Life-Changing Themes from the Bible: This World Is Not All There Is
Christopher D. Hudson
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
A sixth theme that’s prominent in God’s Word is the reality of the kingdom of heaven (or the kingdom of God).
This physical world in which we find ourselves is not all there is to reality. There is more to this life than just this life. We now live a material existence, but there is also an invisible but entirely real spiritual dimension to life.
All through the Bible we read about moments when God “pulls back the curtains,” as it were, to reveal a realm that transcends human comprehension and experience. Consider, for example, the following events described in the Bible:
- In Genesis 28, Jacob dreams at Bethel and sees angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven. We know this isn’t just a case of having eaten too much spicy food at bedtime, because Jacob wakes and makes this classic statement: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (verse 16). - In Exodus 24, Moses, Aaron, the elders of Israel, and Aaron’s two sons go up to a mountain to feast in the majestic presence of God. - In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha prays that his alarmed servant’s eyes will be opened to spiritual realities. Suddenly the young man is able to see heavenly chariots of fire and horses surrounding them (verse 17). - In his book, the prophet Ezekiel records vision after vision of eternal realities that defy description. He describes four unusual living creatures—each with four faces and four wings and each having a human form—that were accompanied by wheels (Ezekiel 1:4–24). Later Ezekiel sees bones that join together, become covered in flesh, and come to life when he speaks to them (Ezekiel 37:1–14). - In Luke 2, in the New Testament, a few shepherds are minding their own business when the nighttime skies above Bethlehem suddenly blaze with the light of an angelic army. With excitement, these heavenly messengers announce the birth of “a Savior . . . the Messiah, the Lord” (verse 11). After praising God, the angels disappear and the skies darken again. - Beginning his ministry, Jesus announces the arrival of “the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:15). Later, he clarifies that his kingdom is not necessarily visible or earthly (Luke 17:20–21; John 18:36). - In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul speaks of a man (likely himself) who was caught up into heaven (“paradise,” verse 4). - In the book of Revelation, the apostle John is given a front-row seat and a preview of the future hope Christians have. John sees into the last days of the world and into heaven itself. You get the sense he keeps rubbing his eyes as he struggles to find words to express all that he sees.
WHY IS THIS BIBLICAL THEME SO IMPORTANT? We all have deep, inexpressible longings in our souls, a sense that there is more to life than meets the eye. Some have called this an ache for transcendence, even an eternal homesickness. In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis put it this way: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
The spiritual life is about developing “the eyes of [our] heart” (Ephesians 1:18). As we do that, we are able to remember that this world is passing away and that our true home is in heaven. This helps us avoid the great trap of becoming overly attached to stuff that cannot last.
This blog post has been adapted from my new book Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can learn more about it here.