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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Does Heaven Actually Exist?

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Don Stewart
The Bible teaches that death is not the cessation of our existence Everyone has been made to exist eternally. Those who follow God's provision will spend eternity in His presence. This will be their final state. The hope of the believer is to be with God in a place called heaven.

Sky Overhead

The primary meaning of the word translated "heaven" is the sky overhead. This is the meaning of the Hebrew shamaim. It from shami "the high." The word came to mean not only the vast space overhead, but the unseen mysterious world where the Creator resides. The Greek word ouranos has the same idea. Sometimes ouranos is used in the singular but there does not seem to be any real difference between the singular and plural.

Used In A Number Of Ways

The word translated "heaven" in the Bible is used in a number of ways.

1. The Universe

The word heaven is used with the word earth to mean the universe. The first verse of the Bible reads.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Thus, in the beginning, God created the universe. Since the Hebrews did not have a specific word for universe, when they wanted to express this concept they said, "heaven and earth."

2. Synonymous For God

Heaven is sometimes used as a synonym for God. Before Jesus fed the five thousand, the Bible says.

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them (Luke 9:16).

In this case, looking up to heaven is the same as saying looking to God. The wayward son said.

I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, 'Father I have sinned against heaven and before you' (Luke 15:18).

Sinning against heaven means to sin against God.

3. Actual Place And A State

The term heaven is also used in Scripture of an actual place. It is more than just a state a mind. Jesus spoke of the rooms that He has prepared.

In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).

Jesus ascended to an actual place.

After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11).

A State

Although heaven is an actual place, it also refers to being in the presence of God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God (Revelation 21:3).

What Is Heaven Like?

The Bible, in both testaments, gives us an idea of what heaven is all about.

Old Testament

In the Old Testament, we are told the following about heaven.

Seat Of God's Throne

Heaven is the seat of God's throne.

The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all (Psalm 103:19).

Where God Rules

God rules in both heaven and earth.

As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The LORD your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below (Joshua 2:11).

Where God Speaks

It is from heaven that God speaks to His people.

Out of heaven He let you hear His voice that He might instruct you (Deuteronomy 4:36).

Surrounded By Spiritual Beings

In heaven God is surrounded by a host of spiritual beings.

I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left (1 Kings 22:19).

Where Sins On Earth Reach

The sins and injustices on the earth reach into heaven.

But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded; he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria, and said to them, "Because the LORD, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah, He gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven (2 Chronicles 28:9).

New Testament

The New Testament adds to our knowledge of heaven. From it we learn the following.

Names Of Believers Written In Heaven

The names of believers are written in heaven. Jesus said.

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

Treasure Of Believers Resides

Heaven is where the believers have their treasure. Jesus said.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, whether neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20).

To the rich young ruler, Jesus commanded.

One thing you lack; go your way, sell whatever you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven (Mark 10:21).

Direction Of Prayer

Heaven is where we direct our prayers.

After Jesus had spoken these words, He looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You" (John 17:1).

The Presence Of God

Heaven is where the presence of God resides in a unique way. John wrote of heaven.

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the lamb are its temple (Revelation 21:22).

Described In A Variety Of Ways

Heaven is described in a variety of ways in the Bible. It is the everlasting inheritance of the believers.

Those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).


Heaven is also symbolically referred to as a temple.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God. He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears (2 Samuel 22:7).

City And Country

Heaven is also compared to a country and a city.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, He has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:14-16).

In this heavenly country, the writer to the Hebrews says that God has prepared a city for His people.

God's Kingdom-More Than Heaven

Believers will spend eternity in God's presence but this is not limited to heaven. Not only will heaven be the home of believers, so will the new earth. God's kingdom involves everything there is, the heavens and the earth - the entire universe.


From the Bible we find our the following about heaven.

1. Heaven is a genuine place. It is also the state of being in God's presence.

2. In Scripture, it is often synonymous for God.

3. We find, in both testaments, a number of descriptions of heaven. From these descriptions, we discover that heaven is the place where God's presence resides, surrounded by a number of spiritual beings.

4.In heaven, God rules the universe and hears our prayers.

5.Heaven, is described as a better country, a place that those who have trusted the promises of God can look forward to spending eternity. God's kingdom involves more than heaven, it includes the entire universe.
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