Answer by Simon Turpin
In order to answer this question it is important to begin by defining what is meant by the word ‘heaven’. This is necessary since the term ‘heaven’ is talked about in numerous ways in the Bible.
First, the term Hebrew term shamiym refers to the ‘physical sky.’ The very first verse of the Bible tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. The Hebrew word for heaven found here is shamayim. In biblical Hebrew, there is no specific word for our modern concept ‘universe’ so the combination of ‘heavens and earth’ is referring to the space and the matter God brought into existence on Day One. It pays to note that not all the universe was completed on Day One, as the sun, moon and stars were not created until Day Four. Other passages that use this word for ‘heaven’ to refer to the space of the universe are Psalm 8:3 and Isaiah 13:10.
Secondly, there is the heaven that the Bible speaks about was created on Day Two of creation week. The term ‘heaven’ in Genesis 1:8 is shamyima and is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:1 for ‘heaven’ but whereas in the first verse the word is in the plural form, in verse 8 it is in the singular form and refers to earth’s atmosphere (See also Deuteronomy 11:11 and I Kings 8:35).
Thirdly, there is the ‘Third Heaven’ God’s dwelling place. The only reference in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 12:2 which says:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
Paul parallels the third heaven with the word ‘paradise’ (v4) which is only used in two other New Testament passages (Luke 23:43; Rev 2:7). If you look at these two passages, the word ‘paradise’ is clearly equated with heaven as Jesus tells the man who was crucified next to him “today you will be with me in paradise”. Elsewhere, Revelation 2:7 talks about the “tree of life” being in “the paradise of God” which can also be found in Revelation 22:2, 14, 19 and is equated with Heaven.
We can see, therefore, that the first two mentions of heaven were created whereas the third one was not. So if we mean was heaven created, referring to the third heaven, then the answer is no. The Bible tells us that it was God who brought time into existence (Genesis 1:1) it also speaks of Him as being eternal (Psalm 90:20) and describes Him as spirit (non-material – John 4:24). Jesus also talked about the glory that He shared with the Father before the world was (John 17:5). Therefore, we can rightfully assume that God’s dwelling place was eternal and not created. The first two heavens will pass away (2 Pet. 3:10) however the third heaven is eternal.
Where is heaven – God’s dwelling place?
The third heaven, God’s dwelling place, unlike the other two is not limited by time and space nor by height, width or breadth. God’s dwelling place is not confined to a particular place as it transcends our time and space boundaries. For example, the prophet Isaiah talked about God inhabiting eternity:
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15)
Because the infinite, eternal God’s dwelling place is not limited to finite dimensions it is futile to speculate as to where it is. What we should be concerned about is whether we and others will be there with Him.
New Heaven and Earth
The Old and New Testaments both speak of a time when God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 21:1). John’s vision in the book of Revelation presents us with the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven in order for God to dwell with His people. Both Isaiah and John picture a life in the future for the people of God not in heaven but in a renewed earth.
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