In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14. 2).
If there are so many mansions in the Father's house, why did our Lord find it necessary to go away and prepare a place for His disciples that where He is, there we may be also? Were none of these mansions good enough? In Divine creation there are many homes suitable for living beings, many stations of existence, both spiritual and material. Look up into the starry heavens: behold the magnificent array of stars, some of them attended by planets like our own. Here in this great universe there are an untold myriad of possible abiding places for living creatures. Sir James Jeans, speaking before the Royal Institution in November, 1942, and giving what was then the very latest considered conclusions of astronomers on this subject, said "the chance of a star, in a nebulous state, having given birth to planets before attaining to the sun state is considerable. A fair proportion of the stars must then be accompanied by planets. Of these a substantial fraction are likely to be in a physical state not very different from that of our own earth, and so capable of maintaining life like our terrestrial life; it is possible that such life is far more abundant in space than we used to think". Bible students may not readily agree to the last sentence; it is more likely that these other planets are being prepared for future races of men made in God's likeness, when the drama of sin and death has been enacted once for all upon this earth. But it does seem that many "mansions" in the skies, existing from of old, "or ever the earth was", have been and are being prepared for the further purposes of God. Nevertheless, none of these terrestrial mansions can ever be a fitting home for the glorified Christ company. Made like unto their Lord, clothed upon with spiritual bodies even as He, possessed of powers and attributes far above the human, there must of necessity be, somewhere, a home prepared for them which is of like quality.
What, then, of the spiritual world, of which our visible universe is but a material counterpart? Long before the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and commanded light to be; long before the particles of which sun, and moon, and stars are made, had begun to come together, God Most High reigned upon the throne of His holiness. The Son, the Logos, rejoiced "always before him" (Prov.8.30), and ten thousand times ten thousand glorious celestial beings lived their lives and carried out their varied occupations and vocations in sinless purity before Him. That world of theirs, impossible for our human brains to imagine or visualise, must have a more glorious counterpart to everything that gives us pleasure or sustains life here on earth. Those angels do always behold the face of the Father (Matt. 18. 10). Could it not be, then, that among those heavenly hosts and in the order of things in which they live, and move, and have their being, there may be found that superbly glorious home to which the King will lead His Bride when the day of union shall have come?
Perhaps not. Perhaps there is something more planned by the Almighty Creator that is only then to be revealed. Perhaps there is an exercise of creative power leading to another creation that is to be for the Church alone, as high above the angelic world as that world is above our present terrestrial world.
All these planes of being, with their varied homes and worlds, belong to the Old Creation — that creation which commenced when the Most High, in the solitude and silence before Time began, through His Son created the spiritual world, and varied forms of spiritual beings to fill that world. He then brought into existence a material universe, making man in His own mental and moral image and likeness, in form of flesh adapted to the earth upon which He was to live. All this constitutes the Old Creation, the First Creation, the one brought into existence by God through the instrumentality of His beloved Son, "by whom also he made the worlds".
This creation, with all its mansions, is, or will be when sin is banished, complete in itself. The New Testament speaks of the subsequent coming into existence of a New Creation—something the like of which has never been seen or known before, either upon earth or in heaven. Spiritual beings, but on a higher plane than spiritual beings have ever been constituted before. The Divine Son is the Head of this New Creation. His followers who are called to follow in His steps are promised that, if faithful, they too shall share in the glories of that New Creation. They have become dead in Christ and have been buried with Him in His baptism and have risen again to walk in newness of life with Him. They are not yet clothed upon with the "body", the outward organism in which the new spiritual life and identity finds itself at home, and through which adjusted in its own surroundings and to its fellows, but, nevertheless, they are a "New Creation". "If any man be in Christ, there is a New Creation. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5. 17).
So it is not surprising that this New Creation, endowed with immortality, the gift of God, should need a new kind of home of a nature that the Old Creation had never needed and never seen. Many mansions there have been in the Father's house, but none just suitable for immortal beings. The Bridegroom must needs go away and prepare a place exceeding the most glorious spiritual condition previously known, just as the glory of the spiritual exceeds the glory of the earthly.
If this be so, what joy must fill the heart of the Heavenly Bridegroom as He comes to call His Bride to her new home. With what deep satisfaction must He then contemplate the imminence of the day when He shall "see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied" (Isaiah 53. 11). The new home ready; angels in heaven eager to witness the great event; the Heavenly Father awaits the presentation of the Bride before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. What wonder that it is said that the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, and that His beloved shall be "caught up" to meet Him in the air, so to be ever with Him. Who knows the wonders of that marriage feast, when the wisdom of all the ages, and deepest confidence respecting the work of the future, shall be imparted to those to whom it is given to sit around that festal board. Here it is that the picture of the Bride must merge into that of the anointed and glorified company. From that wedding feast these will come forth, radiant souls possessed by an all-embracing and overpowering love for their Lord and their Leader, the Head of their house. That home is to be their headquarters, their homeland, from which they will go forth to carry out the wonderful works that are to be their portion to all eternity.
The wedding feast is limited in time. The world of men will be passing through the severest phase of the world's final trouble while those wonderful scenes are being enacted in heaven. The Church will have gone from earth to be presented to the Father, to become accustomed to their new environment and powers. Now they will receive their final instructions for their first great work, the conversion of men upon earth. They will not linger for the cry of humanity resounds to the heavens, and the whole creation, groans and travails in pain together, "waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God" (Rom. 8. 19-22 NRSV).
So the cavalcade sets out. The Lord who had come to earth for His saints, and taken them to Himself, now comes to the world with his saints, and there is no man who knows it not. We do not know, we cannot say, what coming and going there may be between that place which is our home, prepared for that purpose by our Lord, and this place which for a thousand years is the scene of our labours. "What we will be has not yet been revealed." and our deepest thinking can only furnish us with a shadow of the reality.
Perhaps, though, we can visualize, dimly, at the end of the thouand years, another great gathering in the spacious halls of that "prepared place". The work with mankind is over. Evil has spread its wings and flown far away; never again will its shadow darken God's fair realm. Sin is no more; all the earth is at rest, it breaks forth into singing. Listening angels have heard the sublime words, echoing from high Heaven: "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". The cherubim which for long ages have stood on guard with the flaming sword, keeping the way of the Tree of Life, now wing their flight back to the Throne of God, their long vigil over. The Sons of God who wondered, and shouted for joy, when the foundations, of the earth were laid (Job 38. 7) are shouting again for joy to behold this triumphant conclusion to the eternal purpose of God. Away up in that highest home of all, the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church commune together. The further plans of God are spread out to view. There are works of creation, mighty beyond imagination. There are designs for the enrichment of God's glory and superabundant happiness for creatures yet to be born. They are happy in His service and unceasing joy in each other's fellowship and in the presence and companionship of our glorious Lord, age after age without end, to all eternity.