What will eternity be like? We often use the word “heaven” in reference to our final destination. However, that is somewhat imprecise. It’s fine to use the term, and in doing so we usually mean, “that place Christians go when they die.” However, our final destination, the ultimate end of all things, is what we read about in Revelation 21–22, the New Creation. (See this article for more information)
Our passage today gives us a glimpse of eternity. It is a place of life (1–2). Despite what some may believe, we will exist in physical bodies, in a physical place, much like we are now—except there will no longer be any curse of sin (3). Central to our city experience will be a beautiful, life-giving river to quench the thirst of our physical bodies. Likewise, along the river’s edge will be the tree of life (Rev 2:7) to satisfy our hunger with its fruit. Much like now, this passage implies that we will have physical needs, but in the New Creation every need is met with extravagance. And every need is met from the source of the throne of God (1, 3).
I have faced the question, usually by kids because adults are too afraid to ask, will heaven be boring? The image we encounter in our culture is a heaven where we sit on clouds, playing harps, and servicing our diapers. Fun is found more south where a giant party has broken out with Satan and his rock band—like Woodstock but with more fire. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although “fun” might not be the word for the New Creation, it certainly won’t be boring. Think of the first time you saw the ocean, or the Grand Canyon, or the birth of your child, or the kiss on your wedding day, or the hug of a parent or grandparent in a perfect moment—“fun” is not a word that captures any of these things. In the New Creation we will see the face of God (4) and the word “fun” is a poor descriptor. Although I think eternity will be jammed packed with “fun,” our experience of witnessing the Almighty God will be, as one of my seminary professors put it, an eternal gasp. We will never get over His beauty and majesty. We will be awe-struck for eternity—that will be an amazing feeling.
At a particular low-point in my life, I was sitting in church on a Sunday morning. I have no clue what the pastor was going on about, but I remember his reading of Romans 8:18. I was a young man at the time and to my knowledge, I had never heard that verse before. Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” That verse stood out because of the suffering I was experiencing. Although I cannot fully answer the question of what eternity will be like, I have this verse buried deep in my soul. My mind can’t contemplate goodness on this level. God’s glory will be such that His illumination will put every lamp and light bulb company out of business. We will not see night because His glory will penetrate every shadow and redeem it (5).
I cannot picture that, but I can picture suffering. I can picture the loss of a loved one. I can picture broken relationships. I can picture disease ravaging a body. I can picture fear, shame, betrayal, and worry. And none of that is even worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate