Thursday, December 9, 2021

72. The Revelation: Heaven - Everything Will Be Made New (Revelation 21:-22:5)


Throughout the history of the church, God’s people rightly have been preoccupied with heaven. They have longed for its joys because they have been only loosely tied to this earth. They have seen themselves as “strangers and exiles on the earth” who “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:13, 16).

Sadly, that is no longer true for many in today’s church. Caught up in our society’s mad rush for instant gratification, material comfort, and narcissistic indulgence, the church has become worldly. The Bible makes it clear that believers are to focus on heaven. In Philippians 3:20 Paul notes that “our citizenship is in heaven.” And he called upon the believers at Colossae to “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1b–2).”

Scripture refers to heaven more than five hundred times. Revelation alone mentions heaven about fifty times. The Bible delineates three heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2). The first heaven is the earth’s atmosphere (Genesis 1:20; Job 12:7; Ezekiel 38:20); the second heaven is interplanetary and interstellar space (Genesis 15:5; 22:17; Deuteronomy 1:10; 4:19; Psalm 8:3; Isaiah 13:10); the third heaven is the dwelling place of God (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:39; 1 Kings 8:30; Job 22:12; Psalm 14:2; Daniel 2:28; Matthew 5:34; Acts 7:55).

Heaven is an actual place, not a state of spiritual consciousness. Though heaven is far beyond the created world in another dimension, when believers die they will be there immediately (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). Those believers alive at the rapture will also be transported to heaven immediately (1 Corinthians 15:51–55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).