I recently spent a few days visiting some of my extended family members, one of whom has a form of dementia and is in a special facility where they can better care for her. In her current condition, she sometimes doesn’t recognize family members or even remember what she or they have said—just moments before.
But one thing seems to come back to her, at least in short sections, and that is music—especially songs of her faith and childhood. One song-segment she and her husband sing many times during each visit is about heaven. She will sing the short segment and then pump her arm and verbally affirm “Yes!”
Perhaps you remember it from your childhood or gospel services: “My home is in Heaven, just awaiting for me and when I get there how happy I’ll be…YES!”
The word HEAVEN is used in scripture to convey several distinct concepts:
First, heaven is used in Genesis to describe the expanse over the earth, which contained the stars of our galaxy and planetary systems, as seen from Earth. The closest star to Earth is our sun, the energy from which drives our atmosphere and affects our changing climates and weather.
Beyond the heavenly skies, which we can see, is “outer space.” This is roughly considered beginning at an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) above the earth and might be referred to as “the second heaven.”
The Milky Way, the galaxy containing our solar system, has hundreds of billions of stars, according to NASA. And, recently, astrophysicists have—for the first time—identified objects and planets in galaxies beyond our own Milky Way. They estimate these “extragalactic planets” to be 3.8 billion light-years away. Each light year equals 6 trillion miles!
No wonder King David said:
When I consider Your heavens,
the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which You have established,
what is man that You are mindful of him,
and the son of man that You attend to him?
Psalm 8:3-4 (MEV)
Finally, the Apostle Paul implied that he had some kind of supernatural experience where he was caught up into “the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2-4), which he also called Paradise, where he was given sacred revelations about which he was not permitted to speak. Jesus told the thief on the cross that “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” And St. John described the heavenly tree of life to be in the middle of the “Paradise of God.” So, this third heaven appears to be Paradise, the home of Father God, where we will dwell for eternity!
Jesus told his disciples about this heavenly home in John 14:2-3 (MEV): “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.”
Jesus began by sharing comforting words of peace, based on our belief and trust in Him and our Heavenly Father. Revelation 21 tells us that this celestial city is a peaceful, resting place, where there shall be no tears, no death, and no more sorrow or pain!
“ ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death.’ Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away” (v. 4).
These former things relate to our fallen world and our physical bodies, which are in the process of perishing and wasting away. But Heaven will be lived out in new bodies, which are fit for our eternal lives and service to King Jesus.
In fact, the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians a “mystery;” that the dead in Christ will precede the living believers on the great Day of the Lord. They will first of all be resurrected from the graves and sites of demise and then we all will be changed—transformed from the limitations of these earthly bodies and translated into our glorious, spiritual bodies, which will make us fit to fulfill our heavenly duties and destinies! We will finally be free from human disabilities, mental dementia, and physical decaying and dying (1 Cor. 15:51-55).
At Christ’s resurrection, death was defeated! But on this coming Day of the Lord, death will be DESTROYED! It is the last enemy to be conquered and abolished in the total triumph of King Jesus! (1 Cor. 15:26)
Next, in John 14, Jesus explained that in the grand, heavenly house where the Father lives will be many dwelling places, which will be prepared for righteous believers, by Jesus himself. These are customized compartments or rooms, where we can enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.
Perhaps you have heard these words to a happy children’s chorus about heaven:
“Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. I want to see my Saviors face, for heaven is a wonderful place!”
Finally, Jesus told the disciples “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:3). As we have received Him as our Savior and Lord, He has promised to come and receive us! Thereafter, “we shall be forever with the Lord.” Hallelujah!!
Having this sure and certain hope of Heaven, let us now diligently prepare ourselves for it, for “everyone who has this hope…purifies himself” (1 John 3:3). Maranatha!