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Definition & Description of Heaven (2 of 2)

September 10, 2013

Definition of Heaven

In the Bible the word heaven is used to refer to three places:heaven__s_light_13765932_by_stockproject1-d3p82jn

  1. The sky. Isaiah 55:10 reads, “[T]he rain and the snow come down from heaven [that is, from the sky] and do not return there but water the earth.”
  2. The space where we have the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Take Genesis 1:14-16, for instance, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens [that is, of the space] to separate the day from the night….’ And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.”
  3. The dwelling place of God. In Kings 8:30 Solomon speaks to God, “…listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place [the temple]. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” Paul calls this dwelling place “the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:23), perhaps to distinguish it from the sky (the first heaven) and from the space (the second heaven).

 

Description of Heaven 

In Isaiah 65:17-25 we have a pictorial description of heaven. Here Isaiah, as it were, is painting a picture of heaven. By poetically describing the new heaven and new earth, he is telling us what heaven looks like. Here are four descriptions of heaven from Isaiah 65:17-25:

  1. A place of indescribable joy (vv. 17-19). Verse 17 says, “[T]he former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” In heaven we cannot and will not remember the sins that we committed that brought sorrow to us in this present world. Verse 19 adds, “[N]o more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.” This verse echoes Revelation 21:4, “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” While we can cry because of joy, most of the time we cry because of pain, problems, persecution, affliction, and death. We will not need to cry in heaven in the latter sense, for suffering and separation will be absent.
  2. A place of everlasting life (v. 20). In heaven we will not grow old, get weak, and die. Death exists because sin does, “[f]or the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Since sin does not exist in heaven, death cannot and will not exist also in heaven. We can therefore sing with the hymn writer Ira Forest Stanphill (1914-1993): “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop/ In that bright land where we’ll never grow old/ And some day yonder we will never more wander/ But walk the streets that are purest gold.”
  3. A place of perfect justice (v. 22). Note verse 22: “They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat.” This verse simply tells us that in heaven crimes, cheating, and injustice will end. Thus, heaven does not need jails, prisons, soldiers, policemen, and judges. Likewise, in heaven there will be no more national or denominational divisions, for we will be under one King—the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. A place of absolute peace (v. 25). Bombing, shooting, violence, and war will cease in heaven, for we will be with Christ—the Prince of Peace. And to be with him is what makes heaven the most wonderful place.

 

Concluding Challenge

  1. Remember that only those who have the righteousness of Jesus Christ can live in heaven (2 Pet. 3:13). Do you have his righteousness?
  2. If you are a believer in Christ, remember that this present world is not your home. As one hymn states,

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

That you can’t feel at home in this world anymore simply shows that you don’t belong here, for your citizenship is in heaven. Therefore, set your mind “on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). “[L]ay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:20-21).

 

To read part 1 of this post, click here.

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