¿Heaven?

Copy-of-New-Jerusalem2When I’m there with You in heaven
What a wondrous joy will be
Gathered with the angel chorus
Standing by the glassy sea
Such a thought is hard to fathom
In the presence of my King
And with countless ones forgiven
Gathered round the throne to sing

Glory and honor, worthy is the Lamb
Glory and honor, worthy is the Lamb

When you think of heaven, what do you imagine? A place far away, up in the clouds? People wearing white robes as they sing and play harps? streets of gold? But what if I told you that this depiction of heaven, could possibly be wrong?

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven [sky] from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5

What if heaven, isn’t going to be a place far away? What if (as alluded to in I Peter), instead of the earth being destroyed by fire, that it is refined by it? Making it into what it used to be, making it like the Garden of Eden? What if this world, as C. S. Lewis puts it in his book, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle, is only a “shadow or a copy?”:

“‘But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.'” What if, the universe is so big, not because there is extraterrestrial life or to prove how special our little blue planet is, but because we’ll have all of eternity to explore it?

I’m gonna trade my earthly home
For a better one, bright and fair.
Christ left to prepare a mansion
For His children in the air.
I’ll join Him in that land
Where tears nor sorrows can be found
And I’ll receive my mansion,
Robe, and crown.

Chorus (bass)
Mansion, robe, and a crown
(Lord I want a brand new mansion, robe, and a crown in glory)
There love always abound
(There I know that peace and love will always abound forever)
Let me Your throne surround
(Let me be among the saved to Your throne surround)
Lord, please reserve my mansion, robe and crown
(And I’ll receive my mansion robe and crown.)

This song above, I do not like. Both me and a mentor of mine do not like it, because it sounds so selfish–a prime example of how society’s materialistic values have seeped into the American church. Yet sadly, I know some when they think of heaven, they think only of what they will get–a mansion, robe, and crown.

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:2-3). This passage, is the only place where the word ‘mansion’ comes from into our thinking of heaven. If you read this verse in the NIV or ESV you will read, “many rooms” in verse 2. However, if you read this verse in the KJV or the Berean, it is translated as, “many mansions.” The word in question is μονή (moné), which can be translated as a “dwelling-place”, “lodging”, “room”, “abode”, or “mansion”. In this passage, some translate it as “rooms”, because Jesus says in “my Father’s house,” believing that our place is in a house shared with the Father, and better describes His gift to us. However, others translate it as “mansions,” believing that the “Father’s house” refers to the new Jerusalem, and that our places being prepared are separate structures within this city, believing that ‘mansion’ better describes the glory of what we shall receive. Personally, I prefer ‘room’ or ‘dwelling-place,’ for I believe using ‘mansion’ places too much emphasis on what we are expecting to be given. Yes, we shall receive a glorious place; however, the glory of the Father will far outweigh anything else of heaven–and His glory, should be our most dominant focus of what heaven will be like.

True, we may receive crowns, (I Cor. 9:24-25, I Thess. 2:19, 2 Tim. 4:8, I Peter 5:4, Rev. 2:10) for in Rev. 21:24 it calls us “kings of the earth;” however, what did the elders in Revelation 4:10 do with their crowns? They laid them at the feet of God.

In Revelation 21-22, John describes heaven. This glorious city, made of precious jewels: jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst. Gates of pearls and streets of gold. A beautiful place of wealth, or so it appears. What if, heaven is not literally composed of these jewels and metals? What if John while he was writing Revelation, was grasping at straws as he was trying to describe spiritual things in earthly words? just as Ezekiel did (Ezekiel 10)? Now, heaven could be literally made of jasper, sapphire, agate, etc.; or, it could be something much more that we cannot even fathom with our physical minds. The streets, may actually be of gold, but if they are, if gold is only good to be trampled under foot, then it has no value, compared to the glory of God.

Before Jesus, before his parables and revelations, heaven was virtually invisible to the Jews. There are hints of it throughout the Old Testament (Psalm 16:9-11, Psalm 73:24), which is why the Pharisees and the Sadducees were divided on the topic of resurrection, but for the most part, Yahweh’s people served Him in this life, without expecting gifts in an afterlife. What dedication, what faith–would we be able to do the same?

Heaven’s not about a mansion, robe, or a crown, it’s about God. God coming down to dwell with man. It could very possibly be a city in the sky, who knows? We won’t until it comes; nevertheless, it’s fun and encouraging to imagine heaven, what it will be like. But let us not forget what’s truly important about heaven, that we will get to be with God!

It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a lookingglass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different – deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried:

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”

He shook his mane and sprang forward into a great gallop – a Unicorn’s gallop, which, in our world, would have carried him out of sight in a few moments. But now a most strange thing happened. Everyone else began to run, and they found, to their astonishment, that they could keep up with him: not only the Dogs and the humans but even fat little Puzzle and short-legged Poggin the Dwarf. The air flew in their faces as if they were driving fast in a car without a windscreen. The country flew past as if they were seeing it from the windows of an express train. Faster and faster they raced, but no one got hot or tired or out of breath–The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle.

~Photo Obtained

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2 thoughts on “¿Heaven?

  1. The Scriptures certainly teach that the most important thing is being with God (2 Thess. 1:9). And I definitely think those are poetic descriptions in Revelation.

    It’s an interesting idea (living on this earth and exploring the universe) and I’ve always enjoyed reading that book (The Last Battle), but you’ll need to explain these passages a little more before I could buy into it:

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the CLOUDS to meet the Lord in the AIR, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

    2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will PASS AWAY with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat.”

    Revelation 20:11, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven FLED AWAY, and NO PLACE was found for them.”

    Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth PASSED AWAY, and there is NO LONGER any SEA.”

    Revelation 22:5, “And there will NO LONGER be any NIGHT; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the SUN, because the Lord God will illumine them.”

    • I admit that I am not an expert when it comes to heaven or to the Lord’s return; however, I will do my best to interpret these verses that you have presented:

      (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) These verses could very well be literal, a divine revelation given to Paul. We may literally meet Jesus in the sky as the trumpet sounds and our Savior descends, and may fly with him to heaven to live in the clouds. Either permanently or before it descends on earth as described in Revelation. (Or, we may hover with our Lord and watch, in protection, as all of creation is refined by fire.) Or, Paul may be using a figurative scene. For the Jews knew that Jesus ascended into heaven, as Luke records (Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11); therefore, he may have been using language that they would understand in describing his return, and us traveling to meet him and then to dwell with him in the third heaven. For in the Jewish thinking, there are three heavens: 1. our immediate atmosphere (the sky), 2. outer space (the place where the sun, moon, and stars dwell), and 3. the home of God. Either way, it’s unclear exactly what Paul means—but what is clear, is that we’ll be able to be with our Jesus!

      (2 Peter 3:10) The fire mentioned here may be a fire of wrath and judgement, for Peter does mention in the section before the Lord’s coming the fate of false teachers and even mentions the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, which Yahweh did destroy with fire; however, it may also be another sort of fire. In Peter’s first letter, he mentioned a refining fire (1 Peter 1:7), and in 2 Peter 3:1, Peter reminds his readers why he wrote his first letter. Therefore, if this theme of refining fire is being carried over, it may not be a fire of destruction, but of refinement. A fire to burn away the brokenness of the old world in order to form the new. For if we keep reading the letters after verse 10, it says, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for NEW heavens and a NEW earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13). (Revelation 21:1 also mentions a NEW heaven and a NEW earth.) (Also, God did destroy the earth before only to give it a new birth (Genesis 5:32-9:17), though with water instead of fire. However, this destruction by fire sounds like it will more than merely wiping away life of man and beasts.)

      (Revelation 20:11) This chapter describes a judgement scene, and it may be literal; but most in likely, it’s written in figurative language, like most of Revelation, in order to highlight the glory, holiness, and power of God, and how He shall bring His judgement at the end.

      (Revelation 21:1) Dr. Edward P. Myers in his commentary, “After These Things I Saw:” A Commentary on the Book of Revelation, explains these verses in a better way than I could:

      “The ‘new heaven and new earth’ indicates a new order of things (Isa. 34:3-4; 51:4-6; 65:16-25; 66:22-24). The Greek word for “new” is kainos and it emphasizes newness in quality rather than in point of time. They may be living in the old heavens and the old earth, but they have a new aspect, a new character; it is an environment adapted to a new end. It is a universe in victory. This new heaven and new earth replaces the old heaven and the old earth that “fled away” (20:11). It speaks of the works of evil fleeing from the presence of God. When all of the evil was destroyed and righteousness reigns.

      . . . ‘There is no longer any sea’ can be understood in two ways. First, there is the idea of separation. If this is meant, John is saying there is no more separation, either from God or from one another. What separates in 4:6 is done away with in 21:1. Second, in the book of Revelation the beast comes up out of the sea (13:1), and the great harlot sits upon many waters (17:1). To take away the sea means there will be no more worry about the beast nor the harlot in the new heaven and new earth; they are gone” (pg. 308).

      (Revelation 22:5) The new creation will be different; therefore, we can expect changes, such as no longer needing the light of the sun since we will have direct access to God and His full glory (if this verse is to be taken literally), for Moses’ face glowed from only a glimpse of God’s holiness (Exodus 34:29-35). However, that doesn’t mean there may be more similarities than what we think, between what we currently see in this world and what we may see in the next. Yes, the next will be far greater than anything we can hope or imagine; nevertheless, our Creator did create this world too, and called it, “Very good,” before man tainted it with sin.

      Here are my best explanations for the verses which you brought to my attention, and I may be completely wrong in my interpretations. Again, there’s no telling what the next life will be like. We can only guess with the small amount of information which we have been given. . . . Another thing to consider, is how much the Jews got wrong about Jesus’ first coming. They believed that the Messiah would be an earthly king who would literally free them from the Romans and establish an everlasting kingdom here on earth. Therefore, if the Jews were so wrong in their thinking in his first coming, how much has the Church gotten wrong about his second?

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