A pastor was talking to a group of young children about believing in Jesus and going to heaven.At the end of his talk, he asked, "Where do you want to go?""Heaven!" they all piped up. "And what do you have to be to get there?" "Dead!", one boy yelled.
ABRAHAM WAS WILLING TO LIVE IN THE PROMISED LAND LIKE A STRANGER FOR “ HE WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THE CITY WITH FOUNDATIONS, WHOSE ARCHITECT & BUILDER WAS GOD. HEB11:9-10. HE WAS WILLING TO DO THIS BECAUSE HE REALIZED THAT THE NEW JERUS. WILL BE MORE REAL, MORE SOLID AND MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN CANAAN’S LAND OF MILK AND HONEY. THE BOOK OF REV. DOES NOT GIVE US DETAILS DESCRIBING THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH. INSTEAD IT FOCUSES ON A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF THE NEW JERUS. THAT COMES FROM ABOVE.
WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE? We can’t help but wonder what heaven is like. Heaven is mysterious to the human mind. Heaven is a place that defies our imagination. In 1 Corinthians 2:9 “…NO EYE HAS SEEN, NO EAR HAS HEARD, NO MIND HAS CONCEIVED WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” So whatever we can imagine heaven to be like, it isn’t! It is vastly superior to anything our minds can conjure up. We’ve heard many stories about what heaven is like. Most of them mention pearly gates and an angel who is standing by to interview those who seek entrance. So AS CHRISTIANS, we may ASK THE QUESTION, "WHAT WILL HEAVEN BE LIKE?" See Revelation 21: 1- 26.
ISAIAH WAS THE 1ST TO FORETELL OF A NEW HEAVEN & A NEW EARTH…… Scripture is clear to us that there is a real heaven. Every description of it draws a picture of perfection, be it numbers, or dimensions, whatever the descriptions are in the book of Revelation, we find perfection.
So, what can we expect to see and feel there? What is it going to look like and what are we going to do? The first thing you notice is that God himself will be with us. The word in the KJV in vs.3 is the dwelling place which is the word SKENE. This is the word for tabernacle. WE see the word used in Lev 26:11-12 when its says, “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God and you will be my people.” This is a promise repeated over and over again in Scripture (see Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekiel 37:27).
In Scripture we have some glimpses of heaven, but ultimately Scripture says that “ear has not heard, nor eye seen what God has in store for us.” It is good beyond what we can even begin to imagine.
WHAT WE WILL BE LIKE ? 1 John 3:2 "Dear friends, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him." When we enter heaven we will be changed physically and spiritually. John tells us we will be like Jesus. What will that be like? Here are a few things the Bible tells us:
WE WILL STILL EAT - What is the first thing that happens after the rapture? The Marriage supper of the lamb! Rev 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
After the resurrection of Jesus HE appears to his disciples in Jerusalem. (Luke 24:41 NIV) And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?"(Luke 24:42 NIV) They gave him a piece of broiled fish, (Luke 24:43 NIV) and he took it and ate it in their presence. Peter said in (Acts 10:41 NIV) He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-- by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. Rev 22:2 On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Which brings us to :
WE WILL NEVER BE SICK AGAIN: We currently live in a fallen, imperfect world. People get sick, suffer and die. In heaven that won’t be true. The utter joy of living in God’s presence will be indescribable. Rev explains what will not be there: Revelation 21:4 tells us: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." THERE WILL BE no more disease or aches or pains. No more pills to take, doctors to see or soreness to deal with. No more tests to be run. The doctors will be out of business. In addition to the fruit was the leaves of the tree for medicine to heal the nations. Why would the nations need to be healed if all evil has been eliminated? John was alluding to Ezekiel 47:12 where water flowing from the temple produced trees with healing leaves. This is not implying illness …the emphasis was that the water of life would produce health & strength where ever it would go . all the hurts will have been healed. Heaven will be a world where, Isaiah 35:5-6 "the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. And the lame will leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy" There will be no more suffering in heaven.
In heaven there will be rest. Hebrews 3 and 4 talks about entering the rest of the Lord. (Rev 14:13 NIV) Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." We are not told about sleep in heaven, but we are told about rest. it will not be stressful and tiresome like it is here.Remember on the 7th day God rested after the 6 days of creation… it doesn’t say anything about sleep.
WILL THERE BE ANIMALS THERE? A question that is frequently asked by children and some adults is : when animals die do they go to heaven? …I don’t know…But there will be animals there…Let’s see what the Bible says... Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them..... Isa 11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.... .Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse;……. and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
I would say that there are animals in Heaven. Remember we can only imagine half of what Heaven is like.
UNHINDERED FELLOWSHIP We also know that heaven is a place where we will enjoy unhindered fellowship with God. Our present fellowship with God is limited, It is hindered and distorted by sin. Consequently, at times God seems distant and far removed.. We don’t always sense His presence. That will never be the case in heaven. Heaven is where God is and in His presence we will have complete fellowship with Him. We will know Him like we have never before known Him. “What makes heaven heaven is God.” (L.Anderson) 2 Corinthians 5:8 says “TO BE ABSENT FROM THE BODY IS TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD.” When we leave this life and enter heaven we will be in the presence of the Lord. Right now we are able, to a small degree, to know God and have fellowship with Him. It is, however, limited. But the time is coming when We will know God in a far more intimate way. We will relate to Him in a way that we cannot now even imagine. We will experience the awesome Presence and glory of God. With that fellowship will come an indescribable peace, contentment, and fulfillment. We will be able to talk to Him, ask Him questions, and listen to Him speak. Imagine hearing His voice Imagine the stories He’ll tell, the lessons He’ll teach, the love He’ll share.
WE WILL LIVE IN NEW JERUSALEM: On this new earth there will be a holy city, the New Jerusalem. The Bible tells us something of its size and construction as well as what life will be like for us as we dwell there for eternity.
A. The Size of Heaven. It will be about 1400- 1500 miles high, wide and long (See Revelation 21:16). Some people believe that this might be symbolic language just to help us appreciate the amount of room that God has prepared for those who will be heaven. This is possible, yet it seems to me that if the Apostle John, in relaying a vision given to him by an angel during a tour of heaven was trying to make that point, he could just say, "It’s really big!" It makes little sense that he would provide exact dimensions unless they are accurate. So let’s assume that this is the size of the New Jerusalem. This means that the foundation is roughly 763 trillion square feet, or about the size of 1/2 of the United States. If there are levels or floors in this city, and each one is about 20 feet high, then there are about 396,000 of them. THAT MEANS IT IS AS HIGH AS OUTER SPACE. There is more than enough space for every follower of Christ who has existed and will exist throughout human history (See John 14:1-6). The city is made of pure gold and has a beautiful foundation and gates of pearl. It is significant that the city is square because in the ancient world the square was considered the symbol of perfection. The Holy of Holies was a perfect square and this may have been what John was trying to tell us. The temple isn’t there anymore because it isn’t needed. The whole city is full of the presence of God. SEPARATION OF HOLY AND UNCLEAN IS NO LONGER NEEDED, BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING UNCLEAN. SOME PEOPLE THINK THAT THE CITY MAY BEEN IN THE SHAPE OF A PYRAMID, BUT THE PYRAMID SHAPE IN THE BIBLE WAS ALWAYS CONNECTED WITH IDOLATRY, SO IT IS UNLIKELY THAT THE CITY WOULD TAKE THAT FORM.
B. The Construction of Heaven
1. the city has no lights in it ; instead it radiates with the glory of God (See Verses 11, 23). There will be no moon or sun . John didn’t have electric lights or neon lights as a reference point, so he used the picture of a clear jewel.
2. it is a city surrounded by a great high wall with twelve massive gates, three facing each direction. Another thing you notice is that the gates will never be shut. There is no need for the wall or gates to defend the city. They are more for an ornament than for protection. In ancient times, of course, it was very different. The gates and walls would be used for protection against other armies. Shut gates represented times of peril and sword and famine and disease. But, now there is no more war or fear . We will live with God and He is our protection.
3. it is a city that is prepared for believers who have lived throughout history. The gates were named for the 12 sons of Israel, while the foundation stones were named for the 12 apostles (See Verses 12-14).
4. it is a city adorned with precious stones and with streets of gold (See Verses 18-21). The foundations are marked with jewels of untold value. Bible scholars are actually unsure of the identity of some of the precious stones mentioned. Civilizations have used different terms for such gems through the centuries. But all of them were rare and beautiful…everything indicates beauty beyond description. Single pearls form each of the twelve gates. Picture a pearl in your mind, now picture it big enough to be a gate. Pearls were very valuable in ancient days , so a pearl large enough to make a gate would be almost beyond imagination. The streets are paved with gold so pure that it is almost transparent. Again the emphasis is on purity and transparency in order to radiate the glory of God.
5. This city unlike the old Jerusalem had no temple, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple (See Verse 22).
6. Rev 22 - It is a city that had a pure river with the water of life , pure as crystal running down through the middle of it . The water of life is a symbol of eternal life, & on both sides of the river was the Tree of Life . This tree grows on each side of the river and bears 12 crops of fruit with a new crop every month. This tree has fruit available for everyone fresh fruit, not just once a year with a dry time in between , but fruit every month.
RECORDS- Heaven is a place of records. The Lamb’s Book of Life is there, and other record books at the judgment seat and at the great white throne judgment. God has a great recording system to preserve every idle word, thought or deed.
The sounds of earth can be heard in space, and scientists are working on a machine now that will use radioactive material to bring voices out of rocks and trees, that were recorded there hundreds of years ago by sound wave impressions. And we can be sure that God has things recorded.
We are told to rejoice because of this. Luke 10:20 But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” Heb. 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven . . .”
Pity the poor soul whose name is not written there!
REWARDS- Finally, we will experience rewards beyond our imagination. The Bible speaks often of the saints receiving a great inheritance. That promise is made here again in v.7 of Revelations 21. It says, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” Whatever may happen to you on earth, you have an inheritance waiting for you that is beyond all imagination. He has blessings waiting for you that you can’t even imagine.
Heaven is a place of rewards. Jesus, speaking in the Sermon on the Mount, said in Matt. 5:12, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven . . .”. He went on to say in Matt. 6:20, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”. This is our heavenly safe deposit box. There will be rewards for sincerity, suffering and service. To think along this line will excite the heart.
Conclusion- The main thing about heaven is not all the glitter and the gold. It is the presence of God. It is one thing for someone to rent a motel room for you to stay in when you are visiting. It is altogether another matter for that person to open their home and say, “Stay with us.” In heaven, the Lord of Glory opens his home and says, “Come stay with me!”
The Bible always describes heaven in such personal terms. That’s what makes heaven heaven. Not gold and jewels, but the very presence of the Father himself.
Just before His impending death, Jesus spoke to His disciples about this place called heaven.
When Jesus said, “in my Father’s house,” the very words He used changed the whole character of the abode of the dead. No longer was death to be viewed as an eerie journey to an unknown and frightening destination. For the first time people were able to think of death as going home to their heavenly Father. It was seen as an entering into the presence of their Creator where all would be joy and light and love” It was viewed as the one place where all the wrongs and inequities of this life would be made right. It was seen as the place where we would finally be reunited with loved ones who had died in Christ.
“When Jesus said ‘IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE ARE MANY DWELLING PLACES…’ the Greek word that He used for ‘dwelling places’ also means ‘abiding places.’
- A very familiar image from the days of Jesus underlies these words. It was customary for travelers in those days to send someone in their party in advance to find lodging and make arrangements for them in distant cities. Many times a disciple went ahead of Jesus to make arrangements before He arrived for a gathering. That is what happened on the night of the first Lord’s Supper as two of the disciples, went before Him to make the arrangements . The meaning is clear: Jesus has gone before us to prepare an abiding place for us in heaven. He has made the arrangements for us. We can be absolutely certain that heaven is our final destination. Why can we be certain of heaven? Simply because 2,000 years ago God sent us a Savior.
Illus( Sermon Central) The story is told of a time when Albert Einstein was going on a train to an out-of-town engagement. The conductor stopped by to punch his ticket. The great scientist, preoccupied with his work, with great embarrassment, rummaged through his coat pockets and briefcase to no avail. He could not find his ticket. The conductor said, “We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it. Everything is O:K.” The conductor walked on down the aisle punching other tickets. Before he moved to the next car, he looked back and saw Dr. Einstein down on his hands and knees looking under his seat trying to find his ticket. He came back and gently said,“DR. Einstein, please don’t worry about it. I know who you are.”Einstein looked up and said, “I too know who I am" What I don’t know is where I’m going!”
Do you know where you are going when you leave this life? You can know with absolute certainty. Heaven is a gift that is freely bestowed upon those who are trusting Christ to save them. Have you come to Christ for forgiveness? Are you trusting Him as your Savior and Lord? If you are then you can , be guaranteed a place in heaven.