“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Many believers quote this verse daily, applying it to their trials and tribulations. Yet the context in which Paul speaks it suggests a deeper meaning. Just two verses earlier, Paul states, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (15:54-55).
Paul was speaking eloquently about his longing for heaven. He wrote, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).
According to Paul, heaven—being in the Lord’s presence for all eternity—is something we are to desire with all our hearts.
As I ponder these things, a glorious picture begins to emerge. First, I imagine Jesus’ description of a huge gathering, when the angels “gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). When all these multitudes have been gathered, I picture a great victory march taking place in heaven with millions of glorified children singing hosannas to the Lord, the way children once did in the temple.
Then come all the martyrs. Those who once cried for justice on the earth now cry, “Holy, holy, holy!” All will be dancing with joy, crying, “Victory, victory in Jesus!”
Then a mighty roar comes forth, a sound never before heard. It is the church of Jesus Christ with multitudes from all nations and tribes.
Maybe this all sounds farfetched to you, but Paul himself testified about it. When the faithful apostle was caught up into heaven, he “was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4). Paul said he was staggered at what he heard there. I believe these were the very sounds he heard. He was given a preview of the singing and praising of God by those who will be rejoicing in his presence, their bodies made whole, their souls filled with joy and peace. It was a sound so glorious that Paul could hear it but not repeat it.