How do you imagine life in heaven? Old people in flowing white robes, sitting on puffy clouds, playing harps. Maybe you’d prefer endless days of golf or parties every night. Does beauty of nature fully restored speak to you? Or reunions with loved ones and famours bible characters? Endless worship? We’ll probably be surprised to find heaven is more than we imagine! But we don’t have to imagine heaven as an extension of our desires. We can envision it based on what God reveals about heaven in scripture. Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven surmises 21 things we can expect in heaven based on just three verses from John’s revelation of heaven. We’ll look at some of these today and the others in the next blog post, giving each of us time to read for ourselves and ponder our heavenly goal.
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:9-11)
1. When people die they go to heaven. This is the vision God gave John.
2. These people died for their faith. They were “the righteous made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:23)
3. People in heaven are remembered for their lives on earth. Do you wonder how your life will be remembered in heaven?!
4. They express themselves in heaven as we do on earth.
5. They raise their voices, indicating the ability to communicate with reason and passion as we do on earth.
6. They speak out in a unified voices. Unlike on earth, there will be a sense of solidarity and unity among people in heaven.
7. People in heaven are aware of each other, God, and the situation on earth.
8. People in the Present Heaven ask God to intervene on earth with his judgment over evil. “How long” until you judge? You and I have the same question as it sometimes seems that evil is triumphing over good and we await the answers to our prayers. Apparently, not all these questions will be answered immediately.
9. Being able to ask questions of God means they have access to him and they want to understand. God is big enough to handle any question you have of him. He longs for us to seek understanding as a greatly valued treasure.
10. They know what’s happening on earth; they’re aware that there are those not yet judged.
11. They have a concern for justice, just like we do.
12. They remember their lives on earth – that they were murdered!
13. They pray for judgment on their persecutors. It might seem on earth that the wicked get away with their evil deeds unpunished and that their earthly punishment is just not enough for the harm they’ve done. We’re called to pray for our enemies and their redemption, but also for God’s will be done, that those who are “hell bent” on wreaking evil, will be judged for their deeds. Be assured, what doesn’t seem fair now will one day be made right.
14. People in heaven knowledge God for who he is. It’s popular to say that God is love. And he is. Only he is so much more than that. He is sovereign, holy, and true. Being sovereign means he is in control even when it doesn’t seem so. His holiness means he cannot tolerate sin and demands an accounting. If it weren’t for the forgiving grace of Jesus, who could stand? Not me for sure!
As we prepare for our lives in heaven we are encouraged to get to know who God is now on earth: holy, just, worthy, sovereign, loving, forgiving, patient and forbearing, jealous of our idols. God is everlasting, all powerful, all knowing, ever present. His mercy and compassions are new every morning. He is God Almighty, the only one worthy of the name “awesome.” He is our provider and our protector. His Spirit gives us real power. He is the banner over our life and our shepherd when we are lost. He is our deliverer, healer, anointer, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the beginning and the end, the ruler, our rock and refuge, our creator and Abba Father, the Prince of Peace. He is the Breath of Life who empowers us and the Bread of Life who sustains us, our Lord and Savior, the light of the world.
Oh that we would devote ourselves to knowing him more here on earth as we will in heaven!