It is understandable that believers are often imagining what living with God (in Heaven) might be like. But we tend to focus on our surroundings, on an environment we can imagine: streets of gold1 and mansions.2 [In modern terms. a mansion is a large and impressive house. Even if heaven provides us with lean-tos, we’ll be impressed!!!] As exciting as such thoughts might be, these are isolated references that do not begin to give us a reasonable picture of what we have to look forward to. What would be the special value to us of mansions rather than simple dwelling places or if the streets are gold or some heretofore unknown element?
There are other aspects of heaven that have no clear biblical explanation. If someone cuts a rose from a bush, does it die? There is no death in heaven. [Maybe there’s no scissors.] Will there even be roses there? I think so because God returns to the “Tree of Life” introduced to Adam and Eve in the beginning.3
We also envision ourselves in our early 20’s, men having washboard abs and women with graceful forms, even though gender has no meaning in Heaven.4 Perhaps, we might be shocked to discover once there that God’s favorite bodily form is obesity!5
It’s fun to talk about such things and I would encourage us to do so but—really now—these possible external considerations, if they are verities, are still beyond the scope of our temporal imagination. Don’t you think!
Discussing what our heavenly surroundings might be inspires hope—as it should. Imagining anything of what awaits us there is exciting converse—but the overarching Biblical message found throughout Scripture is the relationship we will then enjoy with Christ. In both the Old and the New Testaments the desire of God toward His people,6 Israel and the Church, is so prevalent as to suggest a theological emphasis in Scripture in which the Kingdom of heaven is centric.7 This will later bring the message of the Beatitudes to the forefront in our studies. The overarching message in both testaments is that He is coming back for us8 and He will establish His kingdom9 with those who have been His faithful followers. It is absurd to read the Scripture any other way. A Holy God wants a holy kingdom peopled by holy followers. Instead of talking mansions, perhaps, we should be talking “relationship.”Our study needs to focus on who we are in God’s kingdom in relationship with God and each other. This takes up far more space in Scripture and should be of far greater interest to us as we converse over our eternal future.
2 John 14:1 in the KJV translates dwelling places or apartments as “mansions” which in 1611 meant “a place to stay.”
3 Revelation 22:2 On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
4 Luke 20:35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage,
5 Proverbs 28:25 [KJV] he that put[s] his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
6 There is no direct reference here to either Covenantal or Dispensational Theology. Whether Israel and the New Testament Church are viewed separately or as one, interpreting a believer’s inheritance in the King of Heaven in terms of the Beatitudes remains an overarching study. I tend not to think in dispensational terms.
7 “The Kingdom of God is the primary theme that binds the Scriptures and indeed all of history together. Only the kingdom theme flows easily from the pages of the biblical writers. It alone does adequate justice to the progressive unfolding of biblical revelation by viewing the historical covenants of redemptive history as keys to revelatory development in the Kingdom of God.” cp. http://pneumareview.com/the-kingdom-of-god-as-scriptures-central-theme-a-new-approach-to-biblical-theology-part1/
8 John 14:3 I will come back and take you to be with me
9 Isaiah 9:7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.