Heaven comes Down
When the Apostle John was writing the Book of Revelation, he wasn’t unveiling his own ideas or thoughts, but those of Jesus Christ Himself (Rev 1:1-2), so if we read the Book of Revelation, we’re reading Jesus Christ’s revelation and not Johns, so one of the first facts about heaven is not that it’s up, but that heaven comes down. John writes that he “saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:1-2). Many believe that heaven is up or heaven is somewhere unknown but for the believer, heaven will come down to the earth and be established as a kingdom without end (Isaiah 9:6), but if a person dies before the New Jerusalem comes down, then they are still in the presence of the Lord, and to me, being present with the Lord will be heaven anyway. The Apostle Paul is like most of us in that we “would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2nd Cor 5:8). Paul was saying “that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2nd Cor 5:6), and most of us would rather be with the Lord than with anyone else or at any other place.
Eternal Life in the Kingdom
The author of Hebrews (most believe it is Paul who wrote this) says of the many heroes and heroines of the faith died before the received any of the promises (Heb 11), and so too might we pass away before we see Jesus’ triumphant return, but even if we do, we know that not one of God’s great and precious promises will ever fail (2nd Pet 1:1-4). These Old Testament saints “all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb 11:13). Now, they have received their just reward and are with the Lord right now, so not one of those promises from God will fail. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Jesus has resurrection power in His Word, just as He said, “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43) and Lazarus came forth, even though he was dead for four days. In the kingdom, death will be no more (Rev 21:4) but neither will there be pain, suffering, sorrow, anymore as God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes. We can be as sure as Paul was “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).
God with Man
We have seen that death will end in the kingdom but so will suffering and pain, and what remains is the everlasting joy of the Lord by being in His presence. Can you imagine seeing Jesus Christ for the very first time in your life? Surely, the greatest joy will not be receiving eternal life as it will be in seeing the very face of God. The Apostle John writes, “the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev 21:3) and we finally “will see his face” (Rev 22:4) and see what Jesus Christ looks like. Jesus was called “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) which means “God with us” just as Matthew wrote, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)”(Matt 1:23). I cannot think of any greater reward in the kingdom than to be with the King of that kingdom, Jesus Christ. That’s what we all look forward too.
Life in the New Jerusalem
An angel gave John a glimpse of the coming kingdom and wrote the angel showed him “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:1-2). By then, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him” (Rev 22:4), and then, “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:5). The New Jerusalem will be indescribable beauty as the “wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald” (Rev 21:18-19). The gates were made of pearl and the streets made of gold (Rev 21:21). As John beheld the New Jerusalem, he saw that the “city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations” (Rev 21:23-27).
The Bible describes heaven as actually being the New Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven and at that time, we will finally be with the Lord and see His face (rev 21:3, 22:4), and sorrow, pain, suffering, and even death will finally be no more (Rev 21:4). To try and describe heaven is impossible because even John didn’t understand everything that he saw but he knew enough to know that it is an everlasting kingdom and one that will be absent from sin as John writes that “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27). Can it be any better than that? I would say, no!