Summary: This sermon makes an attempt to define Heaven as it is described in the Holy Bible but all of the words and images are inadequate.
Heaven … what will it be like?
Do you want to go to heaven? A SS teacher asked this question to his kindergarten class and all but one boy raised his hand. The teacher asked the boy why he didn’t want to go to heaven. The boy replied that he did want to go to heaven but he thought the teacher was getting up a load to leave right then.
Do you believe in heaven? Do you want to go there?
75% believe they will go to heaven
16% believe in heaven but don’t think they will get there or aren’t sure
10% don’t believe
Not Religious 72 77 81
In the most recent survey I could find on the belief of the general American population regarding heaven and hell (2004) it was reported that about 80% believed in heaven and 70% believed in hell.
77% chances of getting into heaven good or excellent
19% fair or poor
6% said their chances of getting into hell were good or excellent
Anyway, what we’re going to be looking at today is heaven!
So, what is this heaven we are talking about?
In the first chapter of Genesis we see God creating the heavens and the earth. This is not referring to the heaven which is the abode of God although the entire universe is the abode of God. The Lord was not homeless before He created the heavens and the earth.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
In Genesis 1:1 the heavens referred to are the atmosphere surrounding the earth. The place where the birds fly. This is commonly referred to as the first heaven.
Genesis 1:16, 17
“And God made the two great lights … and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens …”
So, the areas of the universe where the stars and planets and galaxies exist is the second heaven.
Now we get a couple of glimpses into the heaven of heavens where the Lord God Almighty is.
Isaiah 6:1-4 HCSB says,
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple.
“Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
“And one called to another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.’
“The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.”
Revelation 5 NIV (To be read from the Bible)
Wow! What a place! What a picture! What an inadequate picture!
Now, Jesus said some very important and various things about Heaven!
John 3:13 ESV
“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (comment)
Matthew 24:35 ESV
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
John 14:2b-3 HCSB
“I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”
OK. So, what happens when the Lord shows John the vision of the new heaven and the new earth? Is this the place that Jesus was going away to prepare so that we could be with Him?
Revelation 21:1-2 HCSB
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed.
“I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”
What about this new earth? No sea? Can you imagine an earth without a sea? It’s difficult for me to imagine. It seems like it would be a desert. Perhaps the Lord of the Hosts of Heaven is just a little bit smarter than us! Ya think so?
What about the Holy City, the New Jerusalem?
I had never thought about it but I guess I always assumed that the new earth would be about the same size as the old earth. On that one I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Buy what about this New Jerusalem that comes down out of Heaven from God?
That will be 1,500 miles wide, 1500 miles long and 1,500 miles high.
If you were to superimpose the footprint of that Holy City on top of the US of A it would look something like this! And not only that but it would be sticking up 1,500 miles from the surface of the earth!
Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 62 miles deep. That means that the Holy City called the New Jerusalem would be extending 1,438 miles out into space!