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Structure Of The Heavens

Structure Of The Heavens

Genesis 1 Seminar – Session 2

 

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Are there multiple heavens? Where are the heavens? What purpose do they serve? This teaching works through the structure and function of the heavens.

 

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The content of this teaching’s notes are below with partial formatting. If you would like to see the notes with complete formatting,

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Structure Of The Heavens

REVIEW

REVIEW

A.    Last week we looked at 2 Peter 3:3-7. In that passage, the apostle Peter teaches us that in the last days, there will emerge a scoffing spirit related to the topic of the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah. He tells us that the fruit of this scoffing spirit is an ungodly lifestyle of “following our own evil desires.” He also tells us that the scoffing spirit starts to raise its head when we deliberately and willfully forget three things: 1) what God did in the beginning when He created the heavens and the earth; 2) what God did in the Flood and why He did what He did in the Flood; and 3) the delay of the Second Coming because of God’s long-suffering and His love and mercy for sinners.

B.    Last week we began our exploration of Genesis 1. We are deliberately remembering the truths of Genesis 1 to help us avoid a scoffing spirit and cultivate a sharp and alert spirit as we await the Second Coming of Jesus. We looked at how the Spirit and the Word came together in the process of creation. The Spirit brooded and hovered, the Word was spoken, and life came forth. When God speaks, He creates.

C.   We talked about the emotions God felt when He created the heavens and the earth and how it was a joyous occasion with lots of singing and rejoicing. These are the emotions He feels when He releases power today, when He does miracles and recreates and transforms us by the Holy Spirit.

D.   We talked about how God does not only feel deep emotion for His creation, but He is also highly committed to His creation. Jeremiah tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth, He formed a covenant with creation. We discussed how God is going to be faithful to His covenant with creation by restoring all things when Jesus returns. Even though the creation is broken because of sin, wickedness, and injustice, God will not abandon it. He is going to fix the creation He loves. In Acts 3:21, Peter calls this the “restoration of all things.”

E.    We talked about how Jesus was the Eternal Word through whom the heavens and the earth were created. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Aleph and the Tav. He was the one through whom the heavens and the earth came to be in the beginning. He is the one who will speak the word of life again when He returns. He will speak the word, and the saints will receive resurrected bodies. The pleasures, joy, and exhilaration God felt when He first created the heavens and the earth, are the emotions that will fill His heart as Jesus raises us from the dead.

F.    This week, we are going to zero in our focus mostly on the heavens, and how God arranged the heavens and the earth in relationship to one another. If we get through the notes, then next week we will focus on how God has arranged His Being in the heavens to make Himself accessible to the creatures He loves and wants to be with.

Genesis 1:1(NIV)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

THE STRUCTURE OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH

THE STRUCTURE OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH

A.    God loves to build. He wanted a place where His creation could run to Him and enjoy Him. He wanted a place where His children could walk with Him. He wanted a place where creation could hear Him sing and share in His laughter and joy. So He created a house and called it the heavens and the earth. The Bible likens the heavens and the earth to a house with different levels and chambers. The heavens are the upper chambers of God’s household. The earth is the lower chamber of His house.

Amos 9:5-6 (ESV)

5 The Lord God of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt; 6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault (NIV – “sets its foundation”) upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—the Lord is his name.

B.    The heavens are also likened to a tent in Scripture. When God created the heavens, He stretched them out like a tent to live in.

Isaiah 40:22 (ESV)

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in.

Isaiah 45:12 (ESV)

I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.

C.   So what was it exactly that God “stretched out like a tent” when He made the heavens and the earth? Genesis 1:6-8 tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth, He put an “expanse” in the midst of the waters, and that this expanse formed some sort of gap or separation in the waters over which the Spirit was brooding.

Genesis 1:2 (NIV)

Now the earth wasformless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep (Heb. “tehom”), and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (waters being somehow dynamically related and connected to “the deep”).

Genesis 1:6-8 (ESV)

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters (Hebrew “mayim”), and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse (God made the earth from these waters, cf. 2 Peter 3:5) from the waters that were above the expanse (these waters are located somewhere in/above/in proximity to the highest heavens, cf. Ps. 148:3-4) . And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven (Hebrew “shamayim” or heavens). And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

D.   This expanse or gap is what God stretched out like a tent. Peter tells us that some of the waters were used for the creation of the earth (2 Pet. 3:5).  The rest of the waters either went to the heavens, or are still situated beyond the heavens. We usually think of water in connection with the earth. But in and around and even beyond the highest heavens, there is a lot of water. God must really like water!

2 Peter 3:5 (NIV)

But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.

Psalm 148:3-4 (ESV)

3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! 4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

Creation-Day-2

E.    Both groups of water were originally connected and dynamically related somehow to “the deep” (Hebrew “tehom”) in the beginning. This is why once the earth was formed, the waters under the surface of the ground were still called “the deep” when the Flood came, and then after the flood the oceans were called “the deep.” The waters in and beyond the heaven are also part of the original “deep.” The waters on the earth are the deep, and the waters beyond the heavens are “the deep.” This is a mind blower. This is too deep for me. My mind starts to melt if I think about it too much. All life needs water to live.

Psalm 33:6-7 (ESV)

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps (Hebrew is plural) in storehouses8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Proverbs 3:19-20 (ESV)

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in

place; 20 by his knowledge the deeps (the deep of earth and the deep waters of the heavens) were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

Genesis 7:11 (NIV)

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs (under the ground) of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.

Psalm 106:9 (ESV)

He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.

F.    God created His household. He is the Father of His household. He has authority over His household of the heavens and the earth. All of His creatures in the heavens on the earth are expected to acknowledge His authority. The identity of all creation is derived from God as our Father and Creator.

Ephesians 3:14-15 (NIV)

14 For this reason I kneel (humble submission) before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

THE LOWER HEAVENS

THE LOWER HEAVENS

A.    We’re not sure just exactly how many heavens God created when He created the heavens. However, as we explore the Scriptures, we learn that the “heavens” are a very rich concept. The heavens include many different levels or dimensions.

B.     The heavens include the atmosphere immediately around us and near the ground.

Exodus 9:8-10 (ESV)

8 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air (Hebrew “shamayim”, or “heavens”) in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10 So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air (Hebrew “shamayim,” or heavens), and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast.

Zechariah 8:12 (ESV)

For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens (Hebrew “shamayim”) shall give their dew.

C.   They include the sky above us. This atmosphere immediately around us extends into the sky.  The sky is where birds fly. They fly through the same atmosphere that provides the air we breathe immediately around us. When we look up, we see the sky. The sky is part of the heavens.

Genesis 1:20 (ESV)

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 (Hebrew “shamayim,” or heavens).”

D.   They include the sun, stars, galaxies, and constellations. From our vantage point on earth, these are part of the sky. In the day when we look up, we see clouds and the sun. At night when we look up, we see stars and the moon. God created and set these in the heavens on the fourth day. The heavens existed before the moon, sun, and stars existed. But when God set them in the heavens on the fourth day, they became part of the heavens. God’s interior design of the house.

Psalm 8:3-4 (NIV)

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which

you have set in place (on the fourth day, cf. Gen. 1:14-19), 4 what is man that you are mindful

of him, the son of man that you care for him?

THE PLACE IN THE HEAVENS OCCUPIED BY FALLEN PRINCIPALITIES

THE PLACE IN THE HEAVENS OCCUPIED BY FALLEN PRINCIPALITIES

A.    Some part or parts of the heavens is presently inhabited and occupied by fallen angels, demons, powers, and principalities in rebellion against God. They hate God and they hate us. They are trying to destroy us. The powers behind this rebellion have rank and authority within the kingdom of darkness.

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

B.    As we will see below, somewhere in the heavens they have a “place” from which they base their operations. It seems that this might be some kind of governmental headquarters. They also have access at times to the air or heavens around our heads. This is how they shoot their flaming arrows of lies and deception at our minds and hearts.

Ephesians 2:1-2 (ESV)

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience..

Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

C.   One day, these rebellious powers will lose their place from the heavens. God will purge them from His household in the day of the Lord. The heavens long for this day.

Revelation 12:7-12 (NIV)

7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

Isaiah 24:21-23 (NIV)

21 In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. 22 They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished (or “released” NIV alternative) after many days. 23 The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously.

D.   One important aspect of the gospel stressed by the apostles in the New Testament is that when Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, He ascended to a place in the heavens higher than the place inhabited by the fallen powers and principalities. This means He has authority over those powers. This is why demons must flee at the name of Jesus.

Ephesians 1:19-21 (NIV)

19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

1 Peter 3:21-22

It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

THE HIGHEST HEAVENS

THE HIGHEST HEAVENS

A.    One category of the heavens mentioned in Scripture is the “highest heavens.” Even the highest heavens cannot contain God. Jesus ascended to God’s throne after He rose from the dead. This means He ascended to the highest heavens.

Deuteronomy 10:14

To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

1 Kings 8:27

“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven (Hebrew shamayim), cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

Nehemiah 9:6

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

B.    In what sense are the highest heavens “highest?” The highest heavens are highest geographically and spatially in the creation. They are way, way “up.” The highest heaven would by definition be located spatially at the “top” of the heavens.

Deuteronomy 26:15 (ESV)

Look down from heaven (Heb. shamayim), your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Psalm 102:19 (ESV)

The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,

from heaven he viewed the earth…

C.   The highest heavens are also the highest in a governmental sense. When God created the heavens and the earth, He established His throne in the highest heavens. A throne is the place of government and authority. A king sits on a throne and rules a kingdom from a throne. The highest heaven is the central headquarters of God’s government and authority over all creation. The earth is His footstool which is dynamically connected to His throne in the heavens. God is the King and Governor over His household of the heavens and the earth. His household is His kingdom.

Isaiah 66:1

Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?

Psalm 103:19

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

D.   When God created the heavens and the earth, these became part of His kingdom. All of God’s creation is a part of His kingdom. God has authority over His kingdom. God is seated on a throne in the highest heavens. God is seated over the heavens and the earth as King. He has all authority and power over the heavens and the earth. God’s kingdom over all creation is His universal kingdom. Universal means everything everywhere. God rules over everything from His throne in the highest heavens. Part of that kingdom is in rebellion against God. But God is being patient with the human rebels. Would be as if Oregon were to rebel against the United States. Just because Oregon thinks it is on its own wouldn’t really mean that. The US government would squelch that rebellion in due time.

THE THIRD HEAVEN

THE THIRD HEAVEN

A.    How many heavens are there? We know that there are at least three heavens. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul mentions a prophetic experience he had. He said that he once was “caught up” to the third heaven. He did not know whether it was just his spirit that visited the third heaven, or whether his body went there as well. He describes the third heaven as a paradise. Paul heard things during this experience that he said “cannot be told.”

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (ESV)

1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a manin 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. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter (NIV – “He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell”).

B.    Not sure if Paul learned something in this encounter that God commanded him not to share (like John and the seven thunders in Revelation 10:4), or if he is saying that he heard sounds that were simply so wonderful they could not be described and articulated by a human being in a fallen state.

C.   Whatever the case, the third heaven is a beautiful place, an indescribably beautiful paradise. I personally believe that as the earthly tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly tabernacle, so the paradise of the Garden of Eden was patterned after this heavenly paradise. There is water up there; there is water down here. There is a tabernacle up there; there is a tabernacle down here. There is a paradise up there, so God made one down here. A paradise of unimaginable beauty.

Hebrews 8:3-5 (ESV)

3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent (or tabernacle), he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”

D.   I don’t know if we can conclude with certainty from the Scriptures that the third heaven is exactly equivalent to the highest heavens where God’s heavenly throne is located. I believe that they are dynamically connected if not the same. John the apostle saw the throne room in His encounter in Revelation 5. But we don’t know if Paul went to the throne room or not. So the third heaven might be where God’s throne is, or maybe not. John might have gone to a place higher than the third heaven.

E.    Some have postulated based on Paul’s mention of the third heaven that the place in the heavens occupied by fallen principalities is the second heaven.

F.    If I were to make my best guess, I would classify the air around us, the skies, and the visible universe with the stars, moon, and sun as the first heaven; just beyond that is the second heaven, where fallen principalities have their governmental stronghold and from which they will be purged at the end of the age; and that beyond the second heaven is the third heaven into and unto the highest heavens, where God’s throne is, where his angelic servants live, and where His will is executed perfectly.

G.   God’s will is done perfectly in the highest heavens including/and the third heaven. The burning desire of Jesus’ heart is for the Garden to be restored. He taught us that this too needs to be the yearning of our heart in prayer. Paradise on earth again as in heaven, where God’s will is enforced perfectly. This will happen at Jesus’ return when He comes to establish the kingdom of God on the earth.

Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 

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Tim Miller Tim Miller (124 Posts)

Tim is founder of the Daniel Training Network. His passion is to see followers of Christ embrace a life of the cross. He, his wife Emily, and their four children itinerate regularly as part of their ministry, and are presently living in New Mexico.


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