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Heaven

The concept of Heaven is entrenched in our literature, our culture and our thinking. Every person has a deep inner desire to go to Heaven, but the question arises, where is Heaven located? What is Heaven like? How do I get There?

The Bible has much to say about Heaven and we are told in Genesis 1:8 that, “God called the firmament Heaven.” Is Heaven no greater than the firmament, which is the lower part of the earth’s atmosphere? Is this the same Heaven found in Genesis 1:1 which says, In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. Could there possibly be more than one Heaven? Paul speaks about being taken up to the Third Heaven for we read in 2 Corinthians 12:2, “God knows, such a one was caught up to the Third Heaven.” It becomes evident upon analysing and comparing the various passages of scripture that the Bible is describing three Heavens (see Figure 1).

The Hebrew word for Heaven is Shomayim. It is a noun that is always in the plural. It is used to describe each of the three Heavens. All three Heavens reflect the Trinity of God. They are in reality One Heaven with three distinct components.

The First Heaven

From the vantage point of Man standing on the earth, the first Heaven that one observes is the firmament. Genesis 1:8 says, “God called the firmament Heaven.” We read in Psalm 19:1b, “The firmament shows God’s handiwork.” When one observes the beautiful mountains, the sweeping prairies, the vast desert areas, the lush, beautiful vegetation of the tropics, one is beholding what the Bible is referring to as the “First Heaven.” It is literally teaming with plant and animal life of all descriptions. It is that portion of our Earth that is able to sustain life. It encompasses the oceans with all its aquatic life, and the biosphere where you and I dwell. Every breath of air that we breath is a gift from the First Heaven. It is a beautiful place, that is very much alive.

The Second Heaven

The Second Heaven is the physical universe. The very first verse of the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). From the vantage point of the earth looking out into space, all the heavenly bodies including the sun, moon and stars are included with this Heaven. The psalmist briefly describes this Heaven, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him,” (Psalm 8:3). The Second Heaven includes the millions of galaxies, quasars, pulsars, solar systems, spheres of all descriptions and sizes in this vast area called the universe.

The fact that God is present throughout the universe makes it very much alive. The Bible is very clear that God’s holy angels are contiually commuting back and forth from the Third Heaven to the earth and always for a specific purpose. It is also possible that God’s holy angelic beings are being delegated by God to various parts of the universe for specific purposes. For instance when Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, an angel appeared to the Sheperds announcing the good news that a Saviour had been born who is Christ the Lord. This was followed by a great company of the heavenly hosts who were praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2: 8 -14).

The Third Heaven

The Bible describes the Third Heaven as God’s home. Paul tells about an experience of having been caught up into the Third Heaven for we read, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the THIRD HEAVEN,” (11 Corinthians 12:2). in the context of this chapter, we realize Paul was literally taken up into the Third Heaven. He was taken to Paradise. This is where the Heavenly Mount Zion is located. This is where our prayers ascend. This is where God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father, continually interceding on our behalf. This is the Mission Control centre of the universe. God has complete control over the entire universe and over all creation from the Third Heaven. He knows exactly what is taking place at every place at all times.

The Third Heaven is God’s home and is very much alive. The Bible gives many references to the beauty and grandeur of this Heaven. In Psalm 48: 1-3 we read, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whloe earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. God is in her citadels.” Then we read in Hebrews 12:22-24, “You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whoe names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Able.”.

The only part of reality that is detectable by our five senses is the physical universe. We as finite human beings are able to see and observe the First and Second Heavens, but we are unable to see or discern the Highest Heaven, because it resides within the realm of the invisible. It is within a different frequency or dimension. According to the Bible, reality consists of both the visible and the invisible for we read, “For by Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) all things were created that are in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or rulers or authorities. All things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16&17, NIV).

The Three Heavens as One

The Third Heaven, where God dwells, is often referred to as the Highest Heaven or the Heaven of Heavens. We read in Nehemiah 9:6, “You are the Lord. You made the Heavens (second Heaven), even the Highest Heavens, and all their starry host (third heaven), the earth and all things on it, the seas and all that is in them (first heaven), and You give life to everything. The hosts of heaven worship you.” The hosts of Heaven refer to all of God’s holy angelic beings and to all human beings who have and will receive Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord. Thus, we see that the First Heaven includes the oceans as well as the earth with its great variety of life. It becomes apparent that the First and Third Heavens are very much alive. Is it possible that the Second Heaven may also be very much alive? The omnipresence of the Triune God throughout the entire universe makes it very much alive. It is also highly possible that God’s holy angels commute back and forth from the Third Heaven to various parts of the universe. We can safely say that all three Heavens are very much alive.

The Bible acknowledges God as the sole owner of the three Heavens for we read in Deuteronomy 10:14, “To the Lord your God belong the heavens (Second Heaven), the highest heaven (Third Heaven), the earth and everything in it (First Heaven).” God has total ownership of His creation by the mere fact that He is the Creator of all things. The Bible says, “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains and the creatures of the field are Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all that is in it” (Psalm 50:10-11 NIV). In other words, He owns every species and variety of animal and plant life on the earth. He has placed Man on the earth to look after and to be a good steward of all that He has made for we read, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26 NIV)

We may stand in awe at the wonders, beauty, and magnificence of God’s creation as revealed in the First and Second Heavens. However, this is only a glimpse of a far surpassing beauty, magnificence, vastness, glory and awesomeness of the Third Heaven which is God’s home and will also be our future home. If the Third Heaven appears great and glorious, how much greater, more glorious, beautiful, majestic and awesome must God be. Even reason and logic say to us that the Creator must always be greater than what He has created for we read, “The Lord is high above all nations and His glory is above the Heavens'(Psalm 113:4).

Where is Heaven Located?

Dr. Irwin Moon, producer of the Moody Institute of Science films, had the following interview about heaven with a famous physicist who had won the Nobel Prize for his achievement in the Porosity of Matter. The conversation is as follows:

Dr. Moon: Do you believe in God?

Scientist: Oh yes, in fact all scientists I know believe in God. The closer you get to the basic construction of matter, the more you know there has to be a God. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in God the way you do.

Dr. Moon: What is the difference?

Scientist: Let me ask you a question. Where is heaven located?

Dr. Moon: We used to say “up”, but now that we know the world is round, we say it is `out’ instead of `up’.

Scientist: How far is out?

Dr. Moon: I don’t know?

Scientist: Is Abel in heaven?

Dr. Moon: Yes, Abel is in heaven.

Scientist: How did he get there?

Dr. Moon: I don’t know.

Scientist: If heaven is located just beyond the range of my telescope and Abel has been travelling at the speed of light for 6,000 years, he is only a tiny portion of the distance that I have seen with my telescope. So, assuming that heaven is just beyond the range of my telescope, he has literally thousands of years yet to go before he reaches heaven.

Dr. Moon: Doctor, you have received the Nobel prize for your work in physics. You have done more than any other person to popularize the idea of the porosity of matter. Now, if your research is true, is this wall mostly space?

Scientist: yes, it’s about as porous as a breath of fresh air.

Dr. Moon: If this wall is porous and this chair is porous, why can’t I push the chair through the wall the same way I can push my fingers in between one another?

Scientist: I don’t know why you can’t push the chair through the wall. I have tried it and it won’t go through. But this I know, it is not because there is a collision of the solid particles. we assume that between the solid particles there is an electrical flux operating on opposing frequencies. To illustrate this, take two horseshoe magnets and try pushing them together, like poles against like poles. You will discover that there is a strong electrical force that keeps you from doing it. This is what the scientist is saying about opposing frequencies.

Dr. Moon: If your theory is true, would it be possible then for two earth’s to occupy the same space at the same time and neither be conscious of the other’s existence if they were perfectly synchronized by frequency so that there are no collisions?

Scientist: (after thinking a moment): Yes, not only two, but hundred’s of thousands of earth’s could occupy the very same space.

Dr. Moon: I think I have learned something very valuable from this conversation. Just this morning I was reading Ephesians 2:6, which says, “We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” To get to Heaven I may not have to move an inch. All I have to do is to change to a different frequency. 1

According to the Bible the Third Heaven is closer than we realize. There is a thin veil that separates you and I from the Third Heaven. As an example, when Stephen was stoned as a martyr, the Bible reports, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. `Look’ he said, `I see Heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55-56). Stephen was given a glimpse into the Third Heaven, or in other words into the throne room of the universe just prior to his death. This makes us aware that the Third Heaven is near at all times.

Dr. Moon presents a Biblical example when Israel and Syria were engaged in battle. the Syrian king was told that the Israeli prophet Elisha somehow knew all their battle plans. He even knew what the king had dreamed in his sleep, so they set out to capture Elisha. The next morning Elisha and his servant realized they were completely surrounded by a great host of Syrian soldiers with horses and chariots. The servant was afraid. Elisha consoled his servant and told him, “Fear not for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Lord I pray thee open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw and beheld the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (11 Kings 6:16&17). If we could translate this as follows, “Change his frequency so that he can see what is out there.” God lifted the veil so that the servant could see that God’s army was greater and more powerful than that of the Syrians.

When Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to the shepherds that were keeping watch over their flocks by night. The angel announced the birth of the Christ child. This is followed by a dramatic scene, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13&14). Once again God lifted the veil, so that the lowly shepherds could see the angels that normally would be in the realm of the Third Heaven.

How close are we to Heaven? Two thousand years ago when Jesus ascended into Heaven we read, “After this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. `Men of Galilee,’ they said, `why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into Heaven'” (Acts 1:9-11). The two angels announced Jesus entry into Heaven. In other words, Jesus entered into the Third Heaven immediately after the cloud received him out of their sight.

What is Heaven Like?

The Third Heaven, where God dwells, is a definite geographical place, a city and a dwelling place.

A Geographical Place:

Heaven is a real country, a real home and a wonderful exciting place. The Bible says, “There will be pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Heaven will not be a dull place. It will be a place where we will behold God’s glory for we read, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24). We will see Jesus in all his glory and splendour and we will be glorifying Him. Revelations 4:11 says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelations 4:11 NIV).

If the Lord should allow us to see the Third Heaven, I believe we would catch a glimpse of a most beautiful, magnificent place — a place that is far greater, bigger and more awesome than the entire universe of stars. It is a place that would encompass the earth and all the universe, then would extend into the great beyond. It is a definite geographical place of endless day, beauty and awe.

Heaven is a place of stability, security and permanence that will never pass away. This is in contrast to our earth that is insecure, unstable, continually changing. The earth, today, is a place of heartache, corruption, loneliness, hatred, murder, lust. Not any of these characteristics will be found in the Third Heaven where we will have perfect peace, safety, security. It will be a place of love, joy, peace, a place where all the fruits of the Spirit will be manifest.

The central part of Heaven will be Mount Zion in the sides of the north as described in Psalm 48:1-3, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, The joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge.” The Mission Control centre of all Heaven and earth, the throne room of the universe is found on Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.

The Prophet Isaiah was given a glimpse into the throne room of the Third Heaven when he saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. We read, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each had six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-15 NIV). The seraphs or seraphim are considered to be the highest order of angelic beings in Heaven, whereas, the Cherubim are often considered the second highest order of angelic beings. Both of these angelic beings have wings.

The Prophet Ezekiel, in chapter 1, saw the angelic cherubim situated under the firmament below the throne of God. The firmament was like the colour of an awesome crystal stretched over their heads. Above the firmament was a throne in appearance like a sapphire stone, and on the throne was the likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. The Bible says, “Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the colour of amber with the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Ezekiel 1:27-28).

There are also great multitudes of angels in Heaven. Angels are very numerous and powerful. The Bible gives many example of angels. They are numerous and powerful. They do not appear to have wings as do the Seraphim and the cherubim and often appear in the form of a man. We read in Revelations 5:11 (NIV), “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands, and tens of thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.”

A City

There is a special city in Heaven. It is called the city of the Great King, the New Jerusalem. In Revelation 21:9-27 and 22:1-5 (NIV). we read, “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city had no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light” (Revelations 21:22-23 NIV). We read, “And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be no night there. They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelations 22:1-5 NIV).

From earliest times, God has revealed glimpses of this heavenly city to Man. For example, Abraham lived about 4,000 years ago and we are told, “By faith Abraham looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrew 11:8-9).

A Dwelling Place

Heaven is God’s dwelling place or home. 2 Chronicles 30;27b (NIV) says, “God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.” Heaven is the home or dwelling place of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is the home of all angelic beings and is the future home of all believers in Christ Jesus for we read, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3). Then we are reminded in Psalm 23:6, “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The Apostle John heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God himself will live them and be their God. he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4 NIV). Then John heard Him who was seated on the throne say, “I am making everything new” (Revelation 21:5 NIV).

Heaven will be our dwelling place for all time and eternity, however, it appears that all three Heavens will become truly one Heaven with three component parts and yet without a trace of sin. God revealed to the Apostle John, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. he who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be His God anddd he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfer, This is the second death” (Revelation21:6-8 NIV). This place is referred to as the Lake of Fire or Gehenna.

It would appear that Gehenna exists within a separate frequency or dimension that is completely separate from the First, Second and Third Heavens. We read, “Then I saw a new Heaven an a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2 NIV). It appears as if the First and Second Heavens will be completely rejuvenated by God. They will then become an integral part of the Third Heaven as they were in the beginning before the origin of sin occurred.

God destroyed the world about 4,500 years ago by water by means of the Biblical Flood of Noah. He will be destroying the world the second time by fire. We read, “By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:6-7 NIV). We then read, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear ith a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the Heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10-13 NIV).

How Do I Get There?

There is only one way to get to Heaven and that is through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Likewise there is only one kind of prayer that will get you into Heaven. It is the sinner’s prayer. If a person acknowledges his sin, repents of his sin and asks Jesus to come in to his heart (life) and to forgive and cleanse him of all his sins then he will become a new creation in Christ Jesus. His name will then be written in the Lamb’s book of life for we read, “Nothing impure will enter it (Heaven), nor will anyone who does what is shamefull or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelations 21:26 NIV).

There are certain key scriptures that will lead a person step by step to the place of total assurance of salvation. They are:

  1. Romans 3:16, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
  2. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you.”
  4. Revelations 3:20 Jesus says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” This door represents the door of your heart (life). He will never force His way into your life through the door. It is necessary for you to open the door of your heart and to invite Him in.
  5. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to Me, I will in no wise turn away.”
  6. Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
  7. Romans 10:13, “For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Once you have prayerfully read these verses, then begin the thank and praise the Lord for what He has done in your life. Find a Bible look up the above verses. Begin your new life by reading the Book of John chapters 1 through 21. Read this book several times, then begin reading the Bible in a systematic way. Get involved with a Bible believing church so that you can have fellowship with other believers. This will help you to grow in your new faith.

As a word of caution, before you ever read the Bible always pray first that God’s Holy Spirit of truth and wisdom will open your eyes and mind to its correct meaning and interpretation. Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and to bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). Then Jesus says, “However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will lead you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).

Always remember that the Bible is not of private interpretation. If you try to interpret the Bible privately, you will be wrong 100% of the time. The Bible says, “Knowing this first that no prophesy of the Bible is of any PRIVATE INTERPRETATION. For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21). it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Word of God to you. It is he who exalts and glorifies the name of Jesus Christ and of our heavenly Father. It is dangerous to read the Bible without first prayerfully asking God’s Holy Spirit to reveal it to you. Then begin to thank, praise and worship the great God of Heaven and earth who has created, formed and made all things. The Bible says that when we get to Heaven, we will be worshipping Him who lives forever, “You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honour and power; for you created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11 NIV). Why wait? Why not start today to worship, honour, glorify and exalt Him? We will be continually learning more and more about His greatness, power and majesty for all time and eternity.

References

1. Downing James, “Does God Care About You”, The Navigators Log, Oct. 1971, Colorado Springs
2. All scripture references are from the New International Version or the Revised King James version of the Bible.

last updated: March 8, 2013
Copyright © 2010 Genesis International Research Association