There have been many discussions regarding the nature of the joys that await us in heaven. Both the Old Testament (Isaiah) and the New Testament (1 Corinthians) tell us that “…no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” According to the Jewish Publication Societies, Guide to Jewish Traditions, says, “Maimonides wisely stated that we mortals can have no real knowledge about its nature. Even if we did have some information concerning the afterlife, we would be incapable of comprehending it, since the world to come would have a different dimension of existence beyond time or space and thus it would be beyond our ability to describe it or even conceive of it.” But the JPS Guide doesn’t totally agree with Maimonides. It goes on to say, “Nevertheless, the Jewish tradition assures us that, even in this life, one can experience a sample of the world to come. As the Talmud states, “three things give us a foretaste of the world to come—the Sabbath, a sunny day, and sexual intercourse” (Ber. 57b). If you do a search on “heavenly pleasures” you’ll get some very graphic images (I don’t recommend it!). There are two things that are prominent in the search; chocolates and sex!

Looking at the quote from the Talmud, as far as the Sabbath is concerned, I think we can see some aspect of the heavenly sphere when we share in the communion elements. Jesus speaks of the wonderful nature of true communion with true believers and tells his apostles that he will not eat this feast again until he eats and drinks it with them in heaven (See Matthew 26:29). The pleasures of eating and drinking seem to part of the heavenly agenda. Further, worship is a significant part of a heavenly experience. In the book of Revelation we see the glories of God being praised by every living thing (Revelation 5:13) along with “much people” or “great multitudes.” Robert Webber, the Guru of Christian Music, says, “People enter a different dimension as they worship together. It is to be hoped that music may lift us to a new realm where we are better able to apprehend God’s presence with us.” The idea of “sunny days” being a foretaste of heaven seems plausible also because God’s natural revelation explodes with the Glory of God (Romans 1) and calls for worship and praise.

The use of sexual intercourse as a “foretaste of the world to come” seems foreign to Christians although prominent in the lives of many other religions. Yet, Jesus uses the marriage imagery to speak of his intimate relationship with us, His Bride. I like what Philip Ryken wrote about our joys in heaven. He says that when we receive our pleasures in heaven, “we will realize that we first experienced them here on earth. Every earthly joy is the foretaste of a better life to come, in the Paradise where God has promised us pleasures forevermore.” He was referring to Psalm 16:11 which reads, “…in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11).