“eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
This is part of a series on what heaven is like. We already covered what heaven looks like, but the Bible challenges us to think of what it sounds like too.
Click here for “What Heaven Looks Like.”
Click here for “How the Bible Describes Heaven.”
In the book of Revelation John hears the voice of God and says this: “I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many rushing waters and like the sound of a loud peal of thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. (Revelation 14:2)
So God’s voice sounds like a waterfall, loud thunder, and harps at the same time.
Think about that for a moment. I have made a few observations, and then I am tying it all together.
1. A loud powerful waterfall makes a sound that is both majestic, awe-inspiring, and also relaxing. One of the best night’s of sleep I ever had was in a tent near a waterfall, and I usually don’t sleep very good in a tent. Another interesting thing about waterfalls is that human instruments and technology can’t really re-create the sound of a waterfall very well. It is too complex.
2. A loud peal of thunder can snap you to attention like nothing else. It is not just the immediate BANG of the bolt, but also the rolling echo as the sound bounces back and forth from the clouds to the Earth. It is another kind of majestic sound, and it is certainly associated with God’s power. Again, it is too complex of a sound for a human instrument to copy.
3. Many harpists. This sound is remarkably different from thunder or a waterfall. Harps can get loud, but are not known for being loud instruments. What they are known for is total range. A good harpist can get all ten fingers going on all the strings and really make a fast-paced and fascinating sound with one. Many harpists together, of course, can get even more range.
Pulling it all together, what does it mean?
It means the human ear isn’t capable of hearing all of Heaven yet.
John describes God’s voice in three ways that are very different from one another, all at the same time. Harps do not sound like thunder, at all. Thunder does not sound like a waterfall either. (Although it is closer than a harp)
Heaven is made up of sounds that are much broader than what we hear on earth. If a human hears heaven, we wouldn’t know how to describe it, and instead we would just list off a couple of majestic and beautiful sounds that we can hear. Heaven is like that. That is why John described God’s voice that way.
A standard harp has 42 strings, which can be combined in any order and any number of strings at a time. That means it isn’t just able to play 42 notes at a time. It can play any combination of 42 notes at a time, meaning a nearly infinite number.
I think that is why John described God’s voice as both thunder and water, but also a harp. He was trying to describe something that went out of the range his ears could hear. A harp would be the instrument with the widest range of possible sounds in John’s time period. That is why he used it as an example along with two sounds from nature which cannot be easily replicated by human instruments because of their deep complexity.
A lot of people think everyone in heaven has a harp that they play. That is ridiculous, and not true. A harp is simply the best way to describe music and sounds that exceed our ability to hear on Earth.
It shows the range that earthly animals and people can hear. People have a pretty wide hearing range, but you can see that ferrets and cows have a broader hearing range, and nearly half of the stuff porpoises can hear are things we can’t hear. On top of that, the total range of sounds on earth is twice as big as the range we are capable of hearing.
We can hear about as much as a chinchilla, which is a kind of rat that lives in the Andes Mountains and has ears the size of my small pinky fingernail clipped close.
If a silly animal like a cow or a ferret can hear more than we can on Earth, just think how much more there will be to hear in heaven. Or think of it this way. If God can put our ability to hear into the tiny ears and brain of a fuzzy little rat, imagine what he can put into our ears and brain when we go to Heaven. I guarantee you it will be a lot more than it is now, and I guarantee the 42 strings on a harp are only the beginning of describing its range.
We live in a dark and quiet cave in comparison to what awaits us in heaven. There will be new sounds in Heaven. Sounds never heard on earth. You can bet on it.