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Every Christmastime, the high school I attended in Indiana would present a holiday concert in which the student choir would sing the Hallelujah Chorus from George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, which includes these glorious, biblical words: “And He shall reign forever and ever.” The Scripture Mr. Handel was referring to is this: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15). 1 This is not just a New Testament idea, however. Here is the last line of the Song of Moses after the Lord God Almighty had delivered His people from bondage in Egypt: “The LORD will reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:18).

The Lord God Almighty has always reigned, since before the foundations of the world. He has never ceased reigning and never will. We just don’t realize it.

The other day, this very thought about Jesus reigning forever and ever buzzed through my mind—or soul or spirit or all three—wherever and however thoughts about God buzz through. After this it occurred to me that I will be part of that. I will be with Him and the saints as He reigns forever and ever. Let’s pause here for a moment, because the meaning of “forever and ever” can easily lose the weight of its significance to us. The issue Christians face is that we really don’t have much of an idea what is included in that “forever and ever.” We already are incapable of thinking how long a million years is, much less eternity, where time doesn’t even exist. So, we just say “amen” and move on. Nothing wrong with that amen whatsoever.

However, the idea of eternity keeps nagging at us. It seems to be a universal experience that as people age, they begin to realize the transitory nature of life on earth. The Scriptural understanding about our frail impermanence becomes more real. Its brevity stands in wondrous contrast to a life that doesn’t end in the heavenly kingdom with Jesus and the saints.

What will that life be like? It’s easy, using our fallen human minds, to think, “It will be boring. Who wants to worship God all the time?” We should be careful to avoid thinking this way. Consider this passage:

“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’ And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:8–10a).

Perhaps we might arrogantly think that the living creatures and the twenty-four elders are slaves who either have no choice or simply automatons like those Halloween houses where scary characters continually pop out of the walls to frighten people. No, it is the glorious presence of the Lord God Almighty that causes them to behave this way. We should ask ourselves what we would do if we were in His presence. Check out the Scripture to discover how those who did encounter Him responded.

However, we are not told that the saints will do nothing but worship Jesus “all the time.” Of the saints, Revelation 22:4–5 says, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

“They will reign forever and ever.” Hmm. That sounds familiar. Jesus shall reign forever and ever. We will reign with Him forever and ever.

But reign over what?

Well, for one thing, we will be doing this: “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2a). “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3a).

What will that look like? We are not told. However, we should keep in mind that the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom is the third land promise the Lord made. The first was to Adam, the second to Abraham, and the third to the saints, to inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5) and a kingdom (Matthew 25:34). We should keep in mind that the Lord brought victory over adversaries in bringing His people into the land of promise. The inhabitants were judged and destroyed by the Lord. So, what will inheriting this third land promise look like?

I have no idea. But it will be just. And glorious.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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