Thinking of Home: What is Heaven? 3
There seems to be no waning, diminishing or weakening of people’s interest in the topic or subject of heaven. Movies continue to be produced about it, books continue to written concerning it. Recent books, Christian and non-Christian, seek to give increasing insights into the subject. One such book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander is #9 on the Top Ten most popular non-fiction books in America’s Public Library’s.
Why this continuing interest in heaven? I recently asked some people and these are the answers they gave: The hope of seeing loved ones again; no more pain and suffering; to see Jesus.
While it recently has become very popular for people to formulate their views of heaven from recent fiction and non-fiction books, I submit that our study of heaven will derive from one book: the Bible. We will see what the Bible has to say about heaven. Let me tell you at the outset, the Bible says a lot about this subject.
To begin with, heaven is… A Physical Reality Created by God. There are three primary meanings for heaven. The usual Hebrew word for “heavens” is shamayim, a plural form meaning “heights,” “elevations” (Gen. 1:1; 2:1).
It may mean the physical universe. The phrase “heaven and earth” is used to indicate the whole universe ((Gen. 1:1; Jer. 23:24; Acts 17:24).
Genesis 1:1- “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 2:18-19. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature that was its name. (Genesis 2:18-19, ESV)
Genesis 7:1-3. Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. (Genesis 7:1-3, ESV)
Genesis 7:23. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. (Genesis 7:23, ESV).
Psalm 8:6-8. Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:5-9, ESV)
Jeremiah 23:23-24 - “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him declares the Lord? Do I not fill heaven and earth declares the Lord?”
Lamentations 4:19. Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains; they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
Acts 17:24-25. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24-25, ESV).