W. Austin Gardner
What Is Life Like in the Present Heaven? by Randy Alcorn 3
19. There is time in the present Heaven (vv. 10-11). The white-robed martyrs ask God a time-dependent question: “How long, Sovereign Lord . . . until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (v. 10). They are aware of time’s passing and are eager for the coming day of the Lord’s judgment. God answers that they must “wait a little longer” until certain events transpire on Earth. Waiting requires the passing of time.
20. The people of God in Heaven have a strong familial connection with those on Earth, who are called their “fellow servants and brothers” (v. 11). We share the same Father, “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Ephesians 3:15). There is not a wall of separation within the bride of Christ. We are one family with those who’ve gone to Heaven ahead of us. After we go to Heaven, we’ll still be one family with those yet on Earth. These verses demonstrate a vital connection between the events and people in Heaven and the events and people on Earth.
21. Our sovereign God knows down to the last detail all that is happening and will happen on Earth (v. 11), including every drop of blood shed and every bit of suffering undergone by his children. Voice of the Martyrs estimates that more than 150,000 people die for Christ each year, an average of more than four hundred per day. God knows the name and story of each one. He knows exactly how many martyrs there will be, and he is prepared to return and set up his Kingdom when the final martyr dies.
I’ve made these observations on the present Heaven based on only three verses. Unless there is some reason to believe that the realities of this passage apply only to one group of martyrs and to no one else in Heaven—and I see no such indication—then we should assume that what is true of them is also true of our loved ones already there, and will be true of us when we die.
Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2011).