I don’t know what it takes to legitimately define a new literary genre, but there’s a type of book that has recently been gaining quite the following. “Heaven tourism” is being used to describe those books that deal with a people who claim to have visited heaven, only to return to earth. I really haven’t been too interested in checking any of them out. Maybe I’m just a skeptic. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been into “heaven tourism” for years. In fact, this morning, I just spent five minutes in heaven. And the after glow is amazing!
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne. (Revelation 4:1-2 ESV)
Five minutes in heaven. Actually, it only takes a little over a minute to read through Revelation 4 (I timed it). But I read it over a few times this morning. And then, trusting I too was “in the Spirit”, I hovered over the passage for a bit afterwards. So maybe a bit more than five minutes. But have I got a story to tell.
I don’t know what the other books say, but my few minutes in heaven this morning says that when someone arrives the first thing they see is a throne. Once they have walked through that open door, then behold! . . . a throne stood in heaven.
It would seem to be the centerpiece of that eternal realm above our realm. It is surrounded by light. But the Light of Him who sits on the throne is not overshadowed by the light that surrounds the throne. So it’s not the throne, but the One who sits on the throne, who is the focal point of heaven. I guess I’d be skeptical of any “tourist” who didn’t declare the prominence of the throne, and the One who sits on it, as the major take away from their trip.
Kind of hard to miss. From Him who sits on the throne come flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. Around the throne are twenty-four elders clothed in white garments and wearing golden crowns. Before the throne are the seven Spirits of God. Above the throne are four six-winged angelic creatures that repeatedly proclaim the rhythm of heaven as “day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” And, though I won’t get there until tomorrow’s reading, in the midst of it all there is a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain (5:6).
That’s what my five minutes in heaven tells me. Oh, and one other thing, there is no going there and not doing some facedown time before Him who alone is worthy of worship.
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne, Who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are You, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for You created all things,
and by Your will they existed and were created.”
(Revelation 4:9-11 ESV)
If you visited heaven, I don’t know how much you could see in 30, or 60, or 90 minutes when, I’m guessing, it’s going to take awhile to just take in the throne and all that surrounds the throne and Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb who stands in the midst of the throne. And then, once you’ve taken that in, you’re on your face in worship.
Five minutes in heaven, and I’m ready for the day.
Because of grace . . . for His glory.