honour, power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
They leave behind all the trials and tribulations of earth; all the pain and suffering; hardship and misery; hassles and headaches; anxieties and grief to stand before Jesus dressed in new clothes. In heaven they are blessed to be part of one great family stripped of all wealth, raised from any poverty, wearing the clothes provided by Christ. There is nothing else to wear other than compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience woven together with love. (Colossians 3: 12) That’s what unites this great multitude as they sing in one loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God!”
What I particularly like as I look at heaven through my window of scripture on earth is the rainbow of nations breaking through the clouds to reveal the great hope of the kingdom to come. It’s a place with no boundaries of culture or race; colour or creed or confusion of language and they are all welcome to “live under one tent.” As He spreads his tent over them (verse 15) God is welcoming everyone into his home. All are welcome in his place, all are welcome.
We have said goodbye to loved ones who have gone ahead to the great house in heaven with many rooms, but that was not the end of their ministry because God still has much more for them to do. They are working day and night in God’s heavenly home to build a house on earth where love can dwell and all can safely live. If you are hoping for a place of rest, think again, it’s a busy place!
I hadn’t thought of it before, but in that reading shared in so many farewell services (John 14: 1-8) Jesus says: “If I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Could it mean that when he comes back he will bring heaven with him to earth — and all the angels and saints will come with him as God’s will is done on earth as in heaven. Having got to heaven, and had all their tears wiped away, I’m not sure how enthusiastic our loved ones will be at the thought of coming back to earth. It’s our vision for the kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and our loved ones are still working day and night for it to happen.
We talk about the day we will meet again sometime in the future when we knock on heaven’s door, but I dream of the rainbow kingdom on earth rather than in the clouds. It will be the day, to quote words from Isaiah, when “never again will an infant live but a few days or old people not live out their days because those who die at a hundred years of age will be a mere youth.” It’s another glimpse through my window of scripture at the heaven of my vision where people will build houses and make a home in them; plant vineyards and produce nothing but good fruit. They won’t work in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune for they will be a people blessed by the Lord. Isaiah opens a few windows through which I can see a vision of heaven on earth and people I love are still working to achieve it. If they are, I can. If they can, I must.
If we remember what they were doing among us on earth imagine what more they are doing now in heaven as they serve the Lord day and night. Yes, heaven must be a busy place, but the good news is that there won’t be accounts to prepare; minutes to record; reports to read; funds to be raised or debates to be won before people are convinced of what must be done. I love the thought of serving God in his home day and night without all the trials and tribulations of the world, but planning for the rainbow kingdom to appear on earth!
What happens in heaven is what God wants for earth which is why we have that great commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them everything Jesus commanded. That’s why there is this great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language all standing and singing together: “Salvation belongs to our God.” The will of God is done when the rainbow kingdom breaks through the clouds and touches earth with hope and peace.
Today I remember some very special people I loved so much and I am encouraged by what I have been inspired to say because I now see them working day and night for God’s will to be done. By remembering them I learn from who they were and how they lived so I can do what they are doing in heaven on earth today. They might have done some things wrong on earth, but I can still learn from that and follow the good they showed. They have washed the mess of the world from their clothes and among them is a criminal from a cross who was promised a walk in paradise so get ready now and be prepared for who you will meet when you get there…. unless, of course, God’s will is done on earth as in heaven before then and the Kingdom has come.