"My Search For The Real Heaven"
By Steve Hemphill
What do you see in your mind’s eye when you hear the word “heaven”? Do you see transparent people floating on clouds and playing harps? Or do you imagine a perpetual praise and worship service, singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” for all eternity? This often-promoted Christian view of eternity doesn’t even appeal to the saved—much less to the unsaved. But is this the true, biblical picture? Not even close. After his father died, author Steve Hemphill began searching the Bible for glimpses of heaven, anything to give him comfort about his father’s new home. Glimpses of Dad in Heaven is the culmination of seven years of studying, meditating, and cross-referencing biblical findings and is unique in its Bible-based evaluation of eternity. Find heaven in Steve Hemphill’s "my search for the Real Heaven".
“Steve Hemphill has written a highly informative book about heaven that is thoroughly biblical. His approach is very imaginative and entertaining. You will enjoy every word as the book builds your hope for the Lord's return and your expectation of the blessings of eternity.”
“I am jealous of Steve. What a gift to have a great dad… Dads, this is a must read so you can learn from one who did it up right.”
Steve Hemphill is owner and president of Complete Business Systems, Inc. in northeast Texas. He is a graduate of Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. A deacon in his church, he has long been active in teaching detailed Bible classes and community service projects.
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|Table of Contents
(Only through Introduction Is Included here on-line)
The Story Begins
Memories of Home
What Might Be: Arrival
What Might Be: Five Earths of Scripture
|Chapter 1: Literal Versus Symbolic
Dad’s Special Sayings
What Might Be: A Tangible Heaven
Chapter 2: Prophecy Indications
Dad Was a Bible Scholar
What Might Be: Being in Covenant with God
Chapter 3: Satan’s Strategy
Dad Was a Man of Integrity
What Might Be: The True Location of the Kingdom
Chapter 4: Purification by Fire
Dad’s Attitude toward Others
What Might Be: Dad Visits Lazarus and the Rich Man
|Chapter 5: Resurrection and Our New Body|
One Last Handwritten Note from Dad
What Might Be: Seeing What God Sees
Chapter 6: Connecting Eternity, Heaven, and New Earth
Dad Was a Math Teacher
What Might Be: The Hall of Pictoglyphs
Chapter 7: God Promotes a Reward System
Dad Taught Me That Spending Time for God Now = Rewards Later
What Might Be: A Place in the Capital City
Chapter 8: Reunion
My Brother Kendal’s Memories of DadWhat Might Be: The Welcome Party
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Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come. Matthew 24:13-14 (The Message)
My Search for the Real Heaven is dedicated to my dad, Jamie Voigt Hemphill, who was an inspiration to his family and to countless others. He wore many titles: dad, counselor, friend, coach, minister, rock mason, farmer, carpenter, teacher, church elder, leader, encourager, cousin, uncle, friend, and to his six grandsons, Peepaw. He gave of himself and his time to do everything he could to encourage others and help enlarge the kingdom of God. He was loved by all, and he loved all. I once heard it said of Will Rogers that he never met a man he didn’t like. That describes Dad.
After his untimely death in the summer of 2000, many people told our family of ways Dad had encouraged them in one form or another. His funeral was so packed with people that every seat in the auditorium was full. The aisles were crowded with people who were willing to stand throughout the service, the fellowship hall was full (these people could hear the service but were unable to see any of it), and some had to park blocks away and walk in the sweltering heat of that hot August day. I even talked to friends who had driven an hour to attend, and after seeing the crowd standing outside the building trying to get in, resigned themselves to drive home without even getting out of their cars.
That’s the kind of man he was. Is. Will be forever. He has gone on to his reward, unspeakable joy in the presence of his Savior and his fellow believers.
I miss him. I will continue to do so until our reunion. This is why I dedicate this book in his memory. But he would also want honor to be given to every godly father. Godly fathers are rare in Scripture and rare today as well. So I dedicate this book to all godly fathers in an effort to give honor where honor is due. My life has been less difficult because of a godly father, and I hope that the inspiration from this story of my godly father will cause many others to follow that pathway.
In his honor, a tithe of the proceeds from this book will be given in his name to the Seth Rogers Retreat Center and Camp Deer Run in Winnsboro, Texas. This organization helps more young people to begin their kingdom walk than any other I know of.
Another tithe will be given to one of the most important efforts on the planet: to send the gospel message of Jesus Christ through Faith Comes By Hearing.
Faith Comes by Hearing (faithcomesbyhearing.com) began in the 1970s with Bible audiocassettes. People would purchase these cassettes and send them to their missionaries around the world. The missionaries would say, “This is great, but I need it in Spanish, German, or French.” So they began to do that.
As of this writing, the organization now has the New Testament Audio Bibles available in 272 languages and have ingeniously put it on a memory chip inside the Proclaimer. The Proclaimer is a self-contained unit with a solar recharge panel and a speaker that enables a large audience to hear God’s Word in group listening sessions. Since over half the world’s population is illiterate, I believe this is the best possible way to get the Good News about Jesus out to a lost and dying world
So be warmed and encouraged that your purchase of this work is attempting to glorify God by (a) encouraging everyone to focus on and get excited about our eternal existence and (b) helping to get the Bible out in a format that will reach more people than ever before. Thank you, and may God bless you with a deeper and better understanding of the eternal riches and joys in store for you.
Dear Lord, I pray that the words I have to say will inspire all who read to realize their need. I hope that everything I wrote opens up countless eyes, causing many to be wise. I plead mankind will be freed to serve you in deeds working to meet the needs of lost souls. Lord, my King, I long to wear your ring, showing I belong to your happy throng of saved people. I pray that until the day you return for me, I will be pleasing you as I long to do, day and night,helping make things right. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Your servant, Steve Hemphill
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The Story Begins
Everybody who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him walking around and woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them. Acts 9:35 (The Message)
What Might Be: Arrival
“I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: ‘Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women’!” Revelation 21:3 (The Message)
Home for the Weekend
After I graduated from Mason High School in 1975 and left home for college at Abilene Christian University, home was never the same. It was a whole new world for me. New friends. Exciting experiences. Fresh opportunities. Sure, I went home for the weekend for a quick visit, often just to get Mom to wash my clothes and taste some home cooking. But I was so excited about the future, a future away from the small hick town I grew up in, that I didn’t really appreciate what I had. Isn’t that true of us all? We don’t know what we have until it’s gone.
Now it’s different. I’m over fifty, complete with all the aches and pains that come with that privilege, and “home for the weekend” has a completely different feeling. Now home for the weekend means arriving late on Friday night and unloading all our gear in the dark with a flashlight. It means talking until late at night by lamplight or sitting in the old swing in the yard. It’s the smell of fresh sugar cookies or pie crust. I love pie crust. When I was a little kid, mom always took the scrap pieces of pie crust that were left over from baking a pecan pie and lay them out flat on an old cookie sheet. She carefully spread butter all over, nice and even. Then she sprinkled a liberal portion of sugar and cinnamon and baked it in the oven. Man, you talk about something good! It’s the feel of the air that surrounds and permeates every square inch of that town, a town I no longer call hick. It’s a special place; it’s home.
Home for the weekend makes you feel relaxed, special, wanted, loved. Don’t you wish you could stay in that place? Don’t you wish you could feel that way all the time? Don’t you know that if you could bottle and sell that “home for the weekend” feeling you’d be rich?
Some day, that feeling will be permanent. We’ll stay in that place of comfort because we will be home. You’ve got a Friend, someone who gave up his heavenly home and went off to Earth University for your sake. He’s gone back home, and he’s adding on to his Father’s house to make room for you. You’re so special to him that he’s building that room to the exact specifications he knows you’ll like.
Your eternal clothing is also special. It’s provided by—you! According to Revelation 19:7-8, the good deeds you do for his kingdom are your eternal clothing for home, your real home, your permanent home, your heavenly home. Now let’s begin our study about it! Hold on, it’s going to be an exciting ride!
An Unattractive Heaven
I have found that when many Christians are asked what we’ll do in heaven, we either stare back with blank faces or describe how we will be floating spirits on clouds playing the harp and worshiping God all day every day. This view doesn’t even get Christians excited about eternity in heaven, much less the world. Too often, we have formed our opinion of heaven by what our parents or church leaders think rather than an honest, open evaluation of the Scriptures themselves.
I honestly believe that an inaccurate, unattractive view of our eternal future actually works to hinder our attitude toward evangelism. Why try to convert someone else to an eternal future that we aren’t even excited about? You may not agree with every idea suggested here as we evaluate the Bible verses together about heaven, but I hope you will listen, meditate, and pray for insight, because if I’m right, heaven is a place to really get excited about! Ultimately, my goal is to get you so excited about heaven that you can’t stand to be silent about it! I hope you can appreciate that goal in spite of a disagreement about an idea presented. But remember, this is not a salvation issue, and it’s all right if we don’t all agree on every point presented.
The Christian Goal
How do Olympic athletes endure the hardship and discipline of all the years of training and preparation? By picturing themselves on the podium receiving the gold medal and hearing their national anthem in the presence of a cheering crowd. What is the goal of Christians? Heaven. Do we think or study much about it? No.
Biblical Deductive Reasoning
In the evaluation of any biblical subject, we must often read between the lines or learn to use what I call, “biblical deductive reasoning.” Let me explain what I mean with an example.
Where do kangaroos live? Kangaroos live in Australia. Other than zoos, are kangaroos indigenous to any other areas on earth? No. Have kangaroos ever lived in the Middle East? Of course not! Are you sure?
Where did the ark land after the flood? Turkey. Where is Turkey? Turkey is in the Middle East. Now, let me repeat the question: have kangaroos ever lived in the Middle East? Yes!
You were required to use biblical deductive reasoning and common sense to come to a conclusion that now contradicts your original position! Are you damaged in any way from changing your stance? No. Are you more enlightened instead? Maybe. I hope so.
That’s what I hope and pray happens to you as you consider the ideas in this book.
God invented everything. This includes language and our ability to communicate. Out of all the possible ways he could have led us to truth and salvation, he chose words. Isn’t it probably safe to say that he made sure he used the right ones?
God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God's Law will be alive and working. Trivialize even the smallest item in God's Law, and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Matthew 5:18-19 (The Message)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
So if you desire to know more about heaven, where do you go to make sure you get the truth? All Scripture.
Note also that the Holy Spirit is involved and active in your personal discovery of truth, including the truth about heaven: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future” (John 16:13, NLT).
I have been diligently studying passages on heaven since my dad left for that destination in August of 2000. I have come to the conclusion that it takes prayer, desire, wisdom, and biblical deductive reasoning to get a glimpse of heaven to embed in our heart. So let’s start with a prayer.
Lord, I pray that every single person who reads this book or hears the summary of its ideas are blessed with enlightenment, encouragement, and renewed in their zeal to live to heaven when they die. And as we embark on this study about our eternal home, open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to the truth about our future with you. Don’t let Satan deceive us into believing heaven will be dull or boring in any way. Please reveal kingdom secrets to us as we study and give us insight and wisdom to properly understand. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
What Might Be: The Five Earths of Scripture
“Hello, Jamie, I’m a servant of the King, sent to instruct you on some of the major events of the earths of the histories.”
“The histories? What are the histories?”
“The histories are what we call the record books that document all things done by the King from creation until New Earth.”
“New Earth? What’s New Earth?”
“It never ceases to amaze us how even those like you who have extensive biblical knowledge must be taught and trained on some of the most basic realities of Scripture. New Earth is part of your eternal future.
“The Bible clearly discusses five unique earths. The first earth is original creation, sinless and perfect. In fact, what many believers fail to realize is that original earth was part of heaven, part of the home of God. You could picture it as his garden, the garden of God, Eden.
“Original earth was perfect in every way. It was similar to a crib for a baby that you would provide for your own. There were no thorns, no stickers, no poison, no pains or diseases of any kind, and especially no death. This is why the King could walk freely, daily with Adam. A pure and holy God could not tolerate contact with a place of disease or death without the purification fires to insulate him. Sinai was a perfect example: when he later descended onto Sinai, the earth was under the curse, so flames like those from a furnace prevented actual contact. Not so in the garden. He walked daily with all of creation because everything was good.
“After sin temporarily separated the King from physical contact with creation, the borders of heaven were redrawn, so to speak; original earth was expelled from direct contact with the Holy. This was necessary for your own safety. The necessary purification fires would have annihilated all life. However, those purification fires discussed throughout the Bible and particularly in Peter’s letters will one day cleanse and purify earth in preparation for the fourth earth of Scripture, restored earth. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll come back to that.
“So the first earth of the Bible was the original, good, perfect, pure earth. The second earth was the cursed earth.
“How sad we all were to see the deterioration, and how different every part of creation became when the King placed a curse on the perfect world that brought so much trouble and misery. All of a sudden, to our dismay, roses had sharp thorns, the rainforests of what would later become North Africa became a desert eventually called Sahara. Stickers appeared, the beautiful became ugly. Colors faded worldwide, their brightness gone. Strong, lovely smells that had once permeated flowers, grasses, and trees became a mere shadow of what they were before.
“Adam and Eve began to defecate, urinate, cry, experience pain, get sick, and, worst of all, to die. We wailed in pain with them, although unseen. We watched in sorrow and sadness as the world deteriorated from a pristine glory to a smelly, ugly, complete mess in comparison. In fact, words cannot describe the loss or the remorse that filled both Creator and creation at the time.
“Adam and Eve were never the same. Unhappiness now dominated their emotions, and, although they experienced the joy of family and children over the next nine hundred years or so, they also saw that the children would die too.
“The first blood was shed when the King killed some innocent lambs and gave mankind their first clothes. These died to cover sin. According to the King, it was the only way. Death and blood were the requirements for life to continue. We all hoped it would end there, but it was not to be. Soon Cain killed Abel, and this first murder led to countless others. We felt the misery and cried with the King. It looked like it wouldn’t stop, like mankind would wipe himself out as they fought over women, gold, and positions of authority, but God had a plan.
“We were all so shocked with the mayhem and madness planet-wide that we missed what the King saw: one family godly enough to save and start it over! I admit, we were all confused when we heard God say he was going to destroy the earth. We thought destruction meant annihilation! Not to God. He told Noah to build a boat so they could be rescued from the destruction. Over the centuries, we have come to understand that when God brings judgment, the good are saved by the same mechanism that the evil is purged. In this case, the flood wiped out and destroyed all the evil people but saved the good ones.
“This brings us to the third earth in Scripture: the post-flood earth. And again, although it was much diminished from the original and even from the cursed earth, it was habitable. And, to eyes that had never seen the previous version, even beautiful. Curious.
“Jamie, this was the planet you knew. You lived your life on the post-flood earth.”
“Okay, I understand so far, but that’s just three earths. You said there was five.”
“Yes, there are five, but the last two are still to come, so we won’t spend time going over them because you are able to see and experience them from your viewing port here! You will see with perfect clarity what the King will do with the improved vision you have as a Christian here in paradise!”
“Can’t you tell me anything about them?”
“Well, I can lead you to a better understanding of them with the guidebook in your hand.”
“Forgive me, your Bible. What do you want to know?”
“Well, first of all, you speak of the first three earths as if they are separate ones. In reality, they’re just three versions of the same one. How do you explain that?”
“I have no explanation, other than the fact that this is what the King calls them in his Holy Word.”
“That’s it? That’s your explanation?”
“It’s enough, because it’s what the King provides. He always provides enough. His Word is Truth. Do you not agree?”
“Well, yes, of course, it’s all just so new to me. And I thought that when I got to heaven, I would know everything!”
“You thought you would know everything? You thought you would be God? Only God knows everything; you have much to learn!”
“Yes, I apparently do. I just didn’t know I would be learning in heaven.”
“Don’t be surprised. Heaven would be awfully dull and boring for you if you had nothing to learn, wouldn’t it?”
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