What does heaven look like? What are we meant to understand about this coming kingdom from the descriptions in the Bible?
Reading about heaven in the Bible can be confusing—so confusing that we are tempted to look elsewhere to firm up our ideas on the afterlife. The popularity of books like 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven Is for Real attest to our desire for reassurance that heaven is a reality since the accounts we read in Scripture seem so unreal. Will its building materials really be the stuff of our greediest imaginings—gold, silver, and precious stones?
It’s hard to determine what the human authors of Scripture want us to know is true about heaven. It’s an even bigger challenge to grasp what the mentions of mansions, multitudes, gates, and angels in the kingdom of heaven mean for us now.
I am a competitive game player. A few years ago at a party, the host brought out Pictionary for the evening’s entertainment. Ready to wow the room with my skills, I glanced at the word on my card: difficult. I had played Pictionary for years and had never had a word that hard. My mind went blank.
Nothing seemed to rhyme with it or illustrate it. The timer ran out, and in utter frustration I said, “How ironic that my word was difficult!” Holding up the card as proof, I realized I had accidentally drawn not a card for game play but the instruction card listing each of the categories for different words. Difficult, indeed. I spent 60 seconds trying to illustrate an abstract idea, trying to draw the undrawable.
My dilemma made me think of the Book of Revelation. John, in describing the new heaven and the new earth, is playing the hardest round of Pictionary known to man—he is called upon to describe ...1