The temple imagery of heaven reveals to us that heaven is not only a place of praise, but a place of peace. In the Old Testament, King David had his heart set on building a temple for God to dwell in. Although his intentions were good, and he would help to prepare the way for its eventual construction, David was not permitted by God to follow through with his heart’s desire. The reason given for this is found in 1 Chronicles 22:7-8, where David explained to his son, Solomon, “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house to the name of the LORD my God. But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on earth.’”
God did not want his temple to be associated with the pain of bloodshed, and hence, David was not allowed to be the chief architect of the building project. Instead, David’s son Solomon (whose name is derived from the Hebrew word for peace, shalom) would construct the temple. Since the temple itself was simply a model of God’s heavenly dwelling, God was demonstrating through this that ultimately heaven would be a place where war and sorrow came to an end. Heaven is where the brokenness of humanity and the tears shed because of disappointment and death are no more.
Isaiah 25 speaks of God swallowing up death forever and wiping the tears from our faces. John heard a loud voice from God’s throne saying, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) In heaven, death itself will pass away, along with every cause for pain that we’ve experienced on earth. The pain of rejection, the pain of injustice, the pain of terminal illness, the pain of abuse, the pain of hunger; all of the tears which God has recorded (Ps. 56:8) will be wiped away. The vicious stinger of death, sin (1 Cor. 15:56), will be finally and forever removed, and we will be freed to feast with God having shed the struggles that characterized our former lives.
There’s one more thing that should be said as we consider an existence without sorrow. That is, our suffering today – as bad as it may be – will be so eclipsed by the world to come that the present plight will seem small. This is not the Bible’s way of downplaying our suffering, rather, it demonstrates that somehow heaven is going to be so magnificent that the old world’s pain won’t bleed into the new creation. Paul said, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:16-17) There’s no comparison between the light and temporal pain we face today and the massive weight of glory we’ll feel in God’s presence. In the words of Randy Alcorn, “Even the most painful experience in life is but a temporary setback. Our pain and suffering may or may not be relieved in this life, but they will certainly be relieved in the next. That is Christ’s promise.”
I’m indebted to Longman Immanuel pg. 41 for the correlation between the temple and peace.
Alcorn, Randy Heaven Pg. 460