Summary: Heaven is real, and son is the future featuring a new Heavens, New Earth, and the New Jerusalem! Is Heaven just floating around on a cloud? No Way! It's amazing!
LOOKING WAY AHEAD
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
January 13, 2013
The most defining event in this life is the moment of death. Every time that someone near to us dies, it reminds us all that this present life is not permanent. As a pastor, I have often been present to observe the reactions of family members when a loved one slips out of this World. Even is that person: Mom, Dad, Wife, Brother, Sister, dear Friend, or Child, has been slipping for a long time, and in poor health; I always have the strong sense that the family feels cheated. Death came too soon. Death came to the wrong person. Life was not fair to this person, and now this.
The greatest devastation seems to come with sudden death: the soldier who will never come home, the teen whose car is now wrapped around a tree, or the vigorous businessman who dropped to the sidewalk, never to get up. As if these instances are not bad enough, many innocent people are murdered every year, whether by a total stranger who has walked into the store, a disenchanted classmate who hates everyone, or a husband who promised to always protect the one he now shoots to death.
Suffering and death, which are both results of the curse of sin, which has plagued this Earth ever since Adam fell, are often wrongly blamed on God. Millions shake their fist at God. Even people who have been raised as secular humanists do this. Somewhere deep inside they know that God exists, but they do not know Him, and they misjudge his character. The truth is this: because of sin, this life will never be all that it should be. Loss will always come at us from many directions; and the loss of loved ones, combined with the loss of youthful vigor, and the general unfairness of people and events, combine every single day, to remind us that something is terribly wrong.
In addition to all this, many people don’t really believe that God has prepared something better for us after our time on this sin-injured Earth is over. Some people, even believers in Jesus Christ, are not looking forward to Heaven, because they are afraid of losing certain pleasures of the here and now, which are important to them; certain activities and interests which feel like the presence of an oasis in the middle of the dessert of this life.
Perhaps there are such things in your life, which you fear losing, even if you know that your sins have been forgiven through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. More than one believer has told me, in a candid moment, they are not that thrilled about their perception of what Heaven will be like.
Does it get any better? After this life is over, is there actually a better day coming? For everyone who makes it to Heaven, will it actually be a certifiable improvement? I believe that it will; so much so that we cannot genuinely grasp the reality of it at present. We are simply not able to do so.
A little story comes to mind. After attending a wedding one day; little Jimmy, age four, asked his Father what the Bride and Groom were doing now? The Father told his little son that the happy couple was now on their honeymoon. He added, “When you grow up, you may get married one day to a wonderful girl, and then you can go on a honeymoon too.” After thinking this over for a moment, the son asked “Will I be able to take my toy dinosaurs with me on my honeymoon?” “I’m afraid not.” His father replied. After another brief pause the little guy enquired further, “Can I take Freddy along on my honeymoon? He’s my best friend.” With a twinkle in his eyes Daddy explained that Freddy can’t come along on the honeymoon. It’s only for you and that special girl you marry. Jimmy looked at the floor for a moment, and then he mumbled, “I don’t think I want to go on a honeymoon.”
Similarly to little Jimmy’s limitations on the topic of honeymoons, many believers have a limited understanding of Heaven. They see it as a place where people dressed in bleached choir robes float around playing harps endlessly. Many envision a place of clouds with ethereal choir music coming vaguely from somewhere.
Others, having heard certain passages in the book of Revelation, see Heaven as an endless 27/7 church service in the throne room of God, where we do nothing but sing, shout the word “Holy”, and bow down over and over forever.
A lot of people snuggle into their massaging recliner, grab the remote to their big screen HD TV with Bose surround sound, and enjoy their Buffalo wings, ranch dressing, and Mountain Dew on ice. They feel very emotional while watching the Patriots game with friends, enjoying all of this, and also thinking ahead fondly to next week’s hunting trip. In the back of their mind they have a nagging feeling that this is better than Heaven. They may feel vaguely guilty about this, but they feel this way regardless.