Where Is the Heaven Of Scripture?

May 1, 2024
Eternal Life, Heaven

To most people, heaven is the eternal realm we enter when we leave this natural life. Heaven is thought to be the place our conscious awareness goes to when our heart stops beating, our body returns to dust, and our spirit goes back to God. (a) (See endnotes for scriptures) Many expect heaven is the eternal reward for good people, especially if you’ve responded to God’s invitation to interact and follow His guidance. (b) 

There are many questions about heaven. Since it is often described as having streets of gold and mansions on hill tops, could it be on another planet in the natural universe? Is heaven a specific part of the eternal realm? Do we only experience heaven after we physically die? Where is the heaven of Scripture?

Previews of Eternity

We are all destined to enter the afterlife, a reality beyond this natural existence. While we debate what it is like, most everyone senses there is more to our conscious existence than this life. When we physically die and are no longer consciously active in this world, we appear to the natural eye as though we are no more, because we have passed away. However, we’ve just gone into our next phase of life.  

Many ancient writings show mankind has always been aware that our consciousness endures beyond this temporal reality. Throughout history, literally hundreds of thousands of Near-Death Experiences (NDE) have been recorded. These are occasions when the heart stops, breathing ceases, and people are declared dead. Then several minutes later breath returns, the heart starts, and they consciously return to this life.

In a vast majority of these NDE reports, people consciously leave their body and enter an awareness where the light is brighter and the love is more intense than any known on earth. They see people who have died and observe earthly things like hills, streams, trees and animals. Many reports say a return to earth could not happen if a certain point was passed. This indicates they were in a transitional stage. They were intended to return and bear witness to a peaceful reality that is beyond this temporal realm.

We want to remember, the eternal realm is not like the created world with our repetitive sunrise and sunsets, because God is its light. (c) Clearly, a greater perception is entered when we are released from the limiting restrictions, constraints, and experiences of this natural realm. Scripture puts it this way:

“Just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’” (d) 

We are all destined to enter the afterlife, a reality beyond this natural existence.

A Created Condition

The first words in our Bible begin with “In the beginning (of created time) God created the heavens and the earth…and God called the expanse heaven.” (e) Did you notice the plurality of heaven? God did not ‘create’ eternity, but the heavens of our far-reaching elevations in the natural universe. The heavens are natural elevations where birds fly, clouds meander, and where planets and constellations roam. (f) 

The Old Testament Hebrew word translated ‘heaven’ is shamayim. It means “aloft, the sky, height.” The KJV translates it as ‘air’ 21 times and as ‘heaven’ 398 times. The comparable New Testament Greek ouranos means “what is above.” It is translated as ‘air’ 10 times, ‘sky’ 5 times, and ‘heaven’ 268 times. Despite our perceptions, these Hebrew and Greek words clearly speak of elevations that are above.

Our Bible declares “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (g) The heavens even have four directional sides: North, South, East and West. (h) The heavens are known to drop dew (moisture) and send fire (lightning), have hosts that are worshiped (sun, moon, stars), and capital cities ascend into their heights. (i) The Scriptural heavens are natural elevations.

God says “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (j) We are told about God “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You!” (k) Heavens in Scripture are elevated conditions, positions, and locations in this natural life.

Scripture also addresses the combined “heaven and earth,” to speak of the two-tier system of rulers and the ruled over. The Tower of Babel was built to “ascend into heaven.” (l) Obviously they could not build into eternity; they just wanted to be ruling masters. Many centuries later the King of Babylon arrogantly said: “I will ascend into heaven…and make myself like the Most High,” as above all authority. (m) Yes, the Scriptural heavens are temporal places that are ‘above us’ and do not actually speak of eternity.

Ever since the Garden of Eden temptation was accepted, “You can be like God,” (n) people have assumed they or someone should be in charge. When men take control over others, it is a corrupt effort to be like God. This type of control is what Jesus referenced when he told his generation “heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” (o) Eternity does not pass away while ruling authorities do!

Eternity does not pass away while ruling authorities do!

Life From Above

From humanity’s very beginning, God has sought to be our guiding light. His influencing reign is not like men who use fear to force us into submission. God offers to “lead and guide” (p) us in such a way that His thoughts are received “into our minds and upon our hearts.” (q) We learn to walk and live in His ways.

Further clarity comes when we translate ‘heaven’ as ‘above’. Jesus spoke often of “My Father who is from above.” (r) After the “spoken word of God” took on flesh, (s) Jesus said “I came down from above” to live as a man. (t) After his resurrection, Jesus “ascended above” (u) out of natural sight and “was seated at God’s right hand (as His authoritative arm)…above all rule, authority, power and dominion.” (v) These verses speak of Jesus as the spoken word of God, which is above all earthly power. 

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 at hand,” (w) right here, touchable, accessible.” Instead of waiting for an after-life, God invites us to look ‘up’ to Him for guidance, from above. We can know God and His ways among us and live a quality of life that is not totally limited to this world’s natural limitations.

“Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to ‘when’ the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (x) It is among you!

God’s governing influence is already in our midst. The influencing reign of God-in-Christ in our lives is available to us now. When men assume they can be in charge and rule over others, they occupy the heavens above everyone else and impose “rules for thee but not for me.” To whom and to what do we look up to for guidance? Worldly authorities frequently leave us confused or even distraught.

We want to realize the heavens we are invited to ascend into and partake of are elevated ways of living, a quality of life that is “above” the earthly norm. How often do we ask, “Father, show me what is right in this situation?” As we receive and follow God’s guidance, we experience features of “eternal life.” (y)

When we think, speak and write about God and angels coming from “heaven above,” we are appropriately trying to relate to and partake of a reality that is beyond this temporal life. So why is it assumed these Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as ‘heaven’ actually speak of the eternal realm? 

Be encouraged! We are not doomed to die before we experience heaven. God-in-Christ is with us today! Realize that “God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places,” (z) during this life. We can partake of the perspectives Christ shares with us and live “as above” the muck and mire of this world. 

Live today in this reality and stay tuned for our next blog on heaven!

The influencing reign of God-in-Christ in our lives is available to us now.

a) Ecclesiastes 12:7; b) 1 Timothy 4:10; c) Revelations 22:5; d) 1 Corinthians 2:9; e) Genesis 1:1, 8; f) Genesis 1:20-22; Genesis 1:14-18; g) Psalms 19:1) h) Jeremiah 49:36; Matthew 24:31; Daniel 8:8; i) 2 Chronicles 33:3; Amos 9:1-2; j) Isaiah 55:9; k)1 Kings 8:27; l) Genesis 11:4-6; m) Isaiah 13:1; 14:12-14; Jeremiah 51:53; n) Genesis 3:5; o) Luke 21:33; p) Psalm 23:2-3; 31:3; John 16:13; q) Hebrews 8:10; 10:16;  r) Matthew 10:32-33; 12:50; s) John 1:1-2; t) John 6:41-42; u) Acts 1:9-10; v) Ephesians 1:20-21; w) Matthew 3:2; 10:7; x) Luke 17:21; y) John 17:3; z) Ephesians 1:3; 2:6

Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder
Created To Relate author

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