Heaven 2

Art:

I COMPLETED THIS Oil painting in my garage the Summer of 2019.  I completed three paintings with eagles.  I’ve shared the others in previous blogs. This is a simple composition—lone eagle…expansive sky…open landscape…a hint of verdant woods.  The eagle is doing what eagles were created to do.

I CHOSE THIS Oil to represent today’s key Thought—Heaven 2.  Why?   To me it represents the many ways we see, or imagine, the world in which we live.  We imagine what it might be like to silently glide though the atmosphere like the eagle.  Is there some sense in which this may make us think of heaven: Tranquility of the flight? Endless expanse above? Delightful landscape below?  All of these and much, much more?  Let’s think about that.

Thought:

My Primary Resource

LAST WEEK I stated my plan to take a few weeks in these Thursday blogs to address my personal understanding of ‘heaven’ by answering a few typically asked questions. Before launching into questions, I’m obliged to state this qualification: I’m aware that mythology, Hollywood, religions, scientists and philosophers have offered many ideas about ‘heaven’. Nevertheless, my ‘primary’ resource (and the primary resource of my ‘secondary’ sources) is the Old and New Testament of the Judeo/Christian Scriptures. While I do believe that all truth is God’s truth, any resemblance in what I share to what other than biblical sources may claim is purely coincidental.  

I am aware that my current understanding of heaven will not agree with everyone.  I’m OK with that.  I don’t claim to have all the answers.  Full understanding comes when we’re actually there! I’m excited about what I do believe I’ve been allowed to see about heaven.

What is Heaven? 

THE WORD ‘heaven’ appears 422 times in the English, New International Version (NIV) of the Old and New Testament.  Yet, not much attention is given in contemporary writing.  One volume titled Systematic Theology, contains 738 pages.  The author dedicates only one page to ‘heaven’.  Another text, Christian Theology, contains 1,302 pages. ‘Heaven is covered specifically in 10 pages. I don’t mean to be critical of these authors.  They do wonderful work on many important topics.  It does surprise me that so little has been discussed when ‘heaven’ appears 422 times in our English Bibles. [1]  It feels a little like knowing you are going to visit a foreign country. But, no one will allow you to read the many well documented brochures containing significant tips on how to plan now for the journey or what you may expect when you actually arrive. How sad is that!  Much of the joy in any trip is the knowing, planning and anticipating what’s ahead!

Heaven Defined Three Ways:

FIRST is Cosmological—to designate the entire universe or cosmos.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   Genesis. 1:1;    Also see: Matthew 5:18

SECOND is a virtual synonym for God.  To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.  John 3:27; See footnote  [2]

THIRD & most common use is the ‘abode or dwelling place’ of God.  Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  Matthew. 6:9; John 14:2

In these blogs we’ll center on the THIRD use…a ‘dwelling place of God’.

The Destination–Heaven!

Jesus said:  My Father’s ‘house’ has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  John 14:2

The Apostle Paul said: “But our citizenship is in ‘heaven’.’  Philippians 3:20a

Paul also said:  “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in ‘heaven’,” 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

“This World Is Not My Home”

This song was written in 1946 by Jim Reeves

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
Oh lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain…I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far: but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the

Philippians 1:21, 23


[1] ‘Heaven’ in the Old Testament Hebrew is [shamayim]. In the New Testament Greek, it is [ouravos].

[2] Matthew, in writing to a Jewish audience, who would not pronounce the name Yahweh, repeatedly used of the term “kingdom of heaven” where Luke in parallel passages has “kingdom of God.”  Mathew used “heaven” as a synonym for God.

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