Where is Heaven?
Mail delivery isn’t something most of us think about in this country. I mean, I’d say we’re all fairly confident that if something is sent to us… we’ll get it. But that’s not the case for everyone in the world - especially for those living in the archipelago kingdom of Tonga. A recent news article chronicled the headache that mail delivery is in this island setting, saying that mailmen “often have to rely just on a description like “In this village, on the left, there is a mango tree, and on the right there’s a guy with two dogs… It’s very difficult.”
Both comical and confusing.
But a certain, ambitious mailman is trying something new. He’s implementing a system called “what3words.” Essentially, it splices the planet up into 10ft by 10ft chunks, assigning a unique bundle of words to each. For example, The New York Times office in Manhattan location can be found at “zest.ropes.along.”
Fascinating idea. But it won’t help you find the location for one place… Heaven. In fact, if you were to take a poll, you probably wouldn’t get a clear consensus on where Heaven actually is. It’s a head-scratching topic, and a lot’s been written on it. But I think our best bet is to look to the Bible.
And the Bible has a lot to say about Heaven. One key passage on the concept is when Jesus tells his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13.
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Why would Jesus want us to pray this? “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Is it only that we would merely live in such a way that reflects God’s heavenly Kingdom on earth? Or could it be that Jesus wants us to pray for this primarily so it will ready our hearts? I think Jesus wants us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven… because one day it will.
In his book, Heaven is a place on Earth, Michael Wittmer bluntly says that humans weren’t made for heaven.
Now that statement might shock some of us, but consider this for a moment. God placed Adam and Eve on the earth in a garden. The only reason they left at all - and indeed would die - was because of their sin. A glance at Romans 5 and we quickly see we’ve also inherited this deadly dilemma from our father in the flesh, Adam. However, 1 Corinthians 15:22 assures as that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
So there is hope. But it may not be for what you’ve always heard. Wittmer goes on to show us where our future hope lies:
As wonderful as it will be to praise God in his celestial glory, there is still one thing better
- to kneel in the presence of God with the bodies he created us to have in the place he
created us to live.
I recently took a seminary course on Missions. The professor said some things that were paradigm changing for me. To paraphrase some of what he said,
Jesus is now answering the very prayer he taught his disciples to pray. God’s purpose for the world is not merely the rebirth of human souls, but the rebirth of all creation. The ultimate Christian hope is not merely that one day when we die we will go to heaven and worship Jesus forever. Rather, it is that we will live on earth with heaven come, as it was at creation, and reunite our souls with our heavenly bodies and rule and reign with him forever. This is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)”
Christian, your ultimate hope is not that you will one day die and spend eternity in some far away, ethereal whiteness, sitting on clouds and worshipping Jesus. Your ultimate hope is that one day, when Jesus returns, he will bring with him the new heavens and earth and you will rule and reign - bodily - with him forever.
If you read Revelation 21, it doesn’t take long to get to the well-known verses about God’s tear-wiping, pain-ending presence. But keep reading. This doesn’t happen in some mystical, airy realm. It happens in a city. A new city where we will dwell with real bodies and eat the fruit of healing, not of curse.
Pray, dream, and hope for this new earth!