We use the word “it’s heaven” so much that it has lost much of its wonder. Think about this. Look at the news or read the headlines of the newspaper. What a dreadful sight indeed, however if we are going to contemplate on the future, we ought to think of our final destination. When we took a vacation to a ski resort in the Colorado mountains one year we were thinking about it well ahead of our departure. We began to picture the ski slopes, the fresh snow, the clean, crisp mountain air, and the hot tubs at our resort.
Living With the End in Mind
This is not our final destination. Our temporary dwelling place in this life is but a vapor compared to what our eternal destiny holds. Vacations run out but eternal life in the presence of God will never end. The saying that “he’s no earthly good because he’s so heavenly minded” is so not true. I believe it should be “he’s so earthly minded that he’s no heavenly good.” When we live with the end in mind, with the knowledge of our eventual home, it ought to make the present easier to live with. Romans 8:18 speaks about this coming glory as Paul described it: “For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Here Paul is trying to encourage the Roman church, who had endured very severe persecution, to dwell on their eternal destiny. This time and place is not our home…it is the journey. We are pilgrims who are presently living in a foreign land. It is like we are traveling to our vacation resort in Colorado but the trip is not the destination. We are but weary travelers in eager expectation of our arrival. We can not yet see it, but we can imagine it.
I’m in Heaven
The Bible says much about heaven but it is not what or where most people think. I grew up seeing all the stereotypes about being in heaven…about playing a harp and sitting on a cloud but heaven is nothing like that at all. The Bible talks about a New Jerusalem but Jerusalem is anything but heaven today. The name Jerusalem means King of (Jeru-) Peace (Salem) but it is not at all peaceful today. The fact is Jerusalem has had more battles, invasions, and destructions that any single city in all of human history, but there is a new Jerusalem coming.
God has prepared a place for us. This is what Jesus even told His disciples before He left, saying “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). There’s no way that the mansion that the Beverly Hillbilly’s lived in can compare to this one! This “place” has many rooms but there is no check out time. He is preparing a place or should I say “palace” for you! He repeated in John 14:48b, “I will come to you.“ He didn’t say, you’ll come to me but He is coming back to us, back for us, to be back with us. He is coming back to take you with Him, to be where He is. How good is that? To me, heaven is more a Person than a place and heaven is any place that God is. This place is a permanent dwelling place to as it states in Revelation 3:12, “To him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.”
The Wedding Invitation
I have performed weddings before and they are so joyful. Jesus has made the invitation to the wedding feast for those who have placed their trust in Him. When He finally does come back for us, He says, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7).
Where is Heaven?
You have heard the expression, “Home is where the heart is” but I believe heaven is anywhere that God is. Heaven will be heaven because God is there. Revelation 21:2 describes heaven as coming down from above and out of heaven: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Of course we realize that the husband or bridegroom is Jesus Christ and He will marry His bride, the church.
Some great day we will all hear “a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev 21:3). The curse or the result of the fall of mankind will finally come to an end and “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him” (Rev 22:3).
I love happy endings. In fact, my wife does too. She can’t watch some movies or shows in which she knows that things don’t turn out well so she will be overjoyed with the happiest ending anyone can imagine. What a time of rejoicing this will be. We shall see “the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev 21:10). Just look at the tenderness of God’s word regarding our present state compared to the final destiny: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev 21:4).
Isaiah foresaw this day, writing “The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth” (Isaiah 25:8) “and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). Truly then, all in this life will have been worth it for the “sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end” (Isaiah 60:20) and God “will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more” (Isaiah 65:19) and even a Colorado Ski trip can not compare…even if it’s on the Fourth of July!
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believers daily walk with God and the Bible.