In heaven, will there be tears?

As John received a revelation about end times and what heaven will be like, he heard a loud voice coming from the throne in the New Jerusalem, after the Great White Throne Judgment, saying, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4). This is a reflection of a prophesy from Isaiah 25:8.

So, it appears there may be tears in heaven before the judgment, prior to the establishment of the New Jerusalem. Though that seems inconsistent with what we initially think about heaven, there are some activities in heaven that might produce tears.

First, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will have their work tested: "each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:13–15). Those believers whose work is consumed by the fire may experience loss and shed tears.

Secondly, as the persecution of believers intensifies during the tribulation, many will be martyred and found waiting under the alter in heaven for the Lord's vengeance (Revelation 6). As they wait and seek justice, they may remember their suffering on earth and shed tears. "They cried out with a loud voice, 'O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'" (Verse 10).

Thirdly, and maybe most significantly, those in heaven now may have access to what happens on earth and know when a person they care for rejects Jesus and enters eternity separated from God. And, during the Great White Throne Judgement, those in heaven may be able to see when souls are sent to hell. This would cause much lament and tears.

Significantly, and primarily, heaven is described as a place of complete peace, rest, comfort, praise, and joy. Any tears shed before the Great White Throne Judgement will be removed after. The eternal state for believers is not one that includes tears of sadness. Conversely, Jesus describes hell as a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Luke 13:28).

Jesus says there is joy in heaven when a person repents (Luke 15:7, 10). If there are tears of joy at that time, surely they will not need to be wiped away. To believers, Peter wrote, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8–9). If we can rejoice so much now, how much more so when we meet Jesus in heaven?

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