Tuesday, June 16
Where in the world is paradise? It’s a question that invites speculation because of a few difficult passages. The word “paradise” is used only three times in the Bible, all in the N.T. Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would soon be in paradise (Lk. 23:43). Paul spoke of paradise when he was getting his doctoral degree in theology in the desert (2 Cor. 12:4). The third reference comes with the evaluation of the Ephesian church in Rev. 2:1-7. Those who “overcome” are going to eat the fruit from the tree of life which is in paradise. The tree of life links us to more information about paradise. The tree was in the garden of Eden, which is often referred to as paradise. The word “paradise” comes from a Persian word indicating a royal garden enclosed by walls. It eventually came to mean a beautiful and bountiful garden where all needs were met and life was pleasant and peaceful. The tree of life also will be in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:2), which is also a beautiful and bountiful place with walls. The throne of God is in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1-2). So paradise is the New Jerusalem or at least a part of it. Rev. 21:1-2 tells us that the New Jerusalem descended from heaven after the first heaven and earth were cleansed. The key thought here is that this will be the future home of all the redeemed. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Jesus was probably referring to the New Jerusalem in John 14:2-4 in order to encourage His disciples because of their dismay at His leaving them. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Dan Schaeffer calls the New Jerusalem the capital city. It will be a cube of about 1400 miles in width, length, and height, and will occupy the space equivalent to about half the United States. It will certainly dwarf the old Jerusalem! And if heaven is where God is, then the phrase “heaven on earth” takes on a new meaning.