Otherwise, let me simply point out that my character, Pastor Gus Gospello (The Devil and Pastor Gus) was skeptical about whether Heaven really has pearly gates and streets of gold. While I’m not necessarily “skeptical,” I am of the opinion that those descriptions may not be literal.
Most of what we know about the appearance of Heaven is what the apostle John wrote in Revelation (note that that word doesn’t end in an S) based on a vision he experienced in which he was taken to Heaven, where various truths were revealed to him. I believe his vision was real.
He described the pearly gates and streets of gold along with many other images that were familiar to him and would be familiar to his readers.
John’s Revelation wasn’t the “speculative fiction” of his day. It was real. True. But how could he adequately describe what he saw in completely literal terms?
Pearls and gold were undoubtedly considered valuable then, just as they are now, but wouldn’t something as special–as unique–as Heaven be made of materials we human beings can’t even conceive of? And what about colors? How could John have hoped to describe colors he’d never seen before–colors no one on earth could manage to duplicate?
I understand that one purpose for the streets of gold might have been to emphasize that what was considered valuable on earth was so commonplace in Heaven that it was worthy of nothing more than being walked on.
Have you ever been to a foreign country–a country where English was not the normal language? Didn’t you see things that were so unusual you made a mental note to try to learn more about them when you returned home? And didn’t you even take pictures to help you be able to relive your joy at seeing those things in person?
But what happened when you tried to tell your friends about them? Didn’t you find that your best efforts failed to convey adequately the beauty or the uniqueness of what had so impressed you in person? Even though your pictures may have brought smiles to your face, weren’t you conscious of the fact that they failed to do justice to the objects those pictures were of?
That’s all I’m really trying to say. John may have seen literal pearly gates and streets of gold. He undoubtedly saw a number of other things people who would read Revelation ought to know about. But how could he possibly have used human language to describe true godliness?
We sometimes say that people who think they understand God completely are guilty of trying to put Him in a box. He’s too big, too grand, too everything good for any person to comprehend adequately. Any “god” who fits in anyone’s box is too small for me to believe in and worship.
My God is awesome. Nothing else is.
So any description of God’s dwelling place can only be described and understood within the limitations of human speech and understanding.
Even if the pearly gates and streets of gold are literal, I can’t help but be impressed. Not because of the pearls or the gold, however, but because I believe those are just the best representations of things people are incapable of comprehending–or even imagining.
I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts on this subject, but I’d love to hear yours. How about leaving a comment?
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Links you might be interested in:
- Roger’s other blog, As I Come Singing
- Roger’s website, RogerBruner.com
- Roger’s free Christian lead sheets
- Roger’s books on Amazon