In our battles against spirit forces, we find that there are different abodes in which they dwell, different places where evil spirits may be confined, different places in which they will attack us.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness IN HIGH PLACES..."
The battlefield is "in high places" which is the Greek word "epouranois". The Greek word for heavens is the word "oo-ranos", and literally means "places above the ground." It comes from two words, "oros" meaning "a rising", and "epouranois" meaning "that above the ground."
Note that the word is plural, and means that there is more than one place. We battle the devil and his forces in more than one place.
This is confusing to many people who imagine only earth, hell and a place where God dwells called "heaven".
This heaven all saints commonly know about is not a far away place (timewise). Angels come and go back continually. We will be transported there and be standing before God in short order. Jesus ascended there and returned the same day. Jesus comforted His disciples by talking about heaven, when they were confused by His talking about His crucifixion.
Too often, heaven is pushed to the background. There were many old-time songs about heaven. There are many scriptures on heaven. Yet many neglect to preach or teach about this place. Some fear mentioning heaven, because it reminds them that there is also a hell. There is a need to think more of heaven, because we need the comfort, and those who are lost need the warning of the joys they will miss if they do not accept the forgiveness of Jesus. Heaven is a real, literal place. Jesus talked of heaven while Judas betrayed Him. Jesus would not comfort His disciples with a lie.
"IF I GO AWAY, I WILL PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU..."
Some have thought of this heaven as a ghostly, unreal, indefinite state. Heaven is as physically real as the city and building in which you live. There are actual streets of gold, and actual rooms, and mansions. We will literally stand before the manifest presence of the real God, on a real throne. We will throw our literal crowns about the real, nail scarred feet of Jesus, our Savior. We will have real bodies in heaven. Jesus went to heaven in a physical body.
"BEHOLD, MY HANDS AND MY FEET, THAT IT IS I MYSELF; HANDLE ME AND SEE, FOR A SPIRIT HATH NOT FLESH AND BONES AS YE SEE ME HAVE."
Jesus is returning with the same literal body.
"THIS SAME JESUS WILL SO COME AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO..."
Enoch went to heaven in a real, literal body. (Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5) So did the prophet Elijah. They searched for his body for 50 days but could not find it for God took it up to heaven. So, in heaven, we will have literal bodies, for we have been promised to be like Him when He comes.
I John 3:2
"...WHEN HE SHALL APPEAR, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM..."
Our bodies in heaven will be "flesh and bone", not "flesh and blood." The life of the body will come from the "spirit" not from the "blood", as it does in this body.
This is why it is called a "spiritual body."(I Cor.15:44)
As with the body of Jesus:
material objects were no barrier (John 20:19),
food could be eaten, but was not necessary to sustain life (Luke 24:15),
gravity had no control (Acts 1:9),
vanishing and reappearing at will (Luke 24:31, John 20:26),
not subject to death, decay, and sickness (I Cor. 15:42, 53-54),
and powerful (Rev. 22:3-5).
In heaven there are:
(Heb. 11:10-15, 13:14, Rev.21:2,9-27)
(Rev. 3:12, 7:15, 11:19, 14:17, 15:5, 16:1,17, Isa.6:1)
(Lk. 10:20, Heb.12:23, Rev. 5:1, 8, 13:8, 20:11-15, 22:19)
(Rev. 8:2, 5:8-14, 14:1-5, 15:2-4)
(Rev. 2:7,17, 22:1-3)
(II kings 2:11, 6:17, Zech. 1:8, 10, 6:1-5, Rev. 19:11, 14,21)
(Rev. 14:1, Heb. 12:22-23, Zech. 6:1)
(Rev. 2:7, 22:1-3)
things not lawful to utter
(II Cor. 12:1-4)
This place called heaven is a place we should long to go--for it is there we will begin to receive the rewards of eternity. There we will receive the glorified body that will be eternal, incorruptible and powerful. There we will see our Savior and God the Father. There we will remain while the earth is reaping the awful judgments of the tribulation. There we will rejoice with the saints around the throne, as John viewed in Revelation 4 and 5.
The Lord told us in the book of Hebrews, that the saints of the Old Testament that locked their hopes onto the promised city known as the "New Jerusalem" as being a literal city someday to be their home... were saints for which God was 'not ashamed to be called their God...' Is God ashamed of the saints of today who are repelled by details of the coming that God has revealed to us...???
"But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city..."
Yet, the Bible often speaks of "heavens",
using the plural,
and we need to carefully study
to know what places are being referred to,
for in these "heavens"
we do battle against wicked, evil spirits.
II Timothy 2:15
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane (babelos, a despiser of sacred truths) and vain babblings (kenophonia, vain talk, with no depth of knowledge, ignorance bringing more unbelief); for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
There are 7 places called 'the heavens', and that does not mean that there are 7 possibilities for where we go when we die, as the Mormons believe in 10 heavens. Many are needlessly disturbed at the thought of 7 heavens, but the teaching here is not that there are seven abodes in heaven, but seven different locations in which spirits dwell. We do not disagree with this concept in Christianity, but when the term "heaven" is applied, many put up walls before learning what is being taught.
In Ephesians 6:12 we are told that there are "heavenly places" or "high places" and this refers to places where unseen forces operate. Ephesians 1:3-20 tells us that we have "spiritual blessings in heavenly places." and that Christ is "set... at His (God's) own right hand in heavenly places." We can someday "sit together in heavenly places. (Eph. 2:6).
The word "heaven" in the Hebrew is "shamayim" which is the plural of "shameh" meaning "lofty place." It is never used in the Old Testament in a singular form.
Judaism identified seven heavens referring to seven abodes of angels and spirit beings. God is in all (Psalms 139:7, I Kings 8:27). Yet, the abode that we think of as "heaven" in Christianity today, is the sixth heaven, which is the planet on which God dwells, and His throne room therein is the "seventh heaven". The other heavens of the seven are about earth, and in outer space.
Paul was taken to a trip to the "third heaven." This is paradise which is within the earth in a place known as sheol.
II Corinthians 12:1-4
"...I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord... Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell, such an one caught up to the third heaven... How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words (rhema) which is not lawful for me to utter."
This was not the heaven wherein God dwells to which Paul was taken. It was "paradise", which is "paradeisios" in Greek, meaning an "orchard" or "forest" and is used in the Septuagint to refer to the Garden of Eden which is in Sheol.
So if "paradise" is the "third heaven" what are the other heavens.
The seven heavens are:
1. First heaven - that air about us here on earth, wherein we dwell...
2. Second heaven - The atmosphere, clouds and above of this earth. Demons abound here, and do battle against God's angelic forces. As they battle, they also observe, the manifold wisdom of God be unfolded.
"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God."
3. Third heaven - This is the "lower parts of the earth" that is known in the Bible as Sheol. Within this place is paradise, the abyss, and hell.
4. Fourth heaven - This is our solar system.
5. Fifth heaven - This is outer space, outside our solar system.
6. Sixth heaven - This is the planet we know as heaven.
7. Seventh heaven - This is within the sixth heaven, as sheol is within the earth. It is the Throne room of God.
will explain these in more detail... stay tuned...