A celebration of dependence

July 4, 2012

Every year since July 4, 1776, America has observed "Independence Day", the day when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress and the United States became an independent nation. Though I am an American citizen by birth, the Bible describes me as "born again to a living hope" (1 Peter 1:3). My true nationality and citizenship is not here, but "in heaven" (Philippians 3:20), because it is from there that Jesus will return to establish His kingdom in Jerusalem. My true home will not be on a cloud with a harp but will be with Jesus on this very earth in a very real city that will descend and come out of heaven (Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2).

The Bible is filled with descriptions of that mountain city called "New Jerusalem", "heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22) or the "Jerusalem above" (Galatians 4:26). We are constantly encouraged by the scriptures to set our minds there and ponder it often (Colossians 3:2). Thus as believers in Jesus and citizens of that city it is fitting on this day to meditate on our eternal home and to behold what transpires there. Far from yawning angels reciting dry liturgy in a musty, dimly lit hall, the Scriptures describe the Temple in heaven as filled with unfathomable colors, sounds, music, and smells because of the splendor of the One enthroned there. His Temple also has fireworks of its own - thunderings, lightnings, and noises are coming from the throne (Revelation 4:5). I'm certain they're way better than anything Kansas City can put on tonight.

Ascending to the heights of that great mountain city and entering into His majestic Temple we find nothing less than a celebration and festal gathering of colossal proportions happening right now:

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
(Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV)

This celebration has not stopped since the dawn of creation, and it is that celebration we will be a part of forever. Can you imagine the joy we will feel as we lose ourselves in worship of our Maker, finally entering into that which He created us for?

Men of faith like Noah and Abraham plainly confessed that they were strangers looking for their homeland, the great city that God Himself built (Hebrews 11:10-14). As believers in Jesus, our confession of faith, hope, and lifestyle is to be no different from theirs.

As we celebrate our nation's independence today, may we have eyes to see the far more important celebration in heaven and live as dependent sojourners in exile (1 Peter 2:11) as we set our hope completely on Jesus' return (1 Peter 1:13). We don't want to miss that celebration!

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