I always remember when I was at school being shown the 3D net of a 4D geometrical object. Of course you can’t actually fold the net into an actual object, but it’s striking that even physicists and mathematicians postulate there are more dimensions than we can actually experience. How many dimensions there might be or how we might find them, that’s another question. But it’s reminder that while we think of science as simply describing the known world, there are important questions being discussed which are every bit as abstract as the questions theologians ask. Or if you wanted a real controversy, you could ask a physicist whether there is simply one universe or actually we live in a multiverse where there are parallel realities.
The point is this: the question, “Where is heaven?” limits God to our own understanding of space and time, and we saw in our last post that God is not restricted to our human understanding. When Ezekiel tries to describe his vision of one like that of a man on a throne (Eze 1), human language is unable to describe what he sees. You would end up with a very strange picture if you tried to draw this vision. Or again, when John tried to describe one like a son of man in Rev 1, the effect is equally mysterious. Revelation is a strange book because it is dealing with realities beyond our comprehension.
So to imagine heaven as a place with a certain location is quite simply to restrict our understanding of God. We know heaven exists, and we know that through faith and trust in Jesus Christ we can get there. On the cross He said to the penitent thief: Today you will be with in paradise(Luke 23:43). In the upper room He told His disciples: In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:2-3).
And because Jesus died and rose again for us, we can also know that we can trust His words. But what heaven will be like – well, we have to leave that to Jesus. I suspect it will be far more wonderful and far more different than we often imagine. Who will be there, and what will be happening there, that’s a matter for the next post.