Matthew 6:9 – “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven…” NKJV
Not only does God live in heaven, He has a place there for us as well: 1 Peter 1:3-4: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance – an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” NLT
Heaven is a place we can go to like a country, a city, or a house. However, heaven is not just a place – it is a better place than this! And it was designed for us:
Matthew 25:34 – “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” NKJV
John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” NKJV
A question that is often asked is: “What will heaven be like?” In Revelation 21-22, God stretches language to the breaking point when He gives John the vision of heaven He wants us to have – a vision that that is almost beyond human imagination – a breathtaking view of heaven. His description is designed to comfort us and give us hope!
He is not just describing a “place,” but a condition – of being redeemed from sin, of freedom from toil and persecution, of being in the eternal presence of God.
“If we could gaze on the glory of heaven and see the fellowship we will experience there, for just a moment, we would be so excited about going there that we would spend every waking moment dreaming about it, working toward it, and planning for it.”
“Heaven will surely be worth it all!
1) Heaven is new
Revelation 21:1-2: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” NKJV
The “first heaven and earth” refers to where mankind currently dwells. But this world is destined for destruction.
2 Peter 3:10 – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” NKJV
This present earth is going to be destroyed, but we will still need a suitable environment for our spiritual bodies to live and function in. The Holy Spirit calls that prepared place “a new heaven and a new earth.”
2 Peter 3:13 – “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” NKJV
The “new heaven and new earth” is the replacement of the first – “heaven.” Heaven is our future home, a special place, a place where we will be safe, a place where we will be accepted, a place of rest, a place where the problems we experience in this life now will not exist. Heaven, according to Jesus, is the “Home of the Soul!”
The “new heaven and new earth” will not just be an updated version of the old – it will be an entirely new realm of existence different from life as we know it here. Earthly rules will not apply in heaven. For example:
Revelation 21:3 – “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” NKJV
Though we enjoy a special relationship with God now, and we are aware of His nearness and His love, in heaven we will live in His very presence, and see His face!
Revelation 21:4 – “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” NKJV
In heaven, God will not simply dry our tears; He will remove the things that cause our tears – death, sorrow, pain – forever!
In heaven we will know only happiness, because those physical aspects of this life that have been a curse to us will no longer exist.
“As a younger man I had difficulty understanding how elderly people could frequently long for heaven. But the longer I live, the more I understand! We all grow tired of seeing in others and experiencing ourselves the ravages of sickness, pain, old age, and death – in heaven this will all be gone – forever!”
In heaven, we will finally be able to rest from the toils of this life: Hebrews 4:9 – “…there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.” NLT
Are you living with a broken heart, are you discouraged, depressed, worn out, defeated, tired, or frustrated? Maybe you are struggling with the pains of a divorce, a job loss, or maybe you have lost a loved one, especially a child or a grandchild, which has to be the most devastating thing that could ever happen to anyone? No one should ever have to outlive their own children.
“When a spouse passes, you are called a widow/widower. When someone loses a parent you become an orphan. When a parent loses a child there is no word for it, in any language, because the words to capture that much pain do not exist!”
How many times have you, like David, cried yourself to sleep? Psalm 6:6 – “I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” NLT
Then you need to know that when you go to your eternal home, the same hands that stretched the heavens will touch your cheeks, caress your face, and wipe away your tears forever. My friends, there really will be “No tears in heaven!”
For now – “We can only imagine!”
We’ve all seen people suffer and hurt and endure pain in their body we can only imagine. But Paul says that in heaven we will have a new “body” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-53: “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” NLT
That means in heaven there will be no suffering of any kind, which means no heart attacks, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, nor any physical handicaps of any kind.
In heaven, our bodies will never hurt again, because God will remove all pain and all sickness for all eternity!
In heaven, no one will get hurt, there will be no abortion clinics, no jails, no missing children, no killings, no wars, no unemployment, no taxes, no bills, no hospitals, no pollution, nobody will ever go hungry, and absolutely nothing will ever grow old.
No termites will eat at the foundation of heaven because it rests on the rock of ages. Fire cannot destroy it. Floods cannot wash it away. In heaven, we will finally be able to rest:
Revelation 14:13 – “…Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” NLT
John says that in heaven there will be no more death. That means heaven is a city that has no cemetery, no tombstones, and no funeral homes. No hearse will ever drive on the golden streets of heaven, in heaven there will never be a funeral procession. In heaven the word “goodbye” will never be spoken.
Many are anxious to know if they will recognize their friends and loved ones in heaven. Paul, in speaking about the church in Thessalonica, said – 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20: “After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.” NLT
How could they be his reason for rejoicing if he could not recognize them and know that they were among the saved?
Jesus said in Matthew 8:11 – “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” NKJV
Here we find that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have not lost their identities; Moses and Elijah did not lose their identities on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The Bible says our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20), and that when we die we are gathered to our people – Genesis 35:29 – “Then he breathed his last and died at a ripe old age, joining his ancestors in death…” NLT
Lazarus was still Lazarus in Hades (Luke 16); Samuel was still Samuel though already dead (1 Samuel 28:14). Jesus called Lazarus by name when He raised him from the dead (John 11).
In heaven we will make new relationships with the saints of all the ages, and continue old relationships as well! In heaven, we will know each other – you will see your children and grandchildren; you will know your spouse but not be married to them (Matthew 22:29-33); how about your mom and your dad? How about your grandparents? Don’t you want to see them again?
Imagine eternity with those who will be in heaven.
“God the Father” – to be in His presence will be the best part of heaven, to be removed from His sight will be the worst part of hell. “Jesus” – at last, we will be able to say, “Thank You” to Him face-to-face. The “Holy Spirit” who has been our constant companion in this life, will be in heaven.
The angels will be there. The saved people from all nations will be there – all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life!
Abraham, Noah, Enoch, Moses, Elijah, David, Peter, Paul, Stephen, and the other great prophets, preachers, and women of the Bible will be gathered there.
Our loved ones who are Christians will be in heaven. Infants and small children will be there: Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” NLT
2) Heaven is beautiful
Revelation 21:9-11: “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” NKJV
Heaven is beautiful beyond imagination with streets of gold, precious stones, many mansions, the river of the water of life, the tree of life, a place of light! John described the holy city as “having the glory of God.” He said, “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (v. 11).
Heaven’s foundation is adorned with precious jewels and its streets are made of pure gold, “like transparent glass.”
Each of its twelve gates is made from a single gigantic pearl. Pearls were the most sought after jewel in the ancient world. A 20 grain pearl, about the size of the end of your little finger, was worth a fortune. We can only imagine…
Revelation 21:18-21: “The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” NKJV
We can picture beautiful scenes of nature here on this earth, but they are nothing compared to what we will see in heaven. The real beauty of heaven, though, lies in Who is there, not in what is there. In heaven we will bask in “the glory of God.” This is something that believers have longed for over many centuries.
Psalm 27:4 – “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.” NKJV
Since “God is spirit…” (John 4:24), we can only imagine what “the beauty of the Lord” must be like, but it is a marvelous promise of God’s Word that we shall “…see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). His presence will make heaven an extraordinarily beautiful place.
When that day comes and we finally get to see the glory of heaven with our own eyes, I believe our reaction will be similar to the reaction of the Queen of Sheba when she met Solomon:
1 Kings 10:7 – “…I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me….” NKJV
These images are meant to stagger us – to make us gasp, shake our heads, and say “If heaven is even more wonderful than this, how beautiful heaven must be!”
3) Heaven is big
Revelation 21:14-17: “Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.” NKJV
An angel measured the city in order to impress John with its dimensions. It is “12,000 stadia” (furlongs) in height, width, and length.
A stadion (Roman measurement) is approximately an eighth of a mile (185 meters). Eight stadia would be about one mile.
So 12,000 stadia (furlongs) means the city was 1500 cubical miles in size.
This is equal to the distance between New York and Houston. 1500 by 1500 is an area 8.4 times larger than the entire state of Texas, bigger than Australia or Europe. It is an understatement to say that this city is unlike any ever seen on earth.
These distances and sizes have highly symbolic meanings that say heaven is not just big – it is enormous! It is staggering in size! It is big enough for everyone who wants to go, and plenty of people will be there. The only question is: “Will you be among them?”
“Its length and width and height are equal,” means it is a “cube.” There is a specific purpose for this shape. In the temple and the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies (or the Most Holy Place) where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, was in the shape of a cube: 1 Kings 6:20 – “This inner sanctuary was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high.” NLT
The “Holy of Holies” was regarded as the dwelling place of God. The shape of a perfect cube, therefore, became an effective symbol for the dwelling place of God – heaven!
4) Heaven is secure
Every ancient city depended on a high wall as its first line of defense against an invasion from outsiders. In times of danger, those who lived in the countryside and in villages would run inside the city walls; then the gates would be closed.
Security is still a major concern today with threats of terrorism and of biological or nuclear disaster. People are deeply concerned about the security of airports, about protecting themselves and their property against crime, and about the security of their jobs. We take careful measures – and some make large investments – to get it; yet we never really achieve absolute safety.
Heaven has a security system unlike that of any other city ever known before.
Revelation 21:12 – “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel…” NKJV
Revelation 21:17 – “Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits…” NKJV
Since a cubit was about 18 inches – the wall was 72 yards tall. This means heaven enjoys “perfect protection!”
Revelation 21:22-26: “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.” NKJV
Normally, the gates of a city would be left open during the day to accommodate traffic in and out. At night, the gates would be shut and guards would be posted in order to provide security against invasion. In heaven the gates are never shut.
Why? Because of the glory of God, there isn’t any night there – and nothing can harm us in His presence anyway! The security of heaven is absolute!
5) Heaven is complete
Revelation 22:1-5: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” NKJV
Here the imagery of a city is blended with that of a garden – but not just any garden. This garden has “a river of the water of life” and “the tree of life” for the healing of the nations. In heaven, there will no longer be any curse; and God will be in it, and His servants will serve Him and they will reign forever and ever. Does this sound familiar?
In the Garden of Eden man lost his intimate relationship with God, his security, and his access to the tree of life. “Curses” were pronounced upon the serpent, the man, the woman, and even the ground itself – “Paradise Lost!”
In Revelation 22:1-5, we read of “Paradise Regained.” Heaven will accomplish the complete reversal of man’s fall into sin; in heaven we will enjoy complete, unbroken face-to-face fellowship with God, the forgiveness of our sins, and total healing. God will bring everything back to where it belongs – to Himself. That includes us! And it will never end, “And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
6) Heaven is pure
Much of the glory of heaven lies in what is not there: Revelation 21:5-8: “Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.” “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” NKJV
God says that those who give themselves to the ways of the world will not live in heaven:
Revelation 21:27 – “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” NKJV
Revelation 22:14-15: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” NKJV
The sin and impurity of this world have to be put out of our lives through the power of Christ, or we cannot enter God’s holy city.
This is both a promise and a warning – a promise that heaven will be free of ungodly influences and a warning that if we want to live in heaven, we have to abandon the ways of the world! “We cannot hold dual citizenship!”
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Charles Dickens – ‘A Tale of Two Cities’
Revelation 7:16-17: “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” NKJV
The belief that we can go to heaven has comforted souls throughout the ages – martyrs dying for their faith, slaves longing for freedom, and those laying on their death beds. It can also comfort you!
“There are far, far better things ahead, than any we leave behind!” C.S. Lewis
1 Corinthians 2:9 – “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” NLT
“Whatever you do, don’t miss heaven!”