Glen Burnie, Maryland
Where is heaven? What is it like? How big is it? It would be difficult to answer these questions to the satisfaction of all. Heaven is where God is (Jn. 12:26). It is at least a "hundred times" greater than this world (Matt. 19:29). It will be as "big" as the reality of God in eternity, certainly as "big" as this universe (1 Cor. 15:40-50). The answer to this last question is almost impossible to put into human terms for heaven will be a reality not bound by the parameters of space (2 Chron. 2:6; Eph. 1:23), time (2 Pet. 3:8; Rev. 10:6), or matter (2 Pet. 3:10-13; 1 Cor. 15:50).
God is the master teacher; He takes us from where we are to the unknown. Jesus used what was tangible to people to teach concepts they would not understand otherwise. Jesus challenged Nicodemus to use his senses to compare the material, the obvious, in making a spiritual application. When Nicodemus insisted in "playing dumb," Jesus responded by saying, "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily I say unto thee, we speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things" (Jn. 3:10-12)?
How can we perceive heavenly things? The Lord said we can look at the earthly and see a pale shadow of the "real" world to come. "For those things of God which the eye is unable to see ever since the world was created are to be seen clearly and studied by the eye of reason in His works, even His everlasting power and divinity" (Rom. 1:20. The New Testament From 26 Translations).
Heaven is a reality that can be seen and appreciated in our experience in this world. The glory of God and the glory of the place that he has prepared for his bride is vaster by far than this universe, more diverse in its beauty, more intense in its color and purity than any glory this world contains. We know it will be a quality of life as different from the one we enjoy now as the flower is from the seed it came from (1 Cor. 15:35-38; 42-44). A life without pain, sorrow, corruption, death, or sin to dilute it.
Abraham and his wife left Ur-they left Haran-they died after a long life of wandering, never putting down roots. They "died in faith never having received what was promised, but they glimpsed the fulfillment in the distance; they hailed it in delight. They freely admitted that they lived on this earth as strangers who had no permanent home upon the soil. For they that say such things declare plainly that they are looking forward to their real home in heaven" (Heb. 11:13, 14).
Several years ago we left Colorado. Our house perched upon a mountainside like a tree house among the firs. A singing river filled with trout rushed by our front door. The majestic mountains stood at attention in their splendor just for our view. Colorado was the smell of burning wood in the fireplace, and the pungency of the mossy earth after a rain. It was the first rays of sunlight through the window in the Spring, the delight of emerald and ruby hummingbirds hanging in the air timidly asking for a sip from our dinner glasses as we sat on the porch at dinner. It was a "special place" that the tourists did not know about. As in the arms of a strong father, one could sit on the sun warmed rock and see for fifty miles. The undulating green quilt of the valleys lay below as a child sleeping beneath a blanket. The proud peaks of the Rockies in their cold mantle of ice dominated the horizon. At dusk the sky would fade from blue into subtle shades of scarlet and bronze, finally bursting into a kaleidoscope of color rejoicing in the glory and beauty of the Creator.
The day we left our valley for Illinois in a U-Haul truck I recall glancing in the rear-view mirror for a last look with tears and a prayer, "Lord, 'Heavenly Jerusalem' doesn't mean much to me. All I ask is a heavenly Colorado please."
It may be a Florida everglade, an Arizona desert, a Colonial garden in New England, the freshly turned earth of Illinois or Indiana, the endless stretches of sea from a California shore, or the grandeur of some far away exotic country-but heaven will have it for you only a hundred fold better. "And everyone that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my names sake, shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit eternal life."
God knows how to give good gifts. He gave us this world to love to point us to the world to come. No man can take the glory to come from us. None can pollute it or spoil it. And greatest of all, we will be able to share it with those we love more than life itself.
"And indeed, if in their hearts they were homesick for that land from which they had gone out they would have found an opportunity to return to it. But the truth is that they were yearning for and eager for a better, a heavenly, land! And so God is not ashamed to be called their God, indeed he has prepared a city to receive them" (Heb. 11:15, 16. Ibid).
Brethren, Heaven is worth working for, sacrificing for, yes, even dying for. "Thanks be to God! .Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:57, 58).
Truth Magazine XIX: 41, p. 653