Heaven is a happy place. Tell a teenager in a dead church that heaven is like a wonderful worship service, only extended for decades, and they might say, “Great, and do I get to play a harp?” Culture’s caricature has overtaken us. Taking walks on streets of gold hardly grabs them. I’ll offer seven reasons from the end of the book (chapter 21) why heaven will be a blast to end all blasts:
- Re-creation. John writes, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev. 21:1). God liked what He created, and He doesn’t plan to trash it. The earth is getting ready to be born again, and God is not going to abandon it. Re-creation is about making all things new (vs. 6), not about making new things, and the earth will experience a significant upgrade, an eternal makeover.
Make heaven too otherworldly and it loses its fascination. We will do much more in heaven than float on clouds and sing. We will eat—with God the cook (Isaiah 25:6). (And we will not have green jello with shredded carrots!) We may even enjoy the same pets we had on earth, because heaven (the new earth) will include animals (Isaiah 11:6-9). We have over-spiritualized heaven, and we have adopted an escapist outlook. We have been given the impression that the earth is a bad place, so we hope that Jesus whisks us out of here before the devil creams us. Truth is, heaven’s coming to us!
- Romance. “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband…One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’” (Rev. 21:2, 9). We know how exciting being in love can be, and heaven, the invention of a passionate God, was created for lovers. Sex is a human analogy to the intensity of that love. No one will complain of being bored. Guaranteed!
- Relationship. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’” (Rev. 21:3). I love prepositions. They are humble and unassuming. They draw attention to to their object. The word “with” is used three times here, and instead of saying “people with God” it is “God with people.” His new address will be on earth, and the Lord’s Prayer will be ultimately fulfilled, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Dejavu: God is back on the earth where He started with us. “Our Father, who art…on earth.”
- Relief. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (v. 4). I wouldn’t mind pain if it didn’t hurt so much. Between pain and pleasure I’d vote for pleasure. And God plans to remove all pain in the new earth. Cool!
- Refreshment. “To him who is thirsty, I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life…Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6b; 22:17). Thirst creates desire, and all desires are fulfilled in heaven. We all know the satisfaction of having our thirst quenched. Heaven is a place where nothing goes unresolved. Questions are answered, needs are satisfied, desires are granted. Few things are as basic as water. And God didn’t invent some new way to satisfy thirst. Water will do just fine.
- Responsibility. The word “city” is used eleven times in Revelation 21 and three more times in chapter 22. The word “nation” is used three times in the two chapters. For cities and nations to operate one needs government and responsibility. The new earth will include real cities and real nations, with people who speak languages, with a diversity of cultures. Most governments are full of corruption. Imagine righteous rulers and an absence of crime. And picture the richness of sharing God-inspired cultures with other nations. We love doing what we are created and gifted to do. In the new earth, we all get to, and some will have the responsibility of ruling, which is what we were made to do in the first place. Back to the future!
- Rewards. Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12). Your quality of life here impacts your future destiny. Those who make it by the skin of their teeth will be glad to be there. But those who invested their lives in the kingdom of heaven while on earth will have more to do there.
There will always be a thousand wonderful things going on in the new earth, and passionate people being personally loved by an ever-present God are doing it: learning, exploring, ruling, playing, praying, celebrating!