Growing up, one of my favourite days of the school year was ‘Job Shadow Day’. It was a chance to step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary by spending the entire day with a working adult, knowing that someday we, too, would be in those shoes. Have you ever realized that our weekly corporate worship gives us that same opportunity to step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary? In public worship, as we engage with God’s Word, the sacraments, and Biblical praise and worship, heaven indeed breaks through the walls of the ordinary and strengthens and prepares us weary pilgrims for both our lives in this world and our extraordinary inheritance in glory.
GOD’S WONDERFUL WORD!
God’s Word fills us with a foretaste of heaven. In worship, we are summoned into the courts of the “King eternal, immortal, invisible” (1 Tim. 1:17) — “The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:15-17). We have been summoned by the effectual working of God’s Word and Spirit and we are responding in worship and adoration, proclaiming “the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
We are enveloped by God’s glorious presence and we find that we are not alone. We are surrounded by innumerable angels in festal gathering (Heb. 12:22). We are among the assembly of the firstborn of heaven and the spirits of the righteous made perfect (Heb. 12:23). On this day, we are carried by our Saviour one step closer to the borders of the Promised Land, and as the Word goes out from the pulpit, we know that we are being fitted for heaven — the greater than Joshua, Jesus Christ, urging us on in the battle, arming us with His Word and His Spirit.
GOD’S STRENGTHENING SACRAMENTS!
The Sacraments fill us with a foretaste of heaven. The waters of baptism display before our very eyes a picture of God’s gracious work in uniting us to His Son for our redemption from sin. His claim upon His own testifies to His gracious covenant faithfulness. The sign and seal of the washing away of our sins and of new life imparted through the risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ reminds us that apart from His sovereign grace, heaven would never be ours.
But we are not in heaven yet, and we need continual strengthening to keep marching onward. The bread and wine are placed in our hands, and we are reminded of Christ’s broken body and shed blood, and we are strengthened for our journey heavenward, as the Covenant is renewed by the God who has made us His own and promised to bring us all the way home.
GOD’S PROVISION FOR PRAISE!
Finally, the singing of Psalms fills us with a foretaste of heaven. As our own Book of Psalms for Worship puts it: “Advancing still from strength to strength, [we] go where other pilgrims trod, Till each to Zion comes at length and stands before the face of God” (Psalm 84). The inheritance of the nations, we are reminded, belongs to King Jesus — the ends of the earth belong to Him (Psalm 2)! And when we exchange the body of this mortal flesh for that of resurrection glory (Psalm 16), we will share, with Jesus, in the fulness of that glorious inheritance (Psalm 37).
What a day the Sabbath is! Week by week, as God — by his Word and Spirit — summons us, fills us, and forms us into the image of Jesus, our appetites are truly whetted for the glory to come. When was the last time you truly tasted heaven in corporate worship? Go ahead, feast away!
*All Scripture quotations taken from the New King James Version (NKJV). Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.