Until I began reading the Bible at the age of 21, I had no idea of what heaven was truly like. My childish view of heaven had been mostly formed by popular culture; from cartoons, television shows and movies like “Heaven Can Wait.” In my mind heaven was a really boring place where disembodied spirits wandered aimlessly through a mysterious London-like fog. The picture I had built-up in my limited imagination was just slightly better than the first level of Dante’s portrayal of hell; far from the beautiful paradise that I now believe it to be.
When I began reading the Bible’s descriptions of this place called heaven, I was shocked by how different it was from my naive view. I am now convinced that it’s vital to have an accurate view of heaven in order to maintain a genuine (joy and peace-giving) hope for this life and the next.
I know this will sound strange, but it’s true; while I’m not in any hurry to die, since forming a proper Biblical view of heaven in my mind, I’m really looking forward to the day I see heaven! Maybe you’ll better understand what I’m looking forward to after reading the following description of the real heaven.
- We will not be disembodied spirits. We will have bodies like Jesus had after He was resurrected (1 John 3:2). Bodies that defy the laws of physics, as we now understand them. A body that can walk through walls (John 20:19), but also has flesh (Luke 24:39). A body that is able to eat (Luke 24:42-43) and drink (Luke 22:30); we’ll even drink wine in heaven (Matthew 26:29).
- Heaven is a place of perfect peace, but not the R.I.P. kind of peace (I always associated that with lying undisturbed in a coffin, which is not only morbid, but also really boring). I’m talking about inner and outer peace forever; no more crime or war (Isaiah 2:4). A place where now ferocious animals like lions, wolves and bears will graze on grass next to sheep and cows (Isaiah 11:7-8). There will be no more death, mourning, crying or any kind of physical or emotional pain (Revelation 21:4).
- The location of the permanent heaven was the biggest surprise to me; heaven and earth will one day become one and the same (Isaiah 65:17 & 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1).
- The government of the permanent heaven will be a perfect monarchy because Jesus is perfect (just and merciful) and He’ll be the King (John 18:36).
- There will be many cities in the permanent heaven and Jesus will appoint good rulers over these cities (John 19:17-19 & Isaiah 32:1). No more campaign ads!
- There will be many, many building and homes, some of which will make the Taj Mahal look like a starter home (John 14:2).
- There are even gold-paved streets (Revelation 21:21).
- There will be no sun or moon in the sky (Revelation 21:23) because there’s no need of them. God created them to mark time and separate night from day (Genesis 1:14), but there is no night in heaven (Revelation 21:25) and by definition eternity is timeless.
- There will be no more oceans and seas (undrinkable water) (Revelation 21:1).
- There will be no more wilderness (uninhabitable places), no deserts, wastelands or ice-covered areas (Isaiah 32:15, 35:1-7, 41:18-19).
- There will be no more deep valleys or high mountains (Isaiah 40:4, Psalm 46:2, Luke 3:5).
I don’t know how many beings will live on this new earth, but the usable portion of this current earth accommodates 7 billion people (right now); the new earth could easily accommodate 3 or 4 times that number.
Those with a true understanding of what the real heaven is like, and KNOW that they’ll be living there forever, are people of hope; they’re also good and productive citizens in this life as they’ll be in the next. I like the way C.S Lewis said this in his book Mere Christianity:
“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”