Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them….” ~ Revelation 21: 1-3
We so often dream of Heaven as a place other than this. We cannot fathom the mere transformation of our broken world; instead, we long to escape it in eternal union with God. Sometimes, I wonder if Heaven is nothing more than a place of our own imagination, though, and this passage reminds me I might be right.
The Bible does not say that God lives in Heaven; it says He lives in the heavens. Remember when we say He created the heavens and earth? It’s not some supernatural place. It is a part of this universe, part of the niche that God carved out of the vast expanse.
In this passage, God tells us, through assumedly John, exactly what will happen when He returns. He’s not coming back to sweep us all up in a giant group hug and ascend us into Heaven. Not even into the heavens, as we know Jesus went. No, here He reveals that He is coming back, but He is coming back HERE. To this place. He will transform it, restore it to its created glory, and then dwell HERE with us.
What about Heaven? What about the streets of gold, the mansions, that place we long for that escapes us from this one? We want that bliss! At least, I do.
I don’t believe we will be disappointed. Look closer at the passage. “The sea also was gone.” Remember that as God created the world, He started by separating things – light and darkness, sky and not-sky, land and sea. Before He separated the waters, the sea was part of His entire universe. It transcended the line between heavens and earth. For our benefit alone, He confined it by creating land masses.
When He returns and the sea is gone, only one of two things can happen. Either we spent our whole lives searching for Living Water only to find “Heaven” a dry place. Or the sea simply absorbs and becomes part of the larger universe once more, things revert to their state of wholeness. I like the second option better.
We will have Heaven, but not as we picture it. It won’t be some other place. It will be part of our place. God is coming back down. When He comes, He will erase the lines that separate our world from His, our earth from His heavens. We will be freed into the cosmos to live in communion with Him, and He will once again live among us in tangible form.
Won’t that be great? Remember the last time an expanse of fluid constituted your entire universe, meeting your every need? The womb. Yeah, I kind of imagine “Heaven” to be like that.
This passage brings me more peace, as well, as I read that God is coming back for me. He’s not sitting in Heaven calling out my name, hoping I will come. No, He’s coming back right to where I’m at. He’s coming to meet me, to move in and set up shop in the center of my life.
This may not show me the Heaven I thought I was waiting for; but it certainly reminds me of the God I always knew – the One who meets me where I’m at.