Biblical Heaven – What Is It?
In this post, we will be talking about the doctrine of biblical heaven — what it is, and where it is — but at the outset I want to bring your attention to a verse in the Bible that is critical to our attempts to accurately understand the Scriptures, including the doctrine of heaven. This Scripture tells us the purpose for the Bible – why it was written and what it should be used for:
All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16)
Conspicuous by its absence in this verse is any mention of literal history. This verse does not say to us that the Bible is profitable for telling us how the material world came to be. No, the Bible is a book about spirituality. Its aim is to instruct us in righteousness, to reprove us and to correct us in matters concerning the spiritual. It is about spiritual doctrine. The Bible, along with ALL of the “things of God” is to be interpreted spiritually, rather than naturally (1 Cor. 2:14). You will need to keep this in mind as you read this article.
The biblical concept of heaven, on the surface and from a literal standpoint, seems so simple. God is in heaven and man is on earth. God lives “up there,” while man lives “down here” (on a literal earth).
But is it really so simple?
The primary reason for our inability to understand the Scriptures, including the doctrine of heaven, is our insistence on reading them from a literal (i.e., natural) perspective. However, the Scriptures say this about trying to understand the things of God from a natural perspective:
But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)
The doctrine of heaven is no different than any other biblical doctrine. We must understand its spiritual significance if we are to derive any spiritual benefit from the doctrine.
We need eyes that see and ears that hear.
By instilling fear in you, man has the ability to control you. Yet, you are free; you just don’t realize it yet. Fear is a part of the great biblical concept of Egyptian bondage. You will learn over the course of time that there is nothing to fear, despite what we have always been taught.
“Cursed be the man that trusts in man” (Jer. 17:5)
The doctrine of heaven is a critical concept to understand if we are to progress along the spiritual path, because it has everything to do with your being created in the image and likeness of God, which is the purpose for the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. YOU are the creation of the Bible.
The Bible tells us that WE are the temple of God, and that “the spirit of God dwells in us” (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; 19). The Bible further tells us that it is “Christ IN YOU” that is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Further, the Bible also says that “God is a spirit” (John 4:24). Therefore, a better phrase would be “the spirit that is God dwells in you” (the word “of” in the above verses is a preposition that is translated in many different ways throughout the New Testament, and the translators translated it in the way that made the most sense to them, albeit in many cases, incorrectly).
It is critical to note here that far from simply noting that you are where God and Christ dwell, the Scripture here is also defining for you the Old Testament Temple that Solomon built. The Scripture is telling you that YOU are that temple. It is the Bible interpreting itself, and if the Bible interprets itself, all we have to do is search out the definitions – we do not have to create our own. This is all part of the great spiritual mystery. Hopefully, by the end of this article it will all make a little more sense to you.
This book is not about history, but about spirituality, and so the Old Testament doctrine of the Temple of God has nothing to do with a literal building. It is describing YOU from the standpoint of your spiritual journey toward being created in the image and likeness of God.
The most critical thing you need to understand about the New Testament is that it explains the Old Testament, rather than does away with it, contrary to popular opinion and belief. All of the doctrines of the Old Testament apply to us today, but they are codified – written in symbols. Once we begin to understand the symbols, it becomes easier and easier to understand. To understand all of this a little more in-depth, please refer to my video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C5OLc3xihs
Christ and God, as you understand if you have studied my materials to this point, are powers that reside within us, as the Scriptures forcefully assert. If that is the case, then the doctrine of a literal heaven “up there” where God dwells is either a contradiction within the Scriptures themselves, in which case we cannot trust them, or it is a misunderstanding by our religious teachers.
So let’s begin to take a look at biblical heaven, and let’s see if we can determine what it really is. We will start by laying out the groundwork for this study. We will first take a look at the Scriptures that deal with the subject of God’s dwelling place. This is very important in order for us to make sense out of what seemingly makes no sense. At the end of this study, you will be astonished to know the true nature of heaven, and how it ties in to your spiritual development.
First, the Bible proclaims that God’s dwelling place is in heaven:
And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive. (1 Kings 8:30)
Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, thou only, know the hearts of all the sons of men). (1 Kings 8:39)
Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name. (1 Kings 8:43)
The Bible also says that YOU are God’s dwelling place, that YOU are the house of God, that YOU are the temple of God:
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Rom. 8:9)
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2 Cor. 6:16)
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Heb. 3:6)
The house of God is called the temple of God:
Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who [was] shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee. (Neh. 6:10)
One [thing] have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. (Ps. 27:4)
Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. (Dan. 5:3)
The “house of God” is “in Jerusalem”:
And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:4)
And [some] of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: (Ezra 2:68)
Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. (Ezra 3:8)
Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God at Jerusalem: and with them [were] the prophets of God helping them. (Ezra 5:2)
And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter [and] to destroy this house of God at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed. (Ezra 6:12)
So shall ye know that I [am] the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. (Joel 3:17)
The Scriptures also inform us that God will dwell on the earth (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chr. 6:18; Rev. 5:10) (the earth spoken of in the Scriptures is NOT planet earth, I deal with that concept here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHfSM9fMcQA).
God’s throne is in heaven:
The LORD [is] in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne [is] in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the sons of men. (Psa. 11:4)
Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (Zech. 6:13)
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: (Matt. 5:34)
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (Rev. 7:15)
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. (Rev. 16:17)
((Take note of the phrase “temple of heaven,” because it is a critical phrase as it relates to the understanding of biblical heaven. It clues us to the fact that the temple of God is in heaven.))
God’s throne is in his house:
And I will fasten him [as] a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. (Isa. 22:23)
Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? (Isa. 66:1)
Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? (Acts 7:49)
Zion IS Jerusalem:
Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD. (Psa. 135:21)
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. (Isa. 30:19)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zech. 9:9)
The city of Zion is the mountain of God, Mt. Zion:
[[A Song [and] Psalm for the sons of Korah.]] Great [is] the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, the mountain of his holiness. (Psa. 48:1)
In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which [was] as the frame of a city on the south. (Eze. 40:2)
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, (Rev 21:10)
So let’s recap here. First, the Bible proclaims that God’s dwelling place is in heaven. It also says that YOU, who are the house and the temple of God, are God’s dwelling place. The “house of God” (YOU) is in Jerusalem. God’s throne is in heaven. God’s throne is in his house (and YOU are that house). It also tells us that Zion IS Jerusalem, and that the city of Zion is the mountain of God, Mt. Zion.
Are these contradictions? Many of our religious teachers infer from all this that God dwells everywhere.
I know this is a lot to digest, and I’m sure you will have to read this over and over again until it sinks in, but it is worth the energy because quite frankly, your spiritual life depends on it.
Now what can we learn about biblical Jerusalem? Is it a literal city in the Middle East, or is there a spiritual connotation attached to biblical Jerusalem? Remember that ALL of the things of God are to be spiritually discerned. In addition, the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.
I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD. (Psa. 116:19)
And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, (2 Chr. 20:5)
To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem. (Psa. 102:21)
Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together. (Psa. 122:3) (cf. Eph. 2:21: “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21).)
Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD. (Psa. 135:21)
Virtually the entire religious community sees the biblical cities as literal, primarily because in the attempts by the spiritual writers to confound the wise, they use historical names, places and things as part of the overall allegory; but in the Bible these things have vastly different meanings than they do from the secular, or natural, perspective. The emphasis on the salvation of literal Israel, for example, has completely blinded the minds of our religious leaders to the spiritual truths that the allegory of Israel represents.
What, then, is biblical Jerusalem?
YOU are biblical Jerusalem.
YOU are the bride that Christ the bridegroom is coming to marry.
Let’s take a look at this. Remember, YOU are the temple of God.
New Jerusalem – The Bride of Christ that Comes Down out of Heaven
The Scripture says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature:
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)
Notice the phrase in this verse, “old things are passed away,” because it is significant as we read the following verses:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth ((**the old things**)) were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God OUT OF HEAVEN, prepared as a BRIDE adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. (Rev. 21:1-3)
Now you saw above that Mt. Zion is the holy city where God dwells, that it is where the temple is located, and that YOU are that temple. It is YOU who are being created in the image and likeness of God that is the “new creation.” You are in the process of being created anew. This is all spiritual, NOT literal or historical. The Bible is a spiritual book. It is not a history book, or a book to be taken literally. It is the spiritual writers informing you of who you are and how you best function. It is the spiritual writers showing you the path to the “Kingdom of God,” where you meet God (inside yourself), and what happens after you meet God.
This New Jerusalem is called the “bride of Christ.” If you have read this far, it should be crystal clear that we are not talking about a literal city. This is a spiritual city within you. This should not be such a difficult concept to grasp once you understand that …
… The Kingdom of God is Within You
One of the most important verses in the entire Bible is Luke 17:21:
Neither shall they be declaring `Lo! here!’ or `Lo! there!’ for lo! the kingdom of God is inside of you” (Luke 17:21 CLV)
This one verse defines virtually everything you have read in this article to this point. God rules in his kingdom, God sits on his throne in his kingdom. God’s throne is in heaven. New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, comes down out of heaven, where God’s kingdom and God’s temple is. God’s throne is in heaven, where God’s kingdom is. YOU are the temple of God, and the spirit that is God dwells IN YOU! Christ comes in YOUR flesh, (1 John 4:2-3) and “greater is he that is IN YOU, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). This is why the Apostle Paul “labors in travail until Christ be formed IN YOU.”
((Note: Who is the Apostle Paul and what does he represent? The Scripture both asks and answers this question in the same verse, and we will deal with it at a future point, but I wanted to share this extremely critical verse with you – a verse you probably have never seen before: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man” (1 Cor. 3:5). Indeed EVERYONE has a Paul within him. Much more about this in a future post.))
A kingdom has cities, nations, peoples and tongues. The allegory of the Kingdom of God shows all of this to be inside you. You cannot understand these things from a literal perspective. “The letter kills (spiritually), but the spirit gives life (spiritually).”
What is Heaven “Above”
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above (H5921) the firmament: and it was so (Gen. 1:7).
Strongs H5921 (Hebrew “al”) is a preposition the translation of which is left to the reader. What is so interesting about this particular preposition is that in the King James Version this word occurs 48 times in 48 verses, while the Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC), through the ISA (Interlinear Scripture Analyzer), shows it to be occurring a whopping 5,779 times in 4,889 verses! This means that, in general, either the KJV translators virtually never translated that word into its corresponding English texts, or the Strong’s Concordance writers omitted the number for the Hebrew word in the overwhelming majority of its occurrences.
In the New Testament, the corresponding Strong’s number is G1909 (Greek “epi”) and it occurs 896 and 898 times in the KJV and ISA, respectively. In looking at the ISA, the dominant English translation is either “on” or “over,” and there is no authority that directs this word to be translated as “above” (as in “atmosphere”). The same word is used in the following two Scriptures:
One God and Father of all, who [is] above (G1909) all, and through all, and IN YOU ALL. (Eph. 4:6)
But Christ as a son over (G1909) his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Heb. 3:6)
In both of the above instances, the word denotes authority, as opposed to location.
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power (Ps. 150:1).
The firmament that is heaven is God’s sanctuary (H6944). The sanctuary is the “firmament of his power.” Note that this sanctuary is built within the temple – YOU:
Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD. (1 Chr. 22:19)
Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion. (Psa. 20:2)
Thy way, O God, [is] in the sanctuary: who [is so] great a God as [our] God? (Ps. 77:13)
For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth (Ps. 102:19) ((**Note: This scripture is informing you, as are other scriptures noted above, that the sanctuary is in heaven, that it is in the temple, and that both of them are in the same place – IN YOU.**))
And in the day that he goeth into the sanctuary, unto the inner court, to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering, saith the Lord GOD. (Eze. 44:27)
They who have ears to hear, let them hear.
I hope you are seeing the picture here. You meet God within yourself, in the sanctuary, which is in the temple, which is in heaven, which is in you. You cannot understand these things without understanding Bible symbology. Thankfully, as I indicate above, the Bible explains its symbols; we just have to learn how it does that.
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Until next time, this is Paul Young saying, flee from the crowd and dwell with the Christ within you. Christ IN YOU, your hope of glory.