Passage: Revelation 21:1-6
As John draws his vision of the future to a close, he highlights the fact that the “first heaven and the first earth” must give way to the new Heaven and new earth – the final restoration and re-creation of all things by God.
I assume we are all familiar with the “first earth” but what is this “first Heaven” John speaks about?
It is an important question to consider because the answer helps us understand where we go now when we die before the inauguration of the new Heaven.
When Christians die now, they are with Jesus.
Paul mentions this in his letters, both generally and specifically. Seeking to encourage Christians about what lies on the other side of death, he stated, “we are of good courage and prefer to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8). A more literal reading reveals Paul is thinking of life and the afterlife as living in one home or another. In this life, we are “at home” in our physical bodies, but after we die, our soul will be “at home” with Jesus.
We know Christ has ascended into Heaven and is seated at His Father’s right hand – therefore, when Christians die now, they are consciously in the presence of Jesus.
Theologians call this the “Intermediate state” because it is not our final destination. As our reading shows, our final abode will be the new Heaven and the new earth with resurrected bodies.
While we will long for the final restoration of all things as described by John in Revelation 21, Lee Strobel provides an encouraging perspective on the Intermediate state:
“We can be confident that this will be a sublime and blissful experience, although we will have a sense of incompleteness because our souls will be separated from our bodies.”
Whether in life or death, we can be assured that Jesus is with us!
Q. Do you have assurance that you will be at home with Jesus when you die?