Many people believe heaven is a wishful fantasy that weak-minded people cling to in order to cope with, or escape from, the tough realities of life here on earth. Some assume that eventually everybody will end up in heaven. But others say very few people will make it there. And nearly all argument about heaven typically generate more heat that light and more controversy than understanding.
So much confusion! So many opinions! But why all these different opinions and theories when the Bible is full of details about heaven? Yes, God wants us to know what heaven is like so that we will want to be there! Heaven is not a place He is trying to keep secret from us.
According to a Harris poll taken in January of 2003, 82 percent of Americans believe that a heaven does exist. But the truth is that these days most people–including Christians spend very little time thinking about heaven. From the moment we wake up in the morning till we collapse in exhaustion into our beds again at night, we’re running, going, doing, eating working and doing all manner of things.
Meanwhile we Christians believe that somewhere inconceivable in the universe is an unseen place that we’ve been taught about and it’s called heaven. It’s part of the distant future, not the here and now. And though we can see and touch the immediate environment we live in every day, heaven is out of sight and out of reach. Therefore, it hardly seem real. Besides, our lives move so fast and are so full that we can barely keep pace with what’s happening around us, much less stop to contemplate a place to which we’ve never been.
Part of the problem is what many of us typically believe about heaven leaves us considerable less than impressed. What if, for example, you are just not into playing harps all day? What if fleecy white clouds and halos and singing in heavenly choir leaves you cold? And do you really have to run around in a white robe all the time?
Undoubtedly one reason so many of us have a hard time getting excited about eternity is that we carry around a stunted and juvenile view of heaven as a spectacular setting in which we float around endlessly doing bland things and “being holy.”
But John tell us exactly what heaven will be like. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:1,2).
This city is not just something that John saw and know about–God’s people have been aware of it throughout the ages. God tells us that all of His holy prophets had spoken about God’s plan to deal with a sin damaged world. Peter told the people of old Jerusalem that God would “send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets” (Acts 3:20,21)