Isaiah 32 begins with a declaration of the future reign of the Messiah. It is assumed, though not quite certain, that Isaiah is referring to the second coming of Christ, when the earth shall be transformed and receive paradisiacal glory. I will proceed on that assumption because it brings up some interesting questions.
As I pondered this chapter, some verses stuck out at me because they paint an interesting picture of the millennial reign of the Messiah. Consider these verses in particular:
2 And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
19 When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.
Notice in the verses that Isaiah is applying the metaphors of adversity to a time after Jesus comes to reign. We often think of the Millenium (and of Heaven) as a time when we have no adversity. The millennium we hear about is described as a global transformation to Eden rather than the isolated peace spoken of here. With this picture in mind, we assume that the Lord’s isolated peace as described here will be expanded to all the earth after he comes again. In other words, our problems will be solved by the external elimination of adversity- we will feel happy because our lives will be easy. Yet, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John 14:27) The national idea of peace is the absence of conflict. The personal, worldly idea of peace is the absence of struggle. But these are not the Lord’s peace. It is difficult for the world to imagine feeling peace during a war or a trial or a storm, but this is what the Savior is talking about in both John and Isaiah. Consider the Isaiah metaphors- The peace that He brings is like finding a rock to cast a shadow over you in the desert. It’s like finding a tiny, solid shelter to ride out a storm. The external adversity remains, yet there is peace.
The prophet Lehi taught that adversity is a requirement of growth. If all adversity is removed from us one day during the millennial reign of Christ, where is our opportunity for growth? In heaven there is presumably even less adversity. Where is our opportunity for growth there? If we think about it, we know that there certain types of adversity that can and do exist in heaven. The first example of this is the war in heaven before the foundations of the world when Lucifer and his followers were cast out. The war continues today and will come to a conclusion only after the Millennial Reign of Christ. Another example is the labor that God performed in creating this earth. It is clear from the beginning that God loves to work.
I will leave off with the following thought: mainstream views of heaven are often simplistic reductions of the theme “our troubles will be over”. Cartoons depict angels strumming harps while sitting in a vast landscape of puffy clouds. I think these concepts of heaven distract us from a more beautiful truth. Consider the things that bring deep meaning and joy in this life- human relationships, the smell of rain, the beauty and variety of life, honest labor, creation, etc. The Lord created this Earth as a type and shadow of the things to come. The things that bring us true joy in this life are scaled down versions of what brings joy to our God. Those who finally enter the Lord’s Kingdom will be people who will feel comfortable and confident there.
I believe that the people who will feel the most comfortable in the Lord’s Kingdom will be people who will look forward to heaven as a place of activity, growth, and work rather than as a place of perpetual leisure. Let us be about, then, working hard, doing good, building up others, and generally making our part of the world a better place. Let us view rest and leisure not as goals, but as tools to assist us in being good laborers. In this way we will properly prepare for the second coming of our Lord and Savior.