Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Revelation 21:1)
Often people act like heaven is this great and glorious destination for the faithful. In reality, God has ensured that there is so much more awaiting us after this life.
To some extent, I can see why folks focus on heaven. In American society in general there is a sense that heaven is simply the next stop after this life. Americans tend to think of heaven as a peaceful place where the soul resides at death. It’s common when a loved one dies for friends and acquaintances to say the deceased “is in a better place.”
But thinking heaven is this ultimate destination for believers is like arguing that the purpose of marriage is the wedding ceremony. Do we want the most joyful possible rehearsal and wedding? Yes, of course. But the wedding is just the beginning. The purposes of marriage are lived out the rest of a husband and wife’s lives together.
It’s the same with eternity. Scripture makes it clear that Jesus will return in judgement. Upon Jesus’ return there will be a physical resurrection of the dead. God the Father will create the “new heaven and new earth.” Through faith in Christ, we will spend eternity with God in this new creation.
The hope that could be generated by this reality is palpable. When loved ones fall asleep in the Lord, we can encourage each other with the concrete promise of the new heaven and earth. A place where God will dwell with us through eternity.
(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS).