What is heaven like?
Isn’t there something intimate and personal about heaven when we refer to it as ‘My Father’s house’, as Jesus did and then He made a promise to go and prepare a place there for those who believe in Him (John 14.1-2)? Heaven is not an empty unrecognizable, imaginary space, but an eternal home prepared for those who put their trust in Jesus, the Son of God.
Have you ever wondered what it is like in heaven? Not the images we are fed by movies or adverts that would have us believe heaven means we get to sit on a cloud, playing a harp while eating crackers with a cheese topping. But what is heaven really like, according to what God tells us in the Bible?
The truth is, God doesn’t tell us exactly what heaven is like. However, the Bible gives us a few glimpses of heaven’s splendour, especially in Revelation chapter 4. The Bible teaches that heaven is a real place, a permanent place, a personal place, and a Holy place in God’s presence. In the final book of the Bible, we read about one of Jesus Disciples, who was called John. He was exiled to Patmos, which is one of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, because he kept telling people about Jesus. While he was there Jesus showed up and revealed a lot about the end of times to John.
The revelation Jesus gave to John helps us to appreciate that heaven, although for the moment hidden from human view by the wisdom of God, is as real and literal as the sky and the stars we see daily. During this revelation, John was given a glimpse of God who sits on the throne, ruling in sovereignty over the entire universe. John records how he saw the One who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. This symbolism of God is perhaps a strangely brief description of God in all His glory, but as Jesus says, ‘no man has ever seen God, except the Son (Jesus)’(John 1.18). Therefore, John’s vision of God could not describe a distinct figure, but rather the appearance of God’s glory. So, this revelation is rightly partial and symbolic from John’s heavenly perspective.
God was like Jasper, a gem which comes in almost any colour, which is a magnificent description of His radiant resplendence of prevailing power and strength. Sardius was the other gem John used to describe the glory of God’s heavenly presence. Sardius is found in captivating hues of yellows, oranges into reds. Perhaps the outward expression of the flaming fire of God’s holiness and self-sufficiency, as we spoke about recently as revealed in the burning bush (Exodus 3).
Next, John’s heavenly perspective, revealed a rainbow around the throne which looked like an emerald. Not the colours we associate with a rainbow on earth. But, perhaps like the rainbow after the flood, this rainbow could be symbolic of both God’s judgement and His mercy (Genesis 9.12-17).
John goes on to tell us what is happening in the heavenly throne room, as the place is filled with a perpetual proclamation of worship to Him who sits on throne. As one group cry out day or night, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come, another group fall down before Him saying, You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created (v8-11).
Knowing who God is and that He created all things, gives us the understanding that He is worthy and due all honour. This heavenly revelation tells of a place in God’s presence that is filled with His radiant glory and overflowing with continual worship from those who surround His throne. Knowing more about heaven, enables us to look forward to going there even more. However, as the Bible tells us the only way to heaven is through Gods own son who bore our sins on the cross (John 14.6, 1 Peter 2.24).
Almighty Father, we thank You for the opportunity to reflect on our attitude towards You, our relationship with You and the offer of an eternity in heaven with You as promised by Jesus. May our commitment to store up treasures in heaven, become our priority while on this earth. In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.