What is heaven?

This series of blogs on eschatology, or the study of the last things, concludes with descriptions of heaven.  The eternal state of the new heaven and new earth was promised in Isaiah 65:17. “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” The old heaven and earth, corrupted by sin, “will be liberated from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21). It will be destroyed by fire, according to 2 Peter 3:12-13. “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” The Creator will destroy His creation by fire. This could mean raining down fire such as Sodom and Gomorrah experienced, or splitting His creation’s atoms apart, like the process of fission releases energy. In any event, the main point is this: God and man are face to face again in the “home of righteousness.” And Jesus brings us to that home.

Christ said in John 14:2-3, “‘In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’” This will be a state of exaltation, where believers’ souls and bodies are with God in heaven for eternity. Because we are in God’s presence, heaven will be perfect. Nothing impure will ever enter it, because death and the devil are destroyed (Revelation 20:10; 21:27).

Revelation 7:15-17 describes it beautifully: “They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Pictured as a wedding banquet (Matthew 25:10), heaven is a celebration of Jesus’ rescue of His bride, the Church. Revelation 19:6-7 says, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Both Old and New Testament passages (Hosea 2:19; Ephesians 5:32) portray the intimate relationship between God and His people as a bride and groom. That’s why earthly marriage will no longer be necessary—we will be focused on God alone (Matthew 22:30).  Such focus is fitting; God created us and redeemed us from sin through Jesus’s perfect life and atoning sacrifice.  To God alone be glory and honor and praise!

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