Revelation 21:1–5, 22–27; 22:1–5 comment (0)
July 24, 2008
By Jerry W. Batson
Related Scripture: Revelation 21:1–5, 22–27; 22:1–5
Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity (Retired), Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Just How Heavenly Is Heaven?
Revelation 21:1–5, 22–27; 22:1–5
What will we be doing in heaven? Some popular views make heaven sound somewhat boring. For example, who wants to sit around on clouds playing a harp or engaging in endless choir rehearsals? While heaven’s agenda is not itemized in Scripture, we believe heaven will be rich and rewarding. We do get glimpses of what will be heavenly about heaven.
Heaven will be God-centered, not human-centered. This study helps us appreciate heaven’s beauty, joy and glory as shown in the Revelation. Three words about heaven stand out in our passage: new, glorious and joyful.
Three times heaven is described as new: a “new” heaven and a new earth (1), “new” Jerusalem (2) and everything being made “new” (5). Central to heaven’s newness is the declaration that God will dwell with His people.
All separation will be eliminated. Remember that John, the author of Revelation, was exiled from the churches to which he wrote. A stretch of sea separated the island of Patmos from the mainland.
When John saw in his vision that the sea existed no longer, he would have understood a special significance for him. Broken fellowship with God and with fellow believers will be forever eliminated.
A new intimacy with God is implicit in the bride metaphor. Like a bride’s dwelling with her husband will be the church’s relationship with God. The newness in the relationship will include the elimination of all that causes tears and sorrow.
Death will be abolished forever. Grief, crying and pain will all be gone. No wonder that God declared from His throne that He was making everything new.
In this present life, we can endure things that cause us sorrow and pain by remembering that such things are, at worst, only temporary. They will be absent from heaven. Sometimes we feel that God is absent, but in such spiritually dry seasons, we can take heart that our future holds a complete and unhindered relationship with Him in heaven. In our times of sensing God’s nearness, we know that we are being given a foretaste of heaven.
John saw the glory of heaven as the glory God brings to it, as well as the glory brought by the kings of the earth. Nothing enters heaven that defiles it, the nations and kings of the earth are those who have been redeemed and are Christ’s servants.
Furthermore heaven will have no need of a sanctuary as a meeting place for God and His people. God and the Lamb are its sanctuary. Everyone will experience God and Christ directly without need of a meeting place. Every part of the new heaven and new earth will be a meeting place with God and with Christ.
God’s glory illumines heaven, making it without need of light from the sun or moon. Earthly cities closed their gates at night to protect those within their walls. As a place of perfect safety, the heavenly gates never close. Heaven will be a place of perfect purity and righteousness. Nothing profane will ever enter it. No person who does what is vile or false will have access to heaven. Only those written in the Lamb’s book of life will be present.
We have no glory of our own but only such glory as God gives us. Whatever we are and have should be used for His glory now, just as in heaven.
John saw in his heavenly vision the river of living water that caused the tree of life to bear fruit.
Heaven will be a place of abundance and perfection. The leaves of the tree possess healing virtue. The curse will be fully removed. Physical and spiritual want will be absent.
The throne of God and of Christ will be central to the heavenly city. The greatest blessing of heaven is that we will see God’s face and enjoy Him forever. Inasmuch as the Lord God Himself lights the city, it will not need natural sunlight or lamplight. Believers will serve God and reign in His presence.
As the counterpart to heaven’s joyful service, our present service should be for us a joy, not a burden. As we will do then, so now we should serve God with hearts of joy.