While students of Scripture may differ as to what happens after a person dies, rest assured that for the purpose of this study our focus will be to learn what the Bible clearly says about the place where Christians will live with God forever – Heaven. The most extensive description comes from the Book of Revelation where the word “Heaven” appears over fifty times. We will concentrate much of this study on the 21st chapter.
We have been reminded that Heaven is a place. I would like to clarify that with a statement about Heaven from one of the contributors of the Reformation Study Bible:
“To think of heaven as a “place” is more right than wrong, though the word could mislead. Scripture describes heaven as a spatial reality that touches and interpenetrates created space…While we are in our present bodies the realities of heaven are unseen, and we know them only by faith (II Cor 4:18;5:7 NKJV) …We can form an idea of the perfect life of heaven from what we know imperfectly. I Cor. 13:12 NKJV reminds us that “now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
There is no earthly temple in Heaven because God will be the temple (Rev. 21:22). Heaven will be enlarged to include all the universe according to II Peter 3:13 GW. The Psalmist declares that the old heavens and earth will wear out like a garment, but God will change them as easy as putting on a robe (Psalm 102:25-26 ESV). God also assures us that the new heavens and earth will remain forever. “The new heaven and earth that I am about to make will continue in my presence, declares the LORD (Isaiah 66:22 GW).
II Peter 3:3-8 VOICE says “in the last days mockers will come, following their own desires and taunting you, saying, ‘So what happened to the promised second coming of Jesus?
For everything keeps going just the way it has since our ancestors fell asleep in death; since the beginning of creation, nothing’s changed’… the scoffers are deliberately forgetting that long ago when God spoke the word, the heavens came into existence and the earth formed from water and by water. The waters later flooded and destroyed that world. By that same word, the heavens and earth we see now are being reserved for destruction by fire, preserved until the time comes for the godless on the day of judgment.” God has delayed this judgment to give humankind opportunities to be saved. How important it is for everyone to live a life pleasing to God and to look for the new heaven and earth God has promised.
At this point in Revelation 21, Armageddon is over, the 1000-year millennial reign of Christ has passed, Satan with his hosts along with lost humanity have been put in the lake of fire, and the old universe has been destroyed by fire, Now God creates a new heaven and earth. We need to remember that the old universe was destroyed but not annihilated.
When the Bible speaks of the earth having fled or passed away it does not mean done away with; it simply means changed or rearranged. MacArthur explains that” new” also means “different.” He cites I Cor. 5:17 KJV where it tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The new earth will still resemble the old earth just as a new person in
Christ still resembles the former individual. The city of Jerusalem will have streets. There will be mountains and trees. But there will be no oceans, which today make up three fourths of the earth’s surface. There will be a river of life flowing through the new Jerusalem. As my seminary professor, Dr. Herman Hoyt, has written, “The new heavens and the new earth will provide a perfect environment where righteousness can settle down and be at home.”
How do we manage the sad thought of loved ones who will not be with us in Heaven? The best answer is found in Isaiah 65:17 NKJV where God says: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
Let us not forget that we will be in a new Heaven and Earth where we will be thanking and praising God for our salvation from sin. That will be remembered. And furthermore, Isaiah 66:23-24 says we will be witnesses to the wicked being cast into the lake of fire. Surely, we will not lose all our memory since we are promised in I Cor. 13:12 NKJV that we will know as we are known.
John sees the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from Heaven to the new earth, already prepared as Jesus promised in John 14:3 NKJV. No lights will be needed because
God is the Light (Rev. 22:3). MacArthur says the city is 1500 miles square, about the same as the distance from Maine to Florida, with a total of 2.25 million square miles, enough to hold one hundred billion people. Imagine a city shining like a diamond, a city of gold with foundations of precious jewels, and open gates of pearl! Sounds like perfect real estate for Christians!
Read the final Part 3 next Sunday, May 15,2022