The book of Revelation provides some of the most detailed images of heaven in the Bible. Revelation 7:15–17 describes several of the eternal blessings and joys that the redeemed of the Lord will enjoy there, concluding with the promise that “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).
This remarkable promise is repeated in Revelation 21:3–4 as the new heaven and earth are unveiled: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
How startling and humbling is this heart-rending picture of God Himself reaching down in the most intimate and tender of gestures to wipe away the tears from our faces. The image represents the Lord’s ultimate victory over our greatest enemies at the culmination of history. The final enemy—death itself—is destroyed and thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14; 1 Corinthians 15:26). Thousands of years of human mourning, crying, and pain are gone forever (Revelation 18:8; Genesis 3:16) when “the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
The “old order” refers to the previously fallen state of creation where sin and death were present. The Lamb of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, reversed the curse of Adam’s fall by hanging on the cross and taking upon Himself the punishment for our wrongdoing (Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:23–10:18). In the new order of eternity, the Lord’s people will dwell in God’s presence before His throne and “serve him day and night in his temple” (Revelation 7:15) because sin and death have been put away by Christ’s sacrifice.
The prophet Isaiah looked down through history to the New Jerusalem and witnessed the same scene that John saw in Revelation:
Now the Lord of armies will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will destroy the covering which is over all peoples, The veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. And it will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let’s rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6-9)
In each of these glimpses of heaven, we see God wiping away the tears from our eyes. This expression is a symbolic word picture representing a future reality; there will be no more cause for pain, mourning, or crying in eternity. We will be free from all illness, suffering, and strife as we enjoy unbroken fellowship with God our Father.
Yet there’s no reason to believe God won’t wipe actual tears from our eyes in heaven one day. Will we not be overcome with emotion when we no longer “see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12)? When we stand before the One who gave His life for us, when we see Him ruling and reigning from the heart of the universe, we don’t know what we will do. Perhaps we will fall down in worship, weeping to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).
Jesus said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:21, ESV). Today we can live with hope knowing that our every sorrow and sadness will one day be turned into laughter. And if there are any tears in heaven, we can be sure they will be tears of joy.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)