WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE? (REVELATION 21:1–2)
Right now, heaven is the literal but unseen realm in which God reigns in unimaginable glory. Moses, Daniel, Ezekiel, Paul and John were all offered glimpses of this holy place. And we know that Christians who have died are with the Lord in paradise (see Lk 23:43). They are in heaven, awaiting the second coming of Christ.
When Jesus Christ returns for his bride, the church, a new era of “heaven” will begin—what might be called “life after life after death” (N. T. Wright). Revelation 21:1—22:5 captures the most complete description of this “new heaven” and “new earth” (Rev 21:1). John saw “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev 21:2). When Jesus promised in John 14:2 that he was going to “prepare a place” for his disciples, this Holy City is the place he was referring to.
This eternal home will truly be “heaven on earth,” for God will re-create his world as a great and beautiful city with streets, protecting walls, a life-giving river and the tree of life—all lit by the glory of God in his inexpressible beauty. The triune God himself will live in that city with his people. All sorrow will be gone. God’s children will worship him forever, accompanied by the angels. Believers will worship God with the great songs of heaven (see Rev 7:10; 15:2–4; 19:1–3), by exploring God’s new creation and through the fellowship of the saints. Believers will reign with Christ and be responsible for governing various parts of God’s kingdom. It will be a bliss that never ends!
Taken from NIV Essentials Study Bible©2017 HarperCollins Christian Publishing