Human history begins and ends in paradise (Revelation 2:7; 22:1–3; 2 Corinthians 12:3). God’s original intention seems to have been a daily walk with man in the garden in the cool of the day, but man messed that up when he sinned (Genesis 3:8).
We hear people talk about who they look forward to seeing in heaven—loved ones, Abraham, David, Paul, or former preachers—but we must never forget that it is God who invites us to spend eternity with Him. David said, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4; cf. 73:25).
It is not a one-sided desire. God looks forward to our arrival (Psalm 116:15). Although He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:15–16), He wants man to approach Him (James 4:7–8). Although He is holy (Joshua 24:19), He wants fellowship with sinful man. Although He is in heaven and man on earth (Ecclesiastes 5:2), He wants us eventually to be together.
HEAVEN IS A GARDEN PARADISE.
After man’s sin, God began to bring the Eden fellowship back. God set His tabernacle among Israel’s tribes, saying, “My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God” (Leviticus 26:11–12). As the New Testament opens, Jesus became a man to interact personally with us (John 1:14). Now, God indwells the church and each member of it (2 Corinthians 6:16–18; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19). Each step was a step back toward Eden’s ideal. We talk about mansions and the street of gold, but the highlight of heaven will not be the place we live in (John 14:2–3), or the pavement we walk on (Revelation 21:21), but rather the Person we live with (Revelation 21:3). Heaven is all about seeing God.
The church will be in a perfect environment (Revelation 21:27). Nothing is missing; nothing else is needed. It is without flaw or mistake. There will be no:
- Social disturbance. No one will sin in heaven, so there will be no enemy to cause alarm.
- Physical problems—pain, labor, or death—will not exist (Revelation 21:4). With transformed bodies (Philippians 3:20–21; 1 John 3:2), blind eyes will see, deaf ears will hear, slowed minds will think, muted mouths will speak, and crippled feet will run. A dying woman, who had suffered for a long time, told her children, “Don’t give me any further treatment. Don’t interfere with God’s plan for my glorification.” She understood what heaven offers.
- Mental distress—bereavement, sorrow, reproach, doubts, difficulties, fears, or bewilderments—will cease. Those sick in mind, soul, and heart will be tortured no more. All will be security, peace, rest, and enjoyment (Revelation 14:13).
HEAVEN IS A FAMILY REUNION.
Most of us gain greater interest in heaven as we age because we have people—a grandparent, father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, or friend—on the other side. We can be “gathered to [our] people” (Genesis 25:8) with the assurance that we will never again endure the bitter pangs of parting. One day, the Lord will descend and the “dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).
HEAVEN IS A GRAND CITY.
John saw heaven as the holy city “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2; cf. Hebrews 11:10; 12:22). And what a home it is to be! It has everything beautiful that might characterize the grandest place of our fancy. The Prince of Peace governs it (Isaiah 9:6–7). God is its Architect (Hebrews 11:10). The Holy Spirit is its Superintendent (Revelation 1:4). Angels are its civil servants (Hebrews 1:14). The half has never yet been told of its glory (cf. 1 Kings 10:7).
Heaven has features to please the eye. What glorious things the eye has seen here on earth. We have seen mountains, landscapes, rivers, and oceans. We have seen stars in the night sky. We have seen the beautiful people with striking good looks and royalty wearing crown jewels. We have witnessed the spectacle of a uniformed army on parade and marching bands at halftime. We have seen wild horses on the prairie, geese in migration, and antelope in the Serengeti. None of these beauties can compare with what our eyes will see in heaven.
God loves beauty. He painted the butterfly’s wing, splashed colors on the trees in autumn, and patented the eight hues of the rainbow. He put orange on the robin, blue on the sea, black on the racer, and white on the lily. These were just the opening act for heaven.
Heaven will be colorful. Its gates are pearl (Revelation 21:19–21). Each of its twelve foundations is made of a colored jewel.
- Jasper is clear crystal.
- Sapphire is blue.
- Chalcedony is greenish blue.
- Emerald is deep green.
- Sardonyx is white with brown streaks.
- Sardius is blood red.
- Chrysolite is yellow quartz.
- Beryl is green.
- Topaz is yellowish green.
- Chrysoprase is apple green.
- Jacinth is blue.
- Amethyst is purple.
- Pearl is white.
A man who visited a distinguished artist was surprised to see him arranging colored glass before an open Bible. “I made a discovery,” he explained. “The stones in the foundation of New Jerusalem, when placed in order, form a perfect harmony of color. Were a convention of artists called to produce a perfect color scheme, they could not improve upon it.”
Heaven has features to please the ear. We have heard wonderful sounds here. We have enjoyed concerts, bands, and the sound of birds singing in the morning. We joined with thousands in singing God’s praise. We heard preachers take us back to the cross, up to heaven, and ahead to the judgment as skillfully as David played his harp.
Still, heaven’s soundtrack will surpass anything we have ever heard. In Revelation 14, John hears 144,000 people singing as with one voice. The singing has these elements:
- Tremendous volume—comparable to rolling thunder.
- Perfect rhythm—as the voice of many waters.
- Beautiful harmony—as the voice of harpers playing their harps.
Heaven has features to please the taste. Heaven is not a material place with physical appetites—such as the Islamic heaven where sensual virgins delight the flesh, or the oriental heaven with bowls of nectar to lavishly indulge the tongue—yet God accommodated Himself to man’s understanding and described spiritual things on a material basis. Revelation 19 pictured heaven as hosting a marriage supper of the Lamb, where we shall be satisfied (Revelation 19).
Heaven has features to please the mind. We can discover the secrets of difficult Scriptures (Deuteronomy 29:29), and understand God’s purposes. “Farther along, we’ll know all about it.”
Heaven is where God in the ages to come will show “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us” (Ephesians 2:7). Heaven is the most marvelous place that the omniscient mind of God could conceive and the omnipotent hand of God could manufacture. God’s wisdom ensures heaven’s perfection; God’s love assures us of His communication about heaven.
In God’s presence, there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). Rejoice in the truths of the songs, “No Tears in Heaven” and “Where We’ll Never Grow Old.” We are just a passing through this world. With each sunset, we pitch our tents one day’s journey closer to home. Vance Havner wrote, “I’m homesick for heaven. It’s the hope of dying that’s kept me alive for this long.”