“…I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ ” (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV).
The Bible Book of Revelation can be difficult to understand. Its writer, John shares visions and images that are often foreign to the reader and at times downright scary – seals and scrolls and trumpets, a dragon and a beast, the abyss and the apocalypse, just to name a few. Still, in Revelation we find beautiful images of Heaven. And, whether taken literally or figuratively as metaphors of truth, these visions can provide comfort and peace to troubled and hurting souls.
That we would be the people of God and that the Deity would be our God makes me think back to stories from the Old Testament. Time and again, God made covenant promises with his chosen Israelite people. God looked over them. He protected them from harm. He made his presence known among them. Yet, time and again, God’s people failed to live up to their side of the deal. They rebelled. They sought after false gods. They sinned.
In the New Testament, God chose an even grander strategy and actually became one of us. He came in the flesh, in bodily and infant form, as Jesus, who lived among us and died for us. Still, we struggle with temptation and sin, with unbelief and lackluster faith. Eventually, our flesh simply fails.
But in Heaven, all is made new and right. There is no death, no crying or mourning, no disease, no sin. And God dwells with his people once again. Really, I think that’s the best description of Heaven, the place where God is with his people. In the meantime, we live and die, knowing that Heaven awaits us.