This week wraps up our three-part series on eternity. We’ve defined eternity, looked at the relationship implications of Heaven and Hell, and talked a lot about what Hell is and isn’t. Today we’ll finish on a high note… a REALLY high note. This week we talk about Heaven.
Freaky Heavenly Creatures
I don’t think it’s disrespectful to describe some of the Heavenly angels and beings as “freaky” because… well… they kind of are. In the Bible we have a lot of descriptions of the angels and Heaven itself. Liturgical churches have a lot of church doctrine which describes the hierarchy and duties of various angels. The Catholics have specific angels they believe are responsible for different tasks and protecting different earthly interests or people. The angels I’m focusing on are those actually described in the scriptures: Cherubim, Seraphim, and the Archangels.
Cherubim are angels which typically represent beauty and power. They are accompanied by these wheeled creatures called “thrones” which really boggle the mind.
I looked and saw a windy storm approaching from the north and a huge cloud with flashing fire, glowing brightly all around with the color of gleaming amber from within the fire. Inside, there appeared to be four living creatures that looked like human beings; but each one had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight, with feet like calves’ hoofs. They glittered like burnished bronze. 8 Beneath their wings they had human hands on their four sides. (Ezekiel 1:4-8a)
Seraphim are somewhat similar angels, but serve the role as chief priests, often standing by the throne of God.
In the year of King ‘Uziyahu’s death I saw Adonai sitting on a high, lofty throne! The hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim stood over him, each with six wings — two for covering his face, two for covering his feet and two for flying. They were crying out to each other, “More holy than the holiest holiness is Lord of Hosts! The whole earth is filled
with his glory!” The doorposts shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1-4)
Both of these angels tend to be beings who exist at a distance from man. They are seen in visions and in these divine moments where God allows people to see into Heaven itself. There are other angels who interact more directly with humans. You know these angels as Michael and Gabriel or who we call the Archangels. They are viewed as the chief angels among angels and God’s primary agents. Each angel typically appears at different moments. For example, Gabriel is typically God’s messenger of good news. He is the angel that appeared to Mary to tell her she would have God’s son. Michael is the angel we typically see exactly God’s judgment on those who oppose God.
Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. (Revelation 12:7)
Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! (Luke 1:19)
The thing we have to understand about angels are that they are subservient to God. It is easy to get wrapped up in the feel-good thoughts about what angels will and will not do, but we must be careful to understand that they are the servants of God and not to be worshiped. In fact, scripture tells us that when you are worshiping an angel, you’re liked to be rebuked by the very angel you are praising.
A Massive, New Kingdom
Unlike Hell, we actually do have fairly detailed accounts of Heaven, or at least for what’s called the “New Jerusalem”. This new kingdom is described as a place 1400 miles wide, deep, and tall.
The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles. Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel).” (Revelation 21:15-17)
Just to give you an idea of how massive that is, the Hubble Space Telescope orbits at only around 370 miles above the earth. Airliners fly at a measly 5.6 miles. The distance of 1400 miles would get you from our home town of Bowling Green to Guatemala. These are huge, huge distances. To make matters even crazier, imagine that every person who had ever existed went to Heaven. Scientist estimate that, to date, there have been about 107 billion people on the earth. If you divide a 1400 mile cube by 107 billion people, you are left with 3,775,000,000 cubic feet of living space per person. That’s the same as giving each person 30 Superdomes to live in.
Rest assured, Heaven is a massive, massive place. It’s buildings are made of gold and the pavement is composed of precious stones. Twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes and twelve disciples, compose the foundation of the city and the city gates are composed of pure pearl. What a glorious city!
What Structure Teaches Us About Relationships
When we look at the description of Heaven, we have to recognize that every facet of this city represents something beautiful.
I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:22-27)
Note in this description of the city what you DON’T see. First, you don’t see a temple. You have to ask yourself what a temple is really for to understand the significant of this omission. In Heaven, God is everywhere, so there is no need for a place to go so we can worship God. Our very existence is worshiping God. Second, you don’t see any lights because God’s glory lights the entire city. Consider that in the darkest room, even the smallest light finds a way to penetrate and touch every surface. Like particles of light, God’s glory permeates every nook and cranny of this new city. Finally, you never see a closed gate because where there is God, there is no evil and therefore no reason to close a gate.
What we learn from a brief look at Heaven is that this place truly is the renewal of a relationship between God and man. Everything about this city displays God’s glory and victory over sin and death. When we reach Heaven, we will definitely be in awe and wonder at how great our God truly is.