by Leonard Lauriault
Summer begins at 5:59 p.m. on Friday. When I was growing up, June 21st was always the first day of summer. My brother who lives in Alaska says June 21st is Alaska National Holiday because it’s the longest day of the year, having 24 hours of virtual daylight (19 hours and 25 minutes from sunrise to sunset on the average).
He celebrates the day exuberantly because it’s also his birthday. Most of us enjoy summertime because school’s out and the weather is usually more pleasant for outdoor most activities.
The last verse of “Amazing Grace” says, “When we’ve been there then thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun (John Newton, 1779).” This, of course, refers to the joy we’ll have in heaven – a place of continuous day (Revelation 21: 22-27). Those of us who enjoy 8 to 12 hours of dark each night probably wouldn’t like the 24 hours of daylight Alaskans enjoy until we experience the 24 hours of darkness that happens there during winter. Still, not having the period of darkness we’re accustomed to in our area won’t bother us one bit in heaven.
As heaven is a place of perpetual light, hell is a place of perpetual darkness. Yes, there is a hell that’s been prepared for Satan and his followers – even those who seem to be not so bad (Matthew 13: 41-43; 25: 30, 41). They’ll be punished with the darkness they loved here because they hated the light, who just happens to be Jesus (John 8: 12; 3: 16-21; 1 John 1: 5-9; 1 Thessalonians 5: 5-11).
From God’s point of view, each day is like eternity and eternity is just like another day (2 Peter 3: 8). Sometimes eternity will seem to us like a day – a very brief period, especially compared to our whole life (James 4: 14) – because of the fast-paced fun we have as proclaimed by the verse of “Amazing Grace” previously quoted.
Other times here on earth, and more often than not, the day seems to drag on for an eternity. It will in heaven, but to our enjoyment, because there’s no night there. In hell – perpetual darkness – the night will never end.
When I wake up after a night’s rest, I’m awake. When I wake up early, I prefer to go ahead and get up because if I don’t the night drags on and the bed becomes a prison of misery (a weak example of hell on earth).
Some words to the tune of “Amazing Grace” could describe the situation of hell, albeit inadequately, “When they’ve been there a single night, t’will seem like thousands more, but they’ve no less time to pay for their crime than the night before.”
All of this makes God sound cruel and vengeful; but, the fact of the matter is that he’s so loving he’s already taken the punishment for the sins of those that love him and come into the light (Romans 3: 23; 6: 23; 5: 6-11; Exodus 34: 6-8; Jeremiah 31: 29-34). There’s the great point of God’s amazing grace – no one has to spend eternity in the fiery furnace of outer darkness, and God doesn’t want anyone to (2 Peter 3: 9). All you have to do is come to Jesus, take up his yoke and follow him in obedience (John 6: 37-40; Matthew 11: 28-30; 16: 24-27; Romans 6: 3-11; 8: 12, 13).
As hell is a place prepared for those who’ve loved the darkness of sin in this life, Jesus is preparing a place in heaven for all those who’ve come to him and remained in him throughout the rest of their lives (John 14: 1-4; 15: 1-15). This doesn’t mean we’ll be sinless, it just means that we’ve strived for that and gotten forgiveness when we’ve failed. You’ve already read that promise to Christians in 1 John 1: 5-9.
We know where Jesus went because he told us and we know the way to get there because he told us. All we have to do is follow his plan.
Won’t you do that today? If you believe that Jesus is who he said he is. Hear the rest of his word. You must turn away from whatever sin is in your life (repent) and have your past sins forgiven in Christian baptism, confessing Jesus as Lord of your life and calling on his name (Acts 2: 36-39; 22: 16; Romans 10: 8-17; Revelation 2: 10; 1 Corinthians 15: 1, 2; Romans 1: 16, 17; 11: 22).