And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above…
…And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
– Ezekiel 1:22,26-28c (emphasis mine)
Before his ordination, the prophet Ezekiel sees a vision of the heavenly sanctuary. Nearly everything he describes he calls an "appearance" or "likeness" of something on earth. We are given the impression that these heavenly objects and beings are at the same time recognizable and impossible to describe. They apparently resemble earthly objects but remain wholly Other to us. This strange and beautiful correspondence between the heavenly and earthly creations is implicit throughout Scripture and is made more or less explicit in the epistle to the Hebrews and in the book of Revelation.
In his first epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul speaks of our present age as seeing "through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (1Co 13:12). He speaks of our present bodies as "terrestrial" and the resurrected bodies as "celestial", likening their difference to the difference between the moon and the sun. The earthly "lunar" body is a seed that is sown, out of which springs the heavenly "solar" body. (1Co 15:40-44) So evening becomes morning (Gen 1). Earth becomes heaven. The child eventually becomes a man and puts away childish things (1Co 13:11).
This pattern of maturing and revealing should be self-evident to us. If we stop to ask whether our lives are moving forward or backward or standing still, we will almost invariably have an answer. We all have some vision of how life ought to be—even if that vision is more felt than known—and we measure our lives according to that vision. If our outer world does not match our inner world, we will try to change one of the two to resolve the dissonance. Those who choose to accept the dissonance through meditation or some other means are, in fact, making serious adjustments to their inner world. We do what we can. But the future is about as knowable as heaven itself. And all of us, often to overwhelming degrees, live in friction with the present.
The modern response has been to see this friction as an engine by which we can eventually overcome the problem. People (inner world) are rational, and truth (outer world) is knowable. So it is only a matter of time before a perfect resolution can be negotiated. Postmodernism denies that people are rational and truth knowable. Meaningful negotiation is therefore impossible. Friction is something we have to live with. Both of these responses—of which we all tend to hold a mixture—are included in but fall short of the revelation of Scripture. We can say that the modern approach emphasizes the correspondence of earth and heaven, while the postmodern approach emphasizes the alienness that keeps them separate. In a mystery, Scripture says that both are true.
Christ teaches us to pray for the Father's will "on earth as it is in heaven". He also teaches us that only after His coming will that prayer finally be answered. Christians are constantly veering to the left or the right of these teachings. We seek heaven exclusively in the outer world and become crusaders and inquisitors. Or we seek it exclusively in the inner world and become cultish, escapist, and sectarian. Or we simply ignore Christ's teachings altogether. Naturally, their are gradations and mixtures in all these cases.
To be both in the world and not of the world is often an excruciating way to live. It is why, though few Christians will be literally crucified, every Christian will carry a cross by following Christ.
When God created the heavens and the earth, He made one creation in two parts. He put man and woman right on the boundary line between the two, just where the pre-honeymoon agony is strongest. The promise is that all this will pay off if we can keep the tension and nurture our desire. Of course, Christ is the only one who can truly do these things, which is why we bind ourselves to Him. That accomplished, we can expect to suffer from time to time and should pray that we may rejoice in our sufferings.
A quick footnote on the implications this has for music: both discord and harmony become good things when they are set within the proper vision, whether by the composer or the listener. Even a work with the darkest of intentions can be understood in Christ as being only the first part of a bigger story. Due caution must be paid not to nurture dark feelings. And some music—dark or light—is trash not worth listening to. Still, we shouldn't shy away from what makes us uncomfortable. Music has tremendous power to increase empathy and understanding. We should take full advantage of this power as we seek to love our neighbor and live at peace with one another.
I walked on the new earth, under the new heaven, and found them the same as the old, save that now they opened their minds to me, and I saw into them. Now, the soul of everything I met came out to greet me and make friends with me, telling me we came from the same, and meant the same. I was going to him, they said, with whom they always were, and whom they always meant; they were, they said, lightnings that took shape as they flashed from him to his. The dark rocks drank like sponges the rays that showered upon them; the great world soaked up the light, and sent out the living. Two joy-fires were Lona and I. Earth breathed heavenward her sweet-savoured smoke; we breathed homeward our longing desires. For thanksgiving, our very consciousness was that. – Lilith by George MacDonald, chapter XLV