Thursday, May 12, 2022

Pastor’s Note

What is heaven like? I’ve probably had dozens of conversations with individuals who directly or indirectly have that question: “What is heaven going to be like?” What concepts did you grow up with when you thought about heaven? Did you picture little thinly clad cherubs with chubby cheeks? Were there bright fluffy clouds and sparkly castles in the distance? What is your vision of heaven now? Do you like thinking about heaven? Does it cause questions in your mind or settle you with the firm repose of a settled faith?  

One of the most common reflections from believers contemplating the concept of heaven is an uncomfortable concern. I even hear some believers

The Jewish understanding of “heaven” involved three points. The first was the arena in which birds flew and rain fell. In Matthew 5:26 Jesus talks about the birds of the air and the word used is the Greek word for heaven, ouranos. We might simply say, sky.

The second word use for ouranos is designated for talking about the location of the sun, moon and stars. They exist in the “heavens.” In Psalm 19:1, King David expresses a universal truth that the glory of God is seen in the heavens: “The heavens declare the glory of God.” We might say, outer space or the universe in today’s vernacular.

For the Hebrew believers, it is the third heaven (ouranos) that is the place where God Himself dwells. The apostle Paul speaks about it in 2 Corinthians 12 as he mentions being caught up to the third heaven. This is the usage of ouranos that points to our ubiquitous reference to the afterlife or Paradise.

That is also the same expression of ouranos that we see as the apostle John shares with us the vision of heaven in Revelation 21:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

What will heaven be like? The one thing that stands out to me is the word, “new.” God is making all things new. WHat is old and broken in our current situation under heaven, will no longer be ancient and decrepit - it will be made new. John shares with us some words of encouragement and insight from Heaven’s throne: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

The word used for our English expression, “new,” denotes and understanding that all in heaven will be new in quality. It will have a freshness of quality and provide new opportunity.

Here is where our hearts can start to stir and be excited. Like a new book fresh and crisp, just removed from the plastic wrap, all things old and stained in our life will be new. Our failures will be erased and we will have, brand new, an opportunity to do perfectly what became a disappointment on this pale ground called Earth.

We can look to every thought and action that was trodden down by  age and regret - no longer any such disturbance; all will be made new. THis doesn’t necessarily erase or extend any pictures in our minds of what heaven may be like but hopefully it will cause us to see heaven as a fresh and brilliant, eternal opportunity to succeed at living. All that we experience here, with sin removed and flawless opportunities to enjoy who God made us to be, unfettered by mistakes and guilt. “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5)

Praise Jesus, the Lamb, who makes all things new. Until then, we anxiously wait for His return!

Blessings to you!

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