I am standing before an enormous fortress of a house located on a hilltop in Asheville, North Carolina. It is the largest privately owned home in America. It is called the Biltmore Estate. The sheer size of this stunning structure is almost breathtaking to behold. It has four acres of floor space with 250 rooms including thirty-three bedrooms, forty-five baths, an indoor swimming pool, even a bowling alley, and rests on 125,000 acres of land that includes vast gardens, walking trails, a bass pond, vineyard, and a winery. It was built by wealthy entrepreneur George W. Vanderbilt as a family residence, a showcase for his prized collections, and an entertainment retreat for his many frequent guests. Today I am only one individual waiting in line among thousands of others who are arriving continuously in buses to visit this magnificent man made achievement.
As I viewed this marvel of human engineering, completed in 1895, I couldn’t help but make a contrast between this stunning specimen of man’s accomplishment and the residence in Heaven that God has prepared for those who love Him. Spiritually speaking there is no comparison, but please permit me to cite a few observations.
As I entered the exquisite banquet hall complete with guest table, sixty-seven chairs, and magnificent tapestries, all prepared by the Vanderbilt’s for their guests, I recalled what the angel said to the apostle John: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:9) Residents in the Father’s House comprise His Bride who will invite saints from both the past and the future to be seated at the marriage supper of the Lamb. What a glorious day that will be!
The library contains thousands of books covering every subject imaginable. These volumes represent man’s best effort to record his limited understanding of the world. But when we go to God’s library, the Bible, we read that we have both the Father and the Son “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:3) His Word is truth (John 17:17) and the entrance of His words gives light; “It gives understanding to the simple.” (Ps. 119:130)
Entering into one of the numerous bedrooms so beautifully decorated as a place of rest from man’s earthly labors, my mind went back to what the Spirit told the apostle John: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev. 14:13) We have His Word that “there remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God.” (Heb. 4:9)
Scattered along the walls throughout the house are hundreds of portraits and printed works of family and friends. When the Lord’s family arrives at His house they will not see mere pictures but real people, face to face, including Jesus, the Son of God in person for “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is! (I John 3:2)
Descending to the basement I view the massive limestone foundation along with steel beams and bricks that support this gigantic structure. The Scriptures tell us that believers themselves are God’s construction built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Eph. 3:20-21) “For no otherfoundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. 3:11) I am thankful that in Christ we have a “sure foundation.”(Isa. 28:16).
In the basement are the pantries, kitchens, and servant’s quarters that are kept separate from the rest of the house. The staff is there to serve the family. Christians are God’s servants and when we get to Heaven we will not sit under a palm tree and take it easy for eternity. We will work for the Lord. “His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads.” (Rev. 22:3-4)
As I leave this masterpiece of human architecture, I realize that I am not even a specifically invited guest, much less a resident. I am merely an onlooker, a spectator who paid to see it all. I implore everyone to visit Biltmore. It is worth every bit of what it costs. But keep in mind that in God’s Heavenly Home we will not be just a guest or a gazer, but permanent residents. Jesus said: “In my Father’s House are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) Those mansions will be our home for all eternity! And I cannot wait to see mine!