Summary: Until Jesus returns and ushers in the eternal heaven, what is life like for God's children who are in heaven now?
We have made note of the fact that God isn’t through with heaven. When a child of God dies, they pass into the immediate presence of our Lord and do go to heaven. But the heaven they go to is an intermediate heaven. Upon the return of our Lord, He will establish a new heaven and a new earth - the eternal heaven. But until then, the saints who pass from this life into the next, dwell in the intermediate heaven.
Let’s think about life today for God’s people in the intermediate heaven. We can learn a great deal about life in heaven today from these three verses. Believers in Heaven today:
1. Maintain the identity they had on earth - v.9
Their personal history extended back to their lives on earth. They were known and identified as ones slain because of their testimony. They were fully conscious, rational, aware of each other and God.
Those in heaven today are not different people, they are the same people relocated. Your grand-parents are still your grand-parents. Your father is still your father. Your mother is still your mother. Your brother and sister are still your brother and sister. Your friend is still your friend. When you see any of your loved ones in heaven, you will know them to be who they were to you while you were alive on earth.
2. Are aware of God’s activity on earth - v. 10
They asked God to intervene on earth and to act on their behalf. They were fully aware of what was going on earth. They knew those who had taken their lives had yet to be judged for their unrighteous deeds.
The writer of Hebrews says the saints in heaven today are aware of God’s activity in the earth. Referring to the saints who are now in heaven, he tells us to remain faithful, since “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).
Believers in heaven are aware of God’s activity with respect to judging unrighteousness and establishing righteousness in the earth. In fact, they are passionately concerned about seeing righteousness prevail! They do not have a passive disinterest in what happens on earth; but they share God’s passion for seeing His enemies judged, sin and Satan defeated, the fallen earth restored, and Christ exalted over all.
A ninety-five year old woman at a nursing home received a visit from a fellow church member. “How are you feeling?” they asked. “I’m worried sick!” she said. “Why?” her friend asked, “They are taking care of you, aren’t they?” “Yes, they are.” “Are you in any pain?” she asked. “Never had a pain in my life.” “Well, what’s the problem?” her friend asked again. The lady explained her major worry. “Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone to heaven. I’m afraid they’re all wondering where I went.”
Don’t worry, the saints in heaven are aware of God’s activity on earth!
3. Have memory of their life on earth - v. 10
They remembered their suffering on earth, so why not everything else? There is no reason to assume believers in heaven have their memories of earthy life deleted. In fact, as they think back now, they can see how God and angels intervened on their behalf when they didn’t realize it.
Luke 16:25 says those who knew bad things on earth are comforted in heaven. This implies memory of even the bad things. If we don’t remember them, what is the purpose of the comfort we will receive concerning them? Going to heaven does not erase our memory.
Many say those in Heaven can’t be aware of earthly activity nor have earthly memory because they’d be unhappy, which would make heaven less than heaven. But angels know what’s happening on earth, and enjoy Heaven. Revelation 14:10 says the angels of heaven are aware of the suffering of those in Hell, yet their joy is not diminished!
How is this possible? It is possible because the glorious presence of God in Heaven overshadows all! Those in heaven are not ignorant of earthly reality, but are more aware than ever of God’s glorious presence, which is the true source of joy in Heaven. Because they dwell in the presence of Jesus, the saints in Heaven are filled with joy, regardless of what has or is happening on earth.
4. Are still learning like they did on earth - v. 11
When Jesus returns, believers who are still alive on the earth will instantly be made spiritually mature, like Christ.
“Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, or we shall see Him just as He [really] is.” - 1 John 3:2 (Amplified)