When I was in seminary, I studied under an extremely learned professor who I was convinced at the time knew the answer to every possible theological question. I remember I was so in awe of him that I asked him one day with stars in my eyes, “What’s heaven like?” I asked him as if he had been there and could give me a firsthand report! Of course, he steered me immediately to the last two chapters of the New Testament, Revelation 21 and 22, in which we get an extensive visual image of what heaven is like. Some dismiss it as being pure symbolism, but we must remember that the symbols in the New Testament point beyond themselves to a deeper and better reality than they themselves describe.
It’s here that we read of the streets of gold and of the great treasuries of jewels that adorn the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven. In the description of the New Jerusalem, we hear that there’s no sun and no moon, no stars, because the light that radiates from the presence of God and from his Anointed One is sufficient to illumine the whole place by the refulgence of their glory. We are told that there’s no death, there’s no pain, and God wipes away the tears of his people.
I remember as a child having that tender experience (not often accessible to adults) in which I would scrape my knee, or something would go wrong, and I would cry and come into the house, and my mother would stoop over and dry the tears from my eyes. I received great consolation from that. But of course, when my mother dried my tears, there was always the opportunity the next day for me to cry again. But in heaven when God wipes away the tears from people’s eyes, that’s the end of tears—there are no more tears after that.
And so heaven is described as a place of utter felicity that is filled with the radiant majesty and glory of God, where God’s people have become sanctified, where justice has been brought to bear, and where his people have been vindicated. There’s no more death, no more disease, no more sorrow, no more sickness, no more hatred, and no more evil. And then there is an experience of healing in that place. And that’s just a glimpse, but it’s enough to get us started.