The term “heaven” appears 582 times in the KJV of technology Bible, and 422 times in the NIV. I believe that the heaven of the Bible is a real place, because I believe that the Bible is the Word of the Almighty God, Who spoke to humans – He still speaks, but we don’t listen very well.
‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Could you build Me a temple as good as that?’ asks the LORD. ‘Could you build Me such a resting place? Didn’t My hands make both heaven and earth?’ – Acts of the Apostles 7:49-50; Isaiah 66:1-2 (http://bible.com/116/act.7.49-50.NLT)
Over the ages, mankind has attempted to build something akin to heaven, and despite the ornate, incredibly beautiful attempts, we don’t even come close. Consider the Taj Mahal, the reported beauty of the ancient city of Babylon and it’s hanging gardens, the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein, the Forbidden City, Versailles…. if you Google ornate castles, there are lots to look at, and they are breathtaking – and yet they are but a pale imitation of the heaven where our God resides. The residents of these earthly castles surround themselves with luxury and decadence, trying to fill their lives. No matter how much we strive, no matter how much beauty and comfort we have here on earth, it won’t fill that hole in our lives. We can have the absolute latest and best of everything, and still be empty inside. In fact, as you look into the lives of those who reside in such places, you find disorder, despair, and loneliness. Years ago, I knew a woman who was the loneliest and most miserable person I have ever met. She truly had no idea of her net worth, because she had accountants and lawyers who took care of it and ensured that her bank accounts were full for her to spend as she pleased. She could go and do as she pleased, and she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to. She was born into a very wealthy family, and was pampered and treated as a princess growing up on a large estate. Why would she be unhappy? I dreamed of having a life like hers when I was a child!
She was like the “Poor Little Rich Girl” Shirley Temple played in the 1936 movie, only I don’t know that my friend had as much fun as Shirley Temple did while growing up. As a child, she was raised by nanny’s and staff instead of her parents, and rarely saw her parents. Contrast that to your life. I grew up in a loud and boisterous family, with 5 siblings, an overworked and often overwhelmed mother, and our preacher dad. Never a dull moment! Preaching was an especially thankless and financially unrewarding profession, but my Dad didn’t become a preacher to get rich, he pastored out of conviction and love. There were times when we literally had no food in the cabinet, but I don’t remember that. Even if we only had mayonnaise or jelly sandwiches, we didn’t go hungry, and we always knew we were loved by our parents. We had regular family gatherings with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. Being alone was practically unheard of…..
If my friend had known about heaven, it would probably have been a place where she felt wanted and loved, while for me, it was a more abstract concept of harps and angels. I know now that heaven is a real place, and it’s a place I want to be. It is indeed a place full of love, and we are all wanted there. It is beautiful and peaceful.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Revelation 21:1-8 NLT (http://bible.com/116/rev.21.1-8.NLT)
I look forward to the day when Jesus returns so that we get to see the sight of the new heaven and earth, and that of the new Jerusalem descending from heaven! Can you imagine it? In verses 11-27, John attempts to describe this new Jerusalem. As incredibly beautiful as he has said it will be, I know that the actual sight of it will make his description seem dull by comparison. Heaven is a real place, and I look forward to seeing it as one of the redeemed. You can see it, too, if you just accept the gift of forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ. I look forward to seeing you then!