Southwest of Missoula, Montana there is a road sign on Highway 12: “Winding Roads next 99 Miles.” From the heights of the Bitterroot Mountains, through Lolo Pass on the border of Idaho and Montana, and down the whitewater Lochsa River to the logging towns of Kooskia and Kamiah, the beauty is unrivaled. Don’t drive it if you’re prone to carsickness.
Lewis and Clark traversed it in 1805. It’s still wilderness. Rugged. Rocky. Green with fir and pine. Majestic. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. The paintbrush of Picasso, van Gough, Rembrandt or da Vinci couldn’t replicate its magnificence. Vocabulary fails. Words fall short.
When John, the beloved disciple, the exiled prisoner on the Island of Patmos, was given a foretaste of the mysterious unknown, he saw history unfold and he glimpsed Glory. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1–2, CSB).
I can imagine the quill pen hovering over John’s parchment, while he contemplated the vision. It was pretty. No, that’s not adequate. Beautiful? Magnificent. Incredible. Awesome. Stunning. Lovely. Splendid... oh, it’s as pretty as a bride, dressed in her flowing white gown, blushing cheeks, a promised kiss on her lips, as she glides down the aisle toward her awe-struck groom. That’s the best he could muster.
Heaven is a place of inexpressible grandeur, indescribable beauty. Truly, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived...” (1 Corinthians 2:9, CSB)
Jesus called it Paradise (Luke 23:43). Here, Jesus chose a Greek word that had been borrowed from the Persians. It was originally used to describe the botanical gardens surrounding the emperor’s palace. Maybe Jesus was thinking back to Eden. Paradise!
He told His forlorn followers, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3, NKJV).
Though other translators use the word “rooms”, the language of Shakespeare and King James is helpful as one imagines the promise. Mansions. Mansions prepared by the Master. Mansions prepared for every believer.
The grandest sight in Heaven won’t be the streets of gold (Revelation 21:21), the crystal flowing river (Revelation 22:1), or the spectacular gates leading into the city... “Each individual gate was made of a single pearl” (Revelation 21:21, CSB).
The grandest sight in Heaven will be the One who welcomes His weary children to their new home. The King will be there with a welcome embrace. His Royal Highness will be there to brush away the final tear (Revelation 21:4, CSB). Jesus!