Question of the Week: What Will Heaven Look Like?
If you’re looking for a religious text that gives us extensive and sensory-based descriptions of what Heaven in like, the Bible is not for you. When it comes to what we know about Heaven itself, we can count on one hand the number of passages that give us anything as far as a description of what “seeing” Heaven is like. It is for this reason that people who overemphasize its appearance and what it felt like pertaining to the senses should be met with harsh skepticism. This has not and never has been God’s focus whenever Heaven is brought up. In order to have an accurate understanding of what makes Heaven paradise, we should allow scripture to be and remain our authority on the matter.
Fact #1: The Reliable Eyewitnesses of Heaven Couldn’t Describe It
Every Christian’s final authority on what the Afterlife is like should be from the ones who have actually been there. Starting with Jesus of Nazareth and continuing with the eyewitnesses of His Resurrection that spoke with His authority, the Apostle Paul was given credibility by the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:15-16) and treated his writings as if they had the same reliability as his own. In one of his letters, Paul described a vision he was given of paradise and said that it would be a crime to put it into human language. To ask what Heaven is like is to ask something so incredible that our very language couldn’t properly express it. Therefore, attempting to do so is either a losing game on our part, or a deception on someone else’s.
It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (NKJV)
Fact #2: Scripture Itself Isn’t Explicit About What Heaven Is Like
All accounts of Heaven in the Bible are limited to one area of focus. The Throne of God. Ezekiel 1, Isaiah 6, Revelation 4-5, and Revelation 20-21 give us some details, but not enough to come to a complete understanding of everything that is in store for us there. Attempts are made by using the Tabernacle as a model, but its focus is on the same material given in Ezekiel and Isaiah. People point to the streets of gold in Revelation, but fall short when they leave out the fact that this will be part of the new Creation and that this gold is like transparent glass. City gates composed of a single pearl, foundations of a city the size of our moon filled with precious stones, and the like are all things we simply couldn’t compare anything else to in this life. And that’s the point. We can’t compare it to anything. Therefore, we can only go off of what we already know.
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
Revelation 21:22 (NKJV)
Fact #3: Jesus Himself Described Heaven As “Knowing Him”
What makes Heaven paradise is the fact that Jesus is there. What makes Heaven beautiful is the fact that Jesus is there. What will prevent Heaven from ever getting boring is the fact that Jesus is there. Anything else we attempt to add or take away from what we’re told is settling for less than the best part. Heaven’s greatest feature is something we can already enjoy today. The more you abide in a relationship with Jesus, you’re getting a taste of what will be fully known and enjoyed by us forever. That is why Heaven is so often referred to as Eternal Life. He isn’t offering us a new living arrangement or preserving us for a particular length of time. We’re restored to Eden and are able to enjoy fellowship with Him again. Living forever is one thing. Living with Life’s true meaning and fullness is what will make living forever worthwhile.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
John 17:3 (NKJV)
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