An astounding description of heaven is recorded in John’s Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22.
Under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, John notes the things that will not be in heaven. First, he says that there will be no sea. Then he makes the wonderful proclamation that there will be no death, which means no mourning. John goes on to say that heaven will have no night, so the gates of heaven’s city, the New Jerusalem, will never close.
One thing missing in heaven, John writes, is the temple. In heaven there will be no temple. This would have been a shocking statement to many of John’s first-century readers, especially his Jewish readers. No temple in heaven?! Why not?
The Book of Revelation teaches us that God’s people will have no need for a Temple in heaven because God the Father and Jesus the Lamb of God will be there in person. Because of the secular madness that surrounds us in this life, we need a sanctuary to help us focus on God’s invisible Presence. In eternity, in the New Jerusalem we will be able to open our physical eyes and see the Almighty.
John writes that God’s people in heaven will see God’s face (Revelation 22:4). When Moses encountered God at the burning bush he hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Later, God told Moses, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). The Old Testament saint had a healthy fear of God’s blazing holiness.
In his Gospel, John wrote, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:18). He is pointing out that Jesus has made God known. Paul wrote that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). When Jesus’ disciple, Philip, asked to see God the Father, Jesus answered, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
It is true; Mary was looking into the face of God when she cradled Jesus in her arms that night in Bethlehem. Christmas foreshadows heaven. For a brief moment in history humanity beheld God’s face in the gaze of a carpenter-turned-preacher from Nazareth. Then he was gone.
The day is quickly approaching when all God’s people will see him face to face. This Christmas let’s look back again at the time when “the Word become flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). As we do, let’s rejoice in the knowledge that God is preparing a place where we will live with him in peace forever.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,
Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden AR