Have You Tried to Imagine Heaven?

 In Preaching & Teaching, Tori Smith

I’ve been listening to scripture after I go to bed. Sometimes, I go to sleep and wake up during the night, or even the next morning and it’s still on. I have noticed that on nights, when scripture has been playing all night, my sleep has been less interrupted, more peaceful. This morning I woke up to the end of the book of Revelation. As I lay there listening to what John had written, I tried, (as I have often over the years), to imagine what the new Jerusalem and new Heaven looks like. In my very concrete thinking, I just can’t quite picture it. I’m not surprised. I am not good at picturing very many things, in fact, I can’t think of anything that I can see in my mind, if I don’t have a reference for it. If you ask me to imagine a Cocker Spaniel, I just need to ask what color, and I know what your puppy looks like. That’s not how it is when I read (or listen to) John describing heaven. Read it for yourself:

From the Amplified Bible

Rev 21:2- 4 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed like a bride adorned for her husband; and then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them [as their God,] and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the [c]former order of things has passed away.”

Rev 21:10-21 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a vast and lofty mountain, and showed me the holy (sanctified) city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having God’s glory [filled with His radiant light]. The brilliance of it resembled a rare and very precious jewel, like [e]jasper, shining and clear as crystal. It had a massive and high wall, with twelve [large] gates, and at the gates [were stationed] twelve angels; and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were written. On the east side [there were] three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Christ). The one who was speaking with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, its length being the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod—twelve thousand stadia (about 1,400 miles); its length and width and height are equal. He measured its wall also—a hundred forty-four cubits (about 200 feet), according to man’s measurements, which are [also] angelic [measurements]. The wall was built of jasper; and the city was pure gold, transparent like clear crystal. The foundation stones of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, [f]chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite (yellow topaz); the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each separate gate was of one single pearl. And the street (broad way) of the city was pure gold, like transparent crystal.”

I just can not picture what it looks like. So, I googled “artist renderings of the Holy City from Revelation 21.” And of all the pictures I found, these two came the closest to what I thought the scriptures were describing. (If you decide to google the same thing and come up with a better picture, please share it with me. I would love to see it.)

Even with all the verses of scripture and the artist’s rendering, I know I still don’t have a completely accurate picture of what it’s going to be. It will be much more glorious than an artist (no matter how talented they are) can draw here on earth in this time.

However, having said all of that, I want to point out two verses. They are verse 3 and verse 4. “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

God’s dwelling place is now among the people. Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 13 came to mind, “now I know in part, then I will know fully.” Absolutely we have the promise that we will dwell fully in God’s presence in heaven. But we also have the promise that He is here with us now. We may not fully see or know Him. There may be times where we struggle to know where He is or what He is doing. But Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us. Part of the triune God would be here now. John 15: 26; “But when the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, He will testify and bear witness about Me.”

There will be a time in the future when we go to dwell with Him in His holy city. But until that time comes, God, in His love has made a way to dwell with us now. So, until we get to go there and be with Him, He has come to this sin distorted world to be with us. God is not just waiting for us to get to that wonderful, glorious, sin-free, trouble-free, worry-free life. He has come here to be with and help us through this time. I suspect when we get to the time of fully knowing, we will be shocked to find the love, support and presence of heaven that was around us all the time we were on earth.

So, until the time we get to see the glory of heaven for ourselves, let’s be His children, confident and bold in His presence with us now.

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