Trinity Lutheran Church McAlester

Is there a heaven? What’s it like?


Heavens initiated

In the beginning. It all starts here. The first verse of the whole Bible. 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 (ESV) The verses following describe God creating the universe according to his design. He established two categories: 1) heavens, and 2) earth. Reading on we see creations and separations. light created to oppose the dark. Land from water, planet from sky and outer space. Most importantly, God saw that it was good! He did not create anything evil, flawed or bad. We say: perfection!

Heaven named?

One separation with the name heaven comes in verses 6-8. 6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. Genesis 1:6–8 (ESV) Based on our world, we could understand waters above the expanse as clouds and water under the expanse as surface and sub-surface water. Because the Garden of Eden’s plants were watered from sub-surface water, some postulate that the expanse in the sky was a layer of ice that formed a protective filter for the sun’s radiation and light. Their modeling suggests a rain-free, very temperate, constant climate. The theory goes that this collapsed in the flood that happened in Noah’s time. The expanse heaven is the first heaven.

Heavens in the plural?

Good clues help us understand multiple heavens. St. Paul writes of being in the “third heaven.” 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 2 Corinthians 12:2–3 (ESV) From that day, Christians have known the third heaven as “paradise” – the place where saints go in eternal life, where God and the angels dwell. The first heaven, then, is the sky that we see – where birds fly and clouds float, water in all forms falls to the ground. The second heaven covers the universe beyond the second heaven – outer space in our minds.

Heavens is like?

We get some interesting images of the paradise heaven. Heavenly mansions, Jerusalem coming down from it, a fertile land of milk and honey. One overarching description is from Jesus. “I will make all things new.” Rev. 21:5 (ESV) “… he comes to restore.” That word, “restore” occurs 65 times in the Bible. Many Old Testament prophecies speak of restoring Israel – the name for God’s people. The bottom line is this. On the last day, Jesus makes all things new – as in the image of the Garden of Eden. The new heavens and the new earth … it’s all restored to perfection. Our bodies are resurrected along the lines of Jesus. Everything in creation — broken and corrupted by the fall into sin — restored in a perfect way. That means – the paradise heaven is the new Eden, with the heavens also made new and perfect. The Bible gives tiny clues, but St. John’s revelation doesn’t begin to find words and images to describe the new heaven no one living has seen, except Jesus.

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