A. W. Tozer said, “Jesus Christ is the center of the human race. With Him there are no favored races. …He is the Son of Man—not a Son of the Jewish race only. He is the Son of all races no matter what the color or tongue.”
Every racial barrier is broken down in Christ. Because of His work on the cross, we’re all part of the same family. We share the same Father, and the same brother Jesus, and that means we’re family. Christ’s work on the cross put racism to death: “He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).
On the New Earth, the work of reconciliation will be complete, and we’ll celebrate our unified diversity by singing praise to Jesus that His blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe: “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’” (Revelation 5:9, NIV).
God is the Creator and lover of human diversity. Christ is glorified not simply by the total number who worship Him, but because this number represents every race, nation and language. This excerpt from my novel Dominion depicts the beautiful diversity of Heaven.
The heavenly temple stood before them, the temple for which that built on earth was a small-scale model, suggestive of the real thing as miniature cars from a cereal box are suggestive of real ones. The courtyard of this temple seemed countless millions of acres, and the numbers of the throngs far exceeded even Dani’s heightened capacity to estimate.
Here were teeming millions gathered to worship the One who has dominion over all.
Everything good on earth was seed to which this was the flower and fruit. The shadow was substance here. Dani realized in a way she never had that those on earth who did not believe in the substance could never appreciate the shadow. To them the shadow was all there was, something to be grasped and captured and fashioned into their own liking, rather than something which testified to that which was greater. Only those touched by the world of substance could truly find joy in the world of shadows.
Voices everywhere merged into a single hum of excitement. A sense of intimacy pervaded this huge group, a closeness Dani had never experienced among large numbers, though she’d caught occasional glimpses of it in church worship services.
She heard all the voices in different languages and enjoyed the distinctive tone of each. She was particularly drawn to Swahili but also loved Norwegian, Aborigine, Hmong, Assyrian, Tagalog, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. People from every nation, tribe, people, and language stood before the throne, in front of the Lamb. She’d read about it, and now she was living it. She chided herself that when she’d read the words in the dark world she’d never even tried to envision them, thinking of them as myth or metaphor.
Elyon’s diverse creation reflected his internal diversity, the paradoxical interplay of his seemingly contradictory but always complementary attributes. He had built the unity of the universe, Dani saw now, not on the unwilling conformity of identical components but on the voluntary yielding to one another of diverse components. On earth this meant not only two different genders, but many different races and cultures and languages. She realized that despite what happened at Babel, from the very beginning Elyon’s genetic blueprint had contained all that allowed this diversity to finally blossom.
She looked at Torel. “I once thought that in heaven every race would somehow be the same, every language the same, every outward appearance the same. Now it seems such a ridiculous notion. To strip people of their uniqueness would be like taking all the varied colorful vegetables and cramming them into a grinder, then churning them into a pasty gray puree. The beauty would be gone, the taste gone, the color gone, the vegetables themselves gone. In hell, perhaps such bland sameness exists. But certainly not in heaven!”
“You see it clearly now,” Torel said. “There are different races, but all with one unifying center of gravity, the glory of God. In the Shadowlands the dark lord tries to commandeer for himself a perverted notion of diversity, just as he tried to ruin the beauty of sex by legitimizing sexual perversion. Of course, the beauty of diversity is in its perfect harmony with God’s created order, not in a cacophony of violations of that order. Heaven’s diversity has placed itself under Elyon’s lordship, creating a unity that transcends the diversity. The Creator gives symmetry, order, and magnificence to the diversity of his creation. This diversity, not the diversity of sin, is what should be celebrated.”
Dani watched as a short and unimposing man with dark face slowly ascended a huge platform beneath the throne on which the Carpenter sat. An angel, tall and straight, reverently handed the man a Bible. The two seemed intimately familiar with one another, as if they had fought side by side in a great war. The Bible’s pages began to turn, apparently by sheer force of the little man’s thoughts, until his eyes fixed on the passage he wanted to read, very near the end of the Book.
“Hear the eternal words of Elyon that tell us what is to come. This is what Elyon showed me on Patmos, that all men might know what awaits them.”
John. The apostle John!
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
A shudder rose from the crowd. When it subsided, John continued. “Elyon is the gracious rewarder of those who seek and obey him. We whose names are written in the book look forward to the day of rewards. Listen now to his promises. Rejoice at what awaits you.”
The pages turned again, and John spoke slowly and emphatically the words of Elyon’s Son: “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” Wondrous rumblings of assent filled the air.
John launched into prayer, gazing at the glowing throne and him who sat upon it. Dani and the rest of the crowd followed John’s gaze, turning in unison toward the object of his devotion. Their new eyes were able to tolerate a brightness that would have blinded mortal eyes.
“Elyon, God of Abraham, God of our fathers, we thank you that you are the judge of all men and your judgments are always just. We thank you that you keep careful track of all things, that you ignore no deed, whether righteous or evil. We tremble yet rejoice that nothing escapes your notice.”
Countless praises rose from the crowd. Dani heard many languages but readily understood them all. In the distinctive rhythms and accents of every language she felt the very textures of the different cultures from which these people came.
“We pray for those in the dark world,” John continued, “who live day after day with no sense of what is to come. We intercede for those who try in vain to fill the emptiness of their souls with violence, immorality, greed, self-importance, and every other form of rebellion and self-destruction. Show them, Elyon, that the holes in their hearts can be filled only by you; that they have no hope except in you; that apart from your redemption they cannot and will not stand on the terrible day of judgment. As the dark world races headlong toward that final judgment, may your Spirit enlighten many, teaching them to see with the eyes of eternity.”
The intensity of his voice suddenly increased. “Embolden Michael’s warriors who fight valiantly for the souls of men. Defeat your enemies who followed Morningstar in his rebellion.”
What seemed like an electric current—Dani could hear arcs of energy surging and crackling—moved like lightning between the tallest beings in the crowd. The longing of humans for Elyon’s final victory, great as it was, seemed eclipsed now by the more ancient yearning of Michael’s hosts.
“We grow impatient, all-wise Elyon, for the kingdom of our Christ to be established on earth. We long for all things wrong to be made right. Yet you are patient, enduring every indignity and accusation cast upon you by rebellious men. You wait for one and then another to come to faith in you.”
Expressions of agreement rose from every corner of the great assembly. As John concluded, a loud chorus of voices, perfectly timed, cried “Amen.” Dani’s voice was among them. On the platform a man began singing with a lighter-than-air voice that became steadily stronger and more focused with every verse. The voice was as clear and audible to those in the back of the crowd, hundreds of miles away, as to those only feet from the front.
At first she thought it was a new song, so original and penetrating. Then she realized she knew the song. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” The singer—of course, he was the writer of the song. The old slave-trader, repentant of racism and oppression and injustice, eternally cleansed. “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
He continued to sing, many in the crowd joining him, others just listening to his voice, contemplating the drama of redemption embodied in the man. All heaven joined together as he sang, “When we’ve been here ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we’d first begun.”
Many of Michael’s legions seemed to appear from nowhere—some striding forward, some coming down from above, some appearing to come from beyond the far side of the throne. There were untold thousands of them, ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled Elyon’s throne and sang in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Suddenly an explosion of sound pierced the air from behind and around Dani. Everyone sang now with an impetus that pushed her forward toward the throne. Surrounded in sound, resonating as if she were a tuning fork, she both absorbed the sound and produced it. She felt like a leaf swept along in a raging river, a river that both came from and led to Elyon Most High.
The worshippers sang many songs. Now a little girl walked across the platform and began to sing. She looked so beautiful, she reminded Dani of...Felicia! She had written her song for Elyon’s Son, and he wished all heaven to hear it. The song was so beautiful, Felicia’s voice so wondrous. Dani swelled with the right kind of pride, realizing this was her girl, yet even on earth she had never owned her. People could own things, but only Elyon could own people. Felicia was and would always be Dani’s treasure, for she had invested so much in her. But the girl was Elyon’s treasure first and last and above all. Dani looked to the throne so far away and yet so very close and met the eyes of the Carpenter. For an instant, they shared an intimate joy over this little girl.
Dani could barely hear the million singing angels up front, for the voice of the multitudes overwhelmed them. The angels had at first seemed the largest choir ever assembled but now proved to be only the small worship ensemble that led the true choir of untold millions, now lost to themselves, lost to all but Elyon, singing at full voice, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and dominion, for ever and ever!”