What will heaven be like?

Today’s readings: Obadiah 1:1-21, Revelation 4:1-11, Psalm 132:1-18, Proverbs 29:24-25

As a child, I remember sitting in church and thinking, “Will heaven be like an eternal church service?” That was not very appealing to me – uncomfortable clothes, long periods of just sitting and listening to people talk, music that sometimes appealed to me but frequently did not. I had heard enough about hell that I did not wish to go there, so in my mind I started thinking of a version of heaven where I would want to spend eternity.

  • There would be sports – I always enjoyed watching football, baseball or basketball on TV.
  • My version of heaven would include lots of animals that were beautiful and wild, but not life-threatening. Maybe that is why The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis appealed me so deeply the first time I read them.
  • There would be music – but it would be fun music that appealed to me and I would get to play.

Thinking about this now, that’s a pretty self-centered version of heaven. We get a picture of worship in heaven in Revelation 4. I wonder what John was really looking at. He was describing it as best he could from the perspective of a man who walked in sandals or occasionally may have ridden a donkey. Here is part of his description of the heavenly throne room.

In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—
    the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,
    to receive glory and honor and power.
For you created all things,
    and they exist because you created what you pleased.”

There are certainly wild animals in this vision. John’s description is so bizarre that it is hard to imagine what they actually look like. This passage indicates that the beasts and the elders are saying these things, rather than singing them, but I have heard these words put to music many times and that can be a powerful worship experience. Alas, there is no football here, but the heaven that John describes is a wild place that centers on “the one sitting on the throne,” who receives glory, honor and worship from those who surround Him. I am confident that heaven is much more than this, but this glimpse is enough for me to want to go there for eternity.

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