"Why me? Why should I be loved, accepted and chosen for life in eternity after all I've done? Surely anyone who knows the real me wouldn't give me more than I could ever deserve. No one could ever love me that much, could they?"
Your journey into eternity is the most important journey you will ever prepare for. Your eternal destiny is a highly personal matter. No one else can walk your path. Some think of their future as an almost endless cycle of birth and death, known as samsara, popularly known as reincarnation. The aim is to break free from one's human fallibilities and failures until one day enlightenment and eventually emptiness are achieved. Others believe that death is the end for them; there is no hope of something better.
So what do the ancient scriptures say? They give some surprising answers. Here are three little-known prophecies from the ancient Middle East that point to a new hope for eternity, and give a refreshingly different perspective on our eternal future. No longer does it depend on our imperfect attempts to achieve an unknown standard of spirituality, but for those who follow this path there awaits the opportunity to experience divine beauty, divine sanctuary and divine reconciliation in just one lifetime.
Beauty is one of the hallmarks of nature, whether it's the vibrant colours and perfect symmetry of a tropical butterfly or the grandeur of a mountain range topped with snow; whether it's the grace of an eagle in flight or the love of a mother for her child. Why is there such beauty in nature? Where does it come from?
As we read on the previous page, our natural world clearly displays the attributes of divinity. This prophecy from the 'Book of Isaiah' speaks of a Creator, of infinite beauty and of unceasing love, who invites each one of us individually to share in his* abundant life, not only here and now, but for eternity on a new celestial plane, in a "land that stretches afar".
Sanctuary is a place of refuge, a place of safety from the threats of this world; a place where evil cannot touch us, a place where a higher authority offers us the protection that we need. There are not many earthly kings or queens that we would run to for sanctuary, but this prophecy from the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah describes "a glorious throne" where we can always find love, acceptance and forgiveness as we humbly and honestly come as we are.
Totally accepted - what a wonderful thought - not because of what I look like or where I come from or how I've behaved, but accepted for who I am. Jeremiah later records the voice from the throne, "I love you with an everlasting love. So I will continue to show you my kindness."
"Looking down into the valley that morning was like gazing at a magical lake, a carpet of white cloud stretched from one rocky slope to the other. Treetops and hillocks arose through the mist like islands near the valley sides. And though the pearly mist stretched along the valley as far as the eye could see, by midday it was gone. There was nothing to show it had ever existed."
When we look inside ourselves what do we see? Peace, anxiety, perfection, regrets, strength, weakness? Are we pearly white like the mist, or smudged like dirty fingerprints on pure, white paper? If we are honest, most of us would admit that we still have some way to go on our spiritual journey. We aspire to progress, to achieve a higher level of spirituality, yet deep inside many of us can relate to the words of Rabbi Sha'ul, an iconic voice from the First Century, when he admitted, "I don’t understand why I act the way I do — I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate!"
How wonderful it would be to be free of that burden, to know a fresh start, a spiritual rebirth, to have the past wiped clean. Many try and deny the need for forgiveness, but in so doing they deny millions the answer to their heart's cry. Finding true forgiveness gives peace to our heart and cleansing to our soul. Isaiah's prophecy points to one who has already dealt with our burden. The key is in the final sentence, "Return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free." - a prophecy fulfilled 700 years later by Yeshua on a Roman cross. Our spiritual journey is to be lived in relationship with our Creator, for He* alone offers us freedom from our past, strength for our journey and hope for our future.
* For more on the nature of God, see our FAQ's.