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January 14, 2013 ← Return
 
The Lion and the Lamb: Pictures of Paradise

The Lion and the Lamb: Pictures of Paradise

By Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: In the late 1950s, the Westbeau family adopted a lion cub named Little Tyke after it had been attacked by its mother at a city zoo. The family nursed Little Tyke back to health with milk, and she began to gain strength. But when they tried to feed her what lions normally eat, raw meat, they couldn’t get her to take a bite. Amazingly, the little lion wanted only vegetables, grains, eggs, and milk. Of course, people said Little Tyke could not live long unless she ate meat. So they put a little blood in her milk, but she wouldn’t drink it. She was actually totally revolted by meat. Still, this very peaceful lion ended up living a full life, growing to full stature, without ever eating animal flesh.

A vegetarian lion. Can you imagine that?

It would be almost absurd to think something like this could ever happen, but the Bible boldly promises in the new earth this will be the norm: “The lion shall eat straw like the [ox]” (Isaiah 65:25).

I believe God’s Word that lions will be vegetarian in paradise, but I also believe that this Bible truth says so much more to us about the nature of the coming eternal kingdom. And in this age of constant disaster and unending death, I think it’s good for us to pause a moment to reflect on God’s ultimate promise for His people—the heaven to come—for a little encouragement and rest from the dark and sinful world we live in today.

The Old Versus the New
In Isaiah 65:17, God promises, “For, behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth.” Let’s first look at some of the physical attributes of paradise. Revelation says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (21:1).

Right away, John the Revelator wants us to know that there are no more huge seas in paradise as there are today. That doesn’t mean there’ll be no more water—we know there’s a river of water—it means only that there’s no more briny, undrinkable salt water that stings your eyes. There’ll be beautiful bodies of water, I’m sure, but they will not be the vast oceans that separate loved ones now. I believe it’s going to be watered by lakes and ponds that are irrigated by the river of God—it’s going to look like a park everywhere!

As I’ve already mentioned, all the animals will be tame. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the [ox]: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 65:25). The Lord promises the animals will neither hurt nor destroy; none will prey upon others. In fact, one reason why I’m such a proponent of vegetarianism is not only because the science supports it as the best health plan for the human body, but I think it’s also a good idea for us to get used to the menu of heaven now!

Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the splendor of New Jerusalem, God’s new headquarters right here on earth. It is described in Revelation 21 and 22. It’s beautiful beyond our imaginations. It has walls made of solid jasper with 12 foundations, each made from a different type of precious stone, such as sapphire and emerald. These gemstones will appear, I imagine, like a beautiful rainbow.

The streets of the city are made of gold on which children will play (Zechariah 8:5). I like how John describes this: “And the street of the city was pure gold, [like] transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). He must have been searching for the right words to describe what he saw. Gold can be graded by different levels of purity. Evidently, what John saw was the purest form of gold, which looks virtually transparent when burnished.

When I hear the word “city,” it doesn’t conjure up the very best images for me. I was born in Los Angeles, grew up in New York, and lived in Burbank and London. I actually loathe cities! But God’s city, the New Jerusalem, is very different. This is the great city the redeemed will return in after the millennium. It is a city unlike our cities today. You won’t have to lock your doors or worry about violence or pollution of any kind.

Some do wonder if there will be enough room in God’s city for them, perhaps crowded with so many redeemed through the ages that it will be quite a squeeze. But this city is huge! It’s as big as the state of Oregon, with about 375 miles on each side. There will be plenty of room for everyone.

Of course, there will be no more curse. Thorns and thistles first appeared because of sin. Symbolized by the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, the curse that God struck the earth with, as told in Genesis, will be gone forever.

Promises of Heaven
When you think about all the wonderful things on the new earth, what really gets you excited? Before He went to the cross, Jesus comforted His disciples with this promise: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1–3).

I am thrilled with the promise that God is preparing a place for each of us. It reminds me of the first place the Lord prepared for mankind—the garden of Eden. This beautiful home was planted by God Himself for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:8). I believe God will restore things as He meant them to be before the fall of man. This special garden will be like the Central Park of New Jerusalem, for all of us to enjoy in a new sinless world.

It’s just a matter of time before this promise comes true, and we should all be looking forward to this wonderful pledge from God. Sadly, many picture heaven as a wispy place where ethereal spirits sit around on clouds, wearing halos, and strumming golden harps. But this is not the picture Scripture promises, not to mention it’s rather boring. It’s worth our effort to study what God says heaven will actually be like for those who will populate this new home.

There are other special promises we can look forward to in heaven. Let me share with you three special assurances God has given you about your future home.

You’ll Be Physically Whole
Are you sick? Do you have an injury that never seems to heal? Is there a loved one in your life battling cancer—or who has already lost the battle against some other terrible disease?

The Bible says that someday “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall ... not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). I look forward to a time when we’ll have eternal energy! More than that, John says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Just think: no more sickness, no more funerals, no more hospitals, no tragedy, or disappointments, or trouble. There’ll be no more cemeteries.

In some ways, it seems silly to even speculate about all the amazing things we will enjoy with our new bodies. We can’t imagine what God has prepared for us. I think He’s got special upgrades in mind for everybody. Some who can’t sing now will someday be leading heaven’s choirs. Those who have trouble walking now will be the fastest runners. Some who have trouble hearing will be able to hear the faintest of sounds.

The Bible says, “Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the [silent will] sing” (Isaiah 35:6 NKJV). Every saved person will be physically whole in every way. The deaf will hear, the blind will see, the lame will be able to run. I’m pretty sure I will have thick hair like Absalom when I get to heaven. Any of the physical deficits you have in this life will be more than compensated for when you get there.

You’ll Be Mentally Whole
What about our attitudes? Will there be any of the relationship problems that plague this world? John says, “The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars” will not be there (Revelation 21:8 NKJV). He adds, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles” (v. 27). There will be nothing evil in paradise—no sinister notions or treacherous backstabbing like we have here.

Again, a lot of people have the impression that heaven could eventually become a boring place. Yet the Bible says, “At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). Paul writes regarding heaven, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV). So many people have misconceptions that they’ll be transformed into little fat baby cherubs strumming on harps. I don’t even know if I would want to go to a place like that.

Instead, “They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat. … My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:21, 22 NKJV).

We’ll also be able to study the entire cosmos; we’ll never cease learning. The closer you look through a telescope or a microscope, when you look at what God made, you see more perfection. And through the eternal ages, we’ll be looking at the awesome creative genius of God. Our minds will never be able to stop praising Him for the wonders that He’s made.

On a personal level, I’m looking forward to singing in heaven. I’m reluctant to sing sometimes because my voice wavers and I go off key. But in heaven, we’ll sing with the angels. We’ll have so much to sing about!
We’ll also get to visit with our loved ones; we’ll have many blessed reunions. You probably have loved ones you long to see again. Even though my grandpa was Jewish, he believed in Jesus. I prayed with him and kissed him goodbye the day before he died, and he said, “Doug, I’ll see you in heaven.” I’m hoping to see him there with his new glorified body!

People often ask me, “If we have new bodies, how will we recognize anyone?” I always respond, “Will our power of discernment be less there or more than it is here?” Yes, your grandma will have a glorified body, but you’ll still know it’s her. We’ll still have our experiences and memories to share with one another and to unite us in common bonds.

And beyond that, we’ll have the angels and patriarchs to talk with. Won’t it be awesome to speak with King David and hear what it was really like to stand before Goliath? Did he tremble at all? Or how about asking Abraham what it was like when he heard God say to sacrifice his son? We’re going to have a lot of questions in paradise, and they are going to be answered.

You’ll Be Spiritually Whole
Heaven is going to be bigger and brighter than anything you can imagine. Everybody will have perfect health and vigor; everybody will be good and loving. There will be no lack of trust. But none of these things are even the best thing that could happen in heaven. One thing will stand out above all others as our greatest privilege—to be with God.

The Bible says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3 NKJV). Jesus and the Father will make their homes with us. “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple” (v. 22). God Himself is the temple, and we will come together to worship Him. We will hear the Word of God from His own lips. Have you ever wished you could have lived back when Jesus lived and hear Him preach, to sit at His feet as Mary did? You will in heaven! In fact, you’ll be able to have quality, uninterrupted time with Jesus. It might take a million years for you to get your turn, but it will happen. That’s worth the price of admission alone, don’t you think?

The Bible tells us that God will sing. “The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will … rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). It’ll be something to hear the angels sing. But then they’ll all silence their harps and God will sing. Can you imagine how that will thrill your soul?

How I long to look upon the face of my heavenly Father. Paul tells us this will become a reality someday. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV). We think it is so much better to move from emails to video chatting with our friends. But nothing can compare with seeing God face to face!

A Flaw in Heaven
There will be one flaw in heaven. You might ask, “How could that be? Heaven will be perfect!” Yes, it will be. But we will have a reminder of sin—the scars in the hands of our Savior. Some in heaven, perhaps those who lived during Old Testament times, might come to Christ and ask, “What happened to your hands?” Jesus will sit down and explain to them the plan of redemption.

Do you want to be assured a place in the eternal kingdom? The Bible says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV). Jesus is standing at the door of your heart asking to come in right now. You don’t need to wait for the second coming of Christ in order to be with Jesus. You can be with Him right now. Heaven is wherever Jesus is. Even though we will someday go to a special place prepared for us, we can begin enjoying a taste of heaven in the present.

My wife, Karen, and I have traveled to many foreign countries. One of the things we enjoy is studying the customs of the different places we travel. We like to learn a few words, find out how the people dress, and discover what they enjoy eating so we can be prepared to enjoy the new cultures.

Friend, we are getting ready to travel to another world. I think we should begin to learn about heavenly culture in preparation to be with Jesus and all the angels. Getting ready is being ready. That happens when we look at the scars in Jesus’ hands and realize that He has paid the price so that we can enjoy eternity with Him. Jesus wants you to be there. He’s prepared a very special place for you. Will you accept God’s free gift of salvation?


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