"Live by God's Every Word"  Ma 4.4

What Is Heaven Like?

Something that is mentioned over 500 times in the Bible ought to be considered very important. The Greek and Hebrew terms that depict heaven are sometimes describing our earthly atmosphere. At other times outer space is referred to. But it is the “third heaven,” as it is called in scripture, that we are interested in. This is the realm outside of the created universe (the “second heaven”) where God lives. It is the place where Jesus ascended, now is, and from whence He will descend to earth at His second coming. Heaven is the place where all believers in Jesus Christ will go immediately at death! (2 Cor. 5:6-8; Phi. 1:23) Get the complete booklet.

Is Heaven Real?

How do we know that heaven is a real place? The facts are plain. The Bible says that Jesus promised that he would prepare a “place” for all true believers in “My Father’s house.” (John 14:1-3) We are told that Abraham by faith was “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God… seeking a country” of his own, a city and a country the Bible calls “heaven.” (Hebrews 11:10,14) The book of Revelation, chapter 21, tells us that this heavenly city has an actual name, real features, and a measurable structure. The New Jerusalem, as the city is called, has foundations, walls, gates, streets, and actual dimensions. By angelic measurements, which are also those used by humans (Rev. 21:17), it measures 12,000 furlongs in all directions— which, with a furlong stretching out to 582-feet, equals 1323 miles in a cubical or pyramid-like configuration. The city has 12 foundation stones named after the 12 Apostles. It has 12 single, solid-pearl gates named after the 12 tribes of Israel. Its wall is “great and high,” 72 yards wide. The streets are pure gold, of a transparent quality not found on earth.

HEAVEN IS REAL...How do we know that heaven is a real place? Because we trust the words of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus promised that he would prepare a “place” for all true believers in “My Father’s house.” (John 14:1-3)

Who Is In Heaven?

Such a huge and amazing heavenly structure, with its base area of 1 & 3/4 billion-square miles, by conservative estimates would hold over 72 billion inhabitants (there are 6 billion people on the planet today)! This figure can account for, not only the saved believers of all ages, but the “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands” of angels. (Rev. 5:11; a billion is a thousand-million, and a million is a thousand-thousand!)

Inhabitants of this “city of the living God” include [1] “God, the judge of all,” [2] “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,” [3] “the spirits of righteous men made perfect [Old Testament believers],” [4] “general assembly and church of the first born [New Testament believers until now],” and [5] the previously mentioned immense number of angels, existing in various ranks and orders. (Heb. 12:22-24)

FAMILY REUNION...Jesus promised that Abraham (father), Isaac (son), and Jacob (grandson) would all set down at the great table of fellowship together in the Kingdom of God... surely Sarah and the other family members will also be there for that great family reunion promised to all who have been born again in Jesus. (Mat. 8:11; John 3:3)

We will recognize each other, and remember our lives together, for we will not know less, but we will see more clearly than ever (1 Cor. 13:12). There will be no painful or tearful memories (Rev. 20:4), for we will see everything from the holy and righteous perspective of God.

REST IN HEAVEN...in heaven, we do not rest from activity. Far be it. We will be very active with the righteous acts God has destined us for in Christ, using the creative skills and interest He has gifted each of us with. We will rest from death, sorrow, pain, etc. (Rev. 20:4), forever and ever!

LAUGHTER & JOY...We will "laugh" (Luke 6:21)... what more needs to be said? We cannot add words to that!

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HEAVEN ON EARTH--LITERALLY... Heaven and Earth will be joined inseparably in the "new heaven and new earth" (Rev. 21:1), and we will live among the Eden-like trees, grass, mountains and valleys forever... Praise the Name of Jesus!

The Timing of the New Heaven& New Earth

The New Heavens and the New Earth will be in existence during the Millennium. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

First, the world is going to be drastically changed at the time of the Return of Christ. This dramatic transformation will also hold true for the heavens, and the entire universe. The changes depicted will be so great, in fact, that this event can be none other than that foretold by the prophets which results in the New Heaven and New Earth.

Second, the earth and the heavens are not destined to be annihilated, but to be renovated. Many Bible scholars recognize this fact due to the weight of Biblical evidence. And from the graphic descriptions of the cataclysmic physical disturbances which accompany the Day of the Lord, it is easy to see how a New Heaven and a New Earth come about at that time.

Third, we have no warrant to assume the prophets were using hyperbole or exaggerated language when they foretold of the shaking and scorching of the earth, the searing and splitting of the cosmic heavens by divine firestorm, and the angelic assault at the Return of Christ n such passages as Isaiah 13:10-13; 24:19,20; 34:4, and others. Every fiber of the prophetic communication mode was strained to convey the scenes of cosmic cataclysm place before them by divine inspiration. One example of this cosmic cataclysm is found in the Lord’s own words about His return amid unprecedented cosmic turmoil:

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and THE POWERS OF THE HEAVENS WILL BE SHAKEN, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory….”And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; FOR THE POWERS OF THE HEAVENS WILL BE SHAKEN. And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:20-30; Luke 21:25-27)

Peter was talking about this same event when he said, “…the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:12-13)

Peter had earlier declared that Jesus would remain in Heaven “until the period of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:20,21). This restoration will be one which “will include the redemption of nature (Rom. 8:18-23) as well as the perfecting of the human society” at the time Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth.

As we mentioned, Peter expanded the same theme in 2 Peter 3. The “restoration of all things” is seen to be effected by the fiery judgment of the Day of the Lord, with the restoration itself being a “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). It is significant that in both of these prophecies Peter calls to mind the Old Testament prophetic promises of just such a glorious age (Acts 3:21; 2 Pet. 3:13).

Jesus Himself referred to the restoration as “the regeneration.”

And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Mat. 19:28)

He set the time of its occurrence as [1] that time when He “will sit on His glorious throne…,”a time the Bible specifically says will occur at His Second Coming (see Matthew 25:31), and [2] that time when the twelve disciples would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, a time the Bible also specifies as when Christ returns to set up His one-thousand-year Kingdom (see Revelation 20:4).

More on the Timing of the New Heaven & New Earth

Finally, Paul said all the creation would be liberated from its bondage to decay at the time of the “revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:18-23). The liberation of all creation from corruption can only mean the freedom of the New Heaven and the New Earth. The time of the “revealing of the sons of God” is said to be the time of “ the redemption of our body” (v23), or the resurrection state, and can be no later than the Return of Christ to the earth when righteous people are raised, and saints from every tribe and tongue and people and nation “ will reign upon the earth” (Rev. 5:9,10; 20:4).

The order of events, then, is just exactly as seen in the original prophecy of a New Heaven and New Earth in Isaiah 65:17-25;

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed. And they shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them. It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.” (Isaiah 65:17-25)

This prophecy shows that the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth is followed by the Kingdom of Christ, or the Millennial Kingdom. This is apparent because mortal people are present, evident from the residual trace of death and sin (v20), as well as childbirth (v23).

Yes, those residing in the New Jerusalem will be able to travel from their (apparently above the Earth during the Millennium) to the New Earth below. Revelation 21: 24-26 says that the kings of the earth during that time will enter the New Jerusalem, back and forth, apparently on some sort of divinely provided pathway. That tells us that people will be going in and out from the earth. Jesus will surly be there on His heavenly throne (Revelation 22:3), as well as sitting on his throne in the earthly Jerusalem at times also, much as a kings in earth’s history have traveled to several different throne-rooms through various parts of their kingdom. Since the saints of the New Jerusalem (Christians who have gone to heaven) will “always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and will reign with Him and have authority over the nations down below on the earth (Revelation 2:26-27), then surely we will travel between the New Jerusalem, our eternal home, and the New Earth.

Wherever the kings throne is, that is where the capital city is. The New Jerusalem will apparently be the capital of the whole created universe (Revelation 22:3), while the city of Jerusalem located in Israel will be the capital of the New Earth, with Israel as the “chief of the nations” (Isaiah 2:1-4)

The New Heaven and the New Earth represent the everlasting kingdom of Christ as foretold in Daniel 7:27 and many other Old Testament passages. Notice that it is everlasting (from that point on). Only God is eternal. The one-thousand years are designated as such because they are bounded on both sides by the binding of Satan and the ultimate imprisonment of Satan (Revelation 20:2, 7, & 10).