When you picture Heaven, what do you see? Do you imagine a garden paradise of rest? Joyful reunions? Or maybe a Bible-celebrity mansion tour? For sure, there are many wonderful things about Heaven, but not everything you hear is consistent with the Bible. So what does the scripture reveal and how should we visualize Heaven? Let’s take a look:
I. Heaven is God-centered
From the beginning of the biblical narrative, it’s clear that all of Heaven is focused on God. Whether an Old Testament prophet is encountering God through a vision (Ez. 1, Is. 6) or John’s account of seeing Christ in the Revelation (Ch. 4); there is absolutely no question of the central focus. All attention is toward the throne of Holy God.
II. Heaven is a real place
The Bible describes Heaven as an actual place, not a “state-of-mind” or vague spiritual realm. It has structure, order and protocol. For example, Isaiah, Ezekiel and John all describe a physical throne room with special created beings, elders, lamps, altar with burning coals, door posts and smoke. Each has their function and place among the activities going on around the throne of God.
III. Heaven is filled with worship
Ezekiel, Isaiah and John all display an immediate response of worship, submission and realization of shortcomings. When they encountered the holiness of God there was nothing but embracing of the obvious. Listen to Isaiah’s words:
“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple…so I said: Woe is me, for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” – Isaiah (6:1-5)
John the Apostle (who knew Jesus well) reacted by falling down as a dead man (Rev. 1:17). He described four living creatures calling out non-stop worship with these words:
“Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God almighty,
Who was, and is, and is to come!”
IV. Heaven is exclusive
Contrary to the idea of an open destination for all “good” people, Jesus says only those who’ve placed their trust in Him will be granted access (John 14:6). That may not be politically correct, but the Good News is that ANYONE who places their trust in Christ can receive cleansing from sin and be welcomed into the presence of God after this life.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – I John 1:9
V. Heaven is home
For those of us who’ve placed our trust in Jesus, this world is not home and some day we’ll leave it behind. We’re sojourners and our final place of residence is with God. Our efforts should be focused on His Kingdom. Our treasure should be laid up “where moth and rust can’t destroy and thieves can’t steal” (Matt. 6:20).
It’s not really “what” you envision, but “Who”. When we truly pause to meditate on the reality of God and His Holy presence; worship, submission, confession and obedience naturally follow. Thankfully, through Christ we are welcomed into the throne room where there is cleansing, acceptance, security and love (Hebrews 4:14-16). What a powerful picture that is…and we’re just getting started!
For other posts in “The Essentials” series, click here