I’ve had dreams about what heaven will be like, but what does the Bible say? And what will we look like with new bodies?
The New Jerusalem
When believer’s enter the kingdom of heaven after death, or at Christ’s return, it’s not so much going up to heaven as it is heaven coming down to us. The Apostle John writes, “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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev 21:1-3). In the new heavens and new earth, God promises, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4). So far, this sound amazing doesn’t it, but there are some very strong resemblances between the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem.
Heaven and the Garden
After studying the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem, I was struck by the similarities between Genesis 2 and Revelation 22. For example, in Genesis 2:9 says, “And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and then, “through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2). Both seem to contain a tree of life, and remember, before mankind’s sin and the fall in the Garden, nothing was cursed yet (Rev 22:3), so both trees symbolized life. Next, we read that “A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers” (Gen 2:10), and in the Book of Revelation, an angel showed the Apostle John, “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1). We cannot live without water, but the water here represents eternal life and not temporary life.
The Living Water
I noticed that there are rivers that flow out the Garden of Eden and out of the New Jerusalem. One is called “the water of life” which is amazingly close to what Jesus spoke of when He said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as he Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37b-38). This is similar to Revelation 22:17 which said, “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” This too is strikingly similar to Isaiah writing, “Come, all of you who thirst, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1)! The river in the Garden gave life to man, beast, birds, and insects, but the river in heaven is “the water of life” and it flows from “the throne of the God and the Lamb,” who is Himself that Living Water. Jesus spoke about this to the Samaritan woman at the well, telling her that “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14), so for those who trust in Christ, “Out of [their] heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
What We’ll Be Like
When the Sadducees asked Jesus about an impossible situation in the afterlife (which they did not believe in!), and with obvious intentions of trapping Him, Jesus said that “those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:35-36). Clearly, those who are resurrected to eternal life can never die again. This means that “this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:53-54). Right now, I have no problem believing I’m perishable. I see it in the mirror every day, but what I don’t see yet is the glory that’s coming (Rom 8:18). John writes in the present tense, saying, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2), but “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 Cor 13:12). I am satisfied with that. I know just enough about the glory that’s coming, that I can endure what today brings.
If you know anything about the temple, the closer you got to the Holy of Holies, the more precious the jewels and gold became. This shows the preciousness of God. Interestingly, the temple’s Holy of Holies is in a cube shape; the exact same shape of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:10-18). Some scholars estimate the New Jerusalem would be about 1,500 square miles. That’s big enough to stretch from New York to Texas, and if you stood in front of it, you would see a wall built of jasper; a city of pure gold as if glass; jewels beset in every part of its foundation; emerald, onyx, carnelian, beryl, topaz, jacinth, amethysts, and twelve gates made of pearl (Rev 21:18-22). I truly believe God has cloaked some of the glorious beauty of heaven because if we saw how stunningly spectacular it was, we might be tempted to get there a little sooner than we should.
May God richly bless you
Pastor Jack Wellman
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