To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand…
Eden, with all its loveliness, is to be surpassed. It was but a faint type of that heavenly paradise which is opened by Christ to all believers. Futurity is to transcend antiquity. The best is to come at the last. How can we speak of that heavenly paradise? Experience cannot help us. And imagination grows dumb beneath that "weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17), or is blinded by that excess of light. It hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive it. Emblems we have, but they are nothing more. We can only know the Invisible as shadowed by the things that do appear. What various and enchanting hopes start at such words as these: life, a feast, a temple, a city, a kingdom, a Father's house, glory, the paradise of God. Walking in permitted meditation amid that heavenly paradise, behold —
1. Beauty. How lovely the brief descriptive touches found in the Divine Word! Emblem mingles with emblem and glory blossoms into glory. Is it a garden? The privileged John thus describes it (Revelation 22:1-5; Revelation 6:16, 17). Is it a city? It is "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2). "Her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Revelation 21:11). And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished," etc. (Revelation 21:19-21). These are emblems of surpassing loveliness. Nothing more than emblems? Is there no city radiant in splendour? Is there no garden with its crystal river and trees of unfading beauty? Who can say? Any way, if only emblems, heaven is a place of transcendent beauty.
2. Knowledge will mark the inhabitants of the paradise of God. We shall not need to ask, "What is it?" We shall know it by intuition, and not by tedious search. There to see will be to understand. No mistake will be made by us. And the Great Teacher will instruct us by parable no more. Wide, and ever-widening, will be that sphere of knowledge. But how little all else will be to the knowledge we shall then possess of the Divine character and dealings.
3. In that heavenly paradise there will be supreme enjoyment. Not the sensual pleasures of a Mahometan paradise, but the highest satisfaction and delight of our quick and ever-quickening spiritual powers.
(1) The joy of fellowship. In heaven there will be no solitude in a crowd. Thought will be interchanged. Love will glow. No distrust will cool that warmth of friendship. And more, infinitely more than all, we shall be with Christ. It will be more than vanished paradise come again — more than a restitution of all things.
(2) The joy of holiness. No hindering defilement! No lingering spot!
(3) The joy of rest. The hurly-burly done, the last stroke struck, the last foe vanquished — oh, how blessed the everlasting rest!
(4) The joy of service. Who can tell in what various ways we shall find highest, purest exhilaration in doing God's commandments? (Revelation 22:3). One part of the service will be worship (Psalm 16:11).
4. And yet another thought in the paradise of God — eternity. No tree of the knowledge of good and evil is there. The life of probation is over. In that paradise is no decay, no old age, no death (1 Peter 1:4). And this high estate of glory, this paradise of eternal bliss, is Christ's purchase for men, Christ's donation to man.
(G. T. Coster.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;