by Anniel 3/25/16
And there was war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place anymore found in heaven. Revelations 12:7-8 KJV.
When I was young and first heard about war in Heaven I tried to imagine what it was like. It seemed so exciting. Did Michael and his side win by throwing the largest lightning bolts, using the biggest swords, killing the most foes —
But we’re speaking of immortal beings here. They can’t be killed, can they? So just how IS a war fought in Heaven?
On earth war is bloody, grim, noisy, dirty and frightening. Terror and loss are always present. But Heaven? How could Heavenly Beings turn against their own? What is war there?
Apparently there were those who thought they were smarter and better at determining the best interests of others and so decided to strike out against the Great God of Creation and all who sided with Him. That seems like am eternal war.
There are always those who fight against agency and freedom and those weak followers who are unwilling to bear the burden of freedom. There are also those willing to use that fear of freedom to seize control. The struggle between liberty and bondage, between darkness and light, has been the same from the beginning and will be to the end. The rebels had to be evicted from the realms of truth. The scripture says they were cast down to earth. Scary thought if you believe the reality of scripture.
I have watched and considered the doings of nations, the history of brother against brother, and decided that the war in Heaven was one mainly of words, words used to hurt and to lie and persuade, to promise safety. Even in Heaven, as here in mortal existence, the war was one of deceit and hatred in order to gain power and glory, of what seems to be correct to cover the lies. Always power over others, to control and defeat them. To do that, some of the spirits of heaven were willing to walk away from truth, just as people here are willing to walk away. To embrace and believe the lies.
Watching this political campaign, hearing the obvious lies and ignorance, the pandering to greed, the twisting of truth . . . and then, the answer to war in Heaven comes. Politics were introduced into the Holy Realms and mankind became locked in the perpetual battle for the right to be free.
“I was never so free as when I was a prisoner.” Reading that statement by Alexander Solzhenitsyn shows that, as choices narrow, the final choice a man must make in order to remain human and free is to always be aware of righteousness and our individual responsibility to ACT well before God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. To be willing to die, if necessary, to protect liberty.
I can’t remember who said that, “we often forget the essential humanness of God.” He does love His creatures and is very kind to those who love and serve Him. We are commanded to become as He is, completed and perfect. Hard, yes, but we are to do the best we can in the battle we face.
This is a very serious war for the souls of all men.
What is Heaven to you? I heard a joke the other day about a rich man who wanted to take his gold to Heaven so he paid the funeral director to place a large bar of gold in his hands to be buried with him when he died. Facing St. Peter at the Pearlie Gates Peter wanted to know why he had bothered bringing a paving stone to Heaven.
When I was a child with unformed (or uninformed) thoughts, I knew the streets of Heaven were paved with gold. Later I wondered how comfortable the hardness of gold would be. Were such descriptions somehow symbolic of heavenly glories? Was there no greenery or other colors to soothe the eye?
Pictures I saw of Heaven showed white clad angels with halos sitting on fluffy clouds and playing harps. Then I read Mark Twain’s question about why no one was taking harp lessons on earth in preparation for Heaven. Interesting thought: preparing for Heaven.
When my beloved grandfather died I was horrified by the idea of his not breathing and I could only see darkness where his journey would take him. How would he know where to go? Was he lost in eternity? Or was he seeing golden streets? My young mind could not grasp the complexities of dying and death.
I pondered often about God and, more particularly, about Heaven. Where was it and what would it be like? Even the white robes are questionable since white is the blending of all colors. Once in a great while there are indications that others have considered what one does there. The artist in Winston Churchhill pondered the prismatics involved in Heavenly colors:
. . . I cannot pretend to feel impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns. WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject. But then I shall require a still gayer pallete than I get here below. I expect orange and vermillion will be the darkest, dullest colors upon it, and beyond them will be a whole range of wonderful new colours, which will delight the celestial eye. (Winston Churchhill, from Painting As A Pastime) Emphasis added.
Will the artists (like Churchhill) still paint, will the singers still sing, will there be concerts with new music by the likes of Beethoven, Handel and Bach, will scientists still learn and deal with science (maybe even learn from the Great Scientist Himself?), will you and I be able to write and read works by authors who continue their craft?
In my teens I finally earned enough baby-sitting money to buy skis and found a family friend to instruct me in the sport. I could no longer imagine a Heaven without snow so I could ski. Moving to Alaska kept that idea as a private joke in my mind for many years. I can only dream now how heavenly it would be to be able to bend over again, strap those boards on my feet and whiz down a mountain.
C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderful book called The Great Divorce about the residents of a vast and lonely Hell being able to make a bus trip to Heaven and stay there if they were able to do so. Most chose to return to hell because they were unable to give up their sins and cravings, their victimhood and certainties of being “correct”. Even with Heaven offered to them they could or would not stay. Lewis’ premise of Heaven is that it is not everywhere, but everywhere can be Heaven for those seeking it. At the end of the day the protagonist is shown the bus seemingly shrinking on its return to hell, which is really just a crack in the floor of Heaven.
My husband Bear and I were discussing how little we actually know about the place called Heaven, or about the place called Sheol, or Hell. One thing we agreed on was that politics belong in Hell.
We don’t know how much said about Heaven in the Bible, such as the golden streets or the jewels set in the walls, is symbolic. Is this because people are incapable of understanding how wonderful Heaven actually is? Or is the place more like this beautiful earth than we know?
Now that I am older, I begin to understand the importance of preparing for Heaven. That means I want to go there. I want to see the people I love, to hold them and know them again. The love forged here has to endure there, or it won’t be Heaven. I also want to meet new friends and other interesting people. The ability to laugh and love together and joy in our resurrected life must be part of Heaven. We might even go skiing together, who knows?
Our 5-year-old granddaughter, Andreina, asked her mother today how our beautiful dog, Leah, got to Heaven. She seemed to be asking about the process but her question reminded me of the loving animals I hope inherit any Heaven I would want to live in. Bear told Andreina that Leah took the big escalator going up. She seemed puzzled about his answer, and one has to wonder what picture of Heaven exists in her mind now.
The desire to go Heaven means I have to change my weaknesses and become the person God wants me to be. I don’t mean to become sanctimonious and fearful, here or there, but to be vibrant and full of life, worthy of the blessings of the REAL heaven, whatever and wherever that is.
May our Heaven have no politics involved, just those things we love. Maybe we have some say in the matter. I hope so.