I have not seen heaven, but John did. When I read John’s Revelation, I see many interesting details about heaven.
First there is a description of a glorified being who is later identified as Jesus Christ. He has white hair, bright eyes, and a bright countenance. The number one characteristic mentioned is light. He has no darkness in him. We learn that he is the “first begotten of the dead” which means he is the first to overcome death and be resurrected. He “washed us from our sins in his blood” which means that his blood was spilt to ransom us from the just effects of our sinful actions. He will come again to this Earth in glory. (Revelation 1)
John describes a throne (presumably God’s). (Rev 4:2-5,10) Around the throne are seated 24 elders. In front of the throne is a “sea of glass,” and an altar where the prayers of sins rise like incense before God’s face. (Rev 4:6, 8:3) Many angels are around the throne worshiping God. (Rev 5:11-12) Heaven is also filled with many people of all nations and peoples dressed in white robes. (Rev 7:9) They serve God day and night in a heavenly temple. (Rev 7:15)
While John’s Revelation gives more details than any other prophet on the beauty of heaven, he was not the only one to see this realm. Every age has had a prophet to lead them who was given a vision of God and a mission to convey that knowledge to others. Adam led his children with the knowledge of God he had from the Garden of Eden. Enoch led his people and their faith was so great that their city was taken to heaven. Noah led his children after the flood to believe in God. Abraham and Moses both recorded part of their great visions of God. The age known as the “meridian of time” was when Jesus Christ himself walked among men and taught them of God, our Father. After Christ’s death, believers were hunted and killed, which led them to “hide in the wilderness.” (Rev 12:6) As leaders of nations became more tolerant, Christians worshiped more openly while continuing to suffer persecution at the hands of others during the Middle Ages in Europe.
In 1820, a boy named Joseph Smith, received a vision of God the Father and his son Jesus Christ when he knelt in prayer to ask what church he should join. His vision included a mission to convey his knowledge of God to others in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ. He began to tell people about what he had seen and was immediately reproached. During his life he was taught incrementally what God wanted him to do and how to organize a body of saints. He was killed by opponents while imprisoned in a jail on false charges. For more: click here. Joseph is the prophet called to lead people in this the last dispensation before the second coming of Jesus Christ. If you are ever in New York, you can stop by his home and see the forest where he had his first vision. There is a holiness about that forest to this day.
Joseph’s visions of heavenly glory are recorded here:
John in his Revelation describes many events of the “last days” before the second coming. His witness warns all who read his words of the destructions planned and promises the eventual return the Jesus Christ. In my next post, I will explain the part of John’s vision where he saw the believers.
Image credit: painting by Carlo Innocenzo Carloni