Heaven is promoted as the reward for good people, especially for those who are considered to be spiritually minded. To most, the heaven of Scripture speaks of the ‘eternity’ we enter after this natural life. Heaven seems to represent the place we go when our heart stops beating, our body returns to dust, and our consciousness enters eternity.
If that’s true, then are we doomed to death before we experience heaven?
Typically, when heaven is considered, more questions tend to come up like; Where is heaven? Is it in outer space somewhere in the universe? After all, heaven is described as having streets of gold and mansions on hill tops. Could it actually be a natural place in another galaxy? Just where is this place of bliss?
An Eternal After-Life
In this writing, part 1 of 4 focusing on the topic of Heaven, we address the question, “where” is the heaven of Scripture? With no shadow of doubt, we are all destined to enter an afterlife, an existence beyond this natural life. That subject is not debatable and we are not addressing it here.
Most ancient writings show mankind has always known an afterlife is part of our reality, where our spirit and conscious soul continues to exist. Ancient Greeks put coins in the eyes or mouth of the dead, to pay for transport into the next life. The list of such examples is vast. When we pass from this life and are no longer active in this world, we ‘appear’ to this world as though we are no more. However, we’ve just moved on.
To understand Scripture, we need to realize eternity is ‘not like’ the created natural realm. Unlike Earth with its repetitive sunrise and sunset, eternity is an existence where God is its light and clarity comes to all. Any “heaven of eternity” is not constrained by time and place restrictions. Eternity is not like this temporal realm with its ins and outs, days and nights, rights and wrongs, good and evil attitudes.
We are all destined to enter an afterlife, an existence beyond this natural life.
The Heaven of Scripture Is Different
The first words in our Bible begin with; God created the heavens and the earth (a). The created “heavens” include the air and sky where birds and clouds roam (b). Another heaven is beyond the first level, where bodies of light and constellations roam (c). The heavens speak of elevations above us that support and affect this life. [See end notes for Scriptures].
The Hebrew noun we read as heaven and heavens throughout our Bibles (shamayim 8064) means; aloft, the sky, height. It is translated in the K.J.V. as ‘air’ 21 times and as ‘heaven’ 398 times. The Greek comparative (ouranos 3772) means; that which is above. It is translated as ‘air’ 10 times, ‘sky’ 5 times, and ‘heaven’ 268 times.
When these words are translated as air and sky, they are full of birds and clouds. Additionally, Scripture says the heavens have four corners (N, S, E, W), dew drops from, fire (lightening) comes from, bread descends from, its host are worshiped (sun, moon, stars), and capitals climb into it (d). Yes, even capital cities dwell in heaven!
Why is it “assumed” these words apply to the afterlife or eternity? While God and angels dwell in and appear to come from “up or out there,” the heavens of Scripture are elevations in this world. We are even told the highest heaven cannot contain God (e).
The heaven of Scripture are elevations in this world.
From humanity’s beginnings, God has tried to be our guiding light through this natural life. How does the Eternal One convey that we can live a quality of life above this natural world’s ‘good and evil’ experiences? He uses words and visual pictures.
This becomes clearer when we realize our Bible uses the word heaven to speak of an elevated way of life, above the norm. “Heaven (above) is my throne and earth my footstool” (f). The king of Babylon (confusion) even said “I will ascend into heaven (above)…and make myself as the Most High,” above all authority (g).
Further clarity comes as we realize Jesus said; “I came down from above” (h) to live as a man. He spoke often of “My Father who is above” (i), as the authority he followed (j). After resurrecting, Jesus “ascended above” (k) and “was seated at God’s right hand above…above all power and authority” (l).
From humanity’s beginnings, God has tried to be our guiding light through this natural life.
What Guides Our Life
The heaven of Scripture is actually telling us God’s guidance can elevate the quality of our life. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God” (m), “declare His righteousness” (n), and “praise Him” (o). A “new (renewed) heavens and earth” is forecast (p), as “coming down out of heaven…making all things new” (q).
The Scriptural heavens speak of life on Earth that partakes of eternal qualities. As we know and receive God’s guidance, we experience degrees of eternal life (r). To whom and to what do we look up to for leadership and guidance? Worldly authorities frequently leave us confused or even distraught. How often do we ask, “Father, show me what is truth in this situation?”
Although ‘above’ can seem far away, God is very much within reach, as in a touch! This is why Jesus said “the Kingdom of heaven is right here,” at hand, accessible” (s). Rather than waiting for an after-life, God invites us to look ‘up’ for ‘heavenly’ guidance right now. We can know God and His ways among us, as beyond natural limitations, above us.
Rather than waiting for an after-life, God invites us to look ‘up’ for ‘heavenly’ guidance right now.
God Is With Us
Be encouraged! We are not doomed to die before we experience heaven. God-in-Christ is with us! For, God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, today (t). We can partake of the perspectives Christ shares with us, and live above the muck and mire of this world. Live today in this reality and stay tuned for our next blog on heaven!
We are not doomed to die before we experience heaven. God-in-Christ is with us!
a) Genesis 1:1, 8; b) Genesis 1:20-22; c) Genesis 1:14-18; d) Jeremiah 49:36; Daniel 8:8; 4:23; Genesis 19:14; Exodus 16:4; 2 Chronicles 33:3; Amos 9:1-2, 6; e) 1 Kings 8:27; f) Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:49; g) Isaiah 13:1; 14:12-14; Jeremiah 51:53; h) John 6:41-42; i) Matthew 10:32-33; 12:50; j) John 5:19, 30; k) Acts 1:9-11; l) Ephesians 1:20-21; m) Psalm 19:1; n) Psalm 50:6; o) Psalm 69:34; p) Isaiah 66:22; q) Revelation 20:1-5; r) John 17:3; s) Matthew 3:2; 10:7; t) Ephesians 1:3; 2:6