“I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:3).
It is difficult to fully fathom what the various descriptions of heaven might mean or imply, but they are interesting to ponder.
Heaven is there as opposed to here. Heaven is a place to which one goes. Jesus went to prepare it and will come back and take us there. Heaven and earth are always spoken of as distinct entities. Will earth become heaven? Some Jews believed the earth would receive a “makeover.” Others believe that heaven and hell is a construct of the conscience. When the rich man pleaded with Abraham, he wanted someone to go “back” to where his brothers were (Luke 16:27). Heaven and hell were not in his mind, nor were they the same location. They are entirely different planes of existence. But where, exactly, is there?
It is above as opposed to below. When Stephen was being martyred, he looked “up” and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). Does this mean heaven is literally an entity in earth’s atmosphere? I don’t believe so. This “up” is probably akin to us saying, “wake up.” Of course, we rise from our beds physically after we wake. But we are “up” before that. In a sense, we were in one dimension (sleep) and are now back in another (awake). Of course, that all just existed in our minds. But in the same that sense, we are “up” as opposed to sleep, the Bible speaks repeatedly of heaven being “above” as opposed to “below.” This conveys, not necessarily that heaven is floating above our heads like a cloud, but that heaven is “above” (beyond, in distinction from) the physical plane. Jesus descended (Php. 2:5-11; John 3:13). He also ascended (Acts 1:11). We are limited to describing whatever spiritual reality this conveys, with the imprecision of physical terms.
It is imperishable, or incorruptible, as opposed to perishable or corruptible. Here is yet another thing we cannot comprehend: imperishability. We only understand it from one perspective: we live in a world where everything perishes. In heaven, this will not occur. One of my favorite things is older vehicles that are in near-new condition, no matter the make or model. Just recently, a 1986 DMC DeLorean (think, Back to the Future) was found in a barn in Wisconsin. It had only 4,200 miles on it. It was in amazing condition. Yet, nature got to it. It still needed plenty of restoration work. By contrast, there will be no restoration work needed in heaven. All is new, forever. How? God.
It is then instead of now. Then, when? Who knows? Neither the Son nor the angels (Mark 13:32). Certainly not any man. But “then” should not lead to complacency. Rather, haste must be made to prepare for heaven. The Lord’s delay does not equal apathy, but longsuffering (2 Pet. 3:9-10). This plane of existence for the redeemed saints is a new creation; it was established only when the Lord left this earth.
Best I can tell, heaven is a “place,” but not in the sense of one city’s location on a map as opposed to another. Rather, it is another dimension altogether. Another plane of existence. It is there, not here. It is above, not below. It is incorruptible, not corruptible. It is then, not now.
Just as there is a spirit within us whose form is not determined by the limitations of our skin, and just as the soul of the human being is not limited by the skeleton and muscle, there is an existence for the redeemed soul outside the physical boundary of this earth, this tangible universe. It is a place that had not been, but having purchased our pardon, came into existence for the benefit of all those who love the Lord. How do I know?
He told me.