On Earth As It Is In Heaven

One of the aspects of divine reproduction in mankind that is of importance is the way that God has sought to create things on earth the way that they are in heaven. This particular area of the Bible has a lot of aspects, and it will be our intention here to hint at them and introduce them as a means of discussing aspects of the divine nature that we are supposed to develop through our following God with the presence of the Holy Spirit within our lives. It should be noted that certain sections of the Bible (such as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 as well as its equivalent in Luke, the book of Hebrews, and the writings of Paul) are particularly interested in various implications of the desire of God to create in earth things that are a replica of what is in heaven. Given that our ability to understand spiritual matters in the absence of physical analogues is extremely limited, it behooves us to learn as much as possible about godly things through those aspects of physical life that God specifically tells us through His apostles are created in the image of the heavenly.

Let us begin with the understanding that to be a believer requires that one pray that God’s will be done in earth as it is in heaven. If we do not want earth to resemble heaven–however we see that happening–we are not God’s. To prefer the corrupt way of the world to the ways of God in heaven is to deny the authority of God and to deny oneself as being led by God and being transformed into a child of God. This is a matter that is so important that it serves at the beginning of the “model prayer” recorded in Matthew 6:9b-10: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is repeated in Luke 11:2, which reads: “So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This sort of directive ought to lead us to ask a simple question: How is God’s will done in heaven? We will examine this question in greater detail, but asking how God’s will is done in heaven is key to knowing how it is that His will is to be done on earth if God answers our prayer and if we pray with knowledge and awareness of what it is that we are asking for. There are political implications to prayers about the will of God, and we ought to be aware of what it means to wish for God’s authority to be established on earth as it is in heaven. All too many professed believers are entirely ignorant about what they claim to be praying for.

As might be expected, the Bible does indicate some aspects of how it is already that the earth and the things of the earth are a replica or copy or image of what is in heaven. The author of Hebrews makes it very plain in Hebrews 2:14-18 that Jesus taking on our form and becoming a mortal man was done for the purpose of bringing people into the Kingdom of heaven so that we may take on the form and nature of God above: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.  Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

Quite often, including in the writings of Paul, that which points towards the heavenly reality is considered to be a shadow. For example, it is written in Colossians 2:16-17a: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come.” All too often people tend to think of the shadow as being unimportant because it is not the substance, but when it comes to matters of spiritual insight, we would not know the substance at all except for the shadow. It is our awareness of the shadow and our understanding of it that gives us a picture of the deeper reality that is being pictured. And if this is true of the Sabbath and Holy Days, as Paul expresses are to be beyond the judgment of others who, envying the freedom of obedience, are quick to attack it because of their own hostility to God’s ways, it is true of everything else that is considered to be in the image and likeness of God (like humanity as a whole) or the replica of that which is in heaven which we may find even in our fallen existence on earth.

The Bible even lets us know that questions of authority are to be established on earth as it is in heaven. 1 Corinthians 11:3 tells us this very briefly but, as is typical of Paul, in a way that has to be unpackaged: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”. What this verse is telling us is that the relationship between woman and man is to mirror that between man and Jesus Christ and between Jesus Christ and God. The submission that man demands from woman is to be the submission that man offers to Christ, and that Christ showed to God. The respect and honor given by Christ to our heavenly Father is to be the honor and respect given by men to Christ and the honor and respect given by wives to their husbands (or that unmarried women are to give to their fathers). Given what we know of the way that Jesus Christ submitted Himself completely to the will of the Father, even knowing what pain and suffering would result to himself [1], it is obvious that we men do not submit to the will of Christ and God anywhere close to this level, and that women in this present age do not submit to their husbands and fathers to anywhere remotely to the degree that God demands.

Nor, should it be noted, is the verse in 1 Corinthians 11 an off-hand reference. Indeed, when Paul writes about the submission that is required of the wife to her husband in Ephesians 5:22-24, this is immediately tied to the submission that is owed by husbands (and the church at large) to Jesus Christ, just as we saw in 1 Corinthians 11:3: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” On the one hand, what is demanded of God is a patriarchal model where wives are to practice submission to their husbands. But it should be remembered that God demands that wives submit to husbands who are submitting to Jesus Christ in the same way. It is only just to require full submission to those authorities who themselves are in full submission to God and Christ, and who model the same sort of self-sacrificial love and concern that Christ has shown for His church and for humanity as a whole. To submit under any other circumstances would be to invite tyrannical abuse, and the model of patriarchy that God has for humanity is not a model of abuse and dictatorship. Those who cannot submit to authorities above them are in no place to demand that others submit to them, for submission is to go all the way up, bridging heaven and earth in obedience to God’s will and God’s ways.

[1] As it is written in Luke 22:41-44: “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”  Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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