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Friday, May 22, 2015
What is heaven?
Fri, May 22, 2015 | link
On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it. ~ Jules Renard
Jules lived in France in the countryside of
the Nièvre region and so his perception of the glimpses of heaven were probably taken from his beloved countryside.
Living as I do, in the
beautiful near North of Canada, among the birds, wolves, bears, maples, birches and pines trees, I feel as he did, that we
see glimpses of heaven in our world around us.
However, we are really seeing glimpses of the glory of creation, and so we attribute the qualities of God
in creation into that place that we will one day pass into after death (if that same God would perhaps shine his favour on
That is part of what we as Christians hope for,
and live towards.
Yet, what does the bible actually say about heaven? Have we got it wrong? Let us investigate a
little. Just a little more discussion before we do.
To a baby, heaven is in the shape of mother’s breast, nipples and that warm sweet milk that they
provide. A newborn with it’s murky nearsighted vision of the world is fully sated by getting access to the vision, taste
and smell of it’s mother. This context will fill it’s tummy with food while holding and comforting it.
Time progresses and we grow older. Then it seems
to take more to satisfy us as our complexity increases.
Yet I think we can all understand that child’s delight and happiness, despite the fact it’s
horizon of understanding blurs at a very short distance and it has little knowledge of the extensiveness of life around it.
Am I right?
Now for the surprise!
We in our complexity are proven
to be no better.
Our best brains to date have determined that everything you and I experience is only about 5% of the known materiality
of universe. That everything includes everything on earth, in our solar system, every known star and galaxy in this universe.
of our understanding is missing and is grouped into two areas called “dark matter” and “dark energy” by our brains of today.
They could just as easy be called ”Jack” and “Jane”, or “blur” and “blah”,
for what we really know about it.
Despite our deep study, we therefore know almost nothing of our universe. Then we need to acknowledge that our universe
is not God’s full domain. God’s domain extends to heaven and perhaps beyond that to areas beyond our conception.
Yet, like that baby, there
are small pieces of our understanding that can be used to grasp some simple salient facts, and this is what Jesus, the apostles,
prophets and writers of the bible try to give us as information regarding heaven.
Let’s consider some of this.
First of all heaven is where God is present…
1 John 3:2 (NIV)
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and
what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see
him as he is.
Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then
I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
John 17:24 (NIV)
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the
glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (said by Jesus)
From these verses I think you can agree that we will see Jesus
in heaven, and also that we cannot understand heaven fully now in our current living state.
It is interesting that when we search the bible the Father’s
face is not seen at any time and 1 Timothy 6 says of God
God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal
and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever.
Jesus is our only way to understanding God the
Father and knowing him. It may be we will never be permitted to see the Fathers face…eternity will tell!
Hebrews 9:27-28 (NIV)
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after
that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear
a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him
Jesus is the key, and will be coming again. We however die and
then face a judgement. That judgment has a directing force in it, and we are selected into either those destined for heaven,
or those destined for hell.
Yet, we can determine where we are to go! But more about that later. Right now we are looking into aspects of our fuzzy knowledge of heaven.
happens to the current earth?
The bible explains as follows in Revelations 21;
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.
The current earth is gone and so has all moisture. I think that’s
way of saying all life as we know it is eradicated and it’s a hot water evaporating or transforming water evaporating
or transforming process that does it.
Then it explains the new environment as follows;
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride
beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s
dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with
them and be their God. 4 ‘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.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making
everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha
and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But
the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters
and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Selfishly (I think that is a human failing)
I focus on
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.”
since these are things I yearn for. No more death. No more mourning for people and things and times and
seasons. No crying. No Pain!
This defines heaven more than many other things for me. The unpleasant strains of life are removed.
In case we don’t quite get it, we find this is explained
by Isaiah who lived somewhere around 800 to 740 years B.C.
Isaiah 56 says
New Heavens and a New Earth
17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.20 “Never again will there be in it
infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred
be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be
the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will
be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy
says the Lord.
Now this has another aspect. Note that the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. Folk, let’s realize
what we have here is so insignificant that we will not waste a second of eternities time even trying to remember it.
I think that speaks to the wonder
of where we will be doesn’t it?
This Jerusalem is designed to be a delight and its people a joy!
We will be there as joy! Yes us as joy!
Yet there is also a reward form the past. It also says
the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according
to what they have done
new situation does depend on what we have done here and now. Our life has purpose. Eternal purpose! What
are we doing today towards that purpose?
There is an apparent ambiguity in the Isaiah text compare to the revelation text isn’t there.
Did you notice, there was
a mention of death in this new place by Isaiah. How can this be?
Straining my brain I remembered this text from 1 Thessalonians 4.
Believers Who Have Died
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be
uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For
we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in
him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the
coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will
come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead
in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with
them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage
one another with these words.
people will end up at the judgement without having died.
what Isaiah is referring to are those remnants who still have to pass through the veil of death.
Maybe they get to do it in the New Jerusalem.
Perhaps it is for them the words are written…
20 “Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred
be considered accursed.
Perhaps the death of those
raptured will simply be a transformation from a millisecond of dying to being alive again with the new body. So fast a change
that there is no time for mourning or pain.
I wonder about that sometimes, do you?
Eternity! That’s a long time for small evils to become unbearable. Is that perhaps why all evil has
to be eradicated?
wonder about that as well.
Now in the eternity state we are under the direction and loving control of God the Father, living with Jesus among us.
and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many
nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the
Lord Almighty has sent me to you.
Jesus will be among us! Wow! We will be able to chat to Jesus!
Ever had a question you would really like to ask Him? We will do just that. Wow!
Joy will be our signature
Jeremiah 31:12-13 (NIV)
12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
they will rejoice
in the bounty of the Lord—
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,
the young of
the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
and they will sorrow no more.
13 Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
We will be amazing and
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Returning to how we get
one major requirement and one lesser.
The first is that we need to understand and be willing to acknowledge the
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one leader with authority, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally established by
the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, established, not made, of one Being with the Father; through
him all things were made. For us and to save us, he came down from heaven, was embodied by the Holy Spirit and the virgin
Mary becoming truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third
day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he went up into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, who proceeds
from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy universal body of Christian believers acknowledging the leading of the apostles of Jesus. We acknowledge
one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. On this
And then while
not a pre-requisite, it is the norm that we also need to die.
The mystery of life is that true joy comes not in life, but following after it has
May you chose the joy of eternity, the peace of God and love Jesus with your whole heart mind and soul.
If you do we can chat further in heaven.
If you want to see a short blog describing a perspective on what I believe click here
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May you be blessed today!