FIRST-PERSON: Heaven's coming attractions
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- When our family moved from Fort Wayne, Ind., to San Diego in 1981, I didn't realize people came from all over the world to experience its attractions. San Diego not only offers a year-round moderate climate but also features a beautiful harbor, sandy beaches, wonderful shopping and restaurants, a world-famous zoo, professional sporting events and much more. I've lived here for nearly four decades and still have not seen all of my hometown's attractions.
But every locale has its own attractions.
They quicken our anticipation for what we will experience when we get there. And I believe that is one reason God showed the apostle John a picture of heaven -- "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2). Revelation 21-22 is meant to promote the glorious "coming attractions" for all who belong to Christ.
Highlighting what the apostle John saw in his vision of heaven, I emphasize "saw" because this is an eyewitness account. John reports what he saw with his own two eyes (literally or in a spiritual vision): "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1).
First, heaven is massive in size. The New Jerusalem is a cube, which, if located in the United States, would cover approximately two-thirds of the land area -- from the East Coast to the western United States. This is the "house" Jesus left earth to prepare for God's people (John 14:1-4).
Second, heaven shines with "brilliance" (Revelation 21:10-11). Paris, France, was originally called the "City of Light" because of its illuminating ideas and, later, because of its early adoption of street lights.
But even Paris cannot compare to the brilliance of the New Jerusalem. I sense the apostle John struggled to find earthly words to describe the brilliance he observed, saying, "Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (verse 11). I've never seen light like that but, in heaven, the city where we live will be full of radiance forever.
Third, there are 12 gates with angels stationed at them, each inscribed with a name of one of the 12 sons of Jacob representing the 12 tribes of Israel. And the city's 12 foundations name the 12 apostles (Revelation 21:9-14), each being decorated with a different kind of precious jewel -- jasper, sapphires, emeralds and the like. Now note this: The gates are pearls. Not like pearls -- but the gates are pearls (Revelation 21:19-21).
When I try to imagine this in my mind's eye, I am overwhelmed with the thought of living in this fabulous city.
Fourth, and this is awe-inspiring, the city and its streets are pure gold that is transparent like glass (Revelation 21:18, 21). Pure, 24-karat gold on earth is normally listed as 99.999 percent pure. But it is not transparent. But that is what the New Jerusalem is made of. We are headed for a city of gold!
Fifth, the city that is heaven will not need the sun or the moon for light, "for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light" (Revelation 21:23). In fact, the gates of the city will never be shut because there will be no night in the New Jerusalem (verse 25).
Sixth, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb is a "pure river of water of life, clear as crystal." And on each side of the river stands the tree of life bearing monthly yields of fruit (Revelation 22:1-2).
Finally, we will reunite with Christian friends and loved ones who have gone before us. We have the promise that those who died in the Lord will be raised from the grave and, together with those who are alive at His appearing, will meet the Lord at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
I hope these descriptions of some of heaven's attractions have inspired you to see them in person -- and to read about them yourself in God's Word. We have all eternity to bask in the glory of the Lamb in the city He has prepared for us.