My review of this book will follow later this month. Meanwhile I would like to share the following excerpt as part of the Love Books Tour.
Many people understand that, at the end of all things, Christ returns, God will create a new heaven and a new earth where those who have trusted in Christ will live with him forever. But what about those who have ‘passed on’ well before this? Where are they now? What does heaven look like? What will occupy us there?
When David Oliver faced the death of his son Joel, at the age of 38, following a short and brutal fight with cancer, he set about researching and writing this powerful short book on heaven and committed to write whatever he discovered.
Through a thorough examination of the relevant Bible texts, David provides us with a thrilling view of the future and a destiny well worth preparing for, which will enrich our vision and faith.
Heaven is a Stopover, Not the Final Destination
When I touched my dead son’s body for the very last time, I placed my cheek against his still slightly warm bearded cheek and allowed myself to feel the gentle warmth. In the yawning chasm of loss that was abruptly opening up before me, a question was already forming. Where is Joel now then? Is he unconscious or is he truly in heaven? Why did God take him now? Surely the answer to those questions and more must be found in, where he has gone and what he is doing there?
We know that life after death, i.e. what happens immediately after we die is not all that there is. We could describe it by saying, there is a final destination and a stopover. I have travelled a good deal, often with my wife Gill, and one or more family members. On long-haul trips we often intentionally build in a stopover. The stopover often gets nearly as much attention – and there really are some great places to stopover – but you never forget that while this might be the best place you have visited so far, there is even better to come.
Imagine if on a planned vacation you got the stopover and final destination confused. Confused about where exactly you’d be staying, confused about the culture, confused about what there is to do, confused about who would be there and confused about the sights and sounds, and even the precise location of where you were supposed to be. It’s a limited metaphor, I know, but instead of talking with joy, anticipation and thrill about both places, your conversations would be uncertain, muted, confused and lacklustre. It’s another one of those reasons why Christians talk little and think little about heaven.
So if, as we have suggested, the last breath here, the next breath somewhere else. Where exactly is that? There’s no better to starting point than the description of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus turned to one of the two thieves dying with him and said to him, ‘Today you will be with me in Paradise.’
People reporting positive near-death experiences often describe the place they glimpsed as being like a beautiful garden. For the Christian, as soon as the spirit is released from the body by death, it has direct access to the presence of the Lord. It is a beautiful garden-like place, and Paul says it is better by far than the best we have here. Alister McGrath explains:
The idea of a walled garden, enclosing a carefully cultivated area of exquisite plants and animals, was the most powerful symbol of paradise available to the human imagination, mingling the images of the beauty of nature with the orderliness of human construction . . . The whole of human history is thus enfolded in the subtle interplay of sorrow over a lost paradise, and the hope of its final restoration.
Just before he died, Roy Castle, described a vision he was having, standing in a most beautiful garden. He said it was indescribable because it was more beautiful than any garden he had seen on earth. He added, ‘I thought I was a gardener, but this gardener’s something else!
All About Heaven is available to purchase from David Oliver’s website – davidoliverbooks.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Oliver is the founder of Insight Marketing, an international trainer, speaker and author of 13 books in 29 languages, including ‘Work Prison or Place of Destiny?’
He is married to Gill and they live in Hampshire, England.