Haavard Sand

B. Childress
Apr 29 2011

He has also set eternity in the hearts of men...(Ecclesiastes 3:11).

"And they lived happily ever after."  This is how fairy tales usually end.  This is also how the Bible ends.  If there is one
place where the expression "happily ever after" is true, it is in the Bible.

Where all other books end, that is where we will begin in this chapter.  We will try to peek a little into how the happily
ever after will be, although many believe that we cannot really know how it will be in Heaven.  Nevertheless, I believe we
can know a bit about it.  And in this chapter, we will go beyond Heaven; we will explore the new earth.

Earlier we looked at how the Bible encourages us to set our hearts and minds on things above (see Colossians 3:1-2).  
We can use the same principle when it comes to the new earth.  In Randy Alcorn's book,
Heaven (which is really just as
much, if not more, about the new earth), he speaks about the importance of using our imagination:

    We cannot anticipate or desire what we cannot imagine. That's why, I believe God has given us glimpses of
    Heaven in the Bible - to fire up our imagination and kindle a desire for Heaven in our hearts...

    I believe that God expects us to use our imagination, even as we recognize its limitations and flaws.  If God didn't
    want us to imagine what Heaven will be like, He wouldn't have told us as much about it as He has.

    Rather than ignore our imagination, I believe we should fuel it with Scripture, allowing it to step through the doors
    that Scripture opens.

It's good to use our sanctified imagination without going beyond the perimeter of Scripture.  With our desire to be
biblically based, we need to dare to look through the doors that Scripture opens up into eternity.

"He has also set eternity in the hearts of men..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  The longing for eternity and to live forever is deep
inside all of us.  The Buddhist understanding of Nirvana, of entering a place of nothingness, really goes against how we
are created originally.

The good news is that we are not destined for nothingness or Nirvana but for eternal life, and not just as disembodied
spiritual beings floating somewhere in the heavenlies.  We are destined to spend eternal life in physical, resurrected,
new bodies, on a resurrected new earth.

But why do we struggle sometimes with the thought of Heaven and our eternal existence?  It is because we have
imagined it as a disembodied spiritual existence.  We think of ourselves floating on the clouds with palm branches in our
hands.  This, however, is not what the Bible teaches us about eternity.

I believe many of us have struggled at some point with the thought of Heaven being boring.  But that thinking exists only
because of our misconceptions about what eternal life will be.   Dealing with the question of whether Heaven will be
boring, Pastor Mark Buchanan says:

    Why won't we be bored in heaven?  Because it's the one place where both impulses - to go beyond, to go home -
    are perfectly joined and totally satisfied.  It's the one place where we're constantly discovering - where everything  
    is always fresh and the possessing of a thing is as good as the pursuing of it - and yet where  we are fully at
    home - where everything is as it ought to be and where we find, undiminished, that mysterious something we
    never found down here...

    And this lifelong melancholy that hangs on us, this wishing we were someone else somewhere else, vanishes too.  
    Our craving to go beyond is always and will be fully realized.  Our yearning for home is once and for all fulfilled.  
    The ahh! of deep satisfaction and the aha! of delighted surprise meet, and they kiss.

Buchanan describes how we will live life to its fullest in our resurrected bodies on a new earth, pursuing new things and
new adventures.  Being able to enjoy fellowship with God and each other makes it impossible for eternity to be boring.  
Randy Alcorn writes:

    We'll set goals, devise plans and share ideas.  Our best work days on the present Earth - those days when
    everything turns out better than we planned, when we get everything done on time, and when everyone on the
    team pulls together and enjoys each other - are just a small foretaste of the joy our work will bring us on the New

Let me add that our ultimate enjoyment is Him, but aside from that we were created with many longings and desires, and
they will all be met in various ways on the new earth.  It could be our desire for music, friendship, exploring, reading,
writing, innovations and many other interests.


Scripture starts with the creation of the first Heaven and the first earth and the creation of the first Adam and the first
Eve.  Standing together on this new earth, they were commanded to fill and rule the earth (see Genesis 1:18).   The
same command was repeated to Noah and his family as they faced a "new earth" after the flood: "Be fruitful and
increase in number and fill the earth" (Genesis 9:1).

As we look at the end of the Bible, we find the creation of the "second heaven" and the "second earth," with the second
Adam who is Jesus standing together with His Bride, who we may consider as the second Eve.  What do you think God's
command to them will be other than "Be fruitful, fill the earth, and rule over it"?  How do we fill the new earth then?  Does
that mean that we will have babies together with Jesus?  Certainly not!  What it means is that we will enter into that deep
union of hearts with Jesus, which is already a reality among the Trinity.

Speaking of this deep unity and union, Jesus said, "just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in Us" (see
John 17:21).  It was from this deep unity and union that God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and
let them rule..." (Genesis 1:26).

I believe this is a prophetic image, pointing toward one time on the new earth, when the Bride of Christ will have reached
this unity.  The Bible doesn't say this explicitly.  But I believe there is enough evidence to strongly imply a view like this.

First, we have seen how the bridal message is present throughout Scripture, and the Bible ends with a wedding.  We
have seen how the intention of marriage is for it to be a picture of the ultimate marriage between Christ and his Church.  
As we look to the natural counterpart, we get insights into the spiritual reality.  And the highest reason for marriage in
the natural is the union that brings forth new life.  This is the very reason I believe God instituted marriage: to
communicate the deep unity that exists in the Godhead, and which brought forth the first creation.

According to John 17:21, Jesus was praying for us to enter this unity.  As the new creation is brought forth, we will be
there together with Him in bridal partnership and see it happen (see Revelation 21:3).  Then as we are partnering with
Him to fill the earth, we will enter the next stage, which is to rule over it.

    And they will reign for ever and ever...The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His
    Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever (Revelation 22:5; 11:15.)

To rule and reign with Christ is part of our eternal destiny.  This will be done from the throne of David, which will be in
the new Jerusalem.  It will be the center of God's Kingdom, which will be the place where Heaven and earth meet (see
Revelation 21:2).  What then is in that Kingdom that we will rule over?

What makes up a kingdom?  It certainly includes lands.  But another basic assumption is that there will be other
inhabitants in the land for us to rule over.  In the parable of the minas, we see that Jesus puts those who have been
trustworthy in small matters here on earth in charge over cities in His coming Kingdom (see Luke 19:12-27).

In Revelation it says, "I am making everything new" (Revelation 21:5).  It is like God is saying, "I am starting again
afresh, with a new creation.  I am doing it all over again."  Then we read about the new earth: "The nations will walk by
its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it" (Revelation 21:24).  This verse is in the context of the
new earth, meaning nations and kingdoms will continue.  They will come to Jerusalem to present to Jesus and us, His
Bride, the products and cultural splendor of each nation.

We shall live in the new Jerusalem!  We shall be the ruling class there.  We, the Bride, who belongs to our Bridegroom
will live where He lives.  We will live in the house He has prepared for us and that house is also the Father's house.  It
shall not just be in the heavenly realms anymore,  but here on earth as the new Jerusalem will come down (see
Revelation 21:3).

You might be thinking, "But we can't all fit in the new Jerusalem."  Do you know how big the new Jerusalem will be?  
Revelation Chapter 21 describes the size of the new Jerusalem.  It will be 12,000 stadia in both length and width (see
Revelation 21:16).  That is about 2,200 kilometers squared, or in other words it means that the land area will be more
than 4,800,000 square kilometers.  That is 40 times bigger than England.  And then it says that the city also will be
2,200 kilometers high, which probably indicates that it will be on several levels.

The new Jerusalem will be the largest city that ever existed.  It will be huge; it will be where the throne room is but also
where we have our house, and it will be a city with streets and infrastructure.  I believe it will be filled with parks, lakes,
and other natural wonders.  The lake is where the river of life - which runs down the main street of the city - will flow to
(see Revelation 22:1-2).  It will be a combination of a city and a garden far larger than India.

    Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of
    the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing
    twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month...(Revelation 22:1-2).

It says that the tree of life will be there.  Where is the tree of life now?  It is in "the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7).   
And if the tree of life that now is in paradise - the original Garden of Eden - will be in the new Jerusalem, probably the
rest of paradise will be there also.  So the new Jerusalem becomes a combination of a city and paradise, the Garden of

We need to get a vision of that city.  That is what the saints of old had.  It is said of Abraham that:

    By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac
    and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
    whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abraham was so captured by that city that he already had made his home there.  This means he did not only see the
city, but he saw himself in the city.  Unless we see ourselves in that city as Abraham did, our direction in life will be
foggy.  In other words, if your vision doesn't reach to the new Jerusalem and being in that great city, your vision is too
small.  Your life's vision must have an eternal dimension because our life is eternal.

The entire chapter 11 of Hebrews speaks about the heroes of faith.  It says:

    All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw
    them and welcomed them from a distance.  And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  
    People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of
    the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better
    country - a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for
    them (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Other Scriptures speak of the new Jerusalem and how we are to have an eternal vision.  In Hebrews, we read, "For here
we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for that city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14).  And in Revelation we
find, "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God"
(Revelation 21:2).  It is this city that Jesus is preparing for us.  He said, "I am going there to prepare a place for you"
(John 14:2).  And this city is where we belong and have our citizenship for "our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:

Looking again at the understanding that we will rule with Him, the question is: who will we rule over?  About this, Randy
Alcorn shares, "Whom will we rule?  Other people, Angels.  If God wishes, He may create new beings for us to rule."

This Kingdom will be an ever growing, ever increasing and eternal one.  We see this in the Book of Isaiah and Daniel:

    Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David's throne and over His
    kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of
    the Lord Almighty will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:7).

    He has been given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language
    worshiped Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will
    never be destroyed (Daniel 7:14).

So what will it mean that this everlasting Kingdom is also ever increasing?  Two very important verses help us
understand the dimensions and dynamics of God's Kingdom with eternity as its scope.

First, in Ephesians it says, "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7 NKJV).  Second, in the Book of Daniel it says, "but the saints of the Highest
One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come" (Daniel 7:18 NASB).

These two verses speak clearly, not just about the coming age, but regarding the coming ages as well.  Eternity
consists not only of one age but of many.  Right now we are at the threshold of leaving one age to enter into another.  
The age we are about to enter will then be the beginning of many succeeding ages to come.

At present, we get a few glimpses of the coming age.  But this is just the first age of many ages that Scripture tells us
about.  What will the following ages of eternity bring?  The transition from one age to another is characterized by
dramatic changes.  Just like what happens when this age comes to an end and the next one begins.

It is like everything will be totally new.  Could it be that certain changes will also take place in the ages to come?  If so,
every time we move from one age to another, we will all be moved with awe - filled with excitement and wonder -
because of the incredibly new things God has in store for us in yet another age.  As the coming age dawns on us, life as
we have known it will once again be transformed to a whole new level.  We will enter into something new once again,
something beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations.  Again our only response will be to worship our infinite God,
who will show us His grace and kindness not only in the age to come, but in all the succeeding ages of eternity as well.

Could it be that in the succeeding ages, life and creation will be brought to new planets?  If so, forms of creation could
also be brought further into new sun systems and galaxies in the ever growing universe.  This could occur in the
increase of His government in the ages to come.

Why do you think the universe is so large and endless?  Certainly it is because there is no end to His rule and
government.  It will just increase and keep growing.

Someday in the ages to come, perhaps not only planet Earth will be inhabited.  The whole universe - from one galaxy to
another  - will worship God and serve Him in every place.  There will be new discoveries in all spheres of life.  Then
planet Earth will become the capital planet of the universe while Jerusalem will be the capital city of the capital planet.

Life on the new earth will reach heights in development and progress, which the old earth foreshadowed.  In this world,
even the most brilliant among us hardly maximizes the full capacity of the human mind.  But I believe we shall use the full
potential of our human mind for the first time on the new earth.  

Why do you think man has been so eager to explore the universe?  We have sent people out there, and now some are
talking about space tourism.  Could it be that these are just glimpses of the vastness of the future world that awaits us?

Imagine yourself being in the future.  Many ages from now, planet Earth will no longer be the only space to occupy.  
Suppose you are sent on a mission to a distant planet in a galaxy far away, to inspect and report back to the throne
room.  As you arrive you are welcomed not just to a city or nation but to a whole planet.  It is as if the whole planet has
been preparing your visit.  The inhabitants of this planet may ask many questions because never before have they met
someone like you who lived on the old earth.

Do you know what I believe will be one of their most frequently asked questions?  It is this:  "How was it to live on the old
earth?"  Think of it; we will be the only ones who lived on both the old and new earth.  They will love to hear stories of
how it was to live on the old earth and how we - in the face of pain and suffering - did not give up on our faith in God but
pressed on.  Then they will want to hear how it was to witness the creation of the new earth.

Friends, we shall probably be there at the creation of the new earth, and as we start to live there, in hindsight, we will
remember the incredible things we were allowed to witness and be a part of as it was formed and came into being.

Finally, they will ask about the cross, which will still be the marvel of all ages.  They will wonder how the God of glory
could leave His place of majesty, to go down and live in a fallen world, to suffer pain and hardship leading Him to face
the ultimate agony of death on the cross.  As the inhabitants of other planets live in a world without pain, suffering, or
death, they will have no way to understand the extent of God's love towards us.  They will not be able to fathom the
depth of His love.  But we will.

As we share with them our personal experience of aches and difficulties, we will give them a grasp of what the Lord went
through because of His love.  Therefore, by our testimony, their understanding of the love of God will deepen and
grow.  This should give us a new perspective concerning our present hardships and difficulties, as we are willing to
embrace them now.

Let's see how Randy Alcorn expounds on this verse from Isaiah: "Of the increase of His government and peace there
will be no end" (Isaiah 9:7).

    It may be that Christ's government will always increase because He will continually create new worlds to govern
    (and, perhaps, new creatures to inhabit those new worlds.)...If Christ expands His rule by creating new worlds,
    whom will He send to govern them on His behalf?  His redeemed people.  Some may rule over towns, some cities,
    some planets, some solar systems or galaxies.  Sounds far-fetched?  Not if we understand both Scripture and
    science.  Consider how our current universe is constantly expanding.  Each moment, the celestial geography
    dramatically increases.  As old stars burn out, new stars are being born.  Is God their creator?  Yes.  Suppose the
    new heavens also expand, creating new geography in space and ever increasing the size of God's Kingdom.  Will
    He fill that empty space with new creation?  Will He dispatch exploratory and governing expeditions to these
    worlds, where His glory will be seen in new and magnificent creations?

    The proper question is not, why would God create new worlds?  That's obvious.  God is by nature a creator and
    ruler.  He is glorified by what He creates and rules.  He delights to delegate authority and dominion to His children
    to rule His creation on His behalf as we read, "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no

    Is there anything in Scripture - anything we know about God - that would preclude Him from expanding His
    creation and delegating authority to His children to rule over it?  I can't think of anything.  Can you?


Scripture teaches us that there will be ranks and levels of position and authority in the eternal Kingdom.  The parable of
the ten minas, which I mentioned earlier, illustrates this (see Luke 19:12-27).  From this parable, we can see that we will
be given a position of authority according to how we steward what is given to us on earth.

This stewardship includes our handling of time, money, and talents.  It becomes the determining factor of the rewards
and positions we will receive in ruling and reigning with Him.  This is about our eternal calling and position.  I do not
know about you, but this is a sobering thought for me.  I would like a place close to Jesus in that council that we have
talked about.

Is it wrong to look forward to our reward and our position of authority?  No, I do not think so.  That was what the saints of
old did.  Just read Hebrews 11.  About Moses it was said, "He was looking ahead to his reward" (Hebrews 11:26).

As all fathers want their children to do their very best in school to properly prepare them for their future, so there will be
a great future for us.  Our Father wants us to be prepared for that day, so that we don't miss out on anything that was
originally intended for us pertaining to our glorious future.

You may be thinking,
All this talk about ruling - I thought eternity was about worshipping God.  Yes, it is!  But not only in
the sense that we will stand for all eternity before the throne singing "Hallelujah" with palm branches in our hands.  
Actually, when Scripture speaks of our eternal destiny, it deals just as much - if not more - with our task of ruling and

As Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, their task was to rule.  Could it be that as they fulfilled their assignment to
rule, they did it as an act of their worship?  In view of this, it is not impossible to think that part of our worship in eternity
is to rule.

In discussing our eternal calling to rule and reign with Christ, I believe there is a connection between our eternal calling
and the calling or giftings we have now.  These giftings are what make us unique, and they will not change as we enter
eternity.  I think that one gifted in music on earth will continue with that function in eternity.

For me personally, as the editor of the
Arise and Shine Journal, I experience that I am in contact with the depth of my
own heart, with who I am and what my calling is on this earth.  As I am in touch with the depths of my own being - of who
I am and my purpose in life - I am touching eternity (see Ecclesiastes 3:11).  Those dreams and longings that are inside
me could also be connected to eternity.  As I touch the deep things in my own heart, I am in touch with the eternal
calling and purposes that I have.  For me, I believe my eternal calling is connected to being an editor.  I might be
involved in collecting writings and manuscripts from both the old and the new earth - to spread around His eternal
Kingdom to give Him honor and glory.

The center of the Kingdom is still the throne room, which will be in the new Jerusalem (see Revelation 21).  I believe it
will include the sea of glass, the rainbow, the living creatures and so on.  It will be the place where we return to after
administering the affairs of the Kingdom and probably where we will report the events happening outside the throne
room.  This reporting will probably take place in the council of the Lord.


Needless to say, worship in the throne room will still be our highest occupation as described in Revelation 4 and 5.  
There we will take turns in ministering before the Lord.

Some may wonder, why won't the worship in the throne room get boring, even if it continues for eternity?  First of all, the
worship in the throne room is a response to the overwhelming experience of His love, beauty, and majesty being
displayed there.  And as we have already seen, at the core of our being is the longing to be loved and accepted, but
also the need for thrill and fascination.  In the throne room all of these longings will be fulfilled - externally as well as

The only proper way to respond to such an overwhelming love and delight is to praise God, and share with others our
experiences with Him.  This could be possible through "responsive singing," one of the dynamics described in
Revelation 4 and 5.  Our human makeup is such that when we experience something extraordinary, we long to share it
with others.  Only by sharing will the experience be truly fulfilling.

We notice this in all spheres of life; football supporters like to meet and share their excitement when they watch their
team play well.  If they have to sit alone and watch a game, something essential is lost.  The same can be said
regarding connoisseurs of art, car enthusiasts, etc.  When we experience something that thrills and fascinates us, we
cannot help but share it with others.

This sharing will also take place in the throne room for eternity - in that place where God is continuously showing us new
layers of His love, His beauty, and His majesty.  Again and again, we will be touched by Him in the very core of our
being, in such a way that we - full of passion and excitement - will express our praise to God.

However, that is not all.  In this atmosphere of light, sound, color, and His dense overwhelming presence, we will also
loudly declare our excitement for God to one another.  Perhaps we will say things like, "Did you see that?" in response
to the light, color, and sound emanating from His being, as He reveals yet another depth of His character.  We may
even exclaim, "Our God is truly awesome,
grabe!" (a Filipino expression for awesome").

Sam Storms touches on this dimension of our eternal experience of God, and he speaks of how it will forever increase in
satisfaction and joy.  He writes:

    Our experience of God will never reach its consummation.  We will never finally arrive, as if upon reaching a peak
    we discover there is nothing beyond.  Our experience of God will never become stale.  It will deepen and develop,
    intensify and amplify, unfold and increase, broaden and balloon.  Our relishing and rejoicing in God will sharpen
    and spread and extend and progress and mature and flower and blossom and widen and stretch and swell and
    snowball and inflate and lengthen and augment and advance and proliferate and accumulate and accelerate and
    multiply and heighten and reach a crescendo that will even then be only the beginning of an eternity of new and
    fresh insights into the majesty of who God is!


Are we allowed to dream and think about our future like I have been doing now?  I believe so.  This is about marriage:
the union of two equally yoked lovers.

In anticipation of their future life together, couples discuss their plans and dreams.  Any future husband, for that matter,
wants to hear his future wife share what she thinks life will be like with him.  One thing is certain: no bridegroom is
honored by having a bride who never thinks about their future together.

In the same way, Jesus wants us to engage ourselves in thinking about our future with Him.  As we start to meditate and
imagine how it will be, we pay honor to Him - our coming Husband.  Indeed Jesus is looking for an equally yoked Bride
who will share with Him her own anticipation of their glorious future.  Wow!  Could it be that as we share our dreams and
thoughts about our future, we can even now begin to take part in shaping it?  Consider this: God brought all the animals
to Adam and solicited his input in naming; God wanted Adam's partnership as the earth was created.

That's what this chapter has been all about.   I want to let my voice be heard of how I envision some of our future with
Jesus will look like.  And now dear reader, I encourage you to start dreaming your own dreams of that future with Him.

If you think the pictures I have been trying to draw for you seem too unbelievable, I can promise you one thing: this
feeble attempt to look through some of the doors that Scripture opens to eternity is nothing compared to how glorious it
will be.  What I have been trying to show you are like old black and white pictures that are out of focus.  They, at best,
are a shadow of the things to come (see Colossians 2:17).  As Scriptures says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no
mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (I Corinthians 2:9).

Life on earth then becomes mere preparation for our real task.  Our task is to not only fill the earth with the knowledge
of His glory, but the whole universe - that His praises will eventually be heard from one end of the universe to the other.  
Or as C.S. Lewis puts it at the end of the
Chronicles of Narnia, this has just been the cover and the title page of the real

    "Your father and mother, and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead.  The term is over:
    the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning."

    And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so
    great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories,  and we can most truly
    say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their lives in
    this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were
    beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever: in which
    every chapter is better than the one before.


So why do we cry "Come"?  We are a desperate people - hungry for love, for reality, and for substance.  We have
tasted the futility of this fleeting world, but it has not been able to quench the longing of our hungry hearts and thirsty

However, we have now tasted the power of the age to come (see Hebrews 6:5), and we have experienced some aspect
of His love, and have seen the beauty of our Bridegroom.  Our hearts have been awakened by another world, and we
long for its fullness.  That's why we cry, "Come!"  Yes - come, Lord Jesus, come!


BECOMING THE BRIDE OF CHRIST IN THE LAST DAYS, by Haavard Sand, Copyright 2009, Destiny Image - Europe.