Warm-Up: Revelation 21
If you’re like me, you’ve spent time wondering what Heaven will be like. You might have even asked yourself the following question, “I know it’s supposed to be great, but will Heaven will be boring? Eternity is a long time!”
When I was in middle and high school, I learned that in Heaven we would worship God forever. I worried because I typically got bored of singing worship songs after 15 minutes. How was I supposed to enjoy singing for eternity?
Fortunately, the Bible repeatedly teaches us that Heaven will not be boring. The worry that Heaven will be boring is based on a some misconceptions and I’ll try to address a few of them. First, we need a better definition of worship, second we need a better knowledge of God’s nature, and third we need a better understanding of what Heaven will be like.
A Better Definition of Worship
We need to get something straight, worship is about far more than singing songs. While praise songs are definitely an aspect of worshiping God, they are not the only way. 1 Corinthians 10:31 famously says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Worship simply means to show reverance or adoration. We worship anytime we recognize God’s greatness and demonstrate our love for Him. That means we can worship through religious practices like reading His Word or praying to Him, but it expands to all areas of life. We can worship in the way we eat, drink, work, love our families, care for our community, talk to our neighbors, spend time in the outdoors, give to the needy, and the list goes on.
We worship God when we do things His way and when we give him the glory (or credit) for the things we do or experience.
Will we worship God forever in Heaven? Yes, but this will be anything but boring. Will we sing? Sure! But worshipping God will also include feasts, exploring a perfected creation, working, loving others, and so much more. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what it means to worship God. Now, we worship without seeing Him, but in Heaven, His presence and His glory will be all around us. 1 Corinthians 13:12 puts it this way, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
A Better Knowledge of God’s Nature
Another reason we might believe we Heaven will be boring is the idea that God is boring. Maybe you had a Sunday School teacher who only talked about the rules God gave us or maybe you think He is just some old guy living up in Heaven. The idea that God is boring, however, is actually ridiculous when you think about it.
Do you have a friend who always has a fun new game to play when you hang out? I imagine God will be like that, except times infinity. Instead of, “hey I have a new game for us to play” it could be something like “hey I’ve created another galaxy for you to explore.” God is the creator of all good things – He made the mountains and the seas, the moon and the stars, and all living creatures. His creativity has no end – God will be anything but boring.
We also know that God enjoys a good party. The first thing Jesus did with the disciples, in fact, was take them to a party (see John 2). Throughout the Old Testament God ordained feasts and festivals for His people to celebrate and remember what He had done for them. We don’t need worry about being bored with God.
A Better Understanding of what Heaven will Be Like
The Bible doesn’t give us lots of great details about Heaven and many popular ideas in our culture do not actually come from the Bible. For instance, you won’t ride up to Heaven on a cloud while playing a harp.
One of the best descriptions of eternity comes from Revelation 21. I’ll share a few selected verses below, but I’d encourage you to read the entire passage. The passage provides several truths about eternity, and they give us a good idea of what to look forward to.
Heaven will come to Earth
John describes this vision in verse 2, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” A similar description is given in verse 10-11, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”
As you can see, we won’t spend eternity up in the clouds somewhere. Instead, Heaven will actually come down to Earth. This means our eternal home will look and feel similar to our current home. There will be serious upgrades of course, but ultimately there will still be mountains and rivers and trees and gardens.
God will dwell among us
John continues in verse 3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
Have you ever wished you could see God? Or have you ever wanted to reach out and touch Him or hug Him? Faith without sight can be difficult at times, and while we can experience moments of God’s presence today, those moments won’t hold a candle compared to the glory we will see and experience in eternity. God will dwell among us, and His glory will provide all the light we need (see verse 23-25).
The sad things will become untrue
Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” It’s hard not to get excited about this aspect of Heaven.
Most people on Earth don’t want to die, and the ones that do are typically suffering from severe physical, emotional, or psychological pain. Those things will be gone – we’ll never have a reason to wish for eternity to end. We’ll never lose a loved one, no one will bully or persecute you, and illness will be a thing of the past.
This includes the big things like cancer, but it also includes the small things. Can you imagine never having another headache or stomach pains? Or how about never needing a tissue again? Can you imagine never being mocked for your beliefs? What about getting to know others in a deeper and more intimate way than ever before?
Everything will be bigger and better
John shares the words of Jesus in verse 5, “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” God is making everything new – Heaven and Earth 2.0 will be bigger and better. In fact, it will be perfected.
That means the good things in life today are but a shadow of the good things to come. Think mountains are beautiful now? Wait until you see the eternal version. Think people are interesting today? Wait until you see their new and perfected bodies. Think food and drink is delicious now? Wait until you attend the marriage supper of the lamb and drink from the river of life.
A Better Hope for Today
The Bible does tell us other things about Heaven. If I were to list them all it could take thousands of more words. I think the principles above, however, should do enough to give us a reason to get excited about our eternal future.
While it can be fun to talk about the future in Heaven, we must always ask the question, “how does this impact my life today?”
The apostle Paul spent a lot of time looking forward to the “glory” that is to come. Romans 8:18, for instance, says “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Another example comes from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.“
Paul spent a lot of time looking forward to eternity because his life was so difficult. He was beaten, whipped, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and experienced more persecution than most of us can imagine. Looking forward to the finish line kept him going, and it can keep us going as well.
Although many of us won’t experience as hard a life as Paul, we all will experience suffering and difficult times. In those moments, we can look forward to the glory that is to come. We can persevere because we know there is a glorious prize at the end, and that somehow, eternity will be all the better because of the life we lived today.
For more on what Heaven will be like, I recommend Looking Forward to a Heaven we can Imagine by Gavin Ortlund.