An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (John 5:28-29).
While it is important to understand that our relationship with God is not deferred to a distant future land—we enjoy spiritual blessings right now, and we have big responsibilities in the kingdom right now—we must also appreciate our hope. As times get tougher and persecution gets bolder, we need frequently to cast a wishful eye toward Heaven. Let these features, revealed in God’s word, spur us on toward the prize.
John describes Heaven’s brilliance Revelation. He says it’s like “very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper” and is everywhere adorned with precious gemstones. Even the street shimmers with gold so pure it shines like glass.
One of my earliest childhood memories is walking for the first time into a glassblower’s shop, gaping at the rainbows reflected in the intricate designs and jewel-like beauty. The source of light in Heaven is “the glory of God,” which illuminates it more powerfully than the Sun or the Moon or any lamp. Surely our first vision of Heaven is going to take a while to get over!
People have a misguided tendency to think of Heaven as a heaping dose of whatever pleasure they enjoy most on earth. Dale Earnhardt is supposedly racing around an oval track in the sky. Tupac Shakur is rapping into a heavenly microphone. Jihadists are enjoying their 72 virgins (I’ve never quite understood what’s in it for the women of jihadists). If we think of Heaven as a blend of Disney, Carrabba’s, and HBO, our thinking is too small.
We will have a glorified resurrection body in Heaven. It will be a body, but it will be a different sort of body (1 Cor. 15:42-54). It’s not that there will be hot baths and we will get to sleep until 10:00am—it’s that we won’t get cold or tired. It’s not that there will be limitless food—it’s that we won’t get hungry. It’s not that there will be a harem—it’s that there won’t be marriage (Matt. 22:30). “There will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). “There will no longer be any curse” (Rev. 22:3).
Heaven is fulfillment to a degree that we have never experienced nor can imagine. If you can figure out how to explain the concept of “red” to a blind man, perhaps you can figure out how to explain the delights of Heaven to people still in the flesh. We simply lack the vocabulary and to understand how delightful Heaven will be!
Heaven is a place free from sin (Rev. 21:7, 22:14-15), which is why it is a place free from the consequences of sin—the bitterness, the pain, the disappointment, the betrayal. It is constant rejoicing (Rev. 4:1-11)—not in the sense of an endless boring church service, but in the sense of basking in the inward delights of God, like Lazarus was being comforted in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22).
It’s hard to imagine something lasting forever. Every joy on earth is cut short by time—spouses die, friends move away, springtime fades to winter, youth is fleeting, cars rust.
Revelation 22:5 assures us that the saints in Heaven will reign “forever and ever.” And it’s not just eternal life, it’s eternal living! It’s important to note that the phrase “eternal life” (John 3:16, Matt. 25:46) does not use the Greek word bios, which means nothing more than the state of being alive. It uses the Greek word zoe, which refers to the joys of living, to life active and vigorous.
The Presence of God
The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
Heaven will be a great, never-ending reunion, not only with our dear brethren, but with God Himself. For the first time we will behold Him face to face. “God Himself will be among them” (Rev. 21:3). There will no longer be a need for a temple (Rev. 21:22), for we will be in the actual presence of God. —John Guzzetta