Saturday, February 8, 2014

Is Sochi Heaven?

This week, the world watched as athletes gathered in in Sochi, Russia for the Olympics. There’s no question that the Olympics are flawed and there is always some political issue that comes up. Russia and the west have long been at odds with each other. And if that isn’t bad enough, NBC seems to have made it their goal to mention Russia’s stance in opposition to homosexuality, at every opportunity. But even with all its flaws, the Olympics give us a picture of heaven that is unlike any other.

And they sang a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood, from every kindred and tongue, and people and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.” -- Revelation 5:9, 10

For a brief moment, as the people of the world gather to participate in the Olympics, we see something similar. As we watch the athletes march in to the Olympic stadium, we see “every kindred and tongue, and people and nation.” At least, we see an approximation of that, since not every nation participates. But it gives us an idea of what heaven will be like. But there will be many more people in heaven. “Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Revelation 5:11) There may even be some nations represented that we never knew existed.

But we also see a picture of heaven in the contests that take place at the Olympics. I don’t suppose we’ll spend our heavenly days running a race, but many of the Olympic sports have judges who must decide who is worthy of being rewarded the gold metal. It used to be that Olympians were crowned with a wreath. Compare that thought to what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:8:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

At the closing ceremonies of the Olymipics, we’ll once more see the nations of the world march into the stadium. Many of the athletes will be wearing the metals they have won. That is very much like the picture the Bible paints of heaven. The day will come when the saints will be judged according to the work they have done for Jesus. And when we’ve received our awards, we’ll go out and take our place on a new earth.