Reception at the Father’s House
By Donald Holliday
Gathering Home the Saints — Chapter 5
The Lord’s own choice of human analogy now prompts the heart to reach beyond that blessed moment of completed union, Bridegroom and Bride, to that scene of joy, that festal occasion of shared delight, the marriage supper.
In eastern custom this glad feast of revelry and dance and love, would last for many days, and involve a whole community. That which began with the Bridegroom’s approach to the home of the Bride in accordance with the promise, “I will come again and receive you unto myself;” now continues in rejoicing as He takes her to His Father’s House.
“My Father’s House.”
With feeling must those holy lips have framed those words, and yet He surely knew that words could not convey to finite minds, still strangers to the place of which He spoke, the fullness of the glories of His Father’s House. For this is Heaven itself, to which the Holiest of all in Tabernacle and in Temple points, where shone between the gold-winged cherubim that light of the presence of God, the only illumination of that sacred place. Hidden from the eye of common man, that glory remained veiled throughout the days of this shadowy portrayal of Heaven itself, and to this hour the veil of human limitation intervenes between the state of man and things divine. Even in this enlightened age of advancing knowledge we have yet so much to learn regarding the things of the material realm. We do not near comprehend the fullness of its countless wonders and mysteries. If we do not understand earthly things, how shall we fathom Heaven?
Heaven is no ‘place’ as earth is a place in the material universe. While man long centuries past has looked above and pointed to the starry space beyond terrestrial things when indicating heaven, regardless of his location on this sphere of earth, in such vague gesture only could he indicate the dwelling place of God. For space expands the further we might go, the opposite of finite here on earth. This is Our Father’s realm, immeasurable in human terms, not ‘place’ but state of the divine, and human language formed but to describe all human life and thought at once must fail when venturing into the divine, or else must coin expressions lacking meaning in the experience of man. “Omniscience,” ” omnipotence,” like “ether,” confess only our ignorance, but give a term whereby we speak of that defying human comprehension. In Scripture also do we find expressions which by stating opposites thus contrast with the things we know. “Not mortal”, “not corruptible”, “incapable of fading away”, by such terms does the mind reach out towards that glory which is Heaven, and the state of those who share that wondrous realm.
This is the Father’s House where Jesus said He went again, to there prepare, in holy realm of things divine, a place for each beloved “friend” to share with Him. Then would He come again and take His own within that home of love, the palace of blessedness, “the habitation of His holiness and glory.” (Isaiah 63:15) Concerning Him, Whose Name is Holy and Who inhabits eternity, no man has “heard His voice or seen His shape;” yet in Our Savior do His glories shine, and while the natural eye has likewise never seen the glorious things prepared for the sons of His love yet to our hearts the Spirit grants such precious senses of these things to come. It is a brightness ill-defined. The intellect draws back. With no precision can it view those scenes in heaven when the Lamb, with such rejoicing, brings His Bride. Yet hearts now touched by the Spirit’s power can feel the warmth of heaven’s love and apprehend the joy of that blessed hour that lies beyond the sphere of natural sense, and opens to eternal life.
What comfort lies in the master’s assurance that His Father’s House embraced so many resting places for the sons of His love. Since our common version used the word four centuries ago, “mansions” has somewhat lost its onetime simple thought of “home”. John 14 once again repeats the word in verse 23, where translated “abode”, and in its roots John’s favorite word “abide” gives clue to that sweet sense of warmth and rest and every satisfaction of the soul, first ours in Him, then, wondrous thought, His rest of satisfied desire in us! These places of delight the Master has prepared within His Father’s House each bear a written name. Oh can it be that one is marked “reserved” for me? Within the heart now lies the key. “Do you find there within, Dear Father, and blessed Lord, a place of sweet accord and restreserved alone for Thee?”
What feasting and rejoicing there awaits the holy hearts of saints! What untold depths of Father’s heart of love will find their full expression of delight as He draws His family to Him, such precious jewels in His glorious crown! The atmosphere of love of that occasion! Each heart delighting in its heavenly “treasure” in each other’s precious company. Each child of love the Father thus brings forth will share those sacred holy things dear to His heart. Their glory and their brightness in the present human state we could not bear. The riches of His wisdom, and the wonders of His skill, and every blessed purpose of His holy perfect Will. Then shall we more perfectly explore the heights and the depths, the full dimensions of His great love.
Only the best of fare becomes a marriage feast. Poorer families with modest means may well incur great debt to rise to such occasion, or depend on gifts to supplement their fare. What nightmare would it be, what shame, if, say, the wine ran out before the climax of the feast. No wonder it was known in those first advents times, to water the wine, and eke the food out with some cheaper fare, when the effect of the first and better spread had made the heart glad and the senses and palate less discerning. The feast Our Father has prepared for those that love Him reflects both highest taste and riches beyond dream. Nor will the fare decline with time, for as it progresses further guests appear, and joys are shared and thus increase, until all shall say, “the best He has kept to the last!”
At such a wedding festival two families meet and celebrate the new-formed bond that now unites the people of the Bride with the family of the Groom. Thus, in the course of this great feast, as men begin to hear the sound of truth and taste the blessings stemming from this union in Heaven, the Bride with God’s dear Son, they will respond in heartfelt joy to that glad call to celebrate and join (while still on earth as men) with hearts above, acknowledging the union that will bind the family in Heaven with that of earth. Psalm 45 includes amongst the guests that come to share that atmosphere of nuptial joy and great exuberance of spirit, one named “the daughter of Tyre.” And, look, she bears a gift! In Holy Writ we read of Tyre’s Prince, and recognize in his arrogance and pride the description of Satan too. This one was born in his domain, and once had known indeed the power of sin, the pride of this world’s life estranging her soul from God. Yet, now responding to the invitation, there she stands, to bring the gift of gratitude and praise, a willing offering of her heart, while all in heaven rejoice at this glad sight.
So will excitement grow as more and more come into truth and fellowship and sing the songs of life with hosts above, until from every part of earth the chorus rise, to form with that same song of heaven a mighty anthem full of joy and praise, from lives reflective of the Lord, and hearts that love His ways. The feast of fat things that will gladden earth has its beginnings in those scenes in heaven when Jesus takes His Bride within His father’s House to drink with her anew the wine of sacred love. Nor will it end until all men that ‘river of His pleasure’ come to drink.
Then will the Christ, with healing beams, rise as the sun to gladden hearts on earth with cheering warmth, and overspill to earth the joys of truth and righteousness, the atmosphere of love, the pure devotion to His Will that fills all heaven. And thus will the Father’s House, His dwelling place, expand to then include the hearts and lives of men that fill a sin-cleansed earth. So will His House become a House of Prayer for all mankind, when all desires of human hearts there meet, and satisfaction find forever in their God.
They all will eat the fatness, drink the goodness of the Lord, and come to know the treasures of His holy faithful Word. When the Spirit with the Bride say “Come!”, and of life’s abundance man will freely drink, what showers of blessing then will gladden earth! What joy the prospect brings us even now. What strength from that rejoicing now we gain. What stirring of our faith to know that hour for other of our brethren has begun. Beyond is all rejoicing! Now is the intervening veil so thin. We hear the now not far off voice that hails these joys begun. We sense the gladness, taste the feast now spread, and test the power of eagle’s wings that lift our minds away to share in Heaven’s bliss. They carry us on through every age to be whose blessedness will stem from this great feast, the Marriage of the Lamb.