Can it be Heaven if people are aware of anything bad on Earth?

Revelation 12:10-12 says:

I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”

Consider Luke 16:24-25:

The rich man shouted, “Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.” But Abraham said to him, “Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish.”

Many maintain that those in Heaven cannot be aware of people and events on Earth because they would be made unhappy by all the suffering and evil; thus, Heaven would not truly be Heaven. I believe this argument is invalid. After all, God knows exactly what’s happening on Earth, yet it doesn’t diminish Heaven for him. Likewise, it’s Heaven for the angels, even though they also know what’s happening on Earth. In fact, angels in Heaven see the torment of Hell, but it doesn’t negate their joy in God’s presence. Abraham and Lazarus saw the rich man’s agonies in Hell, but that didn’t cause Paradise to cease to be Paradise. While this passage doesn’t prove everyone in Heaven sees into Hell, it does suggest that God could allow this in some cases without diminishing his people’s experience of Heaven.

Red LeavesActs 9:4-5 says, “He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, lord?’ Saul asked. And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!’”

Doesn’t Christ’s identifying himself with those being persecuted on Earth suggest He’s currently hurting for His people, even though He’s in Heaven? If Jesus, who is in Heaven, feels sorrow for His followers, might not others in Heaven grieve as well? It’s one thing to no longer cry because there’s nothing left to cry about, which will be true on the New Earth. But it’s something else to no longer cry when there’s still suffering on Earth. Going into the presence of Christ surely does not make us less compassionate.

Revelation 21:4 tells us, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Christ’s promise of no more tears or pain comes after the end of the old Earth, after the Great White Throne Judgment, after the old order of things has passed away and there’s no more suffering on Earth. The present Heaven and the eternal Heaven are not the same. We can be assured there will be no more sorrow on the New Earth, our eternal home. But though the present Heaven is a far happier place than Earth under the Curse, Scripture doesn’t state there can be no sorrow there. At the same time, people in Heaven are not frail beings whose joy can be preserved only by shielding them from what’s really going on in the universe.

Happiness in Heaven is not based on ignorance but on perspective.

 

blog photo credit: parnesjo via photopin cc

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

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