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What is heaven like?

In this country, we are often told that we will be checking in with Saint Peter before we enter heaven. Not true, but we will get to meet him. How can I say that with assurance? We will have eternity to meet people there.

Next, we are told that we will be wearing wings and flying around on clouds with harps.

No, no wings. No saints sitting on clouds. But there is biblical evidence for saints playing harps in heaven (Revelation 15:2). However, winged creatures are there. Very interesting creatures. More on that in a minute. An eagle, for sure (Revelation 8:13). And the Bible does indicate animals will be there. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den” (Isaiah 11:6–8). 1 Your pets? I don’t know.

Will we enter through the “pearly gates?” This one has some truth to it. All the gates of the heavenly city of Jerusalem with be made of pearl. So, yes, if you go into the holy city, you will be going through such a gate.

So, what is heaven really like according to Scripture?

We have a little bit of biblical evidence, and what we have is really…well, what should adjective should I use here? Weird? No, that sounds like the Twilight Zone or X-Files. Other-worldly? Redundant, since it’s heaven, after all, and a word used by spooky super naturalists. I’m stumped. Perhaps you can come up with one after reading this: “At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Revelation 4:2–8).

So, what do we have here?

God the Father has the appearance of what looks like semi-precious stones, jasper and carnelian. The jasper was probably green. Carnelian is brown-red. Got that? Right. God the Father, sitting on a throne, looks somehow like beautiful rock. Have you ever thought of Him this way?

Around the throne is a green emerald rainbow.

Never seen one of those before.

Around the throne are twenty-four elders, wearing white clothes and golden crowns sitting on thrones. Who those elders are, we’re not told.

Out of the Father’s throne come flashes and lightning, with accompanying thunder.

Seven torches of fire burn before the Father’s throne. I’m thinking probably not tiki torches here.

Also before the throne was a sea, like glass and crystal.

Four creatures are on each side of the throne. They have eyes in front and back, and, well, “around and within” them. One is like a lion. One is like an ox. One has the face of a man. One is like an eagle in flight. Each has six wings. They are always praising God.

So, what adjectives shall we choose to describe this? Beautiful. Noisy. Colorful. Fear-engendering. But which descriptive words for the creatures?

Let me know.

 

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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