Windows give views. You stand there, lookin’ in or lookin’ out. Grand views, little views, endless vistas. Little snippets of what is there, beyond.
We stand here on earth, and the Bible gives us little windows to see beyond – into heaven. Jesus taught that there is a physical place called “heaven”, or “paradise”. It is actually way beyond what we know as “physical”. Imagine heaven. See it from Bible windows, the perspective of what He told us it is going to be like for those who follow Him:
- It will be instant. Luke 23:39-43; 1 Corinthians 15:52
- We will all be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:50-53
- Built by God. John 14:2-3
- Without prior notice. 2 Peter 3:10
- Inexpressible. 2 Corinthians 12:4
- Comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
1. It will be instant. On the cross Jesus said to the thief hanging there with Him: “…today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” The thief hung there suffering for an unbearably long time afterwards. But that day did finally arrive.
That day is coming for each one of us, just as it did for that forgiven thief, and we too will instantly be with Christ in Paradise. It happens when we die, and it will be instant – on that very day. (1 Corinthians 15:52) See: Thief On The Cross, from Luke 23:39-43, and in the article: That Moment In Time.
2. We will all be changed.
If we have the luck of being born and living at the right time, we will not die! It is a mystery (as in – we don’t know when this will happpen) but we are told that Christ is coming, like a thief in the night:
…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. –1 Corinthians 15:50-53
It is beyond our comprehension now, but in that day we will become imperishable, immortal, never to die again, never to suffer, experiencing only the good of God.
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
3. Built by God. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Can you imagine what the place built by God will look like, what it will be like to call it our home?
2-3 There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am. If this weren’t so, I would tell you plainly. – John 14:2-3
Imagine His house, your house, in heaven. Totally inconceivable because we are outside that realm. Suffice it to know that it is coming!
4. Without prior notice. References to “the Day of the Lord” refer to when Jesus returns, and life on this planet changes, and either Heaven or Hell begins for us all. The Bible gives us a glimpse into the day when earth days end and heaven days begin.
(“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)
That day will arrive upon us just like the day the thief comes to rob and destroy: without notice, suddenly. But we have been forewarned. We know he is coming, so we can be prepared. Are you ready to meet your Maker?
5. Inexpressible. Heaven is so beyond… that, in this context of our present world realities – heaven cannot even be described to us by God or anyone returning to earth from having been there. It is so unearthly that it is inexpressible.
Paul the Apostle said that a man (maybe himself) was transported to heaven somehow and “heard things so astounding that they are beyond a man’s power to describe or put in words…” (2 Corinthians 12:4).
Words cannot contain it. There is no word for what one would see there. Our understanding of things is so limited, that there is no way God can explain heaven in terms that we can conceptualize.
I capture this with my puny brain by imagining my becoming an ant in an ant hill. I am crawling behind a line of ants on the way to pick-up a leaf together, and I’m trying to communicate in ant terms – to the big guy in front of me, sharing just how incredibly intense sex is as a human. We ants are gathered together, so I suddenly stand-up in line on the ant hill and explain to them that the Colorado Rockies are so much more grand than this huge ant hill!
How do I do that?! An ant has no terminology nor ability to conceive of “sex as a human”, nor imagine the “Colorado Rocky mountains”. It is beyond them! Just so… heaven’s realities are beyond us, and…
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.
See: 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 The Message (MSG)
The King James version puts it this way:
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. – 1 Corinthians 2:9
God has to capture the unimaginable realities of His unknowable Kingdom – with something that comes close to giving us a rudimentary, perhaps fuzzy glimpse, into what is outside of our realm of understanding. That is part of why some passages in the Bible cannot be taken literally.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
We have heard that “the streets of heaven are lined with gold.” But that does not necessarily mean literal “gold” as we know it (although maybe it is), but gold is representative of something extremely opulent and amazing.
There is nothing in our world that comes closer to describing the material in heaven, so God describes it for us as gold. Maybe it is some kind of organic surface, glowing naturally, providing communications to self-guided flying saucers. We don’t have enough context to understand it here.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Hell is where God is going to throw Satan and all his demons into, along with all humans who did not accept His free gift of legal freedom from His wrath and condemnation. But there is no need to take it literally when the Bible describes hell as “a lake of fire” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth….” As earthlings, we have no ability to conceive of such a thing. It is conceptually beyond our realm.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The heavenly reality of “eternal damnation” is a literal “hell”. Whether it is a literal lake is not the point. God is communicating just how horrible it will be for those who rebel against Him and refuse His forgiveness. Hell is so horrible that the closest concept for us humans is “a lake of fire”. The heavenly reality is something like that, so God helps us understand it by using those terms. All we can understand is that hell is not where any sane person would want to be.
Hell is also described as “outer darkness”. The hell of God is a state of being in “outer darkness”, “thrust out” of God’s presence and all things good, total depravity and despair without hope of deliverance.
c. Strumming a harp on a cloud. Revelation 15:2
In heaven we will be singing his praises forever with His saints. The picture of strumming a harp, sitting naked on a cloud… does not at all thrill me. It is however a description of eternal bliss and peacefulness. Don’t expect to get a harp when you arrive at heaven’s gate! The extremeness of bliss and peace is unknowable in human terms – except through a description we can understand.
17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
It is so very much comforting, encouraging, to know that our future is protected for us by Creator God. Nothing that happens here on earth can take that away – because God is the One who changed me and made me His own, forever – starting here.
Because of what Christ accomplished on the cross –
I (positionally) stand before the God of the Universe,
as His prodigal child
(now in His arms),
and await the return of Christ
– at which time all Hell will break loose.
That will be The Day!
I (and all who have been changed by His redemption)
will then receive a new body, getting rid of this ¨body of death¨.
I will then begin a whole new existence
in another world
which God is now preparing
for those who love Him.
-from the article: Brand New Creature (in the last paragraph)
¨Even so, come, Lord Jesus¨ – Revelation 22:20
…forgiven forever in Christ. When I die, I will see the dawning of a brand new existence. I will be free from this body of death and dying. Pain and grief will be no more.
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