What Does the Bible say Heaven is Like?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What does the Bible say that heaven looks like?  Are there sufficient scriptures to tell us?  Are the images of the saints playing harps while lying on the clouds of heaven accurate?  Can we know for sure what heaven will be like?

What Heaven Isn’t

The tiny chubby cherub angels playing their harps in heaven are not what heaven will be like or are like at this present time.  Heaven exists today but humans who are living on earth cannot yet see it and the pictures that we have seen of it can not describe it accurately in all its splendor, glory, beauty, and majesty.  Those who have died in the faith in Jesus Christ are said to be present with the Lord and since the Lord is seated at the right hand of the Father on His throne they are in heaven right now. What this means is that heaven is for real; it does exist, and there are Christians who have died and gone to heaven and are now with Jesus Christ.

The Three Heavens

There are actually three heavens described in the Bible.  The first heaven is what is called the firmament or sky that covers the earth.  This is the realm of birds and clouds that surrounds the entire earth.

The second heaven is where the stars, the sun, and the moon reside.  This is the space beyond the earth and it covers the entire universe.  It is as far as the human eye can see with the help Stairway to Heavenof gigantic telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

The third heaven is unseen and is the residence of God, including Jesus Christ. This is where the dead martyrs and saints are today.  This is the location of the throne of God and where the holy angels surrounding His throne sing day and night, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord our God.

Biblical Eye Witnesses to Heaven

There are several people in the Bible who have been eye witnesses to the heaven before they died.  Elijah was caught up into heaven, taken up in a whirlwind; he never tasted death (II Kings 2:1-12).  Like Elijah, Enoch who was said to have walked with God, was taken up into heaven without ever tasting death.  The apostle John saw heaven through an open door so that he might see and record in the book of Revelation some of the things he saw in heaven (Rev. 4:1).

While Paul was on the Damascus Road on his way to persecute Christians, He saw heaven open up but whether this was heaven itself or just the first heaven where he saw the light, we cannot be sure.  Acts 9:3-4 described what Paul saw, “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  We do not know for sure, according to the scriptures, whether this was the third heaven, where the throne of God was or not, but can assume it was not for Paul only heard a voice from heaven and he saw only a light from heaven.  Nonetheless, heaven is for real and it exists today in every sense of the word.

You may have read or heard about many who have died and seen heaven for themselves.  They describe such a realm that is beyond description.  Some who died and came back to life have said they have seen their lost loved ones in heaven, their family, friends, and some even their pets.  This is difficult to prove, yet the sheer number of those who have seen heaven and came back from death is hard to refute; only they themselves know this for certain.  But the Bible does describe some of what heaven is like in the scriptures.  It is, from the human standpoint, indescribable (I Cor. 2:9).

Biblical Descriptions of Heaven

There is a constant chant of holy angels that are continually proclaiming Holy, Holy, Holy over the throne of God.  The Mercy Seat in heaven where God sits is surrounded by magnificent angels full of glory and power that proclaim and bless the holy name of God without ceasing.  Some of these are described as beasts, full of eyes, with six wings and neither rest day or night in their proclaiming the holiness of God (Rev. 4:8-11).

Heaven Descends to the Earth

After the Kingdom of Heaven begins on earth, after Christ’s return, the New Jerusalem descends out of heaven and heaven, in the New Jerusalem, will then be on earth.  Revelation 21:1-2 describes this:  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”   The very tabernacle of God will be with humans then and heaven is any place where God is (Rev. 21:3).  All pain, suffering, and tears will absent there (Rev. 21:4).

John was carried away to heaven in Revelation chapter 21 and this chapter is perhaps the best description of heaven that we know of; at least the heaven that will be seen by those who are Christ’s today.  John describes it in Revelation 21:10-27:

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.

14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia [or 1,400 miles!] in length, and as wide and high as it is long [1,400 miles wide and tall!].

17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits [that is 200 feet!] thick.

18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.

19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst [these last two stones are unknown or only exist in heaven today].

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

How You Can See Heaven

There is only one way for you to see heaven and Jesus Christ is the one and only access to it (John 6:44, Acts 4:12, 16:30-31).  There is no other way possible to get to heaven but by the Son of God.  Getting to heaven is a one-way trip.  If you die before Jesus Christ’s Second Advent (return) you will go directly to heaven and be in the presence of God.  If you never see heaven, you will most certainly see hell and that is also a one-way trip from which there is no return.

Revelation 21:7-8 shows the fate of those not going to heaven: “Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Like the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man who died without Christ is forever denied access to heaven and to God.  It is an everlasting location from which no one can depart.  My hope and prayer is that no one would ever go there.  There is one simple way that you can go to heaven.  Jesus died after living a perfect life.  He spilled His blood to take the Holy Father’s wrath upon Himself.  This bridged the gap from heaven to hell.  It is a free gift; to not accept it is to seal your fate forever.  To accept it is to be with God in heaven for eternity in joyful bliss.  Right now if you ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior, ask for the forgiveness of your sins, admit you are a sinner in need of saving, and place your faith and trust in Him, He promises to never, ever forsake you.  He will keep you in His own hand and never caste you away, even when you die (John 6:37, 10:28-29).  If you do this right now you will see heaven for yourself.  And you will be with the Lord our God forever and ever when you leave this earth.

Was this Article Helpful?

If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons to the left. You might also find some of these other good Christian Answer articles helpful:

What Does the Bible Teach About the Antichrist?

Does God Still Work Miracles Today?

Do Animals or Pets Go To Heaven?

Sources

The Holy Bible, New International Version

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Luke brown August 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Hi there
I’m sorry if I offend anyone ever
But you know my name
Now I am going to tell you something that is amazing here goes nothing
something happened next door I’ve been protecting my family all morning God,Jesus and the Angels have been protecting me and. My family I have had loads of faith in God Jesus and the Angels and if I can do it I know deep inside you you can do it to until next time your freindly teenager luke

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Lisa September 1, 2015 at 12:44 am

I recently lost my 19 year old brother; he was killed.
These past few weeks have been so hard. There isn’t a day that goes by without crying and hurting. I miss him so much. I still don’t understand why our father took him away so soon in a tragic way. My brother accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, therefore I just don’t understand why this happened. This article brought me some comfort. Thank you to whoever published it. I’m still hurting, but thanks.

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Sarah December 18, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Hey love,
I’m so sorry about your brother. I know you’re probably sick of people telling you it’s all part of God’s plan, and it’s going to be okay, but they’re right. God’s got this. He’s in control. And you are not alone. I know what it’s like to wake up every day with pain, not knowing how you’re going to face the day, but our Dad is with us, and he’s in control. “I am giving you the strength to resist them; they will not defeat you, for I will be with you. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Message me any time, and know how loved and special you are, and that God has got everything sorted. He hears your tears and screams and hurt, and he is with you, through all of it. Life won’t always be easy, but God is there, good and bad.
Much love xx

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Sharon Null September 1, 2015 at 10:03 pm

My son was killed in a plane crash 3 months ago. I can’t go a day without feeling so hurting lost. He was a Christian man and I know with all my heart he is in a better place. I miss him so much that the grief is over welming. The article helped and hopefully things will get better.

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Sharon Twist January 5, 2016 at 10:07 pm

Hi Sharon, I just read your comments from Sept. 1, 2015. I am so sorry you have had the terrible grief of losing a loved one. I know all about your sorrows, I too have gone through a husband passing from Leukemia on Jan. 19th, 2012. I have some really neat books. scenes beyond the grave, by Marietta Davis, Within the Gates, by Rebecca Springer, about remarkable vision of paradise and a book on Heaven that I would love to send to you by Randy Alcorn. I will send these free to you if you will call me and give me a mailing address. I would love for you to have them. My number is 971-344-3282. My name is Sharon Twist and I live in Oregon.

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Brenda Q January 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

I just learned that our youth director is teaching our children and youth that when you go to heaven you will not know your parents, family or friends. All your memory banks are wiped clean and you will not know anything or anyone from this world. Is there scripture that says this? Help!!

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Jack Wellman January 21, 2016 at 11:00 am

This teacher is in great error and apparently doesn’t know the Scriptures! Wow. Ask him about this and ask for a chapter and verse as to why he believes this? that is dead wrong. Thanks for pointing out this youth director’s error. I would say the Scriptures are in this article already but what commons sense tells us is that why would we know less in a gloried body than we know now?

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lorraine davies January 24, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Only love can enter Gods Kingdom. All negative thoughts and evil can not enter. We must love one another and hard as it is we must forgive.

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john January 28, 2016 at 6:58 pm

my rose died november 19 at 4pm she had a heart attack but i know she is alright now i know her for 45 years and married for 38
years but it is still hard to forget her i think of her every day and night hopping to see her and hear her.

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Judy Lorensen February 5, 2016 at 4:53 am

I truly believe that and I also believe where two or more are gather in HIS NAME my husband lost his job today AND we have no groceries and utilities that have to be paid this week can you and anyone else who reads this pray for my husband and I AND I KNOW God IS GOOD my 5 year old grandson was d did diagnosed with stage 4 cancer but he is in remission thank you

JUDY

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Judy Lorensen February 5, 2016 at 4:58 am

Luke I believe HE IS SO GOOD but may I ask for prayers my husband lost his job yesterday we have no good and utilities are due so I believe when 2 our more come in agreement it shall be done your prayers would be welcome

JUDY

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Carol Ann Smith February 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm

Praying for you, Judy and your husband to be able to get a job immediately.

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Dom March 26, 2016 at 9:47 pm

So I searched for this subject because I’m searching for what Paul found as described in Phillipians 4:12-13 where he has found contentment in every situation. I believe contentment is found in hope of something better, that is what appeases the soul. It’s not from this earth but from God, the promise of Jesus.

I’m going through a season of drought in my life, whilst serving others and seeing nothing in return (I’m not expectant of anything either). I’m trying to train my mind, I’ve found that when anxiety and depression sets in, I close my eyes and visualise things that bring me comfort but that comfort will waste away over time, whereas heaven lasts forever. So what I’m trying to do is visualise the promise of God.

Can anyone tell me if this is a biblical thing to do, am I going in the right direction in terms of finding contentment?

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Eppy April 18, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Hey Dom, I too have been going through feelings of anxiety about life lately. I usually pray to God to give me contentment and remember Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths. Keep in mind that God is in controll and, although you are not seeing anything in return of your serving yet, know that you are always receiving Gods mercy and grace. Visualizing God’s promise is good if it helps settle your anxieties and depression.
Remember there will come a time in Heaven when all we will know is peace and happiness, but we should also try to find peace and happiness on earth, and that can only be found through serving the Lord and having a relationship with him. Find peace and contentment in his Love. I’m not sure if this even helps you, but I’ve been suffering the same feelings lately and remembering his love for me always helps.
I don’t know that visualizing Gods promises is the biblical thing to do, but serving others and keeping Gods promises, mercy, and Grace in mind is. You seem to be on the right track, I pray you find peace and know that true contentment is found in the Lord. Remember your here for a purpose, your so special and precious to God and try not to let earthly mishaps ever make you forget that. Gods love, mercy, and grace is upon you even here on earth try to find contentment in that always, and continue to serve and worship the Lord.

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Mary Anne Storm May 17, 2016 at 11:14 pm

Please direct me to the source in the Bible where this is found:
“Every man has his bounds of which he cannot cross.”
Thank you in advance.

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Jeff May 18, 2016 at 4:12 am

Serve God best by finding, following and giving of yourself through your true purpose,☝ which is what you find joy in more than reward, otherwise you may experience resentment.

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Laura May 18, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Job 14:5
Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, “thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;”

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susan June 10, 2016 at 2:44 pm

my mother died yesterday, just arrived at hospital and died.
my dad is not coping, and in so much pain without her, myself also, how do we cope?

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Jack Wellman June 10, 2016 at 3:11 pm

I don’t know you can cope but you can help your dad by being there with him at least. I have gone through what you have. Sometimes words cannot help. I am sorry for your very great loss. For the believer, it’s not goodbye but see you later.

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Tatjana June 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm

I really hope this is true. Please God let it be true… I love you all thanks for the comments

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Joey Haynes June 18, 2016 at 12:42 pm

I am an artist and blessed by my father at an early age. He had plans for me way back when and I didn’t realize it until recently when I found my father again. I did stray from the flock but now I have returned. My father has spoken to me and asked that I use my oil painting skills to paint pictures of the Bible. Upon reading your article this morning, I felt the need to paint a picture of Heaven. I am researching to get it as accurate as I can. Thanks for your words of wisdom. Anything you can help describe the visual of Heaven would be most appreciated.

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Jack Wellman June 18, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Thank you Mr. Haynes. I know that the “City of God,” the New Jerusalem will be in the kingdom but other than that, we only have a few passages (e.g. Rev 22) to reveal what heaven’s like. I believe if God had given us much more about what heaven will be like for us, we might all want to make an early exit from this life.

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Toni R June 28, 2016 at 9:06 am

Thank you Jack Wellman, this has been very comforting to read. My mom died Sunday. I was holding her hand, and I loved the thought of her ascending into heaven and having Jesus greeting her. And then she would see my Daddy, her parents, etc. We are believers and born again. I will always remember your comment that for believers, death isn’t goodbye, it is see you later.

Thank you again for all you do. Bless you.

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Jack Wellman June 28, 2016 at 9:48 am

Thank you for your kind words. It is not really me but the Word of God that gives us comfort but your comments are very encouraging and I thank you and may God comfort you.

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