Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Heaven (John 14:1-3)

The Bible apparently uses the word "heaven" to signify (a) the region of celestial bodies, (b) another region wherein birds fly, and (c) the place where God lives. Here are what some Bible dictionaries state about how scripture employs this word:

"In the Bible, [heaven] means primarily the region of the air and clouds, and of the planets and stars, but chiefly the world of holy bliss above the visible heavens. It is called 'the third heaven,' 'the highest heaven,' and 'the heaven of heavens,' expressions nearly synonymous. There holy beings are to dwell, seeing all of God that it is possible for creatures to see. Thither Christ ascended, to intercede for his people and prepare for them a place where all shall at length be gathered, to go no more out forever, Ephesians 4:10 Hebrews 8:1 9:24-28 (American Tract Society Bible Dictionary).

"KJV designation [heaven of heavens] rendered 'highest heaven' by most modern translations (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 2 Chronicles 6:18). According to an ancient understanding of the universe, above the canopy of the sky was a further canopy above which God dwelt. TEV understands 'heavens of heavens' as 'all (the vastness) of heaven'" (Holman Bible Dictionary).

See http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/view.cgi?n=2660

There are interesting thoughts in the online Catholic Encyclopedia too:

Where is heaven, the dwelling of God and the blessed?

Some are of opinion that heaven is everywhere, as God is everywhere. According to this view the blessed can move about freely in every part of the universe, and still remain with God and see everywhere. Everywhere, too, they remain with Christ (in His sacred Humanity) and with the saints and the angels. For, according to the advocates of this opinion, the spatial distances of this world must no longer impede the mutual intercourse of blessed.

In general, however, theologians deem more appropriate that there should be a special and glorious abode, in which the blessed have their peculiar home and where they usually abide, even though they be free to go about in this world. For the surroundings in the midst of which the blessed have their dwelling must be in accordance with their happy state; and the internal union of charity which joins them in affection must find its outward expression in community of habitation. At the end of the world, the earth together with the celestial bodies will be gloriously transformed into a part of the dwelling-place of the blessed (Revelation 21). Hence there seems to be no sufficient reason for attributing a metaphorical sense to those numerous utterances of the Bible which suggest a definite dwelling-place of the blessed. Theologians, therefore, generally hold that the heaven of the blessed is a special place with definite limits. Naturally, this place is held to exist, not within the earth, but, in accordance with the expressions of Scripture, without and beyond its limits. All further details regarding its locality are quite uncertain. The Church has decided nothing on this subject.

My Comment: Jesus spoke of his Father's "house" in which there are many abodes/mansions (KJV). Someone asked me, and I also used to wonder, if God lives in a house (a dwelling place), is it created or uncreated? If the "house" is created, then where did God live before the dwelling place was made? On the other hand, how can there be an uncreated house for Jehovah that exists everlastingly/eternally with him? Is God confined by some kind of dimensional space? I believe such questions arise because we fail to understand (grasp) things outside of our material universe. As the Apostle John wrote to first-century anointed Christians, what we'll be has not been made known to us (1 John 3:1-3).

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