If you ever watch a home improvement show, you’ve seen the before and after pictures. Many times, these improvements take place while the family is away. When it comes time for the big reveal, they are shocked. The results of the renovation are breathtaking, often unrecognizable.
Far worse than any dilapidated house, we live in a world broken by sin. The horrors of this world can make it hard to imagine what heaven will be like. God paints pictures of heaven taking some of the best of this life, like a wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1) and precious gems (Revelation 21:11). Yet human words fall far short of describing how great it will be. The before and after pictures are literally out of this world!
Yet, God does not leave everything up to our imagination. Instead, he gives us glimpses of what we can look forward to. Moreover, what he does share helps us look forward with great anticipation.
As time passes, sin impacts our bodies more and more. Disease and injuries take their toll. Activities we once enjoyed in our youth can be more difficult in advanced years. Paul described our bodies as earthly tents or tabernacles. They are temporary. We long for a permanent dwelling.
For we know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon our house which is from heaven.2 Corinthians 5:1–2
Paul is not just referring to living with God in heaven. He is describing how our bodies will be changed. Though unintentional, this is sometimes overlooked by Christians. We can become so focused on how our spirits will return to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7) at the moment of death that we forget we will one day live with God—both soul and body.
Job looked ahead to that day when his body would be resurrected, and he would see God.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold.Job 19:25-27
What will our glorified bodies be like? They will be imperishable, honorable, and powerful (1 Corinthians 15:42–53). Although much of what our new bodies will be like remains a mystery, we can begin by imagining what a body no longer impacted by sin effects would be like.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.Revelation 21:4
One thing is certain: our glorified bodies will be more amazing than we could have imagined. And so, we “groan within ourselves, waiting for…the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).
A New World
Sin has broken and corrupted the world we live in now. Natural disasters threaten destruction. The news provides evidence of an increase in wickedness (Matthew 24:12). The Bible describes how this world will be destroyed (or refined) by fire (2 Peter 3:10). One day, creation “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
What will the new heavens and new earth be like? We may get some clues from Eden. Adam and Eve lived in a real place. They enjoyed a beautiful garden. The picture of dancing on clouds and singing like angels falls short of heaven’s descriptions. It will be a real place with real people. Think Eden 2.0—only better.
Will it have streets of gold and gates of pearl? Perhaps. Or that may simply be a figurative description, as we find in much of the book of Revelation. Nevertheless, it is enough to know that Jesus, who loved you enough to lay down his life for you, is the one who is preparing a place for you (John 14:2–3).
In God’s Presence
Far greater than a place is a presence. Some imagine there might be multiple levels of heaven, and you only live with God if you reach the top. Any place outside God’s presence could only be described biblically as hell. Thankfully, Jesus’ atonement has reconciled you to God so that you can be assured of his peace and presence now and forever.
Yes, we will live in new bodies. We will reside in a new place. Yet, most importantly, the Bible describes God himself as our dwelling place.
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.Revelation 21:3
God is love; he is the source of all that is good. He is holy; nothing evil can dwell in his presence. He is the fulfillment of all our hearts have been waiting for. When you stand in his presence, you will never lack or want for more. Jesus, the Lamb on the throne, is enough.
One day, with glorified bodies, we will see God with our own eyes (Job 19:27). Our present sufferings in this broken world won’t compare with the glory of the next (Romans 8:18). Yet, most spectacular of all will be when we stand in the presence of perfect Love forever. “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). That is a total transformation you can look forward to!
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