Heaven Is a Real Place
"In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
-John 14:2, emphasis added
I want to underline in your mind that heaven is not an idea alone. In the Bible, heaven is emphatically a definite locale. To enter it is to enter a definite space. In the verse above, note that Jesus specifically said that He was going to prepare "a place." If we ask where this heavenly place is, the answer overwhelmingly is that it is above the planet Earth. Vertical imagery dominates in the placing of it.
Heaven is a place from which God looks down to the earth: "The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God" (Psalm 14:2, NIV). Psalm 80:14 says, "O God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see!" (NIV). And in Psalm 102:19, "the Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth" (Psalm 102:19, NIV).
So what is heaven? Not only the dwelling place of God, but it has an incredible vertical imagery. It is the place, first of all, from which God looks down upon us.
Heaven is the place from which Christ came down: " ‘For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world' " (John 6:33). The Bible describes heaven not only as the place from which God looks down upon the earth but also the place from which Christ came down to the earth.
Jesus said, " ‘For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me . . . I am the bread which came down from heaven' " (John 6:38, 41). So where is heaven? God says, "I am above you-looking down at you!" That is where heaven is, and that is where Jesus came from. For that reason the Jews grumbled at Him saying, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I came down from heaven'?" (John 6:42).
Heaven is the place to which people look up from earth: "It [the Truth] is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' " (Deuteronomy 30:12, NIV). When Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal, "the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind" (2 Kings 2:1, NIV).
In Luke 18:13, the repentant tax collector "would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner' " (NIV). Jesus said that when you raise your eyes toward the sky, you are looking toward heaven.
Heaven is the place to which Christ ascended after His earthly life. As He was ascending, "they were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,' they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven' " (Acts 1:10-11, NIV). Did you catch the vertical imagery of heaven in these verses? Amazing! Heaven is the place to which Christ ascended after His earthly life; the place to which people look up from earth; the place from which Christ came down; and the place from which God looks down upon us!
Heaven is a literal dwelling place-a place of absolute security. Heaven is always described as being "up" from our perspective of living on earth. Heaven is remote from earth, a higher and superior mode of existence, and a regal place of supreme authority. It is the command center; it is the place where we can be secure. This is indicated by nearly a dozen references to God's throne being situated in heaven. This royal quality indicates both the splendor of heaven and the authority of the God who rules the universe from heaven.
Heaven is sometimes the regal palace of the King of the Universe. It has many rooms, specifically prepared by Christ for His followers, leading us to view it as a place where people live (John 14:1-3).
Heaven sometimes has the features of a celestial temple. This is in keeping with the worship that occurs there: "I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple" (Isaiah 6:1, NIV). Now look at Revelation 3:12: "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."
The one who "overcomes" is every born-again believer. And every true child of God will become "a pillar in the temple of God," never again to leave God's presence; we will forever be His servants. This is a command center in heaven, and God will write His name on each believer, and the name of the city of God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from God.
I could take a piece of paper and write just three lines on it-and that one piece of paper would find its way to one person out of six billion if I included the name, address, city, state, and country. Just three lines can separate one person from six billion! Do you want to have some security? In Revelation 3:12, God is saying, "When you are born again, I am addressing you for heaven, so you can be sure to arrive safely. I identify you as Mine, one out of billions, and you are going to go to the place I've prepared for you, a place of ultimate security."
More than anything else-heaven is a city. In Revelation 20-22, we see that this city is replete with walls, gates, and streets. This testifies to us as believers being united in one place in the worship of God. We are all going to be delivered securely to a city in heaven that is perfect and eternal. But though a city, it is unlike any city we know here on earth, for this city also possesses the features of an earthly paradise. We will have the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7). There is also the crystal-clear river of life that flows from the throne of God. On each side of the river is the tree of life, that bears twelve crops of fruit every year, and its leaves are for healing the nations (Revelation 22:1-2).
Just think: in heaven, we will also be with all our brothers and sisters in Christ! And the great blessing is that we won't be together for just a visit now and then-but for eternity!
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