But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:13
I parked the rental car at the trail head. We locked it up, loaded up our backpacks, and hit the trail!
I’d say we walked about a mile or so. It took about an hour. But we were going over pretty rugged terrain that changed in elevation about 500 feet or so (in other words – we were on a semi-groomed trail going up and down). It was also pretty hot – about 95 degrees and no shade.
But it was beautiful!
We walked through a peaceful meadow. We took a switchback trail up to an overhang about 100 feet above our campsite and a bend in the river. Then back down to the river through a grove of birch trees.
We crossed the river at a point that was about 25 yards wide but it took us about a half-hour because the water was about 45 degrees (that’s really cold!) and we were barefoot (because we didn’t want wet shoes and socks) and the river stones were sharp!
But it was beautiful!
The camp site was a meadow on the banks of the river across from the 100 foot sheer rock face that we had been on top off about an hour before.
We set up camp in the late afternoon, got a fire going to make supper and coffee, and then settled down for the evening. We were totally exhausted from the hike into the campsite but extremely happy.
As the sun set, the stars came out. Being about 200 miles from the closest city, there was absolutely no light pollution at all.
That night, if there was any doubt about our creator God, it was certainly dispelled!
Our days were filled with shorter hikes and fishing. Our evenings were spent studying Scripture and talking together.
Not surprisingly, in that setting we talked about the new heaven and the new earth.
What would heaven be like?
When Jesus comes back, where will he be taking us?
Probably also not surprising, we all felt that heaven would be like where we happened to be at that moment.
It is a good question – what will the new creation be like?
“The new creation is described in ways that are both familiar and mysteriously unfamiliar. The Bible describes a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ in terms much like creation was before the fall, but entirely new and also different in certain ways.” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 © 2016 Concordia Publishing House. pg 105)
That was our thought out there under the stars in Idaho – that heaven will basically be the Garden of Eden before the Fall.
But “garden” doesn’t seem to cut it, does it? Mountains, rivers, star-speckled night skies, white sandy beaches, cooling waters, palm trees, babbling brooks, island paradise, ranches in the sky, on and on – let’s face it, heaven will defy description!
So, when will we get there?
That’s going to defy answering as well.
We do not know when the last day will come. But we do know that “we are currently living in the last days of the world and should be watchful for Christ’s coming.” (ibid pg 106).
How do we know that? Jesus indicates this in Mark 13 and Revelation 22, and St. Paul also talks about it in Romans 8.
What will happen on the Last Day?
- Jesus will visibly appear in glory with His angels (Matthew 25:31);
- the kingdoms of this world will give way to the everlasting reign of Christ and human history will come to an end (Revelation 21:23-24);
- the dead will be raised, the bodies of all believers (those who are alive and those who are raised from the grave) will be glorified (1 Corinthians 15:51-52);
- Christ will judge all people (Matthew 25:31-46);
- Satan will be vanquished and banished forever (Revelation 20:10);
- the current creation will be cleansed by fire and the heavens and earth will be made new again (2 Peter 3:7-13);
- we will be reunited with all those who have died in faith (Revelation 7:9);
- there will be a great feast with unending rejoicing (Revelation 19:6-9);
- and God will dwell with us forever (Revelation 21:3). (ibid)
Certainly something to look forward to, don’t you think?
But in the meantime, let’s learn as much about Christ as we can. Let’s tell as many people about Christ as we can. Let’s follow in Christ’s footsteps in being compassionate, loving, and helpful to everyone we meet.
©2016 True Men Ministries