It may seem peculiar to you to have a title like the one above. Yet, that is what is needed if one is to speak on the subject of heaven. If you make no distinction between what the writers of the scriptures are saying, confusion can set in quickly and that of course would be followed by argument when trying to share ideas. It is then important to understand that there are differences in how to define heaven.
What does the bible say as regarding the creation of heaven 1?
Genesis 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
God desires that a firmament be created in the midst of the waters. What is a firmament? The Hebrew word used here is:
|raqiyae:||a) an expanse - example: the visible arch of the sky|
In English we have the definition:
|firmament:||a) The expanse of the heavens; sky|
The key word in each definition is expanse. Creating a space that would divide the waters into two groups: beneath, one vast ocean of water and above, the clouds filled with water.
Gods pronouncement in verse 8 declares that this expanse is to be called heaven. This is the creation of a new word. What is the Hebrew definition of heaven?
|shameh:||a) to be lofty; such as the sky in one sense: 1) the plane in which exists our atmosphere, the circle where you can find the clouds.|
In English we have the definition:
|heaven:||a) the region above and surrounding the earth; sky.|
This is one idea of heaven. Simply put... the region called the atmosphere. Where we live and where we breath. When you see the word heaven in the scriptures know that at times it will be referring to this area. I should also mention that spiritual beings can also be found in this heaven. One of the more infamous is spoken of here:
Ephesians 2:Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
This passage refers to Satan. There are also many other spiritual beings who are in this heaven from time to time: demons as well as angels.
What does the bible say in regards to the creation of heaven 2?
Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
In this passage we once again see the two words; firmament and heaven. The definition for firmament stays the same... "expanse," yet there is also something new being added to a region of space that is outside of the atmosphere. Here we come across the same word shameh in the Hebrew but its definition is now modified to include the vast expanse into which stars, planets, etc. will now be injected through creative acts of God.
|shameh:||to be lofty; such as the sky in this sense: 2) the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve.|
The English definition stays the same as written above. A part of the region above and surrounding the earth. The word used specifically in English for this region is simply called "outer space."
In the Greek, the definition of heaven follows the English usage:
|ouranos:||a) the sky|
It thus includes both the atmosphere and the region where the stars abound.
These definitions cover the word heaven as it is used in the Genesis account of creation. The first by dividing the waters on the earth to form the atmosphere. The second when God laid out the stars, planets, moon, etc.. The atmosphere can be called heaven 1. The plane where the stars and such are found is heaven 2. These two can be both easily and readily seen. They are both the physical manifestation of our universe.
There are references of an additional plane of existence. It too is called heaven. There is however no real location of where this heaven can be located. What is this place where God, angels, etc. dwell?
Old testament usage also speaks of a heaven where God and the spirits reside. There is a place of thrones, buildings and other things as well. Yet, there is no specific place where one can point to in the heavens and say, "There is heaven". It is described by imagery alone as in:
Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool:
Let's look at this heaven that can't be seen and can't be felt yet is the dwelling place of God.
It is in the Greek that we begin to see an extension of the word heaven. The normal usage and the extended usage by Christians. In the Greek:
|ouranos:||the sky, extended meaning - heaven (the dwelling place of God)|
This is also carried through to the English language:
|heaven:||1) The region above and surrounding the earth: sky.
2) In Christian theology, the dwelling place of God, the angels and the deserving souls after death.
This shows the concept of:
1) sky, which also included:
2) the starry region. It was then extended to denote:
3) God's dwelling place.
Read the words of Paul about this third heaven...
2nd Corinthians 12: 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
A third realm, a third heaven, in which can be found the paradise of God.
More? How about the letter to the Hebrews...
Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
We know that what Moses had caused to be built in the desert, the tabernacle and all the implements and tables etc., were copies of what is in heaven. Everything Moses had built was according to the heavenly pattern that was shown to him in the mount where he received the ten commandments. This is heaven where not just more copies are located, but where the actual implements they were based on exist. Perhaps heaven in this case is another dimension. Whatever it is, it is the dwelling place of God, the angels, and those deserving souls after death. The same place where Jesus now dwells and the place he promises that those who believe will be with him forever.
In the New testament we again see imagery in John's revelation:
Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be here after. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald... etc.
John's door in heaven, a gateway to a new dimension of spirit. A doorway from our earthly heaven #1 to God's spiritual heaven #3.
We have the physical heavens of atmosphere, clouds; of outer space, planets and stars; and we also have the spiritual heaven. Angels and demons alike can make their presence felt in all three of these realms. But what of us human beings which appear to be stuck in the physical? Is there a heavenly realm for us to dwell in as well?
Why the question mark? Is there another heaven that is spoken of in the scriptures besides the first three? The answer is yes. Matthew refers to it mostly as the Kingdom of Heaven. A few times he refers to it as the Kingdom of God. The rest of the new testament writers use the term Kingdom of God. Whichever term you use - it is the kingdom... of heaven... of God
An integral part of the make-up of man is spirit. The problem for man is one of spiritual blindness. We cannot perceive into the spiritual realm with our earthly senses unless that which is spiritual is made manifest by God.
OK, you may ask, what of this other heaven - this other kingdom?
It is not the dark void that is the spirit of the unbeliever. It is the fullness of the Spirit that is in all those who believe. It is found...
Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
This heaven is the result of the new birth, the new creation in Christ Jesus, the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit who resides within those who believe. It is where your spirit, your being, communicates with the Spirit of God. Where you and He exist together as one. It is the Spirit within your spirit that begins to renew the mind to be more like that of Jesus. It is this Spirit within your spirit that will resurrect the body on the day of the snatching away. It is where the fruit of the Spirit resides, the fruit that proceeds outward into your soul, renewing your mind and thus sets the body into works of grace rather than its own works of the flesh. It is a new heaven in the old earth called the body.
This is the fourth kingdom of heaven. The question that I would ask you then is: "Is this heaven void of light as in the unbeliever or does it burn with a brightness that lights your way in this world?" Do others see you walking in this light, as evidenced by works of grace, or do they see you stumble in darkness, producing works of the flesh?
It is with this concept of heaven that the scripture speaks:
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
It is God who works in you... Therefore, your works of grace, are the evidence of your salvation, that Christ is in you - the hope of glory.
From what I have written here you can see 4 types of heaven.
1) The atmosphere where clouds move
2) The outer sphere where the planets, moon, sun, stars, etc. are
3) The other dimensional heaven where God, angels and other spirits dwell
4) The kingdom of heaven (the kingdom of God) that is within you.
My prayer for you is that your "heaven within" be full of light.
Author: Joseph Raymond
Friday, February 02, 2001
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