The Bible says we’ve all inherited a sin nature from Adam and Eve, which affects us in ways that aren’t always obvious. In fact, most non-Christians would strongly deny that they are sinners by nature, even though they’ve lived with this condition their whole lives, and observe it in their own children.
Have you ever noticed that no one has to teach a two-year-old child how to lie or act selfishly? That’s because it’s in their nature to behave this way. What we do have to teach our children is to always tell the truth and to share their toys with others. Operating from the perspective of a fallen nature, every toddler sees every toy as theirs, especially the one in the hands of another child! It’s a good thing they’re so darn cute at that age!
But as we humbly admit that we have this condition, certain things begin to make more sense, like, why we laugh at videos of people launching off a riverbank on a rope swing, only to face plant at the river’s edge. If you’re smiling right now, thanks for helping to make my point! By the way, I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t laugh when that happens to us!
My sin nature is why I tell half the truth when the whole truth might make me look bad. It’s why I get impatient with how slowly other drivers move out of a parking spot while I wait. It’s why it’s so easy for Hollywood to trick me into rooting for George Clooney to rob that casino. And it’s why I have such a difficult time grasping the full glory and goodness of Heaven.
We read Jesus’ words, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” but rather than accept Him at His word, we envision an ethereal “harp and cloud.”
Why do the promises of Scripture play so poorly on the human heart? Surely, Jeremiah was right when he wrote, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
It’s not that God hasn’t made His intentions clear enough; it’s that we find them dubious. We even practice a “deceitful” faith by claiming to believe God, all the while either minimizing or altering how we choose to interpret His words. Since the fallen nature places self on the throne instead of God, self is exalted and God is diminished. This is clearly seen in the way we respond to the promises of Heaven!
Isaac Asimov, the science-fiction author, once remarked, “For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse." Sadly, this is how most of us think of Heaven. Despite the fact that it’s heralded as the perfect place for us, the human reaction, even among many believers, is to think that it’s not a very exciting place. We forget who designed us with the capacity to desire achievement and pleasure and challenge. We forget who gave us adrenaline and taste buds and sex drives. We forget who created everything that makes life fun and exciting. Instead, we think God is boring and that the idea of having fun is original to us!
This reminds me of a news story I read recently about a Canadian teenager who called 911 to report her parents for forcing her to go on vacation to a remote cottage outside of Toronto. Like this disgruntled teenager, we’re afraid of being banished to a place where nothing interesting ever happens. While this young lady may have had good reason to feel this way, we do not. A thoughtful read of what the Bible actually has to say about Heaven should be enough to assuage such fears.
When we’re first introduced to Paradise in the opening chapters of Genesis, it’s a simple, pastoral scene: Adam and Eve live and work in the midst of a garden, surrounded by animals. But shortly thereafter, Paradise is lost and God’s original plan is put on hold.
But God will come back to His original plan. And when He does, according to Revelation 21-22, Heaven will be a far different place than the one we last saw back in Genesis. Instead of two people, there will be untold millions. Instead of a primal state, there will be people groups and cultures. Instead of a simple garden, we find a massive city, 1,400 miles wide, 1,400 miles deep and 1,400 miles high. This is the house of God Jesus spoke of, where a room has been prepared for each one of us!
The Bible says that Abraham, who lived 2000 years before Christ, lived his life “confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God” (Hebrews 11:10, NLT). Four thousand years before you and I arrived, Abraham was looking forward, not to a simple pastoral scene, but to a developing city. Apparently, contrary to common belief, really interesting things have been happening in Heaven all along!
Heaven is described as a city no less than fifteen times in Revelation 21-22, along with many other details about its architecture, composition, walls, gates, streets, natural beauty, as well as numerous stats regarding its physical dimensions. If God wanted to make it perfectly clear that Heaven is a tangible, physical place, what more could He have possibly said to have convinced us? And by the way, ghosts don’t need architecture or streets or a river or fruit trees, but human bodies do!
And what does the word city refer to, if not a bustling human population engaged in work and play and social gatherings involving the arts, music, dining, entertainment, etc? Should we think any less of this city just because it’s in Heaven? Heaven is not less than what is represented by the words we find in Scripture, but so much more!
A Master Builder!
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Abraham’s “confident” expectation is that he was looking forward to a city that had been “designed and built” by God Himself! This is an intriguing statement--one that should grab our attention and fuel our imagination. We know what man-made cities are like, but what difference will it make to explore a city that has been designed and constructed by God? Using God’s modus operandi, observed in Creation, several contrasts can be cited:
When man builds, he must rely on the materials that are available to him. God can make anything out of nothing, including things that have never existed before!
When man builds, he produces sameness, often in assembly-line fashion. Even in mass production, everything God makes is unique in and of itself, down to its smallest parts. For example, every person is unique, as is every set of fingerprints, as is the very code written in every single cell.
When man builds, he is limited to the realm of non-living, inanimate objects. With just a breath, God can take a lump of clay and transform it into a living human being.
When man wants to make a snack, he builds a factory and orders supplies to produce a candy bar that’s wrapped in plastic. When God makes a snack, He doesn’t need the factory or the supplies, yet He produces fruits and vegetables and wraps them in edible skin, and both the snack and the packaging are good for you!
When man builds, he erects structures of mortar and steel that can’t be inhabited until the project is complete. God builds living, breathing "structures" (like people and puppies) that are fully "inhabited" through every stage of development!
In every way imaginable, God is the far superior craftsman.
All of this said, if the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Taj Mahal can so fill us with wonder, imagine how exhilarating it will be to explore the two million square mile city in Heaven where every square inch is imbued with God’s unmatched creative prowess!
Picture yourself heading out with friends to explore different regions of this vast and vibrant city. Considering the fact that our world's tallest building is just under a half-mile tall, and the world’s highest mountain peak is 5.4 miles high, what might it be like to ascend the tallest buildings in Heaven, a city that stands 1400 miles high? Makes you wonder how long the elevator ride will be!
There are so many other wonders in this city that are sure to thrill us. What might it be like to taste each of the twelve fruits of the Tree of Life? Or to romp and play in your vigorous, perfect body through the Garden of Eden, preserved for us in the midst of the city? Or to engage in a conversation with a mighty cherub or a swift seraph, highly intelligent creatures who have been around since before Creation? Will you fall to your knees when you see one, as the Apostle John did?
What fascinating stories might your own guardian angels have to share with you about the behind-the-scenes happenings of your earthly life? And imagine how wonderful it will be to spend countless hours telling stories and catching up with family and friends, or making new friends as you entertain one another in the homes Jesus has prepared for you.
Does any of this sound boring to you?
Yet, it’s not the wonders we will see, or the adventures on which we may embark that will be most exciting to us. The real thrill of Heaven will be found in a Person.
When you arrive in Heaven, what will thrill you the most won’t be the city, or the angels, or even the people. It will be that you are finally in the presence of the One for whom you were made. You will finally see His face! You will finally hear His voice! The Bible says you will bow before His throne, along with all the hosts of Heaven, and proclaim to Jesus, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11, KJV 2000).
Solomon once wrote, "Meaningless! Meaningless! … Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 12:8). According to the wisest man who has ever lived, it isn’t Heaven that should bore us—it’s this world. That’s because no true or lasting meaning can be found here. Nothing on Earth informs us as to why we exist.
Not so in Heaven. There we find Jesus who not only created us, He loves us and gave His life to redeem us. That’s what makes each of our lives meaningful. That’s what provides each of us with real purpose. You were created to know God’s love and to love Him in return.
So, to find real meaning back here on Earth, we must reach up to Heaven and pull it down! We must do as the Apostle Paul instructed when he wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).
Bored in Heaven? Really? In Heaven, we will finally know what it is to love and be loved; to live with ultimate meaning and purpose. There, Jesus will not only sit on the throne of Heaven, He will have His proper place as Lord of our lives. That's when the words of the Apostle Paul will finally be fulfilled, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV).