by Tony Bland
The beauty, the excellence, and the attraction of heaven have typically been attributed to what we will find there, but the last few pages of the Bible emphasizes what we will find missing. Revelation 21 lists at least ten things that are absent from heaven.
In heaven, there are no tears, for it is a place where grief, disappointment, shame, pain, tragedy, and failure are never experienced. A pastor was visiting a young usher from his church who was very ill and facing death. As they spoke of heaven, the young man began to cry. After Dr. Broughton wiped the tears from his friend's eyes, the man looked up at his pastor and said, with a smile, "The next time my tears are wiped away, it will be by the loving hand of my heavenly Father." Revelation 21:4 says, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain..."
We can be sure there will be no poverty in heaven because Revelation 21:7 says
we shall inherit and enjoy the wealth of God. Think of the poverty of this age! A third of the world's population has an annual income of only about $100. Each year, 70 million people starve to death while another 400 million suffer chronic malnutrition. Seventy-five percent of the population relies upon wood for cooking and heating and over half of the children will never attend school. But think of the eternal riches of heaven! The Bible compares death with moving out of a tattered tent into a majestic mansion.
In heaven we will experience no fear. Throughout the Bible, darkness is used as a symbol of fear, but Revelation 21:25 makes it clear there will be no intermission of heaven's light. Americans today fear nuclear holocaust and world chaos, rejection and loneliness, failure and embarrassment, unemployment and poverty, inflation and taxes, aging and sickness, death and dying. But in heaven, there will be no cause for fear.
Revelation 21:21 indicates the absence of any violence in heaven, for it says the nations and their kings shall walk together under the rule of God. Since World War II, there have been 300 small wars, in which 10 million have died. At this moment, a fourth of the world's nations are involved in local wars. Harry S. Truman once said that 70 percent of our national income is expended for past wars and the preparation of coming wars, but such will not be permitted in heaven.
Nothing unclean is permitted to enter heaven. Today we are hearing much about the importance of ecological management and the control of pollution. However, Revelation 21:27 declares that not only will nothing be allowed to enter heaven that might pollute its environment, but likewise, nothing will be admitted that might pollute the hearts and minds of its inhabitants.
There is no loneliness in heaven, for Revelation 21:3 states that God will maintain a personal and eternal relationship with every resident. Some psychologists believe loneliness is the cause of the most intense emotional pain that any soul can experience. Charles Shedd, in one of his newspaper columns, told of an attractive nineteen-year-old girl who committed suicide. Ten days earlier, she had told Dr. Shedd, "You have no idea how lonely I am."
Many will be glad to know that there is no aging in heaven. Revelation 21:5 says, "Behold, I make all things new." Someone has defined the effects of aging with five B's: baldness, bursitis, bifocals, bulges, and bunions. Aging is an unpleasant experience which all of us will gladly exchange in return for eternal youth and vitality.
Anyone who has ever traveled under a hot summer sun for a prolonged period without water will appreciate Revelation 21:6, which promises there will be no thirsting in heaven. Even more intense is the soul's thirst for peace, love, meaning, and righteousness. Jesus once said, "Blessed are they that thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied" (Matt. 5:6).
In heaven, there are no orphans. Several of our ten foster children never knew the love of a father. I will never forget how desperately one of these little handicapped children wanted to be adopted, but Revelation 21:7 declares that God will be a loving and caring parent to all.
Finally, Revelations 21:1 says there are no seas in heaven. During Bible times, merchants sailors, and soldiers were separated from their families for months at a time when they traveled overseas. Eventually, the sea became a symbol of separation. It has also become a symbol of the separation which occurs between friends and relatives when death pays a visit. I have seen strong and brave men weep like babies, I have seen women turn pale and faint, and I have seen small children refuse to be comforted-all because of the burning pain of separation. In heaven there will be no moments of mourning and no biddings of farewell.