Stories, Scriptures And Thoughts About Heaven
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” —John 14:1-3
“Don, it happened,” Pete said, “I really went to heaven.” I looked at my older brother, lying in his hospital bed. “It was beautiful. There were awesome angels everywhere. It was a beautiful place. But they wouldn’t let me stay.”
With wide eyes and much emotion, Pete told my wife Donna, me, and two of my brothers the whole experience of him dying and going to heaven. It was 2005, during the time of Hurricane Katrina. Pete had major surgery due to a ruptured gall bladder. Afterward, they transferred him from the hospital in Bartlesville, Oklahoma to Tulsa for recovery. There, he flat-lined several times. My sister Mary, who was with him, prayed fervently in the Spirit that God would bring him back. And God did.
Pete said, “Don, I was really there. I spoke to angels. But an angel came to me and told me that I had to go back. It was not time yet. Next thing I knew, I was here in this hospital bed.” His son Michael later told me that after this experience, his dad demonstrated incredible peace in his life. Pete lived another ten years, but he is in heaven today enjoying the glories there.
The Reality Of Heaven
The holy Scriptures declare and insist on the reality of a place called heaven (Gen. 1:1, Neh. 9:6, Isa. 42:5, Col. 1:16-18, Ps. 102:25, Prov. 8:27).
Isaiah 14:12-16 clarifies when and where Satan was fallen from heaven.
Hebrews 11:16 says, “And now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.”
Christ told the thief on the cross, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
In II Corinthians 12:4, the apostle Paul calls heaven “paradise.” In this same chapter, Paul writes that he was caught up into a place he called the third heaven and was given revelations.
The Babylonians and Hindus believed in seven heavens.
According to ancient Jewish scholars, there existed three heavens.
Today, scientists believe there are five atmospheric layers to our solar system:
1. Atmosphere. Approximately 5 to 9 miles from Earth
2. Stratosphere. About 6.2 miles to 32 miles from Earth
3. Mesosphere. Some 31 miles to 56 miles from Earth
4. Thermosphere. Approximately 56 miles to 621 miles from Earth
5. Exosphere. Beyond 621 miles (where the space shuttles orbit)
Scientists tell us that the moon is 240,000 miles from earth. Mars is 33.9 million miles away, the furthest planet that we know is Pluto, which is 94.5 million miles from Earth. Heaven is a planet beyond the planets that we can identify in this universe. Think about it. Approximately 100 million miles away is another planet called heaven. God the Father, Christ the Son, the Holy Spirit, and millions of angelic creatures are there with the redeemed of all ages who have gone on before us.
Heaven is a real place. Christ is there now preparing a mansion for the redeemed (John 14:1-3, Gen. 1:1, Isa. 42:5, Col. 1:16-19, Ps. 102:25).
So, when the rapture of the church occurs, those who will be raptured will sail through the skies, past the moon, past Mars, past Saturn, past Neptune, and past Pluto, and in seconds of time will be in the incredible presence of God.
The Physicality Of Heaven
When one studies Scripture, one cannot really comprehend the awesome size and beauty of heaven. Consider the architecture, the size and material used to create such an awesome place called the New Jerusalem. The apostle Paul said this about heaven: “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the thing which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9).
In the book of Revelation, Saint John describes the size of the new Jerusalem: 1,600 miles wide, 1,600 miles long, and 1,600 miles high (Rev. 21:1-22). Some believe and teach that it is in the form of a cube, and some teach that it is in the form of a pyramid. The size is equal to half the size of the United States of America. Think about the material used to build this awesome city. John says that the city is made of pure gold and pure glass. The walls are incredible and embedded with precious stones such as jasper, sapphire, and topaz. Wow, the streets are paved in gold! And the twelve gates are made of huge pearls.
Due to the size of this city, millions and millions could comfortably live there. I am sure there will be enough room for all the redeemed of all ages. By the way, some scholars believe that the new Jerusalem will hover over the new Earth, like a spaceship, over the location of the old Jerusalem. Most believe that the new Jerusalem will sit on the new Earth.
Think about lighting and electricity. There will be no need for artificial illumination or nuclear power plants. The incredible light, which lights up these thousands of square miles comes from the Lamb of God, who is the light of heaven (Rev. 21:23), wow! The sun nor moon will be needed. There will be no night there (Rev. 22:5). We will not become weary or fatigued. Remember, our bodies will now be immortal and incorruptible. We will possess divine health.
Also, in the midst of this gigantic city of Jerusalem is the most awesome river that one can imagine. The river of water of life which is crystal clear, proceeds from the throne and from the Lamb. It is called the River of Life. There are beautiful trees on both sides of the river that bear twelve kinds of fruits for everyone’s enjoyment and refreshment. The water and fruit of heaven will be much better than the Louisiana Cajun cuisine that we enjoy in Baton Rouge. There are many spectacular rivers in our world. The River of Life in the new Jerusalem will be far more spectacular than the Nile of Africa, the Yangtze of China, the Amazon of South America, the Danube of Europe, or the Mississippi of the United States. There will be no comparison.
See the April issue of The Evangelist for Part II of this article.