Heaven. What is it? It's a mystery that we know little about, but that hasn't kept people from theorizing and hypothesizing. And why not? It's fun to think about. I have my own thoughts that I know not everyone will agree with, but I believe is founded on the Bible just as much as any other theory out there.
If you know me, you know that I believe to answer some of the deeper questions about life and the next you must go back to the beginning, before sin corrupted the world. What was our original purpose? What did life look like before sin, before death? This life is what was intended for us. If we look back at the beginning of Genesis, we see that God placed man on earth to work the land, shaping and forming it as an expression of creativity and love. Our work was not toilsome, but joyous. The garden was self watering. The plants grew themselves and there were no weeds. The weather was always favorable. He depended on God for his provision and always trusted God in everything. Our bodies were sturdy and strong. Creation was not yet groaning under our sin. All Adam and Eve had to do was enjoy creation. We were placed here to interact with creation, each other, and with God.
The serpent tempted Eve with taking matters into her own hands; becoming independent of God; relying on herself for her own provision. Adam stood by passively and watched it happen, and when Eve offered him the fruit of rebellion, he bit into it and partook of its juices. What seemed sweet at first, suddenly had a very bitter aftertaste. They brought death upon themselves for to rebell against God was to rebell against life itself. Sin entered the world and all of creation was affected.
So, what does this mean for heaven? The Bible tells us that the earth will be destroyed with fire and a new Jerusalem will descend upon the Old. You can take "destruction" two different ways. You can take it to mean, completely annihilated; wiped out of existence, or you can take it to mean everything on the earth is destroyed like the wheat is destroyed in separating the wheat from the chaff. What is evil will be wiped away, but the creation itself will be resurrected. Like in the resurrection of the believers: the old self in sin is destroyed but out of its ashes the new man in Christ is resurrected. So too a new world will come out of the old.
The ground we walk upon will be put through the refiner's fire to be made new. All of creation will be made new without sin. The lion and the lamb will lie down together. God will restore us so we will be able to fully depend and trust in Him again.
Now, this is where my personal selfish desires come into play here. I would like to imagine that in the restoration of creation, all of God's creation is resurrected. This includes animals that have since went extinct or are in danger of extinction. If you know me, then you know my biggest desire is to see tigers thrive under God's new creation. I desire that I may wrestle and play with tigers, lay beside tigers to rest, and live along side of them in absolute harmony. Now, will this be true? I have no idea and I believe this is something we cannot know until we are there. But none the less it is fun to dream about. And even though we cannot know, it is still pleasing to know that no matter what heaven is like, I know that is where I am going and I know that I will be so filled with joy that it won't matter what is there and what isn't.