On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
- Isaiah 25:5-8
“But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.”
- C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
My wife was on one of her worry trips, praying for various loved ones who openly state that they have no faith in God, some who claim that they hate God, and many more who do nothing in their lives that shows any faith. She then asked, when we set up a big banquet in Heaven, how is God going to continuously wipe away tears for those chairs at the table that remain empty?
Maybe, I should just quote Isaiah and Revelation regarding wiping away the tears and other places in Revelation that says we will no longer have pain, and the emotional pain of a loved one going astray is a major pain. And I could then just state my wife’s often expressed sentiments.
I could then just drop it at that. None of us know what Heaven is like. C. S. Lewis spends a paragraph of introductory remarks saying that this book is one person’s way of saying what might be, rather than a definitive word of what Heaven will be like.
But when we take Lewis’ concept that once we accept Jesus, and the Heaven where we go to live with Him forever, God throws in Earth as well, at least the part that we loved. Of course, it will be a new earth, where there is no rot or decay.
But what of our loved ones that are not there?
I have heard a variety of theories, and that is all that they are, theories.
There is one that we will lose all memories of earth, even getting a new name. But the Scripture about the stone and our name written on it that we will only know… That does not make sense if we will be known by a name that only we know.
There is the theory of partial amnesia, forgetting the past pain, which could include the people associated with that pain. Then, in my wife’s scenario, we simply would not set a table for someone whose memory was removed from our consciousness.
There is the theory of substitution, some angel or such that stands in for that loved one as if they had made it to Heaven. I have not heard that mentioned specifically like this, but maybe it is what I interpreted when someone else espoused their theory.
There is the theory of Mitch Albom in a couple of his books where each of us has an eternity with God, independent from the other Heavens that are created for others. Some comic book heroes use this multiverse concept to transport themselves from one reality to another. If superheroes can do it, why cannot God do the same thing?
But one thing is for sure. We should do more living as God would have us live and maybe those loved ones will desire to have what we have. And we need to let them know that God is in control. We need to do as God commanded, to love one another rather than to worry if Aunt Eunice made it to Heaven or not.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.