It is an irony of our existence that the greater part of our allotted span is dedicated to those things pertaining to the here and now; the ephah and the shekel, mundane tasks, recreation and even an extraordinary component of sleep. We may not think often about eternity, yet that is the focus of Scripture and the goal of our lives.

When we reflect upon the prospect of immortality it may mean something different to each of us. For one, it may mean joyful reunion with a loved one; for another, welcome relief from some “thorn in the flesh”; or simply glad release from our debt to a fragile and sin-bound existence. Beyond this, what could we wish for, that future glory does not promise – to be strong, to be wise, to be rich, to be glorious and powerful? None of these however, compare with the greatest joy of all.

The Greatest Joy

 Without question the greatest joy of immortality is to be experienced in the perfect pleasure of unity with Yahweh Himself. This is the crowning reward – the consummation of our very reason for existence – more prized than even life itself. Life, even eternal life, is empty and worthless without this inexpressible relationship, as David declares in the Psalms: “O Yahweh Thou art my El, early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. To see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary. Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee” (Psalm 63:1-3). “But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them for the Olahm (the Age) shout for joy: because Thou defendest them: let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee” (Psalm 5:11).

Our Lord has already known that complete joy as the Psalm foreshadows – “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).

This is to say that the joy and the peace found in the Father’s presence transcends all other pleasures and eclipses all other pains. No pleasure is complete without it; all former pain, sorrow and regret is dispelled by it: no grief is so deep, no pain so great that it will not vanish in the Father’s love.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:3, 4).

Face to Face

 At that time, adds the Lord, “His servants shall serve Him: and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” (Revelation 22:3, 4). Here is the long awaited moment toward which we all struggle. It is the moment when we look upon the identity of the ONE in Whom all things in earth and sky consist, Who gave us existence, of Whose living substance we are fashioned, Whose warm and sentient frame is the great archetype of all His children.

It is an uncommon and high honour to be received into the presence of a great statesman or royal personage and we would find it difficult not to feel affected by the aura that seems to surround such a figure. Can we begin then to comprehend the experience of being in the presence of the ONE Who has declared Himself to be the Blessed and only Potentate, the KING of kings and LORD of lords, the ONE Who laid the foundations of the earth, Who stretched out the heavens like a curtain, Who looketh upon the earth and it trembleth, Who toucheth the hills and they smoke, Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flaming fire?

In His Presence

 Beyond a vast translucent ocean is the throne, encircled by an immense emerald rainbow, glowing like a huge incandescent ring, rising high into heavens bejewelled by swirling red and white galaxies of stars. Ethereal music of many harps, sublimely beautiful, fills the atmosphere with a sense of harmony and calm. The whole space seems suffused with a glow of gentle light which emanates from the throne itself. Upon the throne is the Eternal Uncreate Spirit, the Father of lights. We behold at last the face of the Holy One of Israel, look into the watchful, intelligent eyes, which never sleep.

His countenance is honourable and majestic, He is clothed with strength and beauty. The fountain of Truth and goodness is in His lips. His are the vast pillars of wisdom that uphold creation’s plan, His the mighty power that sustains a universe of motion. We see the God of power and love, the God of our salvation, the object of our worship and adoration.

It is a transforming and wholly satisfying moment after which we are never the same. All former cares and grief, all doubts and fears are utterly banished and a pure sense of serene well-being prevails, free of all human regret. Nothing matters hereafter but His love.

For David said, “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with seeing Thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15 NIV, AV). It is a moment that will change us for ever, and as Revelation 22:4 suggests, will leave the Father’s identity stamped on us for eternity.

What a privilege to be identified with such Infinite Power! What transcending joy and peace will be ours, to be within the circle of such constant love, to share in the intimate counsel of the Eternal God. How His vast intelligence will engage all our highest faculties, and His endlessly varied interests capture our imagination. How His beauty will hold our constant admiration and the wisdom of His ways command our adoration.

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him” (Isaiah 64:4). The Psalmist exclaims: “Many, O Yahweh my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee” (Psalm 40:5).

Not until we see Yahweh will we finally realise just how little we knew of Him and how often we have been ignorant of His guiding hand. Then we will realise that we have been as children by the sea, finding a bright shell or stone here and there, whilst the whole ocean of knowledge lay undiscovered before us.

The Father’s Good Pleasure

 “Delight thyself in Yahweh; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart”, exhorts the Psalmist (37:4). It is the prerogative and pleasure of great men to reward and elevate faithful friends. What greater pleasure is there for the Most High God Who is the Possessor of heaven and earth but to make His servants rich in all things? What greater joy can He find than to behold the gratitude and wonder in the faces of those whom He delights to honour? Nothing could afford Yahweh greater gratification than to behold the perfect happiness of His faithful servants, standing with eyes filled with grateful tears before the throne of their Divine benefactor.

To this moment belong those words of homage, as myriads of immortal spirits cast their golden crowns at His feet declaring: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev 4:11).

 It is true to say that the greatest human joy is to be the object of Divine love and approval. It is equally true to say that the greatest honour and glory of God is to bestow this favour. It is God’s glory to fulfil His promise to those that believe He is able to perform it. The first exercise of this honour was upon His own Son who was raised up “by the glory of the Father”. Jesus believed on Him Who was able to save, and it was the Father’s glory to respond. Ultimately, the abundant grace will, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God (2 Cor 4:15).

“Blessed (happy) is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Yahweh, in the light of Thy countenance. In thy Name shall they rejoice all the day: and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For Thou art the glory of their strength: and in Thy favour our horn shall be exalted” (Psa 89:15-17). It is therefore Yahweh’s glory and delight to give grace to them that believe Him, and their honour and pleasure to receive it.

The work of the Elohim now is directed to that end. The angels being Yahweh’s ministers do His pleasure – and what is His pleasure? Christ, in exhorting his disciples to seek the Kingdom of God first of all, adds by way of encouragement, “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

The Secret Of Yahweh

 Not only has Yahweh invited us to share His nature, but He also invites His children to share the counsels of His heart. “The secret of Yahweh is with them that fear Him ; and He will shew them His covenant” (Psa 25:14). The Hebrew for “secret” describes “a session; a company of persons in close deliberation, intimacy, or consultation.” Yahweh delights to confer with those who love Him and have “sought out” His works (Psalm 111:2).

Here is to be appreciated the measure of His everlasting love, that He should desire to share His thoughts and feelings with us, His children! What emotion do we feel – and it is not derived from the Eternal Uncreate? His love is more intense, more faithful and enduring than ours. His compassion is more real, more instant, more sincere than ours. His mercy is more constant, His forgiveness is unreserved and unfaltering. He is infinitely warmer, infinitely more sensitive than we are.

How conscious we should be of His jealousy for our loyalty; how careful we should be of the value He places on our love; how sensitive we should be to the demands of His justice; how careful we should be not to take His grace for granted; how diligent we should be to respond to His care.