What did Brian Cox, Brian May and Sir Patrick Moore have in common? It’s true that they loved music – Brian Cox being an accomplished keyboard player with two bands, Brian May being the legendary guitarist with Queen whilst Sir Patrick was a keen pianist and player of the xylophone. However, their main bond was in their love of the night skies! Brian May is an astrophysicist and generously bought Sir Patrick’s house in Selsey allowing him to live there for a peppercorn rent when finances became tight. Patrick wore a monocle from the age of 16, becoming a specialist on the moon and an eccentric TV presenter who built an observatory in his back garden housing a 12 ½ inch reflector telescope. The fascination of these three astronomers is shared by many, not least the mysterious astrologers from lands afar who followed a star. We all want to know more about what is up there in the heavens above, whether it holds solutions for the problems of the earth and where the location is of Heaven itself.
- ‘The love of heaven makes one heavenly’ – William Shakespeare
- ‘My home is in Heaven. I'm just travelling through this world’ – Billy Graham
- ‘Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither’ – C S Lewis
The field of astrology is murky territory misleading many into a fixation on their ‘star sign’ and the superstition of horoscopes. Do you know yours or have you ever checked those charts online or in the printed media?! The heavens have inspired musicians like Gustav Holst with his ‘Planets’, Don McLean with his ‘Starry starry night’ and artists like Vincent Van Gogh with his world famous painting ‘The Starry Night’. The view was painted in 1889 from his asylum window and is kept in New York. Vast fortunes have been spent on powerful telescopes all over the world. Multimillion dollar budgets have blasted rockets up in to space to try to find what is up there with 19 lives lost in the process up to 2020. Yet, becoming an astronaut and hero is the dream of many children.
- ‘Whenever I gaze up at the moon, I feel like I'm on a time machine. I am back to that precious pinpoint of time, standing on the foreboding - yet beautiful - Sea of Tranquility. I could see our shining blue planet Earth poised in the darkness of space’ – Buzz Aldrin
- ‘How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between Heaven and Hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man’ – Johnny Cash
- ‘Lower your expectations of Earth. This isn't Heaven, so don't expect it to be’ – Max Lucado
- ‘He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach Heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven’ – George Herbert
Jacob dreamt about a staircase rising from Earth to Heaven. Angels were seen going up and down. At the top of the stairs was Heaven and it was from there that God gave Jacob a blessing. People long to know how to find that staircase that bridges Earth and Heaven. The Bible speaks of three heavens! The first is the ‘firmament’ (the earth’s atmosphere or sky) inhabited by birds and clouds. The second contains the sun, moon, stars and galaxies. The third Heaven is the very dwelling place of God spoken of by Paul the Apostle (2 Corinthians 12:2). The only one who can bridge that gap is the one who ‘came from Heaven to Earth to show the way’ as Rick Founds’ song puts it – Jesus Christ himself. We may come up with any number of theories and speculations about Heaven, but there is plenty in the Bible about Heaven. Like most things, it seems God tells us what we need to know rather than what our inquisitive minds want, for we would prefer to live without the need for faith.
- ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God’ – Deuteronomy 29:29
- ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ – Genesis 1:1
- ‘The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word’ – Psalm 103:19-20
- ‘Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendour and majesty. The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters’ – Psalm 104:1-3
- ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ – Matthew 6:9-10
What are we to do with our questions about Heaven, let alone Hell?Many angels appeared in the highest heaven to the lowly shepherds and sang a rapturous praise song about God and his peace.The shepherds still had questions but they took action to find Jesus, the Saviour bridging from Heaven to Earth.You could do worse than work through the verses mentioning Heaven in the Bible to see what they reveal!Jesus taught much about the Kingdom of Heaven for he came to announce its arrival and to show that he is the way. A few more verses to whet your appetite.
- ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field’ – Matthew 13:44
- ‘No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man’ – John 3:13
- ‘After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’ – Act 1:9-11
- ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever’ – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Heaven and Earth are very much part of God’s overarching cosmic plan and he has declared that he will renew both. If you are God’s child, you have the privilege of a new body, a heavenly inheritance and a permanent citizenship in Heaven.
- ‘There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another’ – 1 Corinthians 15:40
- ‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body’ – Philippians 3:20-21
- ‘Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess’ – Hebrews 4:14
- ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time’ – 1 Peter 1:3-5
You could invest huge sums yourself to buy a fancy telescope to set up in your back garden to look at the night sky. However, you couldn’t get a better view of Heaven than pointing the ‘FW Model’ telescope up at the skies – the Faith and Wonder Model given by God!
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