I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
To understand what awaits you and your loved ones who are Christians in Heaven, we need to understand the difference between the present Heaven and the future Heaven.
First, there is the present Heaven. The Bible talks about three current “heavens.” The first heaven is the Earth’s atmosphere. It where the birds and the jetliners fly. The second heaven is outer space, where the stars, the planets, the galaxies exist. And there is a third Heaven right now that is the abode of God. It is where God is, the presence of God.
In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul said that he had an experience in which he was caught up into the third Heaven and saw marvelous things, and then he came back to earth. It made a profound impact on his life. Paul was caught up to the third Heaven, where God is. By the way, this third Heaven is the place where you and I go when we die. If you are a Christian, you go into the abode of God. The Bible says that for a Christian, “to be absent from the body [is] to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The moment we die, we go to be in the presence of God. But that is the present Heaven. It is not our permanent eternal dwelling place. Our final residence is not up there, it is down here on the earth. And that leads me to the future Heaven that God is preparing for us right now.
There is a future Heaven that Jesus is constructing for us right now. Jesus said He was going to be with the Father to prepare a place for you (John 14:2-3). Right now, Jesus is building a city for us to live in. It is called the New Jerusalem, and one day God will descend from the third Heaven to a newly recreatedEarth. In Revelation 21:1-2, John said, “I saw a new heaven [the future Heaven] and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” The New Heaven, the New Jerusalem that Jesus is creating for us, will come out of the current Heaven and rest on the newly recreated Earth. That is our future and permanent home.
Perhaps the concept of a present Heaven and a future Heaven is a bit confusing to you. Let me illustrate it this way: Let’s say that you have a dream that one day when you retire you will move to the city where all of your children and grandchildren are. When the day of your retirement comes, you buy a piece of land to construct the home of your dreams. While that construction project is going on, you’ve got to have a place to live, so you rent an apartment. It’s nice, and it’s comfortable, but it is not your permanent dwelling place. The same thing is true for Christians when we die. When we die right now, we go into the presence of God. We are aware, we are with our loved ones, but it is a temporary place. God is building a permanent home for us.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Is Heaven A Real Place Or A State Of Mind?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)