I Corinthians 2:9;
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
I had a difficult time finding what I thought was an appropriate picture of God’s Paradise! Too many depicted some of the qualities of heaven, but certainly not all! So I settled on one that was more symbolic – a brilliant light shining above dark clouds, and the light displacing the darkness!
Heaven is beyond our understanding, because we have never experienced anything similar to what it will be like! I believe that is why Saint Paul chose to quote Isaiah 64:4 when he wrote in I Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
- For the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, concerning what is coming in the next phase of life…
✞ ...we have never seen anything like it! ✞ ...we have never heard about anything as wonderful as what heaven will be! ✞ ...we have never even imagined anything so glorious as that which Jesus has prepared for us in heaven!
- Heaven is beyond our comprehension!
✞ Paul “...was caught up into Paradise...,” according to II Corinthians 12:4. So amazing was the experience, he uses the third person as he tries to describe it, as if it wasn’t him: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
We don’t get much understandable information about Paradise from Paul, do we? It is so ‘other’ that he can’t even find words to describe it!
- This makes me think of the apostle’s attempt in Ephesians 3:17 through 19 to describe the love of Christ:
...that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge....
It reminds me of when years ago my three-year-old daughter tried to describe a commercial passenger jet she saw for the first time at the airport: “It’s big! It’s long! It’s wide! It’s high! It’s…it’s…it’s…!” There was nothing in her limited vocabulary to adequately describe such a huge object! And there is nothing in ours that can adequately describe heaven!
Paradise passes human knowledge and understanding! Why is that? In I Timothy 6:15 and 16, Paul gives us a hint: “…He…is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see….”
- In Exodus 33, after the idolatrous golden calf incident; and after Moses interceded before God that the children of Israel should not be destroyed, Moses needed to be strengthened by the LORD!
✡ “And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18). ✡ But God said: “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compas- sion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.” (Exodus 33:19 and 20).
- We, who as mortals are enwrapped in sinful human flesh, cannot look upon the glory of God! So mighty, so intense is that glory, it would immediately consume our mortal being!
- But someday, we will see Jesus in all His glory! And, as it says in I John 3:2, “…when He is revealed [at His return], we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
✞ Philippians 3:20 and 21 – “...the Lord Jesus Christ... will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” ✞ This will be the culmination of the Father’s plan for us: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed the image of His Son....” (Romans 8:29). ➔ It is an ongoing process now! (see II Corin- thians 3:18). ➔ It will be completed then, when we see Him as He is!
When Paul was caught up into Paradise…
- …he was given a special glimpse of heaven – an unspeakable glimpse!
- …he was, it seems, also given a special dispensation because he was not destroyed by this heavenly glimpse!
John the apostle was also given a glimpse of heaven, recorded in the book of Revelation! And while there is some description about heaven in Revelation (most of the book deals with God’s judgments on sinful mankind upon the earth), there is, in chapters 21 and 22 some tantalizing bits of information about Paradise! One of the ‘bits’ that encourages me the most is Revelation 21:3, 4 and 5:
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
In this world of what seems like ‘increasing woe’…
- …national and international: pandemics, war, famine, terrorism, corruption.
- …personal challenges of life:
➔ aches and pains of aging. ➔ trying to balance fixed income with inflation. ➔ struggles of relationships within the families of those dear to us. ➔ the toll of sickness and disease on self or loved ones.
…verse four of Revelation 21 sounds very inviting: “…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain….”
It puts me in a conundrum:
I can’t wait to get there!
I am not in a hurry to go there!
But because of what is planned for us as followers of Jesus Christ…
We will fully enjoy our eternal stay in God’s Paradise!