Summary: 1.Heven is a place of joy. 2. Heaven is descibed as a city. 3. Heaven takes seriously the difficulties we are facing now.
I was tremendously impacted by a funeral I once had. The service was for the mother of a member of the church who was a great Christian woman. During the service, one of her former pastors stood to share his gratitude for the life of this woman. He was retired from ministry at the time, and he talked about losing his father and mother, his wife and several friends. Then he sort of looked up as though seeing something no one else could see and said, “I now have more family and friends in heaven than I do here on earth. Heaven is looking more like home all the time.” That thought has stuck with me for a long time.
In talking of the great people of faith, the author of Hebrews wrote, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
The first thing we learn from the Scripture today is that: Heaven is a place of joy. Heaven is a place of joy because of our joyous God who is there. The Scripture clearly states that heaven will be a place where God will wipe away every tear and there will be no more crying. So often when we see scenes of heaven in the Bible there are great exclamations of joy and glorious singing. I think we often pass over the ecstasy of heaven. We see the holiness of heaven and the glory of God, but we miss the ecstatic joy. We understand that there will be no more pain and no more evil, but something in the back of our minds whispers that it might just be a little boring.
In another church I served, I was talking to a man who had become a close friend. He was a trial lawyer. We were talking about heaven and he really confounded me when he said he didn’t know if he liked the idea of there being no evil in heaven. Evil, after all, in his opinion, was what made life interesting. Without any evil at all he thought heaven might be a little boring. Maybe he was a little worried that he would be without a job too.
He reminded me of Mark Twain’s famous story of Miss Watson, a rather stodgy old fuddy-duddy. She began to tell Huck Finn about heaven, and Huck later mused: “She said. . . she was going to live so as to go to the good place. I made up my mind I shouldn’t try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble and wouldn’t do no good. Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and, she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.”
Where did we get this idea that heaven was about flying around through the clouds playing harps? To tell you the truth, if that is what heaven was all about I wouldn’t be interested either. I believe there will be meaningful and purposeful activity. I believe there will be indescribable joy. When Jesus was on earth he said that his purpose in coming was, “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). If that was his desire and purpose on earth, how much more is it his purpose in heaven. He said that there was great joy in heaven when one sinner repents (Luke 15:7). There is great joy over the repentant sinner, because there is one more person who will share in the glories of heaven. Part of the joy of heaven for God and for us is that you will be there. The Psalmist talked of the joy and pleasures in heaven when he wrote: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).