Heaven — Does it exist? Yes, in fact, There are Three Heavens
Heaven is where many want to go and want to know where it is. According to the Bible, there are three heavens, each with a reason and a role.
Summary: We looked at In the beginning and saw that it’s in beginning, one of an unspecified number of beginnings. The beginning here in Genesis 1.1 involved bara, the type of creation only God can do. The rest of chapter 6 of Origin of the Universe then proceeded to show from the Biblical Hebrew that this beginning referred to here is Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago. A process that leads to the established of Earth some 4.5 billion years ago.
The question arises: Was anything taking place on Earth between 4.5 billion years ago and more recently when life appeared on our planet, depending on how you define life, in the ocean some 3.5 billion years and on land some 600 million years ago. Dinosaurs are dated about 250 million years ago, all by scientific methods based on the age of fossils. Many disagree with this and even the age of Earth. I’m just giving you some general scientific information as benchmarks.
Origin of the Universe, chapter 7.1
As we start chapter 7, I remind you that Biblical Hebrew is the basis of this study. To follow along you should understand the 7 Keys to Master Biblical Hebrew (this is a short but must read) and the free online tools used to apply this method at UnlockBibleMeaning.com
We discussed the meaning of the word bara at the beginning of the explanation of the Big Bang. I pointed you to Strong’s H1254. By now, you’re aware of the fact that a Biblical Hebrew word contains composite meanings. Just reread Strong’s entry:
בָּרָא bârâʼ baw-raw’; a primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes):
KJV — choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).
This word bara contains all the incredible qualities (some would say complexities, some would say beauty) of Biblical Hebrew. I want to draw your attention to one of them here. Notice two KJV translations: cut down and make (fat). Therein lies what I’ve explained about the same Hebrew word meaning one thing, and it’s opposite! Creation can involve both making fat and cutting down. That might sound a little perplexing, and I shall explain it, but not now (patience). So when we see bara, how do we know if it’s cutting down or making fat? Here’s an anecdote.
We’re in the opening sentence of the Bible, and Galacti recalls hearing a story about the Biblical Hebrew word bara translated created. In 1880 there was a visionary named Ben Yehuda who foresaw the day Jews would return to Israel and speak Hebrew. At his time, there was no modern Hebrew; it was a dead language, only Biblical Hebrew existed. He set about the daunting task of shaping modern Hebrew and succeeded. To do so, he took biblical roots (like bra) that fit with concepts and adapted them. For instance, there was no word for health, so he associated this with creation — bara and came up with briaot, which uses the same root. In Israel, when someone sneezes, you say lebrioot, to your health or, as we’d say in English, bless you, using the creation root.
This story illustrates an inherent trait of bara, that when God creates something when He starts, it is healthy, strong, well, We would expect nothing less of the Creator as confirmed by this context:
18 For thus says the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he has established it, he created (1254) it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.
Bara is used elsewhere in the Bible (1 Samuel 2:29) with the concept of fat, or well off, or prosperous. What’s the point of all this explication?
When God created the heavens and Earth via Big Bang, He made them fat, prosperous, and in good health. In other words, the creation, when looked at, was fabulously beautiful. Words fail to communicate just how magnificent God’s creation glistened.
Notice the reaction of the angels who were present at that time of this creation (Yes, the fairytale states that there are angels and that they have a vital role to play. May I remind you that a fairy is an enchanting, magical, ethereal, spirit creature that can take on female, male, good, and evil characteristics in the form of dwarfs, elves, goblins, and demons), “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone — while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4–7).
Much could be said about these verses which fit the Big Bang explanation I’ve given you. For the time being, I want you to keep in mind the splendor and radiance of this creation. If you were a master builder with unlimited means at your disposal, wouldn’t you create a masterpiece of a building? Of course, you would.
Heavens and earth
As the author of the series The Explanation, I’m now going to take the big plunge. From what I’ve written at the outset of Origin of the Universe, and previously, you see why I’ve led you into the Bible, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. You now know where I’m coming from and what my convictions are. Let me say that I’m not asking you to believe anything here, nor change anything in your lifestyle, nor adhere to anything, it’s your life. My goal is to give you what I consider The Explanation, you take it or leave it or consider it.
I’m putting this interlude here for one reason; from this page on, I will not use fairytale anymore. I will refer to what the Bible states, and let you draw your conclusions. Why do I say this at this point? Because we’re talking about God’s creation of the heavens. Well, regarding heavens, there’s a prolific biblical author named Paul, who tells of an episode in his life in one of the books entitled 2 Corinthians.
He wrote. “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). This verse is in the New Testament, written after Christ’s experience on earth (yes, we’ll discuss all of that). Paul used the term third heaven as part of the description of an experience he had. I don’t know where or how this term came to be, I have no proof to show for this particular verse and if you look at it isolated, out of context, yes, I agree, it’s bizarre, and we might want to consider getting Paul a straight-jacket.
But, I look at it as one small piece in a massive puzzle. This piece in isolation makes no sense at all, but when I fit it beside all the other pieces, it adds to the narrative and increases comprehension. Why? Because it tells us there are three heavens, it explains why the term heavens, in Genesis 1, is plural, although this 3rd Heaven is not included in the heavens of Genesis 1 because the 3rd heaven is spiritual. The heavens created in Genesis 1 are physical, relating to our universe. We shall discuss the 3rd Heaven because it is God’s abode and plays a crucial role in His plan, but that’s for later.
For now, in Gen. 1, we see God created the heavens. Below in Genesis and Ezekiel, we see a couple of verses equating heaven with what we call outer space, which is associated with the 2nd heaven. Deuteronomy refers to our atmosphere, which is the 1st heaven.
Genesis 1:14 (outer space)
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Ezekiel 32:8 (outer space)
All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and set darkness upon thy land, says the Lord God.
Deuteronomy 28:23 (earth’s atmosphere)
And your heaven that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron.
Beyond the stratosphere is outer space, this comprises the second heaven. For all practical purposes, this contains the rest of the universe, including our galaxy’s planets, the sun, and the moon. “God made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the firmament of heaven (shamayim-H8054) to give light on the earth” (Gen. 1:16–17). This space is an expanse hostile to humankind, which we are exploring with great hopes for the future. Few have ventured into this inhospitable area, and when they do, they must take extra special precautions.
What we would refer to as earth’s atmosphere constitutes the first heaven; this is the environment that encircles and protects our planet. To our knowledge, it is specific to our globe, and, as I pointed out in Inventory of the Universe 2.6, its exact atmospheric composition is what allows the existence of life on earth. Change one iota, and we’re in trouble as confirmed by the greenhouse effect.
I’ll add here that there are dozens of Bible verses referring to each of these three heavens as to many of the other concepts we’ll be addressing. I’ll only quote one or two simply for the sake of brevity. Still, I invite you to use a concordance or lexicon to study the entirety of these verses, often getting an even more detailed comprehension of each piece of the puzzle. Just keep in mind that each piece is not isolated; it is only one piece of the whole.
And if I may say so, the whole picture is the real reality, not the single piece. Even if you can identify and know what an exhaust pipe is, the real reality is when it’s in its proper place doing its proper job in a car. Likewise, with each of the 30.000 parts, each one’s got a story to tell and role to play — but the real story is when you put them all together correctly and can drive your family to the beach.
The Explanation is intended to give you this framework. OK, you don’t agree, that’s fine. Pick up the challenge of coming up with your Explanation.
And this brings us down to earth. Genesis 1.2, the next verse, begins to describe our planet, Earth. In other words, this concise Bible introduction broaches major subjects but gives no explanations: The beginning, God, creation, or even the heavens. I expanded on Big Bang and heavens because I want you to understand the value of the Biblical Hebrew language and corroborative Biblical contexts. I want you to understand the method The Explanation is adopting But, at this starting point, the Bible is blank on these subjects. We’ll see why.
Genesis 1.1 skips all the preliminaries and parachutes the reader right onto planet Earth, where we reside right now. That’s where the Author is drawing our attention. That’s where humankind’s story takes place.
This article is an excerpt from chapter 7.1 of the book Origin of the Universe.
Check what I wrote here: Bara is used elsewhere in the Bible (1 Samuel 2:29) with the concept of fat, or well off, or prosperous.
Go over to UnlockBibleMeaning.com and find 1 Samuel 2:29, switch to Strong’s, and verify that the English word fat is indeed H1254 the same as bara. Here it’s used merely as a descriptive. There’s no actual creation taking place.
At UnlockBibleMeaning.com, check out the contexts for heavens in Genesis 1.1. Use Strong’s to locate the other verses with the same Biblical Hebrew word shamayim. Read the scriptures and see whether they refer to the first, second, or third heaven.
Study and begin to see the contours of the Bible pieces we are going to be assembling.
You can read all of the book Origin of the Universe online. Sam blogs weekly at TheExplanation.com The Explanation masters Biblical Hebrew to help you unlock more in-depth Bible meaning. Free tools to read and study the Bible online.