Heaven-Where Do We Get Our Misconceptions?
(excerpt from “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn)
I believe there’s one central explanation for why so many of God’s children have such a vague, negative, and uninspired view of Heaven: the work of Satan.
Jesus said of the devil, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Some of Satan’s favorite lies are about Heaven. Revelation 13:6 tells us the satanic beast “opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.” Our enemy slanders three things: God’s person, God’s people, and God’s place—namely, Heaven.*
After being forcibly evicted from Heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15), the devil became bitter not only toward God, but toward mankind and toward Heaven itself, the place that was no longer his. It must be maddening for him that we’re now entitled to the home he was kicked out of. What better way for the devil and his demons to attack us than to whisper lies about the very place on which God tells us to set our hearts and minds?
Satan need not convince us that Heaven doesn’t exist. He need only convince us that Heaven is a place of boring, unearthly existence. If we believe that lie, we’ll be robbed of our joy and anticipation, we’ll set our minds on this life and not the next, and we won’t be motivated to share our faith. Why should we share the “good news” that people can spend eternity in a boring, ghostly place that even we’re not looking forward to?
In The Country of the Blind, H.G. Wells writes of a tribe in a remote valley deep in a towering mountain range. During a terrible epidemic, all the villagers lose their sight. Eventually, entire generations grow up having no awareness of sight or the world they’re unable to see. Because of their handicap, they do not know their true condition, nor can they understand what their world looks like. They cannot imagine what realms might lie beyond their valley.
Spiritually speaking, we live in the Country of the Blind. The disease of sin has blinded us to God and Heaven, which are real yet unseen. Fortunately, Jesus has come to our valley from Heaven to tell us about his father, the world beyond, and the world to come. If we listen to him—which will require a concerted effort not to listen to the lies of the devil—we will never be the same. Nor will we ever want to be.
Satan hates the New Heaven and the New Heaven and the New Earth as much as a deposed dictator hates the new nation and new government that replaces his. Satan cannot stop Christ’s redemptive work, but he can keep us from seeing the breadth and depth of redemption that extends to the earth and beyond. He cannot keep Christ from defeating him, but he can persuade us that Christ’s victory is only partial, that God will abandon his original plan for mankind and the earth.
Because Satan hates us, he’s determined to rob us of the joy we’d have if we believed what God tells us about the magnificent world to come.
*The NASB supplies words not in the original (here, in italics), which makes the three things that Satan slanders appear to be only two: “And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blasphemw His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.”. It equates God’s dwelling place, his Tabernacle, with the people who live in Heaven. Hence, it retains the two familiar ideas of the objects of Satan’s slander—God and his people—while not recognizing the less familiar one, God’s dwelling place, Heaven. The NASB reading offers an alternative understanding of the passage.