Abode of Joy
Dr. John K. Mathew
Randy Alcorn is an author who has written extensively about heaven.
The introduction of his book 'Heaven" begins with these words, "The sense that we live forever somewhere has shaped every civilization in human history."
Australian aborigines pictured heaven as a distant island beyond the western horizon.The early Finns thought it was an island in the far away east. Mexicans, Peruvians, and Polynesians believed that they went to the sun or the moon after death.The Gilgamesh epic, an ancient Babylonian legend, refers to a resting place of heroes and hints at a tree of life. In the pyramids of Egypt, the embalmed bodies had maps placed beside them as guides to the future world. Seneca, the Roman philosopher said, "The day thou fearest as the last is the birthday of eternity."
Although these depictions of the afterlife differ, the unifying testimony of the human heart throughout history is a belief in life after death. Anthropological evidence suggests that every culture has a God - given, innate, sense of the eternal - that this world is not all there is.
The Christian concept of heaven is built upon the Jewish doctrinal foundation. The ancient Jews distinguished three different heavens. Apostle builds on this understanding of a third heaven. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, he describes himself as a man who was caught up to the third heaven. It reads, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know - God knows, and I know that this man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God know - was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell".
But what is heaven really like?
The Bible does not give us a detailed description, but it does offer several glimpses, often using metaphors, about the nature of heaven. First and foremost, heaven is the present abode of God and the final dwelling place of the righteous. We know that God is omnipresent that His presence is everywhere. But He is present in a special way in heaven!
The scripture clearly says that heaven will be free from the curse of sin, lit by the brilliance of God and, the place where those who are saved will enjoy eternal life with God.
In heaven, there will be no more hunger and thirst, nor tears, nor pain or sorrow.Heaven will be a work of art and beauty in its construction. Apostle John gives us a brief description in the book of Revelation. With crystal clarity, he writes,"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband - Look! God's dwelling place is now among his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Rev.21:1-4). God Almighty is inviting the whole world to join Him to enjoy eternity with Him. Let us also invite the world to be with God in eternity as it is written, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come! and let the one who hears say, Come. (Rev.22:17).