Saturday, February 25, 2006

What Will Heaven Be Like?

The title of this post is an age-old question that people have asked for generations: “What will Heaven be like?” Many books have been written on the subject. Countless songs made; as you would expect even Hollywood has attempted to capture the imagination of Heaven’s promised blissful existence. To be sure, there are many who don’t share the idea of a heaven. For some it is a state of mind; to others, a crutch used by ‘weak’ humans to avoid dealing with the harsh realities of a seemingly merciless world.

The concept of heaven is mainly developed through the acknowledged existence of God. Given that the Bible has been universally acknowledged as the book that reveals God to people (though some will vehemently disagree and scoff at the simplicity of the notion), I wonder how many of those artists, authors and musicians have actually searched the Bible of God to give them the answer to the question? I mean really search it with an open mind…content to accept what it may reveal, as opposed to looking to confirm or validate a pre-conceived idea of heaven?

For those who are willing, I will suggest an honest reading of the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 65. It paints a vividly accurate portrait of the human condition, and just as vivid a portrait of the creative, suffering but still merciful God that made us all. Here, some might ask: suffering? God suffers?? If God is so powerful, who can make Him suffer? Read God’s Word in the following: "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, `Here am I, here am I.' (Isaiah 65:1). Can you feel the pain in God’s statement? Can you feel the hurt? As a father of children, I know I can. Picture you saying the same thing to your son or your daughter, and having their response be…indifference or hostility. As a parent, that breaks your heart! And I believe that is close to God’s feeling. The Bible continues...showing our response to God’s request for our attention: All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations -- a people who continually provoke me to my very face…who say, `Keep away; don't come near me…” (Isaiah 65:2,3 & 5 - truncated). And we wonder why we live in a merciless world? A world of diseases, pain, sickness, natural calamities and unending bloodshed and death?

But in the midst of our casual and callous rejection of a pleading God who yearns for our attention and obedience (just like we do from our own children), despite all this, God offers some of us His mercy! This is what the LORD says: "As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, `Don't destroy it, there is yet some good in it,' so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all. (Isaiah 65:8) Many will be destroyed; I dare so most will probably be destroyed, as the Bible puts it: For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13). But for those who’s hearts are opened…the answer to the question “What will Heaven be like?” will be revealed. God gives us a very clear glimpse in this chapter: "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17); No more babies dying in the cradle,or old people who don't enjoy a full lifetime; One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal--anything less will seem like a cheat.They'll build houses and move in.They'll plant fields and eat what they grow. No more building a house that some outsider takes over, No more planting fields that some enemy confiscates. For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work. They won't work and have nothing come of it, they won't have children snatched out from under them. For they themselves are plantings blessed by GOD,with their children and grandchildren likewise GOD-blessed. Before they call out, I'll answer. Before they've finished speaking, I'll have heard. Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow, lion and ox eat straw from the same trough, but snakes--they'll get a diet of dirt! Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill anywhere on my Holy Mountain," says GOD. (Isaiah 65:20-25 The Message Bible)

What kind of God is this merciful to his creation who reject Him at every turn? None of us who will experience the bliss described above will have done anything to deserve such mercy. Yet we will be there. Even the animals will be there! My parting question is this: will you?

Don’t rely on artists or musicians, authors or actors to try and show you what heaven will be like. Read Isaiah 65 and let God show you, and offer you His mercy.

Note: All scripture courtesy of the NIV Bible, unless otherwise noted.

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A God who sends people to Hell?