Image: The Holy City https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/5733219084/in/album-72157626748303260/
The classic children’s tale The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of a child’s toy. Not knowing that there were real rabbits in the world, the Velveteen Rabbit is told that becoming Real is a thing that happens to you when a child loves you for a long time. Eventually, the Velveteen Rabbit becomes a beloved toy, accompanying his owner through a serious illness and becoming so shabby and germ-ridden that his destiny is the bonfire. But, as children’s stories go, before the fire is lit, he magically becomes a real rabbit, with real hind legs and real fur, able to romp and play in the field as he had never been able to when he was only a stuffed toy.
Like the little rabbit in his previous life, we tend to think that life here is the real deal and that heaven is just an ethereal fantasy in the clouds. The popular notion of heaven is not something that is substantial and real.
In contrast, the description in Revelation 21 is about as solid and real as it gets.
The city of heaven will more massive than any metropolis on earth. Imagine roughly the distance from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Los Angeles, California, to Austin, Texas, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, back to Vancouver.
Heavens foundations and walls are built of 12 different gemstones. (vs. 18-21)
Jasper as mentioned here in Revelation 21, is believed to be a diamond in the ancient context by many commentators, which given the description, makes sense. Diamonds are known to be the hardest naturally occurring substance on earth. My Dad has a diamond saw that cuts through concrete. Diamonds are that solid.
Gold is a precious metal of substance. Placing my wedding ring in the palm of my hand, I feel the density of its weight. But, as Linda, our teaching leader pointed out, gold will be used as asphalt, for paving the streets. Can you imagine the heaviness of all that gold!
You wouldn’t think it could get much more substantial than gold and diamonds.
But then there is the presence of our Lord, whose light replaces the sun and moon (v23). In this life, in these bodies, and our fallen state, we can never behold the perfect glory of God. Though redemption through Jesus has made a way to God, we cannot yet live with Him in a physical sense.
I can’t help but think of the Velveteen rabbit who had no idea of what “being real” could be, until he was Real. The things that seem important, the present reality we live in, will become as only a dream, in light of the glory and wonder of heaven. Our souls, the “real” part of us will live on. When our bodies are transformed we will be like Jesus and see Him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
That is the day that we become Real!