Summary: The last in a series adapted from Max Lucado’s book, When Christ Comes. This one focuses on who you will meet in Heaven. Alliterated.
When Christ Comes: The Hope of Reunion!
First Christian Church
What makes a house a home? Since Ashley and I have been married we’ve lived in a shared two-story house, a small one-bed-room apartment, a friend’s basement, a modern townhouse, and most recently a cozy three-bed-room ranch. Each of our dwellings has been very different from the last, yet each one has been home. What makes a house a home isn’t the address or the lot or the garage or the architecture. What makes it home are the people.
You may live in a bigger or newer or better house than we live in, but as nice as your house may be, I would never refer to your house as my home because the people who are most important to me don’t live there. So what makes a house a home are the people with whom we share it.
And what makes Heaven our home are not streets made out of gold, the beautiful landscape, or the majestic New Jerusalem. It’s not the fact we will live there forever, unaffected by age, ailments or affliction. True, Jesus has promised to prepare the perfect place just for us. Yet, that’s still not what makes heaven our home. What makes Heaven our home is the inhabitants—the family, friends and the Father with whom we will share our eternal abode. The Bible describes Heaven as a place of peace and rest, but also a place of bustling activity where relationships are formed and forged.
So, let me invite you to join me for a few minutes as I introduce you to some of the residents that will help make Heaven so very heavenly. First, among the many inhabitant of Heaven we’re likely to encounter will be...
Believe it or not, one of the most commonly asked questions concerning Heaven is—will there be animals in Heaven? The answer to that question is a resounding yes! First, we know that animals populated the Garden of Eden; consequently, we have every reason to believe that they will populate Eden restored. Scripture, in fact, has a great deal to say about animals, portraying them as Earth’s second-most important inhabitants and among God’s most creative creations. God entrusted Adam and Eve and, by extension, humanity as a whole to rule over and care for the animals of the Earth. And for many of us, our relationships with animals are a significant part of our lives. Heaven’s wildlife however will be somewhat different from what we see on the Discovery Channel. You see, when God first created the world, he said, “I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life” (Genesis 1:30 NLT).
In that first paradise—before the fall, before the world was corrupted by sin—there was no such thing a carnivore or predator; rather, all of God’s creatures lived in peace with one another. And in the New Heaven and Earth, it will be like that again. In the words of Isaiah, “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow” (Isaiah 11:6-7 NLT). While these descriptions of animals peacefully inhabiting the Earth may have symbolic fulfillment in God’s family in the here-and-now, their ultimate fulfillment points toward God’s eternal kingdom—where mankind and animals will together enjoy a redeemed Earth.
But the question on many people’s mind is—will my pets be in heaven? Honestly, Scripture doesn’t conclusively tell us whether our pets will make it to heaven. While animals certainly possess the breath of life, there really isn’t any Biblical evidence that the spiritual essence of an animal survives the death of the body. In fact, 2 Peter 2:12 seems to imply the opposite. However, I’m not willing to preclude the possibility. Some of the keenest thinkers, including C.S. Lewis, were not only convinced that animals in general but pets in particular will be restored in the resurrection. If God does decide to resurrect our loyal pets it would be in total keeping with his overwhelming goodness and grace. But, moving along, in addition to animals, the New Heaven and Earth will also be home to…
Angels have been a source of fascination for countless Christians over the centuries and one common misconception is that people will become angels when we die. Let me clarify—Angels are angels. Humans are humans. We won’t become angels, but we will be with angels—and that’s far better. Angels are spiritual beings with their own histories and memories, with distinct identities reflected in the fact that they have personal names. Although, only two angels are specifically named in the Bible—Gabriel and Michael—we can be certain that each angel in Heaven will have a unique name and personality just like human beings do. And different angels have different assignments and levels of authority. Michael, the archangel, serves under God and commands the armies of Heaven while Gabriel appears to be the chief herald or messenger.