What do you think of when you think about Heaven? Most people, at least on some level, think of Heaven as the place “good people” go when they die. For some, it’s a place with pearly gates and streets of gold with no more sorrow and no more pain. For many, it’s a place of pleasure beyond our wildest dreams. Both believers and unbelievers alike want to go there, but there’s a pretty big difference in what they imagine it to be. In fact, what people think about Heaven says a lot about who they are and what they believe.
For Some, Heaven Is About Luxury & Desires
Before God came for me, I had an idea of Heaven like a lot of people. I thought it was a place where all my fleshly desires would be met. In my personal version, I had a sweet little cabin on a sandy beach near the ocean. The weather was always sunny and perfect there. Nearby, there was a gigantic bakery filled with every possible delicious dessert and pastry you could imagine. I could taste treat after treat forever and never run out of things to try. And not a single bite had even one calorie! It sounds so silly to me now, but when you talk to people who aren’t saved, you might hear similar longings for days spent in luxury and relaxation with every creature comfort and freedom.
Unconverted/Carnal: If your idea of Heaven is all about the flesh, you might want to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
For Others, It’s Pearly Gates & Streets of Gold
The place most Christians usually think of as Heaven is actually the holy city of New Jerusalem. That’s the city that comes down from Heaven after the first Heaven and Earth have passed away. It’s God’s gift to us and the fulfillment of the desires of God’s people throughout the ages: a true community. In fact, this is where believers from all times will live in the presence of God forever.
That City’s Characteristics:
- It’s a place where God will “wipe away all our tears,” where there is “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” and no more pain. Revelation 21:4
- It has no more sea (a consistent biblical metaphor for danger, pain, and chaos.) Revelation 21:1
- It has no churches or lights because God Himself will be both the temple and the only source of light (as prophesied in Isaiah 60:19). Revelation 21:23
- It has the glory of God and a light as clear as crystal and the color of a jasper stone. (Jasper stones can either be red or green, depending.) Revelation 21:11
- It has “pearly gates” and “streets of gold” Revelation 21:21
- It’s home to only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:27
- It is home to the Tree of Life. “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (This is the same tree from Genesis 2:9 that was located in the Garden of Eden.) Revelation 22:2
The City’s Dimensions
- It’s laid out like a square with twelve foundations (Revelation 21:14), each adorned with its own kind of precious stones. Revelation 21:19
- It measures 12,000 furlongs in length, breadth, and height – about 1,500 miles in each direction. (Some see New Jerusalem as a cube; others think it might be a pyramid.) Revelation 21:16
- It has high walls, 144 cubits (about 216 feet) made out of jasper and symbolic of the exclusivity of the city. Revelation 21:17
Traditionalist – If your view of Heaven is more like New Jerusalem, you’re probably a pretty traditional Christian. You’re well-versed in hymns and spiritual songs and looking forward to the day when old things are passed away and the new have come.
The Bible Says Heaven is Where God Lives
The Bible’s official version of Heaven describes it more like the place where God resides. In Deuteronomy 26:15, it’s God’s “holy habitation.” In 1 Kings 8:30, it’s God’s “dwelling place.” Isaiah 66:1a says, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool…” And in Ezekiel 1:26, we hear that the throne has an “appearance like a sapphire stone.” In John’s vision in Revelation 4, he saw an emerald rainbow around the throne with 24 thrones with elders in white robes and crowns around it. Directly front of the throne, there was a sea of glass-like crystal, and around it “were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.” In Philippians 3:20, we find that this is the place Jesus comes from, and in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul calls it “the third heaven” and “Paradise.”
Bible literalist – If you see Heaven as only what the Bible speaks of explicitly with the word “Heaven,” you probably take things very literally. Either that, or you have just boiled it down to the most simple concept: Heaven is where God is.
All We Need to Know
Are the “mansions” from John 14:2 in Heaven, or are they “rooms” in the Father’s house in New Jerusalem? As interesting as it is to think about our eternal home, there is really no way to know for sure until we get there. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
Now that I have been saved, I understand that it’s the presence of God in our midst that is the real prize for eternity. In fact, it really doesn’t matter to me what it looks like or what else is there. As long as I can be with my Savior, that will be Heaven to me.
Have you heard that Heaven is called Beulah Land? Try Beulah Land: A Place Just Outside of Heaven. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email inbox. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.