Paul says “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18) There are many times when I struggle to understand what he means by ‘the glory that will be revealed in us.’ My imagination doesn’t always cope well with the vivid word pictures we find in the Bible. Revelation blows my mind with its lavish pictures! In particular, the vision of heaven which John portrays in Revelation 21 is hard for me to imagine. There we read, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” (Rev 21:10-11) He goes on to tell us “The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.” (Rev 21:18-21)

I have just spent the past few days in Paris, looking around lavish, ornate churches that were a testimony to man’s attempts to capture the splendour and grandeur of the glory of God in the buildings they built in which to worship Him. I marvelled at the grandeur of Sacré-Coeur and Notre Dame:

I gazed at stained glass windows like this one in Notre Dame, reflecting on the light of the world:

But what stunned me the most was the Eglise du Dôme which is part of the Invalides complex, originally built by Louis XIV but now most famous as the resting place of Napoleon’s body. This church is absolutely stunning. Even the outside is covered in gold!

The inside is so lavish that it was almost breath-taking:

The church was originally used as a place to worship God, but now this part of it is simply a mausoleum. Napoleon’s body was transferred there from St Helena in 1840 and a magnificent tomb was created within the church:

The tomb, crafted in red porphyry from Russia, placed on a green granite base from the Vosges, is circled by a crown of laurels and inscriptions, reminders of the great victories of the Empire. In the round gallery, a series of sculptures by Simart represent the main events of Napoleon’s time as Emperor. A statue of the Emperor, bearing the imperial emblems, was erected at the back of the crypt. The ornate grandeur of all this, to house one man, is almost beyond belief. Other military leaders are also buried here, such as Foch:

As I stood gazing at the sheer magnificence of this church and wondering at man’s skill in building such a monument (and quite why Napoleon should be so venerated as to merit all this!), the only thing I could really think of was that the description of heaven in Revelation 21 is so much more magnificent than what I was looking at that I simply cannot imagine it. I have looked at so many splendid things this week, things that are truly priceless. And yet God tells me that this is as nothing compared to the magnificence of His glory and what awaits us as His children. As Dave frequently tells us, ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet!’ Our imaginations need to be stretched to take in all that is yet to be revealed.