Chapter Three - Defining Heaven

Before we can go any further, it will be necessary to ensure that we properly define heaven. In our English language, the word heaven can have several meanings depending upon the context in which it is used. Noah Webster gave several definitions of the word in his original 1828 American Dictionary of the English language including:

heaven n. Among Christians, the part of space in which the omnipresent Jehovah is supposed to afford more sensible manifestations of His glory. Hence this is called the habitation of God, and is represented as the residence of angels and blessed spirits.

In this sense, we must remember that while God is omnipresent (meaning he is everywhere at once), He does speak of a place that is His unique habitation. This place is called Heaven. Since God is everywhere, and there is no place where we can say God is not there, I have given Heaven the following definition:

Heaven is best described as that unique place where God and His presence dwell openly with His creation.

All things, whether physical or non-physical, were created by God. Therefore, wherever God chooses to very openly dwell in the midst of His creation can be called Heaven. “Heaven” does not describe any place where God’s presence is, but rather, that specific place where God is uniquely present and where He has afforded as Webster described, “a more sensible manifestation of His glory.” Heaven is the place that God has uniquely described as being His habitation, even though he is omnipresent:

Deuteronomy 26:15 “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.”

2 Chronicles 30:27 “Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.”

Psalm 123:1 “Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.”

Luke 11:2 “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”

Although God is everywhere at once, Heaven is God’s special and unique habitation. Since Heaven is therefore unique, it cannot be in two places at once, like God can be. Heaven is not omnipresent, only God is omnipresent. Even Heaven itself is something that God created. While God is immutable and everlasting, Heaven is not. God can change and move Heaven as he pleases, and it is evident in the Word of God that He has changed it and will change it again.

Some More Terms

Of course, the term heaven can also be used to describe the sky, atmosphere, or outer space. So, the Bible speaks of the sky where the birds fly as heaven, and also of the place where the sun, moon, and stars dwell as heaven. Of course, we use these terms still today. Since the word heaven can obviously have many meanings, it is very important to consider the immediate context of any particular passage so as not to apply the wrong definition to the word.

Usually, the context is so glaringly obvious that we automatically assume the proper definition, but it is important as we study the Bible to be certain that we accurately recognize the Biblical context.

Heaven and Earth

The phrase “heaven and earth” is essentially synonymous to our modern word, universe. When the Bible speaks of “heaven and earth” it is speaking of everything that exists in the created universe. It literally has a universal application. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says:

“It must be remembered that the Old Testament has no single word for “universe,” and that the phrase “heaven and earth” serves to supply the deficiency. The promise of a new heavens and a new earth is therefore equivalent to a promise of world renewal.”

The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary says the following:

“…[heaven] includes all that is distinguished from the earth. When employed this way, the words heaven and earth exclude one another; but when taken together the two embrace all the universe of God (Genesis 1:1).”

So, in the beginning, when God made “heaven and earth,” we understand that he framed the universe. He literally created what scientists call the space-time continuum where all matter is found.

Additionally, since the Bible gives us a promise that the existing “heaven and earth” shall pass away and there will be a “new heaven and a new earth,” then we understand that the present universe will be made completely brand new. The concept of a universe means everything—not just planet Earth. Everything will be made new.

Heaven, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens

Sometimes we read of heaven in the plural form, heavens, but it still possesses a singular meaning. Therefore the statements, “I looked up into heaven,” and “I looked up into the heavens” are identical statements. When we read in the Bible of heaven (singular) and the heavens (plural) we should recognize that they are synonymous terms like spirit and ghost.

Also, since the term heaven can be used in reference to the sky or outer space, the Bible often speaks of Heaven where God dwells as the “heaven of heavens,” so as to distinguish it from the starry heavens.

Deuteronomy 10:14 “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.”

1 Kings 8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”

These scriptures simply indicate that the entire universe cannot contain God. The starry heavens, and the heaven of heavens, which God considers his unique habitation, cannot even contain Him. He is beyond both the physical and spiritual realms. He is infinite, eternal, and divine. He is the Almighty God!

Read the First Four Chapters

Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Defeating Dualism
Chapter 3 - Defining Heaven
Chapter 4 - A Peek into Paradise

These are the Titles of the Remaining Chapters:
Chapter 5 - The Flesh and the Fall
Chapter 6 - Paradise for the Meantime
Chapter 7 - A Paradigm Shift
Chapter 8 - Paradise in the Future
Chapter 9 - The Restitution and the Regeneration
Chapter 10 - The Resurrection
Chapter 11 - The Redemption of the Earth
Chapter 12 - God Surrenders Nothing to His Enemies
Chapter 13 - Animals in Heaven
Chapter 14 - Rewards in Heaven
Chapter 15 - What Will the New Earth Be Like?
Chapter 16 - The Conclusion of the Whole Matter



Author:
Diego Rodriguez
Pages: 130
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Paperback
ISBN: 0-9788829-8-9
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