WHAT ABOUT HEAVEN?
Every human heart longs for a place called home. . .a place of retreat from the battles and wounds of life. . .a place to remember memories. . .a place to be especially close to the people you love and who love you. But for many today, home is not a center of happiness and hope. Whether in the heart of the cities or in the quiet of the country, homes are too often centers of trouble. . .financial problems. . .hatred. Too often home is a place of loneliness and discontent. No matter where home might be, disaster can strike at any moment. Death may take us from even the wealthiest home.
God created the home in the Garden of Eden when he brought Adam and Eve together. Since then, through the ages, our hearts have longed for a secure, happy place for ourselves and our loved ones. On this earth we may have some measure of a home like that. But Jesus promised us a home where happiness would be full. He told us, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2) Jesus wants us to be with him in that new home. This is his promise: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:3)
Friend, Jesus is preparing a place for you. Someday soon he will come and say to those who love him, "Come, your home is ready. Come, now we can be together." What will that home be like? What will you be like in that new home? Let's go to the Bible and find out. Let's discover your new home in a beautiful new world.
In trying to get a clearer picture in mind of our new home, we must remember that our words can't even come close to describing it. This is the way Paul explained it: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9) You can be sure that your new home will be happier than you can ever imagine. Your new home will be in a world that is perfect. The apostle John wrote this about it: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." (Revelation 21:1)
No sin will exist anywhere in the universe. All the effects of sin and all the wicked will be forever destroyed, never to be seen again. The apostle Peter affirmed this. He said, "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Peter 3:13) The new earth will be given to the righteous. Jesus' promise will be fulfilled: "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5) The new earth will be ours throughout eternity. The Bible says, "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever." (Psalm 37:29)
Our new home will be a very real place. We will be very real people who live there. The Bible gives us a clear picture what we will be like. We shall be like our resurrected Lord. The apostle John described it this way: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)
We shall be like him! Paul says that this change will come when Jesus comes the second time. Our bodies will be "changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." The Bible says that our bodies will be immortal, eternally free from sin, sickness, suffering and death. Yet, just like Jesus, our bodies will be real.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, he told them, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me , and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39) Christ's disciples saw a real, physical person, not a spirit. That's how we will be. Job of Old Testament times knew it would be this way. He said, "Yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another." (Job 19:26,27)
The promise is sure, because Jesus has made it. If we are faithful to him, he will "change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." (Philippians 3:21) Then death will have no more hold on God's redeemed people. We will live forever with no pain, no sickness, no temptations. But even though we are changed, and our bodies are glorified, yet we will be ourselves, individuals called by distinctive names. We will know our loved ones who will be there, and we will be known by them. The apostle Paul described it this way: "But then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
After his resurrection, Jesus was recognized by those who loved him--by Mary at the tomb who knew his voice. . .by his disciples when he ate with them. We will be like him. The marks of sin will be forever removed, but we still shall know and understand one another. We shall live in a place of perfect happiness with our loved ones and friends who will be with us for eternity.
But what will we do throughout the endless ages of eternity? We will not be happy for long if we have nothing to do. We were created to work, to accomplish, and to learn. We can be sure we will have all of these opportunities in our new world. The Bible tells us that our home in the new earth will be a very productive place. "They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them." (Isaiah 65:21)
We shall have homes with perfect security. No one will ever steal or destroy or endanger our homes or lives. The prophet Isaiahdescribed it this way: "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9) Knowledge--the deepest longings of the human heart to know and to learn will be satisfied. Yet, ever before us there will be more to learn, more to challenge us. We will be able to develop every talent, every power of mind and body. Not only will our classroom be this earth, but the entire universe will open to us.
We will also continue to worship and learn more of our Creator and Redeemer. We will continually grow in our appreciation for what Jesus has done for us. In worship, the highest aspirations of the human heart will be fulfilled. The Bible says, "And from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 66:23) We will meet around the throne of God every Sabbath. We will see our Lord and Savior face to face. We will praise him and rejoice. Worship. . .study. . .work--these will be our activities and our joys.
In every nation today citizens flock to the capital. The capital city is usually the center of government, of museums, and of historical collections. It is a place of monuments. So, too, our new earth will have a capital city--the new Jerusalem! This city will be built by the Master Architect of the universe. He will build it for us. Thousands of years ago, Abraham looked forward to this city. "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:10)
This city will come from heaven to this earth. John the Revelator described it this way: "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven." (Revelation 21:2) John goes on to describe this city as having walls of precious stones, foundations of twelve of the most beautiful jewels, and twelve gates of pearl. It will be beautiful beyond description, and it will be our capital.
Our new home will also be a place of continual health and joy. "For, behold," the Lord promised, "I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." (Isaiah 65:17) The former things--suffering, pain, disappointment, death--will be no more. In fact, the joys of our new home will be so great that we will not even be able to recall the trials and tears we faced in this life. "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick." (Isaiah 33:24) No more worries about your loved ones. . .no more doctor's visits and hospital stays. No more staying up through the night with a feverish child.
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." (Isaiah 35:5) No more deformities or physical weaknesses will exist. No more will you feel the ache inyour heart at the sight of a crippled child. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." (Revelation 21:4)
Does your heart ache, friend? Do you feel the pain of having lost a loved one? Do you dread the future because you know there will be pain and sorrow? Be assured, in your new home in the new earth you will be freed from all these sorrows. You will experience happiness without end. Right now the question is, How can you be sure to be there? The new earth will be a place where everyone loves and obeys God. There can be no other way to assure a place of continual peace and love. "God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)
Those in the new earth must be at peace with God. They must be seeking to live in harmony with his way of righteousness. The apostle Peter described it this way: "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." (2 Peter 3:14) Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8) Jesus is coming again soon. In his presence nothing evil will survive. That's why the Bible urges us to give up our sinful ways, to follow our Savior and depend upon him for forgiveness and strength. "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:3)
We must let Jesus, the Holy One, live in us and direct our lives. "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." (1 John 3:6) Only those who live in the way of Jesus can be allowed to enter the new earth. ". . .there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21:27)
Friend, do you want to have a new home in the new earth? You can. Your key is Jesus Christ. You must accept his way of righteousness for your life, and do his will. You must give your life to him so he can take out sin and rebellion. When you do that, and when you continue following and obeying him, then you can be sure of a new home in the new earth. You can be sure of eternal life in a perfect place. Isn't that what you want? Everything else is so insignificant, so small, in comparison with everlasting life.
Remember, too, that your decision may influence the destiny of others- -of those you love. Why not decide for Jesus Christ right now? Why not decide for eternal life right now? Right now--because Jesus said, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Revelation 22:12)
Jerusalem, my happy home,
O how I long for thee!
When will my sorrows have an end,
Thy joys when shall I see?
Thy walls are all of precious stone,
Most glorious to behold;
Thy gates are richly set with pearl,
Thy streets are paved with gold.
Thy garden and thy pleasant walks
My study long have been;
Such dazzling views by human sight
Have never yet been seen.
Lord, help us by Thy mighty grace,
To keep in view the prize,
Till Thou dost come to take us home
To that blest paradise.