by Roy Diestelkamp
In song songbooks by many congregations is the old hymn: “For The Beauty Of The Earth.” The first verse says:
“For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies, For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies, Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.”
The song reminds us of the love of God, who not only made us but then placed us on this very comfortable and beautiful earth. The earth is just what man needs to live and to thrive. It is in the perfect position in our universe and solar system for man to be able to live. If the earth was closer to the sun, it would be too hot for human life. If the sun were further from the earth, it would be too cold to sustain us. But God made us, and loved us, and put us in this good place.
The earth too is beautiful. We marvel at the beauty of the sunrise and sunset. We are enthralled by the purple mountain majesties, sometimes topped by snowcaps, or the crashing sound of white-capped ocean waves rolling onto a sandy shore, or the lush foliage and flowers of tropical jungles. We stand in awe of the glory of stars, planets, and the moon, that we see at night in the sky, and the “northern lights” that can dazzle us with their color, and the rainbow that appears in a cloud on a sunny day.
Yes, the hymn writer was right, “for the beauty of the earth!” God made this world good for us, and beautiful too. He could have made the earth utilitarian, but drab, mundane, or even ugly. We could have lived on that kind of earth. But God made the earth good, useful, and beautiful too, for the benefit of man. We did not advise God as to how the earth should be; He made it for us, as it is.
I say this to remind us that God made heaven too, and it will be even better than this earth. The earth is carnal and temporary; heaven is spiritual and eternal (John 14:1-3; II Timothy 2:10). The same God who made the earth beautiful has made heaven more beautiful and glorious! When John was inspired to describe heaven for our human understanding he used the most beautiful earthly words he could, to give us a glimmer of its magnificence. He described heaven as being of pure gold, and precious dazzling stones (Revelation 21:18-21). It had a river of water as clear as crystal, and on the side of the river wonderful fruit on the tree of life (Revelation 22:1-2). The throne of God in heaven was described like precious stones, surrounded by a rainbow, and a mirror-like floor as of crystal (Revelation 4:2-6). Heaven is not made of these earth-like materials, but it was the best John could do to make us understand how valuable and beautiful it is.
We cannot imagine with our minds the magnificence of heaven. However, we know it is the home of the God who made this earth (Acts 7:49), and we know it will be even more beautiful, and better than this earth.