From "heaved up;" so "the heights" (Psalm 148:1). The Greek ouranos and the Hebrew shamaim, are similarly derived. It is used of the surrounding air wherein "the fowls of heaven" fly (Genesis 1:26, compare Genesis 1:20); from whence the rain and hail fall (Deuteronomy 11:11). "I will make your heaven as iron," i.e. your sky hard and yielding no rain (Leviticus 26:19). "The four quarters of heaven" (Jeremiah 49:36) and "the circuit of heaven" (Job 22:14) refer to the atmospheric heaven. By metaphor it is represented as a building with foundations and pillars (2 Samuel 22:8; Job 26:11), with an entrance gate (Genesis 28:17) and windows opened to pour down rain (Genesis 7:11, compare 2 Kings 7:2; Malachi 3:10). Job 37:18, "spread out the sky ... strong ... as a molten looking glass," not solid as "firmament" would imply, whereas the "expanse" is the true meaning (Genesis 1:6; Isaiah 44:24), but phenomenally like one of the ancient mirrors made of firm molten polished metal.
Matthew, who is most Hebraistic in style, uses the plural, the Hebrew term for heaven being always so. "The heaven of heavens" (Deuteronomy 10:14) is a Hebraism for the highest heavens. Paul's "third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2) to which he was caught up implies this superlatively high heaven, which he reached after passing through the first heaven the air, and the second the sky of the stars (Ephesians 4:10). Hebrews 7:26, "made higher than the heavens," for Christ "passed through the heavens" (Hebrews 4:14, Greek), namely, the aerial heaven and the starry heaven, the veil through which our High Priest passed into the heaven of heavens, the immediate presence of God, as the Levitical high priest passed through the veil into the holy of belies. The visible heavens shall pass away to give place to the abiding new heaven and earth wherein shall dwell righteousness (Psalm 102:25-27; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1; Hebrews 12:26-28).
"The kingdom of the heavens" in Matthew, for "the kingdom of God" in Mark and Luke, is drawn from Daniel 4:26, "the heavens do rule," (Daniel 2:44) "the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." It consists of many stages and phases, issuing at last in heaven being brought down fully to earth, and the tabernacle of God being with men (Revelation 21:2-3; Revelation 21:10, etc.). The plurality of the phases is expressed by "the kingdom of the heavens." The Bible is distinguished from the sacred books of false religions in not having minute details of heavenly bliss such as men's curiosity would crave. The grand feature of its blessedness is represented as consisting in holy personal union and immediate face to face communion with God and the Lamb; secondarily, that the saints are led by the Lamb to living fountains of water, and fed with the fruit of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God, the antitype of the former Adamic paradise.
It is no longer merely a garden as Eden, but a heavenly "city" and garden combined, nature and art no longer mutually destructive, but enhancing each the charm of the other, individuality and society realized perfectly (Revelation 2-3, 7, 21-22). No separate temple, but the whole forming one vast "temple," finding its center in the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, who are the temple to each and all the king-priests reigning and serving there. This was the model Moses was shown on Sinai (Hebrews 7:1-6). The earthly tabernacle was its pattern and figure (Hebrews 9:23-24). The "altar" (Revelation 6:9) and the "censer," etc. (Revelation 8:3), the "temple" in heaven (Revelation 11:19; Revelation 14:17; Revelation 15:5; Revelation 15:8), are preliminary to the final state when there shall be "no temple therein" (Revelation 21:22), for the whole shall be perfectly consecrated to God.
Negatives of present provisional conditions and evils form a large part of the subordinate description of heaven's bliss: no marriage (Luke 20:34-36), no meats for the belly (1 Corinthians 6:13), no death, no sorrow, crying, pain; no defilement, no curse, no night, no candle, no light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light (Revelation 21:4; Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:3; Revelation 22:5). Heaven is not merely a state but a place. For it is the place where Christ's glorifed body now is; "the heaven must receive Him until the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21).
Thither He will "receive His people to Himself" after He hath "prepared a place for them" (John 14:2-4), that where He is there His servants may be (John 12:26). From heaven, which is God's court, angels are sent down to this earth, as the multitude of the heavenly host (distinct from the host of heaven," Acts 7:42), and to which they return (Luke 2:13-15; Luke 22:43). God Himself is addressed "Our Father who art in heaven." His home is the parent home, the sacred hearth of the universe.
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