The Pearly Gates

I was sitting at the table in my sister-in-law’s house last weekend when I glanced out the patio doors and what I saw made me pause and stare. When I exclaimed, “I see the pearly gates,” everyone jumped with anticipation to catch a glimpse!  There they were; beautiful, decorative, dual arches of pearly gates!

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It took us a moment to figure out where the reflection was coming from. The sun was shining on the front door that  has a decorative glass insert at just the right angle to reflect on the patio doors that were across the living room and dining area. It is not a straight line across the room, but somehow all the right reflectors lined up to give us an imagery of pearly gates!

It was neat even if it was a pathetic simulation of “the heavenly pearly gates”.   I have been thinking about those heavenly gates ever since. One day my eyes are going to lock onto the most spectacular gates of pearl imaginable and I suspect I will gasp at the wonder that is before me.

There are many pearly gate jokes with St. Peter as the keeper of the doorway. You have to convince him that you are worthy for him to unlock the gate and let you slip in.  But scripture gives us a different visual.  In Revelations 21 there is a description of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven.  It is an immense and beautiful city with a wall built of jasper and twelve foundations of different gems. There are twelve gates, each made from a single pearl and the street of the city is pure gold like transparent glass. (Revelations 21:21).  This city descends from God, out of heaven, down to the new earth (Revelations 21: 1-2).  Contrary to popular belief, the gates do not bar entrance to the city as they are never shut.  However, these gates can only be entered by those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. “Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelations 21:26-27).

Those pearly gates will be a dazzling sight. I visualize Jesus standing there with arms outstretched before the wide open gate as I run and fall into his embrace.

There is so much about heaven we do not know and understand. We catch glimpses in scripture of its beauty and glory. The details are not important, but what is important is to believe in and know Jesus Christ as your redeemer. Jesus is the only way to the Father and heaven. There is no other. Jesus told us plainly, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).

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Just a few thoughts for further reflection.

To my surprise when I got studying and looking at scripture on the pearly gates I discovered that I had adopted some of the “religious” myth about the gate. There actually is very little scripture about a gate to heaven.

The “Pearly Gates” are associated with the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven to a new earth when the present earth is destroyed. There are twelve gates, one for each of the twelve tribes of Jacob (Revelations 21:12) in the walls of the huge city which is shaped as a cube; three gates on each side.  Scriptures says these gates will not be shut at all by day for there is no night there but only those who names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be able to enter.  (Revelations 21:25-27).

The only other reference to a “gate” is in Matthew 7: 13-14. “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.”

To my surprise, I could find no mention of entering a gate to heaven when I die!  People who have had “after life” experiences report seeing a brilliant, intense, bright light and being drawn to it. Most see a beautiful gate with people gathered to welcome them home.  It is beautiful, comforting imagery. Whether or not it is totally true does not matter. We do know heaven is real and beautiful beyond what we can imagine.  Jesus will be there to welcome his loved ones home.

 

 

 

 

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