|This Sermon was written and submitted by: Doctor Louis Arnold, who has been has been a pastor, a church organizer and builder, a radio preacher, a missionary, an author, an editor, and an evangelist. You can see his wonderful site at louisarnoldministries.org. This contributed article is copyright protected, and the sole property of the contributing author. It may be freely copied and used provided the above credits are included. Document expiration: indefinite.|
Thoughts About Heaven
For centuries mystics have dreamed of Heaven; poets have written about Heaven; singers have sung about Heaven, but preachers have been all too silent concerning the place that is mentioned so often in the Bible.
Heaven is mentioned in the first verse in the Bible, and more than 400 references to Heaven are listed in the concordance. Surely we would do well to pause and think of that place that is mentioned so frequently in the Bible, the place from which our Savior descended when He came to this earth, and the place to which He returned when His work down here was finished.
God said of all creation that it was good. This world, though marred by sin is still a beautiful and wonderful place. Beholding the beauty and wonders of this world, one is made to wonder how wonderful that land must be, that God called good in the beginning, and that has never been marred by sin.
The great evangelist, Billy Sunday, had a dream or a fantasy of Heaven and wrote concerning it:
One day when the children were young, I was romping and playing with them, and I grew tired and lay down to rest. Half asleep and half awake I dreamed I journeyed to a far off land.
It was not Persia, although the oriental beauty and splendor were there. It was not India, though the coral strands were there. It was not Ceylon, although the beauty and spicy perfume of that famous island paradise were there. It was not Italy, although the dreamy haze of the blue Italian sky beat above me. It was not California nor Florida, although the soft flower-laden breezes of the Pacific and the Atlantic were there.
I looked for weeds, briars, thorns and thistles, but I found none. I saw the sun in all his meridian glory. I asked: "When will the sun set and it grow dark?" They said, "Oh, it never grows dark in this land. There is no night here. Jesus is the light."
I saw people all clothed in holiday attire, with faces wreathed in smiles and halos of glory about their heads. I asked, "When will the working men go by with calloused hands and empty dinner buckets and faces grimed with dust and toil?" They said, "Oh, we toil not, neither do we sow or reap in this land."
I strolled out into the suburbs and the hills which would be a fit resting place for the dead to sleep. I looked for monuments, mausoleums, marble slabs, tombs and graves, but I saw none. I did see towers, spires and minarets. I asked: "Where do you bury the dead of this great city? Where are the grave diggers? Where are the horses that haul the dead to their graves?" They said, "Oh, we never die in this land."
I asked, "Where are the hospitals where you take the sick? Where are the doctors with scalpel and trocar? Where are the nurses with panacea and opiates to ease the pain?" They said, "Oh, we are never sick. None ever die in this land."
I asked, "Where do the poor people live? Where are the homes of penury and want?" They said, "Oh, there are no poor in this land. There is no want here. None are ever hungry here."
I was puzzled. I looked and saw a river. Its waves were breaking against golden and jewel strewn beaches. I saw ships with sails of pure silk, bows covered with gold, oars tipped with silver. I looked and saw a great multitude no man could number, rushing out of jungles of roses, down banks of violets, redolent with eternal spring, pulsing with bird song and the voices of angels. I realized Time had ended and Eternity had dawned. I cried, "Are all here?" They echoed: "Yes, all here."
And tower and spire and minaret all caroled my welcome home. And we all went leaping and singing and shouting the eternal praises of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. "Home, home at last!"
Heaven is not a vague, indefinite, misty intangible "Isle of Somewhere," where invisible spirits are wafted by the winds of eternity. We sing of a beautiful isle of somewhere, but Heaven is not an island. It is more than that. Heaven is not a continent. It is more than that. Heaven is not a world. It is more than that. I rather think of Heaven as a universe, a universe without sin; a universe populated by the Godhead, by the holy angels and by the redeemed of all ages.
God makes things on a large scale. This world is 8 thousand miles in diameter. It contains almost 199 million thousand square miles of territory - and it is only a speck of dust in the mighty cosmos. Saturn is 995 times larger than the earth. Jupiter is 1 thousand, 281 times larger. The sun, if it were hollow, could contain 1 million, 348 thousand, 4 hundred and 92 earths. And our sun radiates more energy in one second than man has used since the beginning of time. That is only the first step. Consider the second step. There are at least 100 billion blazing suns (stars) in our galaxy, and that is only a tiny part of the known universe. The third step is the galaxies beyond that make up our universe. These galaxies stretch away, measured only by the yardstick of light-years. Somewhere in that vast universe is the present Heaven.
One may ask, "Where is Heaven located?" Heaven is up, but that is a relative direction. Those who come from Heaven come down; those who go to Heaven go up. So it appears up from any position on the earth. Kentucky, where I live, is east of Texas, north of Florida, south of Michigan, and west of Washington, D.C. So we see, directions are relative. The Word of God is more specific regarding the location of Heaven. From it we learn that Heaven is in the northern part of the universe. Job wrote: "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing" (Job. 26:7).
Satan made his boast: "... I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north" (Isa. 14:13).
Ezekiel, in his vision of angels, said they came from the North. "And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself" (Ezek. 1:4).
Astronomers have turned their telescopes on the northern part of the universe and have discovered in the Nebula of the constellation of Orion, a great empty place, most unusual in the heavens. It has been described as a heavenly cavern so gigantic that the mind of man cannot comprehend it and so brilliantly beautiful that words cannot adequately describe it. All astronomers agree that there is a huge opening in Orion, which is, perhaps, 16 trillion 740 billion miles in diameter. The diameter of the earth's orbit around the sun is 186 million miles, which in itself is incomprehensible to man; yet the opening into this heavenly cavern of Orion is 90 thousand times as wide! In other words, there could be 30 thousand solar systems, like our own, with suns and planets, scattered across the opening in the North and still there would be room to spare. But surpassing the immensity of the size of this opening, its exquisite beauty and luminous colors are unlike any that are upon earth. Professor Learkin of Mt. Lowe Observatory gives the following description:
"These photographs reveal the opening and interior of a cavern so stupendous that our entire solar system would be lost therein. I have watched it since the days of youth in many telescopes of many powers but never dreamed that the central region is the mouth of a colossal cave. Pen of writer and brush of artist alike are lifeless and inert in any attempt to describe this interior. For the depths of the Orion Nebula appear like torn and twisted objects and river masses of shining glass, irregular pillars, columns of stalactites in glittering splendor and stalagmites from the mighty floor. The appearance is like that of light shining and glowing from behind the clear walls of ivory and pearl, studded with millions of diamonds shining stars. "
There must be some reason why all this grandeur is lavished upon this one spot in the heavens. The colors are a hue peculiar to the Orion, and studded around the opening so that they appear as a pavement of starry sand. No wonder astronomers (many of them not religious) relate that they seem to feel as if they were in some Almighty presence while scanning this part of the Heavens and become speechless before this great outburst of grandeur extending for trillions of miles through space.
This sounds strangely like John's attempt to describe the city of jasper with streets of gold and gates of pearl. Little wonder the Word says: "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (I Cor. 2:9). I have tried to imagine going to Heaven. Whether at the resurrection of the dead in Christ, or caught up with them and the living redeemed at the Rapture; I shall go up as my Lord went up when He walked upon a ladder of atmosphere, until the clouds obscured the vision of the watching Apostles. Beyond the clouds, He traveled through space until He sat down at the right hand of the Father. So we, the redeemed, shall go up until we gather around the throne on high.
I have tried to imagine the glory of a changed body, a body without sin or infirmity, a body like His glorious body, a body that will never die, a body that will never grow old. Surely we will feel more wonderful than we have never felt before.
I have tried to imagine the thrill of flying without a plane, the joy of overtaking loved ones on the way - the shouting - the memories - the laughing and talking - the excitement. Surely we shall travel at speeds beyond the speed of sound. That is the limit of speed in the natural realm, but we shall be in the supernatural realm. Shall we travel at the speed of thought? Perhaps. We have no way of knowing. Shall we see the moon, the planets of our solar system, our blazing sun, as we pass them by? Who can know? Shall we, with perfect vision, see mighty galaxies, like infinitely large Ferris wheels, turning on invisible axles with millions of suns shining like beacon lights? Then, as we travel through the mighty caverns of the Orion - the avenue to glory - shall we see the gates of a city foursquare as John saw it descending from God out of Heaven?
Much we do not know, but we know that John wrote of a door open in Heaven. We have no description of that door, but we are told what is on the other side of that door. Beyond that door is a mighty throne and one so glorious His name is not even given. Around the throne is a rainbow that says, "Judgment is past."
Surely when the saints pass through that door they will shout and sing:
"Home at last,
Home at last.
Judgment is past,
And I'm home at last."
Around the throne John saw the gold crowned, white-robed elders, falling down before the Lord of Glory, casting their crown before Him and saying: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev.4:11). In the next chapter John tells how the elders join with the angels, forming a company without number. And they all shout: "... Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Rev.5:12).
Home at last,
Home at last,
Earth's sorrows past,
And we're home at last.
And this is only the opening scene of a glorious eternity.