In January 1997, I received a frantic call that the Sight and Sound Theatre, a nationally renowned Christian entertainment center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was on fire. I drove the short distance from the church I was then pastoring to an open field where I watched, as though surreal, that $15 million building burn and collapse to the ground. In the investigation that followed, the uncontrolled inferno was traced to sparks from a welder’s torch falling through tiny screw holes in the stage floor.
As though rising from the ashes, a new and grander building was built in its place where hundreds of thousands through the years have continued to take in the amazing sights and sounds of fascinating Bible stories. Yet, even at its captivating best, this new and improved version is still only a temporary reflection of a far greater glory.
Far from our own space and time is the perfect source and true center of all that is really important—an eternal place where the most glorious sights and the most incomparable sounds will never pass away!
The first television set owned by my family was a black and white. I still remember picking it up from the store with my parents in the mid-’60s. I even remember the very first show I watched in my own home. (Truth be known, that program is still one my favorites to watch today.) Maybe this is why some of my memories come back to me in gray tones. Man, was I excited when we caught up with the neighbors and “living color” TV came into my life a few years later!
On this side of Heaven so far away, we may be tempted to envision our Homeland in black and white. But the Apostle John would tell us different—and he’s been there! There is nothing at all dull, drab or lackluster about Heaven! No, a better look at God’s throne room gives new meaning to the words “Living Color.”
In the months after John wrote the Revelation Jesus had entrusted to him, he wrote a far shorter work, the book we call First John. His vision of Heaven’s throne room must have been in view when He referred to God as both “Light” and “Love.” Many years before, another man with a heavenly vision, the Apostle Paul, wrote of the glorious One he had seen firsthand as well (2 Cor. 12:1-7a)—“who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16). Perfect Light wrapped in Perfect Love! No wonder His throne is encircled in ceaseless praise!
In fact, what John saw in the Spirit was so incredible that he needed to use the most beautiful colors on earth, the colors of precious jewels, to describe it. God Himself “had the appearance of jasper and ruby”; with crystal-clear brilliance and blood-red glory we are forever reminded of the sacrificial love of God—a truth Heaven celebrates for eternity! And there encircling His throne is a full rainbow, glowing with an emerald green hue. Like the unbroken circle of a wedding ring, this rainbow promises the faithful covenant love of God for all eternity.
By God’s will and design, you and I have been created for this. At a time before time, when all that was, was God Himself, He chose to create a world filled with beautiful sights and awesome sounds, a physical world that would reflect His own transcendent power and glory. And what a world it must have been—teeming with life, overflowing with bounty, everywhere the imprint of His creative beauty and design!
And at the center of this vivid and verdant world filled with natural wonders, God chose to place His highest expression of creative power, you and me. Created “in the image of God,” we are called to reflect Him and resemble Him, to need Him and to want Him, but most of all to worship Him. “On earth as it is in Heaven,” there is nothing more important, more wonderful, more central to our very reason for being—for “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Even now the sights and sounds of God’s glory are reaching into the hearts of every man, woman, boy and girl who will say with the hosts of Heaven—“All the glory goes back to you!”