Category: Last Things, Word: HEAVEN
April 29, 2016 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
For I will create a new heaven and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)
But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell. (2 Peter 3:13)
DEFINITION: Heaven is the supernatural location of God’s presence displayed far beyond the earth, where the holy angels worship Him. After the last judgment and the renewal of all things, God will manifest His presence among the redeemed in “the New Jerusalem.”
“Heaven and earth” (or “the heavens and the earth”) describe the entire universe that God created (Gen. 1:1). Yet the heavens are divided into the visible heavens—where the birds fly and the clouds form and the sun and moon and stars appear—and the invisible heavens—God’s supernatural dwelling place (Ps. 80:14; Isa. 66:1; Matt 5:12) and the home of holy angelic beings (Matt 24:36). God’s will is done perfectly in heaven (Matt. 6:10). Surprisingly, the Old Testament says little if anything about the righteous going to heaven when they die.
In the New Testament, however, heaven is a place where the righteous may store treasures (Matt. 6:20). Another term for heaven in this sense is “paradise” (Lk. 23:43; 1 Cor. 12:4; Rev 2:7). The exalted Lord Jesus is presently there, having “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3), and He will return to earth from heaven (1 Thess. 4:16). Believers already lay claim to citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20; see Lk. 10:20; Heb. 12:23). Although Christ followers rightly understand that we will go to heaven when we die (waiting for the resurrection), the New Testament says very little about this condition. Paul simply called it being “with Christ” and something that was “far better” than earthly life (Phil. 1:23).
After the final judgment, Christ will make all things new, because “the elements will burn and will be dissolved” and “the heavens will be on fire and be dissolved” (2 Pet. 3:10,12). The lovely description of the final everlasting home of resurrected human beings is not of a heaven “up there” but of heaven come down to earth, the city called New Jerusalem (Rev. 21-22). God created mankind to live on earth, and so mankind will live eternally in a place in some ways like the original home of humankind in Eden, with a flowing river and the tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). Nothing could be more glorious than this description, even though we cannot now comprehend it: “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads” (Rev. 22:3).
Yet this place will be better than Eden, for it will mean that “God’s dwelling 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” (Rev. 21:3). This beautifully and perfectly fulfills one of God’s great promises both to Israel and to Christians:
- “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people” (Lev. 26:12).
- “I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people” (2 Cor. 6:16).
REFLECTION: What do you most look forward to about heaven (when your body dies)? What do you most look forward to about heaven (after all things are made new)?
PRAYER: Lord of heaven, I long for the time when at last Your will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. Thank You for the promise of heaven where You will be present with Your people forever and we shall see You face-to-face, forever with You in glory. In Christ’s name, amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.