SOME THINGS ABOUT HEAVEN
The wisest man that ever lived (other than the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is God, and in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are --- Colossians 2:3) said:
"There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden."
--- Proverbs 30:18-19.
We live in the twentieth century, and have much knowledge that Solomon never had. Yet we cannot build an airplane that can fly like an eagle in the air, or a land vehicle that can move like a snake, or a ship that can master the high seas.
And when you're old enough, you will know fully well that the delights that a boy and a girl can have together are beyond comprehension. It's something no one even begins to understand.
These are all things that GOD has done: and man still can't begin to understand them.
But the God Who made these things tells us that THESE THINGS ARE NOTHING!
Compared to what those people who love Him are going to see:
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." --- 1 Cor. 2:9*************************************************
A little about the Heavens:
The earth travels in a circular orbit around the sun at a speed of 19 miles every second. At that speed it takes 1 year to travel in its orbit around the sun. This orbit is 186,000,000 miles in diameter. It takes light about 8 minutes to get to us from the sun; it would take a typical rifle bullet 5 years to travel the distance.
Our sun is one of billions of billions of stars. The nearest star to our sun is a little over 4 1/3 light years from our sun. That is, for light to get to us from the nearest star takes 4 1/3 years. When we look at the nearest star, we aren't seeing it as it is; we are seeing it as it was 4 1/3 years ago. Let's try to comprehend how far that nearest star is from us:
If we would draw a map, to scale, of our sun and the nearest star, we might scale the earth's orbit around the sun down to let's say, one inch. We draw a little one-inch circle on our paper, and it represents the 186,000,000 miles above, the distance it would take the rifle bullet 10 years to travel across, or a beam of light 16 minutes to travel across.
How big would our map have to be, then, in order to show the distance to the nearest star, to scale?
The paper would have to be 2 1/2 miles long. On a scale where the diameter of the earth's orbit around the sun is 1 inch, the distance to the nearest star will be 2 1/2 miles, something like the distance from here to the thrift store?
Compared to other stars, how far is that nearest star? Stars occur in masses of stars called galaxies. Our galaxy is called the Milky Way. A galaxy contains something like several hundred billion stars. Our galaxy is something like 100,000 light years across. It takes light 100,000 years to go from one edge of our galaxy to the other. The stars (suns) in a galaxy appear as do the droplets of water in a cloud. A galaxy can be called a cloud of suns (stars).
Galaxies, when you look at the more distant heavens, appear as tiny stars, themselves. Billions of galaxies, as far as we know. The nearest galaxy to our galaxy, the Milky Way, is called the Andromeda Galaxy, about 300,000 light years from us.
Can we comprehend these things? Of course not; they are beyond our comprehension. But they are real, and we HAVE seen them.
And since we have seen them, we know that the things that God has prepared for us who Believe makes THOSE THINGS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Because God tells us that nothing we (or anyone on this earth) have ever seen even begins to compare with the things He has prepared for us, in HEAVEN!
The verse says we can't picture what God has for us. But we can picture the stars, above.
The verse says we can't describe what God has for us. But we can describe the stars, above.
The verse says we can't imagine what God has for us. But we can imagine the stars, above.
Have you ever thought about the verse that we sing in "The Messiah" at Christmas time?
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." --- Isaiah 9:6
The wiser and smarter ones among you have thought about it. And you know that the Lord Jesus Christ is GOD, Who tabernacled among men (John 1:14). But how many of you have ever thought about the verse that comes right after it?
"7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, . . ."
This "government and peace" the verse speaks about includes the Heaven we are talking about: the things "that God hath prepared for them that love Him." It means that when it begins, it's going to start out far more wonderful than anything that anyone has ever seen. And following that it's going to get even better the next day. And the next day far better than that. And day after day after day after day after day after those days, for ever and for ever, it's going to keep getting better and better and better . . . "of the INCREASE THERE SHALL BE NO END."
We are dealing with an infinite God: and when you are dealing with an infinite God, you are dealing with infinite consequences!
And remember, the same thing is true of the negative: the Hell, and the Wrath of God that those who do not Believe are going to face, forever and forever and forever. The Scripture says, for example, that they face"apollyon," which means "everlasting destruction." The Greek wordliterally implies being torn apart for ever: apollyon = apo, "away from," luo, "to be loosed."
Of course this is figurative language. figurative language is used to point out things that we cannot see,or ever have seen anything like: like the terms for our subject, Heaven.
When you die, if you are a Christian, a Believer in the Lord Jesus, your eyes are immediately going to open to see things we can't even begin to describe or imagine, here. This is what it means, when the Bible says:
"If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far . . . " --- Philippians 1:20-21
Better by far! That statement goes for any Believer who has ever lived on the earth: not just for Paul. Some of those Believers have had glorious extremely happy lives, that most of us could only dream of. Some of them have been great kings, have travelled the world, have had enormous wealth, have been world famous scientists, singers, actors, geniuses, ....
Again, than anything that the greatest, or happiest man on the earth that ever lived ever began to experience.
Or, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." --- Psalms 16:11
And it's at His right hand where you will be, when you depart to be with Christ.
And so: "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." --- Psa. 116:15
If you believe, YOU are one of those saints. It is a delight to a father, when he brings home a gift for one of his children, and sees that child's face light up with delight. This is the same idea as the verse: when we arrive in the Presence of our Father, our Lord Jesus, at the time of our death, our eyes are going to see some of the wonderful things He bought for us by His death for us on the cross. And we are going to light up with delight we had never before even imagined. It's going to make the pleasures of "a man with a maid" absolutely nothing, again. He created the pleasures of a man with a maid; and He tells us that those pleasures don't even compare with the pleasures He has created for us yet coming. And He is going to be delighted to see our delight, as His beloved children.
But even those pleasures pale in view of the pleasures that follow after that, when the Rapture takes place (see chart).
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:" --- Matthew 6:20
And this is what gives life on the earth real meaning and purpose: we have only a short time to build up those treasures; that opportunity only lasts while we are in this present life. Those who know this are the only ones who know how to live good lives in this world. "And whatever you do, put your whole soul into it, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; forasmuch as you know that it is He from whom all rewards are going to come." --- Col. 3:23.
But "life on the earth" implies a big mistake that many are making: our future life involves this earth, also. WE ARE COMING BACK, WITH A VENGEANCE! When He returns, we are coming with Him, to reign with Him.
" When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
--- Colossians 3:4
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands ofhis saints," --- Jude 1:14
And how wonderful that reign is going to be! We aren't going to reign the way men reign today: lording it over their subjects, causing them oppression and misery and slavery.
"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister"
--- Matthew 20:25-26.
"And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." --- Matthew 8:11
Do you think you will ever go and sit down with the president, or the governor, in this world? Not many of you. But everyone will be able to do so, with us, when we are reigning on this earth, in far more glory than the president or the governor ever imagined of. And that sitting down together is going to be in perfect, intimate, loving fellowship, not the stiffness, formality, etc, that happens even if you DO ever get to sit down with the governor.
Our reign is going to be the exact opposite! In our reign we are going to SERVE our subjects; giving them counsel, happiness, freedom, being their best friends, etc! And it's going to make us the happiest kings and lords the earth has ever known. Because, "it is more blessed (happy) to give than to receive."
"Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?" --- 1 Corinthians 6:2
"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: " --- 2 Timothy 2:12
When we reign, we will be in Resurrection bodies like the Lord's, infinite glory (which we shield our subjects from, as they are still mortal, and would probably be killed by it):
"who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." --- Philippians 3:21
are we the Children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we
know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as
Those of you who know anything about the Bible will remember Moses and God, here. Moses could not see God as He is, and live. That is what God said to him. Moses would have to become like God, before he would be able to survive seeing God as He is. And God would have to be the One who would bring about that transformation. So likewise we: the fact that we will be like Him, as the above verse says, REQUIRES that we must first be "like Him,"
or we could not survive the sight of Him as He really is.
"And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." --- Rev. 20:11
The present Universe is going to be blown completely out of existence, just from the Presence of the face of the Lord Jesus, when He sits on the Great White Throne. And WE'RE GOING TO BE LIKE HIM, that is, His body.
That is why there is going to have to be a new Heavens and earth: a new universe.
But all this is distant future: After the Rapture has happened, wherein we are given those bodies:
"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who are dying, today, or to grieve like the rest of men, who don't have the hope that we have.
We (unlike them) believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we (unlike them) believe that God will bring with Jesus (into His Presence --- ch 3:13) those who have died in Him
According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have died.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
(this is rather complicated; a study of 2 Cor. 5:1-10 is needed with it for better full understanding)
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
(so the ones who have died before the Rapture will get there first, but those who are still
living won't have time to worry about it, because --- "in a moment, in the twinking of an eye"
--- 1 Corinthians 15:51 -)
--- 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18
And the passage ends with the instruction that this is what we are to teach to each other, by way of exhorting one another how we ought to live.
But what about those who die, before the Rapture? Do they go to Heaven? What's it like, for them?
There are some Christians who believe that they are completely unconscious, or "dead," as some of them go so far as to say. They take the word "sleep" (which I replaced with "died") above, as literal. They take
Ecclesiastes as literal truth, where it says of the dead (that "they do not know anything"), and similar statements in the Psalms.
I believe that these understandings and beliefs are absolutely demolished by many other statements of Scripture:
1. A word study of the word Sha-ole (or "Sheol") in the OT, and of Hades in the NT, which are the Biblical words used for the state of the dead. And other words, such as Abaddon, Paradise, Gehenna, Tartaros, Bosom of Abraham, etc. associated with them. In many cases one has to do a lot of twisting, denying, and other gymnastics to deny the obvious impression that these are a literal place where the dead exist, and commune with one another, and with God. This is a long study in itself, and I'm not going into it, here, nor into the whole argument very far.
2. The Lord's plain statement in Matthew 22:31-33:
"But about the resurrection of the dead-- have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of thedead but of the living. When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching."
They were awestruck, not only because the Resurrection, which was denied by their Saduccee teachers, was confirmed by the Lord, but also because of His statement about the state of the dead BEFORE THE RESURRECTION. That statement made them almost swoon (just about the meaning of the words) with excitement. They had been taught as the above belief I mentioned. That when a person died, he was . . . DEAD! No consciousness, no will, etc. DEAD! The time that the Lord was referring to, when He made the statement, to Moses (it's the story in Exodus 3), was hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had all "died." And of course, it was also before they had been resurrected (which of course they still haven't been --- Heb. 11:39-40) To the Sadduccees who had that notion about death, He says, "What?? Haven't you even bothered to read what God says about it? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were very very very much alive at that time! Because, of course, God is only the God of people who ARE very much alive!" "I (AM!!! --- not "was") the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
And the people, who SAW what He was saying, said, "WOW!!! SO MUCH FOR THAT MALARKEY WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT! AND IT'S SO CLEAR! SO OBVIOUS!"
The Lord Jesus also said at another time (about John 8:57, or close to it), "Abraham rejoiced to see My day." As far as we know, the only time Abraham could have "seen the Lord Jesus in His glory" would have been after Abraham had died.
3. You remember, in Luke 23, that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, there were four other men crucified also. Two malefactors were crucified at the same time He was. Two robbers were brought up a little later, and also crucified, there being five crucifixions in a line, with the Lord in the middle. The robbers brought in later both jeered at the Lord, and so did one of the malefactors. But the other malefactor did not: he came to believe in the Lord, and asked the Lord to remember him, when He should come into His kingdom. This man obviously believed that the Lord Jesus was for real, that He was going to live again, and be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as the Scriptures say.
The Lord told him, "This very day you will be with Me in Paradise." (persons who do not believe in consciousness after death alter this to be interpreted, "I say to you today, that you will be with Me in Paradise). Now "Paradise" is a figure of the same thing as "The bosom of Abraham," which according to the Jewish understanding was the place to which the saints would go when they died: it was a region within Sha-ole, the "good" region, over which Abraham presided. The Lord, in the Luke 16 story of "the rich man and Lazarus" very much seems to support this belief, or at least most of it. You can see this by comparing that story with the handout I gave you on Josephus' "discourse on Hades to the Greeks."
Running out of time as we're just getting started: I want to mention two other passages: Heb. 12:1 and Luke 15.
In fact, I am out of time. Hopefully continue if anyone cares, or if the Lord allows.