Eternal Perspectives

Let me suggest an analogy to illustrate the difference between the intermediate Heaven and the eternal Heaven. Suppose you live in a homeless shelter in Miami. One day you inherit a beautiful house in Santa Barbara, California, fully furnished, on a gorgeous hillside overlooking the ocean. With the home comes a wonderful job doing something you’ve always wanted to do. Not only that, but you’ll also be near close family members who moved from Miami many years ago.

On your flight to Santa Barbara, you’ll change planes in Denver, where you’ll spend an afternoon. Some other family members, whom you haven’t seen in years, will meet you at the Denver airport and board the plane with you to Santa Barbara, where they have inherited their own beautiful houses on another part of the same vast estate. . . . When you talk to your friends in Miami about where you’re going to live, would you focus on Denver? No. You might not even mention Denver, even though you will be a Denver-dweller for several hours. . . .

Similarly, the Heaven we will go to when we die, the intermediate Heaven, is a temporary dwelling place. It’s a wonderfully nice place (much better than the Denver airport!), but it’s still a stop along the way to our final destination: the New Earth. It will be great to see friends and family in the present Heaven whom we haven’t seen for a while. But like us, they will be looking forward to the resurrection, after which we will actually live on the estate that God is preparing for us.

Another analogy is more precise. . . . Imagine leaving the homeless shelter in Miami and flying to the intermediate location, Denver, and then turning around and going back to your city of origin, which has been completely renovated—a New Miami. In this New Miami, you would no longer live in a homeless shelter but in a beautiful house in a glorious pollution-free, crime-free, sin-free city. So you would end up living not in a new home but in a radically improved version of your old home.

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