Be Looking Forward to Heaven
It is appointed . . . to die once, but after this the judgment.
—Hebrews 9:27, emphasis added
None of us knows the exact date of our appointment with Jesus Christ to take us home to heaven, but we do know that what lies ahead is far superior to anything we could ever envision. Even now Jesus is preparing a mansion for us so that we can be with Him (John 14:2). What will it be like there?
Heaven will be a joyous and satisfying place! The joy of heaven’s inhabitants is pictured by the scenes of praise in the book of Revelation, the white-robed conquerors waving palm branches (Revelation 7:9), and the guests at a wedding supper (Revelation 19:1-9). This is buttressed by the imagery of some of Jesus’ parables where attaining heaven was compared to attending a banquet (Luke 14:15-24) or entering into the joy of one’s Master (Matthew 25:21,Matthew 25:23).
From the perspective of life in this world, heaven is the object of human longing and the goal of human existence. The book of Hebrews employs the imagery of quest to express this reality: “These all died in faith, not having received what was promised. . . . For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland” (see Hebrews 11:13-14).
In addition to being the goal of a quest, heaven is the reward for earthly toil, as in Paul’s picture of himself as having “finished the race” and looking forward to “the crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). We see this imagery again in Peter’s vision of “the chief Shepherd” conferring “the unfading crown of glory” on those who have served faithfully (1 Peter 5:4). There is also the glorious picture of believers having come to “Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God” where thousands upon thousands of angels are in joyful assembly (Hebrews 12:22 NIV).
Images of satisfaction emerge from the pictures in Revelation of saints being guided by a divine Shepherd to springs of living water (Revelation 7:17), and having access to “the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month” (see Revelation 22:2).
Heaven is also portrayed as a rest after labor: those who die in the Lord rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them (see Revelation 14:13). Similarly, “there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God,” which believers strive to enter (see Hebrews 4:9-11).
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