Just some questions about heaven

(Hein) #1

Hi I don’t know if the questions are really bible questions but I thought it was interesting to think about this.
The questions are clearly not of any salvific importance, but fun to think about. I would presume that a lot of speculation will ensue because I don’t think I have come across any of the answers in the bible. I know that there are a lot of very intelligent people on this platform that may have a way of looking at these questions.

  1. When did God create the heavenly beings? (Before, during or after the creation of the universe)
  2. When did God create heaven? (Is heaven just where God dwells?)
  3. Is heaven a place a state(like a state of mind) or both?
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(Jimmy Sellers) #2

Believe it or not you are not the only person to think on this. I have a link to the Bible project that will touch on this subject.

and this one.

If you are interested in a deep dive I would recommend anything by Michael Heiser. This book is very well received.

On the matter or heaven this too is an interesting discussion. I come from a very conservative protestant denomination and have been taught heaven is place were we (believers)go when we die.
There are people that would argue that this not a scripturally supported belief but a Platonic belief that we (believer) are not called out of this world but we are saved for this world to rule and to reign with Messiah and to participate in the world to come the olam ha-ba. This belief is predicated on understanding Temple theology and the Sabbath as God intended purpose for this world that he will Take up residence in the midst of his creation so that we would be his people and he would be our God.

Hope this gives you food for thought.

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(Lindsay Brandt) #4

Hello, @Hein! As it turns out there is actually some biblical evidence for at least some of your questions :slight_smile:. As for your first question, “When did God create the heavenly beings?,” the passage that came to mind for me was Job 38:4-7. Whenever “sons of God” is referred to in the Old Testament, despite objections raised because of one instance in Genesis, it is speaking of the angels or heavenly beings. Though these stanzas in Job are poetic, in this case it is probably safe to say that the heavenly beings were indeed there when God created the universe (the heavens and the earth).

I do not think there are any answers in the Bible as to when God created heaven. I think heaven is indeed the place where God dwells.

For your third question, heaven is not a state of mind. There is plenty of evidence in the Bible that heaven is a place, whether that is the place where God dwells (simply put) or the place where the angels dwell. Here is a link to a brief but informative article you might like:

Let me know your thoughts!

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(Brian Lalor) #5

@Jimmy_Sellers Would you please point me in the right direction to find information about the sabbath as God intended?

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(Jimmy Sellers) #6

I am sorry for the delayed reply. I had to think how to give an answer that would make sense. I think it would be easier for me to explain my journey/understanding of Sabbath and the day of rest.
I have been taught that Sunday was the day of rest and we as believers were to gather as a corporate body (the church) to worship and praise the God of the Bible in teaching, in song and in preaching. It was/is a time for reflection for prayer for the sharing of personal as well as community needs. It was/is a way to remind the community at large that we identified with Jesus and his door was/is always open for those in the need of a remedy. We believe that that remedy is best introduced at the cross. We still do this and as far as I know it will be done till Jesus returns.

As a side note, I live in South Carolina and for years Sunday was a day of rest even if you disagreed and this was enforced by what we called Blue Laws. Generally speaking, there was no commerce allowed on Sunday except what was deemed essential. Think Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy (PS there was not penalty of death in the Blue Laws).

Years later I was introduced to John Walton’s books on Genesis and on the ANE. He introduced me to the idea of creations as the Temple, the place were God lives, and that Gen 2:1-3 would not have understood as God need to rest i.e. he was tired or that he had other things to do or he was waiting for the next event. The culture of that day would have understood this to mean that on the 7th day God was moving in to his Temple/creation. Walton put it this way this is excerpt from NT Wrights, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Vol. 1, p. 560).

“John Walton. In his Genesis commentary, and another short related book, he explains that, to anyone familiar with near eastern culture of the period, a story of a six-day divine construction project ending with the deity ‘resting’ would be seen, without hesitation or puzzlement, as the building of a Temple into which the deity would enter to ‘take up residence’. The ‘rest’ would not be seen as a relaxation, a ‘time off’ after a long week’s work. It would be seen in terms of ‘entering to reside’, ‘taking possession of this house, in order to begin living and working there’. Walton cites Psalm 132, which nicely joins temple-building, ‘rest’ in terms of habitation and work from within the new home, and the establishment from there of the messianic kingdom”

Take time to read Ps 132:13-18 and I think you start getting the connection.

Now to the 2nd Temple period of Paul’s day. Paul as a Pharisee was totally committed to Temple and Sabbath with the full expectation of “that great day” the day God would make good his promise to rescue his creation. An excerpt from NT Wright’s book PFG (Vol. 1, p. 560).

“The coming age, however, will be the time of freedom, and some of us have begun to think that maybe that coming age is being secretly inaugurated as we develop and pass on the oral law and do our best to keep it. Maybe that’s the way God’s faithfulness is being revealed. Meanwhile, we are frustrated that the great biblical laws about jubilee have usually been honoured in the breach rather than the observance."

My understanding is historical when things got tough the people when back to the law. When things were good the law was not as important.

This is the hope of any 2nd temple 1st century Pharisee. (PFG Vol. 1, p. 560)

“We who keep the sabbath very carefully week by week are hoping and praying for the great Sabbath, the time when our God will have completed the work of rescuing Israel, and we can enjoy ‘rest’ like Joshua’s people did once the land was settled”

This thought of a “new age” was part of the fabric of the 2nd temple Pharisees worldview. Again, from PGF (Vol. 1, p. 178).

“It is time for ‘messianic time’, for a new kind of time, for the same thing to happen to our time and history as happens in space and matter when we go to the Temple: an intersection of our world with God’s world, of our time with God’s time. That’s what happens every week, every sabbath. We want all those times of rest to come rushing together as the true Jubilee, the real freedom-moment, not just because we want a new exodus but because we want to share God’s ultimate rest, the joy of work complete.”

And from the Mishna:

10:1 A All Israelites have a share in the world to come,
B as it is said, Your people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever; the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified (Is. 60:21).
C And these are the ones who have no portion in the world to come:
D (1) He who says, the resurrection of the dead is a teaching which does not derive from the Torah, (2) and the Torah does not come from Heaven; and (3) an Epicurean.
Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (p. 604). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

So, what does the coming together of these two realms and these two times look like. NT Wright from PFG (Vol. 4, p. 559).

“The two ages, the ‘present age’ and the ‘age to come’, thus come to look one another in the eye. To put it in the pregnant words of Giorgio Agamben,
two times enter into the constellation the apostle called ho nyn kairos [the present time] … Messianic time is a summary recapitulation of the past … This recapitulation of the past produces a plērōma, a saturation and fulfilment of kairoi (messianic kairoi are therefore literally full of chronos, but an abbreviated, summary chronos), that anticipates eschatological plērōma when God ‘will be all in all.’ Messianic plērōma is therefore an abridgment and anticipation of eschatological fulfilment.
Agamben suggestively joins this Pauline motif with the rabbinic explanation of ‘the seventh day’ in Genesis 2:2: for the rabbis, as for the church Fathers, the sabbath
constituted a kind of small-scale model for messianic time … Saturday—messianic time—is not another day, homogeneous to others; rather, it is that innermost disjointedness within time through which one may—by a hairsbreadth—grasp time and accomplish it.”

Now we come to the sorting out of the of 2nd Temple view and Paul’s realization that the resurrected Messiah, Christ Jesus, is the convergence of these two monumental cosmic events. NT Wright again from (PFG Vol. 1, p. 561).

“This convergence points to the completion of the new creation in terms of the full indwelling of God in the Messiah himself and then, by his spirit, in his people. The explosion of meaning (Agamben’s phrase) latent in Ephesians 1:10 should then be given a full and generous exegesis. This is the great Sabbath, the time when all the fullness of God has been pleased to dwell in the Messiah to establish the new creation, and now to indwell it by his spirit and to enable the rule of the Messiah himself over the new creation, uniting things in heaven and things on earth. The final worldview-question reveals the final worldview-redefinition. The time is Now. God’s Now.”

I hope I haven’t totally messed this up in trying to explain.

(Brian Lalor) #7

Thank you very much for taking the time to put this together. I will be meditating on this during my time alone with Father. Much appreciated @Jimmy_Sellers