Thanks for joining us as we begin a two-part study about Heaven — a lively topic about which everyone has an opinion and believers want to go there someday.
But before we read the Word of God, let’s review some data. According to a November Pew Research Center survey, a whopping 73% of all U.S. adults believe in Heaven. And what happens in Heaven? Of that 73% who believe, the top five occurrences are ranked below according to the percentage who “definitely or probably agree” that the following will happen there:
Are free from suffering: 69%
Are reunited with loved ones who died previously: 65%
Can meet God: 62%
Have perfectly healthy bodies: 60%
Are reunited with pets or animals they knew on earth: 48%
Based on those thoughts, heaven seems like paradise. In fact, Jesus said that word from the cross, and the thief hanging next to him acknowledged Jesus and said:
“‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ ” (Luke 23:42-43). Next week we will study more about what the New Testament says about Heaven.
Now, let’s turn to the Old Testament, from which I have selected a representative sample of Heaven-related passages. We begin at the beginning:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Since God created Heaven, it is reasonable to assume that He will be there and clear His schedule to meet you — if you qualify.
Next is a Psalm that mentions Heaven and also alludes to a Messianic prophecy:
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet..” (Psalm 8:3-6).
The writer, King David, is awestruck by the majesty of God’s Heaven and universe compared to the smaller nature of man and asks about “the son of man that you visit” who God has “crowned with glory and honor.”
All the Bible scholars reading along know that “son of man” is the term Jesus uses to describe himself as discussed in Vol. 53. However, its significance bears repeating since Psalm 8 verses 4-6 starting with “What is man…” reappear in the New Testament book of Hebrews 2: 6-8. The writer of Hebrews applies these verses to Jesus, who “as the incarnate [human] Son of God is both the representative man and the one in whom man’s appointed destiny will be fully realized” – a quote from my NIV Study Bible.
Circling back to our topic of Heaven, Jesus is absolute when He said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” in John 14:6. Thus, the takeaway: Although the Heavens were created by God, in order to eternally live with God in Heaven, your point of entry is only through Jesus, according to Jesus. That said, let’s continue with how the Psalm writer (likely David) keeps emphasizing the greatness of Heaven and its Creator. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us?:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19-1). Pray about His glory the next time you see a magnificent sunrise or sunset. And remember the next verse when you are away from city lights and can see a zillion stars:
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6). And the glorification theme continues, but with a caveat:
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; ” (Psalm 103:11). A comparison with endless boundaries, and add to it a Proverb: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
From Nehemiah, we read the opening segment of a nationwide confession of sin with prayers recited by the ancient Israelites who had strayed from God. “Heaven” is evoked several times:
“Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. 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” (Nehemiah 9:5-6). Suggestion: If you have sins that need resolution, perhaps start with that prayer.
And from the book of Jeremiah:
“But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding” (Jeremiah 10:12).
All these inspiring verses make you long for Heaven and to be in Creator’s presence whose power and glory are beyond our understanding.
Join us next week when we study Heaven-related New Testament verses that differ from the Old Testament. Here is a preview compatible with some beliefs found in the aforementioned Pew Research data:
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). To that, we say, “Amen.”
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. NEWS FLASH: SignFromGod is a proud sponsor of the Museum of the Bible’s two opening events in February that begin a six-month high-tech exhibition about the Shroud of Turin. Contact: @MyraKAdams on Twitter or MyraAdams01@gmail.com.