This topic that I am going to cover is about what Heaven is and what it's not.
Revelation 21:1 "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, no more sea.
Some people will say that the new heaven and new earth would be physical, including Doug Bachelor, a Seventh Day Adventist, Dr. Jack Van Impe, and Tim LaHaye, author of The Left Behind Series. Tim LaHaye suggested that the earth would be renovated by fire. Even Dr. Jack Van Impe said that it would go into a remodeling job. Doug Bachelor, would say that sinners would be annhilated while the earth is being restored back to like The Garden of Eden. The term "no more sea", would mean that there will no oceans, only rivers, streams, and lakes. This verse is not to be taken literally. What we need to realize is that what John is referring to is the final home where we will be living, it's simply called "Heaven".
Jesus clearly says :
"My kingdom is not of this world." - John 18:36
What Jesus means that Heaven will not be physical, earthly, political, economic or material, but heavenly, angelical, and spiritual. In the beginning of Genesis 1:1, God created the heavens and the earth. The Heavens and the earth is referred to our old and current universe, our temporal abode. Our final destination, our final abode which we should be looking for is Heaven. The reason why He put us on this planet is to test our faith and why we should be good stewards to this planet. But what we failed to be good stewards to this planet (including animals and plants) is that we take nature too seriously such as giving animals and nature the same rights as we do. PETA (People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals) have been taken Genesis 1 and 2 too extremely. PETA takes the commandment in Exodus "Thou shall not kill" and apply it to animals. The commandment was meant for us not to kill mankind. Humankind is different from animals. It is clear that we are allowed by God to eat animals with the restrictions of eating unclean animals including pigs and shellfish. Fish is the best dietary food for a Christian lifestyle. Another thing, that we cause damage to the planet including wars. After the Tribulation, when Jesus returns to set up his earthly millennial kingdom, he will cleanse the earth that has been damaged by wars and restore it back to its' original state since the beginning.
After the Millennial kingdom which will be The Lord Jesus Christ's earthly reign, He will make the universe (old heaven and old earth) pass away and judge the unbelievers according their works and those who took the Mark, and cast them into the Lake of Fire burning with sulfur and brimstone which is prepared for Satan and His angels, it's also where the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be after he is defeated at the end of the Tribulation.
Why does this have to be? Because a lot of reasons, God is impatient and jealous, but that doesn't make him a hateful god, He's a loving God and doesn't want us to go to the Lake of Fire. That's why He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins and take our punishment. Furthermore, God, as of now, doesn't like what the nations are mistreating His People, Israel. The Palestinians want to be recognized as a independent state and The UN will approve it only if Israel goes back to it's pre-1967 border. God will not allow the nations to uproot His people, and He will curse those who curses them. Furthermore, we are to hold onto Godly things, not material things.
Now back to Revelation 21 describing what Heaven would be like.
"And I John, saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from god out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
The New Jerusalem is not a literal, physical, and materialistic city, it is a symbol of the Bride of the Lamb, known as The Church. John didn't see the Church coming down from Heaven. The Church which had been raptured to Heaven is now part of it. John has saw the Church in Heaven in his vision. While the city, the New Jerusalem, as some people would say it will be real, we must learn that the walls made of Gold, the pearls on the 12 gates, and the 12 precious stones on the foundation are referring to the saved. The 12 gates with pearls are the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 precious stones on the foundation are the 12 apostles.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Who is this great voice? It's none other than our Lord Jesus. This means that mankind, Jew and Gentile, and The Lord Himself are now one. In this final eternity, nothing can separate between man and God. Not even Satan. There are two tabernacles of God, The earthly one which is Israel's artifact, that was built to keep the Ten Commandments in there , and heavenly one is God himself. In the final eternity, God is the tabernacle.
Now what's not going to be in Heaven:
- No tears, death, no sorrow, or pain. (Revelation 21:4) On the earth, we today have been experiencing the death of our loved ones, including pain, illness and so. Death like today has been a curse since Adam disobeyed God and ate from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In the final eternity, death, sorrow, and pain will no longer be in remembrance. Would we recognize our loved ones? We'll the bible clearly states that we will see God's face. If we see can God's face, we could probably see the face of our loved ones as well, but we will be illuminated with His radiance of Light and Glory. Jesus is God and He is the Light of the World. If your loved one, friend or family member knows and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they will be there. Otherwise, they won't.
- Sorcerers, Unbelievers, idolaters, fornificators (those who are into pornography, unmarried sex, etc.), the cowardly, and all liars will not be there. (Revelation 21:8, 21:27, 22:15). People who have been into Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons, and other things associated in the occult, hypocrites, gossipers, false accusers, and slanderers, people who worship Gods other than God Himself, people who adore celebrities and worship idols of other religions, and people who don't believe in God but in evolution and materialism will not be there. I have watched John Hagee's sermon on Part 2 of the Ten Commandments Volume 1 mentioning American Idol, and I really quite agree with him. The word "Sorcery" is not only a literal term for practicing witchcraft but it's also derived from the Greek word "pharmakia" meaning "pharmacy" or "drugs". Not just drugs that would temporarily ease our headaches and treat our illnesses, but there is illegal drugs that we have today, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, etc. Those who been making and using illegal drugs and/or committing drug abuse, will not have their part in Heaven.
- No need of the sun, moon, or night or candle. (Revelation 21:24, 22:5) In the beginning, God created the Sun and the moon and called it day and night. That verse in Genesis 1 is referred to as "time and space." In the final eternity, time and space will cease to exist. Heaven will be timeless. Earlier, I referred to Revelation 21:1 that that the old heaven and earth pass away. Jesus said in the Book of Luke that Heaven and earth will pass away." The Apostle Peter mentions that the heavens (the universe) will pass away. Now I know you're going to say that this applies to the end of the world, we are going to be raptured at the end of the world. The term "end of the world" is not to be taken literally. The term "end of the world" derives from the Greek word "eon" meaning "age". "End of the world" would mean "The end of the Age". That verse does not apply to what will happen at the end of the tribulation/Daniel's 70th Week. The sentence in 2 Peter 3:10 says "The earth also and it's work shall be burnt up" would refer to not only metals like Gold and Silver, but material things, like personal material possessions. In the millennial kingdom, Jesus will cleanse the earth from all sin, all the material things and even idols from other religions within. But, in eternity, the elements, like in the periodic table as we know it will not exist because Heaven doesn't require those attributes.
- The gates will not be shut all by day (Revelation 21:25) Why? because not only that Heaven doesn't need the sun or moon, but Satan and his fallen angels will no longer be coming back to deceive and declare war like he did as Lucifer. Lucifer was created to protect the throne of God, but the sin of Pride has gotten to him thus he deceived the angels and declared war against God, therefore he was banished to the earth. When Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire, along with the Antichrist and the False Prophet at the end of the millenial kingdom which comes 1000 years after the tribulation, he will no longer deceive like he did to Adam and Eve. In Heaven, there will be no deception like there is on the earth today. God doesn't allow sin into Heaven. This is why He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
So what will Heaven be like:
Now the walls and streets of Gold and foundation of precious stones in Revelation 21:10-21 is not to be taken literally but symbolically. Not only the New Jerusalem is referred to the Bride of Christ, The Church, but it's also known as what John describes as Heaven, like the New Heaven and New Earth.
- God and the Lamb will be the Temple in it. Since Heaven doesn't need a temple, God will be the temple.
- It will have A pure river of life/water of life. Now this river/water of life is not literal, physical, and material. Remember that when Jesus was at the well and ask the Samaritan woman for a drink, but he was not actually thirsty. Unlike the water we have on this planet, the water Jesus is referring is the Word of God.
- The Tree of Life like it was back in the Garden of Eden, will still be there. Although, that we will not actually be able to eat when we will be in our Glorified Bodies. The Marriage Supper of Lamb that we will attend in Heaven when we will be raptured, is not actually a feast but a marriage with the Lord.
- The Throne of God and of the Lamb in it. It always been there since the beginning.
- God will be our light. Since Heaven doesn't need the sun or moon.
What we'll we do in Heaven:
Some people think we will do nothing except sitting in the clouds and playing harps.
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. - Revelation 21:24.
Believers from every nation, race, and language will walk in the light. Not only that but we will:
- Bring glory and honor to God. meaning we will worship god in Heaven as on Earth.
That's one thing that we will do in Heaven. It doesn't matter what else we'll do in Heaven accept that there won't be animals in Heaven. Animals are our earthly companions. In Heaven, angels are our Heavenly companions. Unlike us humans, animals are temporal like the Earth (2 Corinthians 4:18). So if you ever lost your pet Fido or favorite goldfish, those things can be replaced. But technically, I am sorry, when an animal's life ends, that's it. But in Heaven, angels are our eternal companions and also our guardian angels, they can't die. Companion animals on this Earth can be replaced, but in Heaven angels, again, are eternal and non-replaceable.
But there is one thing that we can't do in Heaven. Pastor Mark Cahill, the author of his book "The One Thing You Can't You Do In Heaven" and he quotes:
"The one thing you can't do in Heaven is that you can't share your faith with a non-believer because they're not going to be there." - Mark Cahill
So, once we as believers in Christ are taken into Heaven, it's too late. So we have to reach and spread the gospel to the lost, right now. If you have friends and/or family members who don't know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, you need to reach them and get them to come to Jesus in repentance right now before it's too late.
So in conclusion, Heaven will be like paradise. Jesus said to the thief on his right before he died on the cross, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise."
Heaven is a gift from God. To receive it, you must pray to His Son Jesus Christ, admit your are a sinner and accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior.
Make that decision right now.