2004-07-23 - Heaven
We all talk about heaven. It is a household word. Most people look forward to heaven. But where exactly is this place, "heaven" to be?
John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Therefore the Lord calls attention to our eternal home by twice calling attention to it. Where is this place Jesus has gone to prepare, here on earth or somewhere in the sky? When a Christian dies, where does he go? According to Paul, he goes immediately into the presence of Christ.
2 Cor.5:6-8 Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight). We are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord". When we study the entire New Testament teaching on this matter, we see that when the saved person dies he is carried by the angels into the very presence of God.
The Hebrew text points to a place in the universe called shama ha-shamayim, where God dwells. It is a real temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens-in it is the Most Holy Place. When a Christian dies he goes immediately into the presence of Christ where he awaits his resurrection body which will be given to him at the time of the Rapture.
At the time of death those who are truly Christians go to Heaven. They await the time when Jesus shall descend from heaven to the air. He will raise the bodies of the dead in Christ, catch up all the living saints and take them with Him back to Heaven. What an awesome event! Then comes the seven-year Tribulation period, where God will mete out His judgments upon the earth. He will bring man to his furthest extremity to turn him to God in the mightiest "back to God" of all the ages, known as the "worldwide revival of the Tribulation period."
At the end of the Tribulation Christ will come back to the earth with all His saints, take up the world's chaotic situation in His mighty hands, and reign over the earth for a thousand years.
Rev. 20:1-6 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished. After this he must be loosed for a little time. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. Over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
After the millennial reign of Christ, Satan who has been bound in the pit of the abyss, will be released for a short period of time. He will stir up rebellion in the hearts of those living who have not accepted Christ. A global youth movement will go up against Jerusalem to challenge Christ's authority, but fire will come down out of heaven and consume them. immediately following that will be the judgment of the Great White Throne. Christ will be seated upon that throne. All of the lost, unsaved dead will be brought before Him to hear their sentence of eternal doom pronounced. They will be banished into outer darkness from which there will be no return-never, throughout all the ceaseless ages of eternity. At that time, the material universe will pass away.
Rev. 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
After the dissolution of the present material order, God will create an eternal order consisting of the eternal Heaven and the eternal Jerusalem, to rest upon a new, eternal earth. Things will be entirely different from they are now. A 216' wall will surround Jerusalem, which will rest upon twelve foundations made of costly gems created for this purpose. There will be a gate situated on each foundation, bearing the name of a tribe of Israel. Each foundation will bear the name of an apostle of the Lamb. The saved from this earth will pass through those gates to the eternal city. From their new home, they will go forth to serve and reign over a newly-created race of people who occupy the eternal earth. Those who are genuinely saved and have faithfully served the Lord Jesus Christ here-will reign over them forever. Lord Jesus, we pray for your soon return.
In His Service,