Heaven

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Heaven
(1.) Definitions. The phrase "heaven and earth" is used to indicate the whole universe (Gen. 1:1; Jer. 23:24; Acts 17:24). According to the Jewish notion there were three heavens,

(a) The firmament, as "fowls of the heaven" (Gen. 2:19; 7:3, 23; Ps. 8:8, etc.), "the eagles of heaven" (Lam. 4:19), etc.

(b) The starry heavens (Deut. 17:3; Jer. 8:2; Matt. 24:29).

(c) "The heaven of heavens," or "the third heaven" (Deut. 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 115:16; 148:4; 2 Cor. 12:2).

(2.) Meaning of words in the original,

(a) The usual Hebrew word for "heavens" is _shamayim_, a plural form meaning "heights," "elevations" (Gen. 1:1; 2:1).

(b) The Hebrew word _marom_ is also used (Ps. 68:18; 93:4; 102:19, etc.) as equivalent to _shamayim_, "high places," "heights."

(c) Heb. galgal, literally a "wheel," is rendered "heaven" in Ps. 77:18 (R.V., "whirlwind").

(d) Heb. shahak, rendered "sky" (Deut. 33:26; Job 37:18; Ps. 18:11), plural "clouds" (Job 35:5; 36:28; Ps. 68:34, marg. "heavens"), means probably the firmament.

(e) Heb. rakia is closely connected with (d), and is rendered "firmamentum" in the Vulgate, whence our "firmament" (Gen. 1:6; Deut. 33:26, etc.), regarded as a solid expanse.

(3.) Metaphorical meaning of term. Isa. 14:13, 14; "doors of heaven" (Ps. 78:23); heaven "shut" (1 Kings 8:35); "opened" (Ezek. 1:1). (See 1 Chr. 21:16.)

(4.) Spiritual meaning. The place of the everlasting blessedness of the righteous; the abode of departed spirits.

(a) Christ calls it his "Father's house" (John 14:2).

(b) It is called "paradise" (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7).

(c) "The heavenly Jerusalem" (Gal. 4: 26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 3:12).

(d) The "kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 25:1; James 2:5).

(e) The "eternal kingdom" (2 Pet. 1:11).

(f) The "eternal inheritance" (1 Pet. 1:4; Heb. 9:15).

(g) The "better country" (Heb. 11:14, 16).

(h) The blessed are said to "sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," and to be "in Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22; Matt. 8:11); to "reign with Christ" (2 Tim. 2:12); and to enjoy "rest" (Heb. 4:10, 11).

In heaven the blessedness of the righteous consists in the possession of "life everlasting," "an eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17), an exemption from all sufferings for ever, a deliverance from all evils (2 Cor. 5:1, 2) and from the society of the wicked (2 Tim. 4:18), bliss without termination, the "fulness of joy" for ever (Luke 20:36; 2 Cor. 4:16, 18; 1 Pet. 1:4; 5:10; 1 John 3:2). The believer's heaven is not only a state of everlasting blessedness, but also a "place", a place "prepared" for them (John 14:2).

 
   

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