What was it like to really see heaven? There were few biblical men who actually saw into heaven. I always think it’s fun to read their descriptions, as they don’t really know how to put such scenes into words. Reading these passages together, we get an accurate and amazing picture of what it’s like.
Isaiah—In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Notice Isaiah’s reaction: Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 6:1-5).
Ezekiel—Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. Ezekiel saw many things in heaven: beasts, symbols, and prophecies. This is his view of the throne room of God: And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake (Ezekiel 1:1, 26-28).
Stephen—But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56).
Paul—I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities (2 Corinthians 12:2-5). Some believe that Paul had this experience of heaven when he was beaten and was thought to be dead in Acts 14:19. It seems that Paul himself wasn’t sure whether or not he had actually died.
John—God revealed to John what heaven is like. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. . . . and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals (Revelation 4:1-6, 8b-5:1).
Do people actually see into heaven today? I’m not sure, although I’ve read of people as they die, seeing glimpses as they passed from earth to heaven. I’ve also read of horrible death experiences of those who never believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, recorded by witnesses. I think it’s very possible to see into the next world in one’s last moments.
It’s amazing how many books have been written about someone’s “near death, to heaven and back” experiences where later, the author admits it was all made up.
It’s not made up when the scene is revealed in God’s Word. I hope you enjoyed these biblical men’s descriptions.
(The post about the Beatitudes and how their ultimate fulfillment will be in heaven, with passages that describe heaven, can be accessed here.)