Heaven: Headed Home
God’s people are aliens and strangers, looking for a country of their own. This world, as it is now, under the curse, isn’t our home. But one day not only we but the earth itself will be remade. That earth, the New Earth, will not only be a place made for us but the place we were made for.
Home as a term for Heaven isn’t simply a metaphor. It describes an actual physical place—a place of fond familiarity and comfort and refuge.
Scripture often speaks of banquets and feasts in Heaven. We’ll sit at tables with people we love, and above all with the Jesus we love. Revelation 21 and 22 tell us God will bring Heaven down to this New Earth by coming down to dwell there with His people. There will be natural wonders, a great river, and the tree of life producing different fruit every month. We should anticipate great sights and sounds and smells and tastes and delightful conversations. On that new world “his servants will serve him”—that means things to do, places to go, people to see.
As resurrected people, we’ll live on the New Earth, not a non-earthly angelic realm for disembodied spirits. We’ll live in our resurrected bodies on a resurrected earth, where the resurrected Jesus will rule on the throne of the New Earth’s capital city, a resurrected Jerusalem. And we will reign with Him as righteous people ruling the earth to God’s glory. That was exactly His design from the beginning. The Bible begins and ends with God and humanity in perfect fellowship on earth.
Because we’ve already lived on earth, I think it will seem from the first that we’re coming home. The New Earth will strike us as familiar because it will be the old earth raised, as our bodies will be our old bodies raised. The New Earth will be the home we’ve always longed for.
The unbiblical stereotypes of Heaven as a vague, incorporeal existence hurt us far more than we realize. They diminish our anticipation of Heaven and keep us from believing it is truly our home. Graham Scroggie was right: “Future existence is not a purely spiritual existence; it demands a life in a body, and a in a material universe.” Though many of us affirm a belief in the resurrection, we don’t know what that really means. Our doctrine dresses up people in bodies, then gives them no place to go. Instead of the New Earth as our eternal home, we offer an intangible and utterly unfamiliar Heaven that’s the opposite of home.
When we think of Heaven as unearthly, our present lives seem unspiritual, like they don’t matter. When we grasp the reality of the New Earth, our present lives suddenly matter. Conversations with loved ones matter. Work, leisure, creativity, and intellectual stimulation matter. Laughter matters. Service matters. Why? Because they are eternal. Our present life on earth matters not because it’s the only life we have but precisely because it isn’t—it’s the beginning of a life that will continue without end.
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” The carpenter from Nazareth knows how to build. He’s built entire worlds, billions of them. He’s also an expert at repairing what’s been damaged—whether people or worlds. Romans 8 tells us that this damaged universe groans, crying out to be repaired. Jesus is going to repair it, and we’re going to live with Him on resurrected ground. He’s going to repair this earth because He’s no more given up on it than He’s given up on us.