Fourteen crew members on the Navigator of the Seas cruise ship, currently docked in Port Miami, say they have gone more than 72 hours without food as part of an ongoing hunger strike they hope will pressure the cruise company into speeding up efforts to send them home. The crew of Romanian citizens on the Royal Caribbean International ship, which has been at sea for about two months, has grown so weary of waiting to see proof that they’ll be sent home that on Sunday morning, at least one crew member called 911 regarding arrangements for him to return home, said a spokesperson for Miami-Dade Police. According to crew members who spoke with the Miami Herald, on the condition of anonymity, striking employees on the Navigator of the Seas are getting desperate to see official proof that they’re being sent home after being trapped at sea since March 13, and amid reports of crew member deaths under circumstances that are largely unclear. “At this moment, we feel that we’re all hostages,” said one crew member, who asked not to be named for fear the company will retaliate and delay repatriation. The latest fatalities unrelated to COVID-19 infection were three crew members on separate ships operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp. who died in recent days before they could be repatriated.
One was a 39-year-old Ukrainian woman on the Regal Princess who jumped overboard and did not survive. Her body was recovered from the water in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where the ship was docked since Saturday to repatriate crew members. Another was a man aboard the Carnival Breeze, which is on its way to Southampton with plans to disembark crew members throughout several European cities. The cruise line did not disclose the cause of death “out of respect for his family.
Home. To be “home” can be an extremely powerful human need.
Our years here on earth are but a minuscule portion of our journey. There is another whole realm of life beyond this earthly existence. It is called Heaven. Heaven will be wonderful, beyond our wildest imaginations. As believers, we are just pilgrims journeying to our heavenly home. Scripture, refers to us as “…strangers and pilgrims on this earth.” (1 Peter 2:11)
Jesus spoke to His disciples about this place called heaven. He said in John 14:1-3, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
How many of you all want to go to heaven? I read about a preacher asking that question to his congregation one Sunday morning, and everyone but one older lady in the back raised their hands. After the service, he asked the woman why she didn’t raise her hand. “Don’t you want to go to heaven,” he inquired? She said, “just how soon were you aiming to make this trip?”
The unknown is scary to us. In Scripture, we get some glimpses of heaven, but ultimately the same Scripture says that “ear has not heard, nor eye seen what God has in store for us.”
Isaiah was the first to talk about a New heaven and a New Earth. Leviticus 26:11-12 says, “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God and you will be my people.” This is a promise repeated often in Scripture.
John saw a new heaven and earth. Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
What does Heaven look like? Heaven is a Huge Place. Revelation 21:16 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.
The name of the city we will live in is the “New Jerusalem”.
It’s a 1500-mile cube, as the Bible describes it. This means that the foundation is roughly 763 trillion square feet, or about the size of half of the United States. If there are floors in this city, and each one is about 20 feet high, then there are about 396,000 of them. The city is made of pure gold and has a beautiful foundation and gates made of single pearls.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The temple isn’t there anymore because it isn’t needed. The whole city is full of the presence of God.
We can’t help but wonder what heaven is like. Heaven is awesome. Heaven is a place that defies our imagination. In 1 Corinthians 2:9 “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” So, whatever we can imagine heaven to be like, it isn’t! It is vastly superior to anything our minds can conjure up.
What will we be like? 1 John 3:2 ” 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. When we enter heaven, we will be changed physically and spiritually. John tells us we will be like Jesus. What will that be like?
We will still eat. Rev 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Rev 22:2 On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.
We will never be sick again. Rev. 21: 4 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.” People get sick, suffer and die. In heaven that won’t be true. There will be no more disease or aches or pains. No more pills to take, doctors to see, no more tests to be run. Heaven will be a world where, Isaiah 35:5-6 “the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. And the lame will leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy”. There will be no more suffering in Heaven.
In Heaven, there will be rest. Hebrews 3 and 4 talks about entering the rest of the Lord. Revelations 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” We are not told about sleep in heaven, but we are told about rest. it will not be stressful and tiresome like it is here. Remember on the 7th day God rested after the 6 days of creation. It doesn’t say anything about sleep.
Revelation 21:24. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
We will no longer sin. Philippians 1:6 “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” In Heaven, Jesus will remove our sinful nature and complete making us new creations. Imagine you have a computer program that has problems (Not too hard to imagine). Version 2.0 comes out and everything that is good about the program is left in but everything bad is fixed and not only that, but many great new features are added. That’s what we will be like in heaven. All those “flaws” you have in your operating system now will be fixed. You’ll be “de-bugged!”
Can you imagine a world without sin in it? That means that our relationships with others will be perfect as well as with God.
A question that is frequently asked by children and some adults is when animals die do they go to heaven? There will be animals there. Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse. There are animals in Heaven.
The sounds of earth can be heard in space, and scientists are working on a machine now that will use radioactive material to bring voices out of rocks and trees that were recorded there, hundreds of years ago, by sound wave impressions. God has things recorded. The Lamb’s Book of Life is there, and other record books at the judgment seat and at the great white throne judgment. God has a great recording system to preserve every idle word, thought or deed.
We are told to rejoice because of this. Luke 10:20 But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven”.
We will experience rewards beyond our imagination. The Bible speaks often of the saints receiving a great inheritance. That promise is made here in Revelations 21:7. It says, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” Whatever may happen to you on earth, you have an inheritance waiting for you. He has blessings waiting for you that you can’t even imagine. Matthew. 5:12, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven”. He went on to say in Matthew. 6:20, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”. This is our heavenly safe deposit box.
Love, joy and peace. We can only experience these things partly now. We don’t fully experience them because we also know what it is to hate, grieve, and have trouble. In Heaven, when these things are removed, we will love and rejoice and be at peace completely.
More important than anything else is the fact that we will be with our Lord forever. From His throne flows the River of Life. It will be perfect, clear as crystal. And we will see Him face to face. Revelation 22:4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
We will be able to talk to Him, ask Him questions, and listen to Him speak. Imagine hearing His voice. The Bible says it will be “like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder (Revelation 14:2). Imagine the stories He’ll tell us, the lessons He’ll teach us, the love He’ll share with us. Amen.