Now God, being a God of order and not chaos, gave the “expanse” (or firmament) a name. He called it “heaven.” We read in Genesis 1:8, “And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” But if God is not a God of confusion, what did he mean by “heaven.” First of all, it appears that the whole created order consists of three places. Exodus 20:4 says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” It appears that “heaven” in this verse is referring to what flies in the air, or what we call “sky.” We see that in Genesis 1:20 that reads, “And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” But in Genesis 1:14-16 we see that God places the stars and moon and planets in what is referred to as “the heavens.” But what we most often think of as heaven is the Spiritual realm where God lives. We find this in 1 Kings 8:30, which says, “And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.”

The Bible teaches that there are three heavens. The first heaven is the heaven that immediately surrounds us and in which the birds fly, and clouds form and rains fall and snow swirls in the winter.  Some writers call this the “atmospheric” heaven. But from the account in Genesis and comments by other prophets in the Bible there is another visible heaven. We refer to that as the “celestial” heaven. This seems to be the “second” heaven. The first two heavens are what the Psalmist tells us “Declare the glory of God.” Paul uses the same idea in the book of Romans to point out that the order, design, beauty, grandeur and magnificence of which informs of the nature of God. Not seeing that has no excuse!

But Paul talks about another heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:2 Paul says, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.” This is where Jesus now sits at the right hand of the father and who has prepared a place for all those who believe in him. One internet blog describes that place like this: “There are mansions of splendor and robes that are dazzling white. The third heaven is our eternal home as children of the Most High God. It’s the city where the Lamb is the light, where tears are never shed and goodbyes are never uttered. There is no sorrow or pain, only joy and sheer perfection. It is the city where we will one day join the angels in singing, ‘Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty!’ around the throne of God.” Let me just add one thought: “Heaven is for real.”