This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
My study yesterday described how Heaven has existed in the past, how it exists presently, and how it will exist in the future. The past is really of no importance to us, but the present and future Heavens are very important to us, since we will die (unless Christ comes back first). When we die, our spirits go to the present Heaven while we wait for Christ to return to Earth and resurrect our bodies. After the resurrection, God will do away with the earth we currently live on, as well as the heavens (which I take to mean the sky and universe). He will totally re-create them, and will move His dwelling place (the present Heaven) down to this newly created Earth so that He can dwell among men. This re-creation of the heavens and earth is described in Revelation 21:1-4:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard 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. 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.”
When I think of what God would intend for eternity to be like, I look back what His original intentions were from the beginning. The Bible says that God does not change – in Malachi 3:6 God says “I the LORD do not change.” And in Hebrews 13:8 it says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever…” Therefore, what He originally intended He still intends. So perhaps the best way to see what God intends for the future Heaven to be like would be to look at what Earth was like when God first created it. In Genesis, chapters 1-3, it describes Earth as a physical place that God not only created, but He came down and walked upon it and He had fellowship with Adam and Eve. The Garden of Eden was an Earth untouched by sin and the curse that comes with it. There was no death and no shame. The future Heaven, which as we said before will be a new Earth, will have these same features – no sin, no shame, and God will walk upon the Earth with us and have fellowship with us just as before.
Alcorn uses Revelation 21 to describe what the Earth will be like. In verses 15-17 it describes the new Jerusalem (the city of God that will descend from the present Heaven to the new Earth), saying that it was measured to be 12,000 stadia in length, and just as wide as it is long. Apparently, 12,000 stadia equals about 1400 miles, so this means that the new Jerusalem will “stretch from Canada to Mexico, from the Appalachian Mountains to the border of California” – over 2,000,000 square miles of land space. The walls of the city will be 200 feet thick. It will be composed of precious stones and pure gold. I’m sure it will be quite a sight to see.
Revelation 22 describes the River of Life, which is “as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city…” (v. 1-2). Also there will be the Tree of Life – in Genesis 2, the tree of life is mentioned and it suggests that God uses it to supernaturally provide for Adam and Eve. I imagine that perhaps the tree of life had fruit that, when eaten, provided all the health and nutritional benefits that humans need. Maybe it even had the benefit of provided immortality. We know that eating the fruit from this tree is a privilege – in Revelation 2:7 it says “…To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” So in the end, and for eternity, God will again provide for our needs through this tree.
I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive description of what things will be like on the new Earth, our eternal dwelling place. But it has given me a glimpse of what things will be like, and hopefully further study and a little imagination will fill the gaps.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.