Heaven (Part 12) - Is Heaven a Physical Place?


Heaven (Part 12) 19. Is the present heaven a physical place? A. Yes, heaven is a physical place. i. Some people assume that it is a spiritual place because God dwells there or because it's outside of our universe. ii. It is not necessary for heaven to be a nonphysical place because God dwells there. iii. "But saying that God is spirit is very different from saying that Heaven is spirit. Heaven, after all, is not the same as God. God created Heaven; therefore, he did not always dwell there. Though God chooses to dwell in Heaven, he does not need a dwelling place. However, as finite humans, we do. It's no problem for the all-powerful God, a spirit, to dwell in a spiritual realm or a physical realm or a realm that includes both." (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, p. 51) B. We have an enduring substance in heaven (Heb 10:34). i. Substance n. - 1. Essential nature, essence; esp. Theol., with regard to the being of God, the divine nature or essence in respect of which the three Persons of the Trinity are one. 6. a. That of which a physical thing consists; the material of which a body is formed and in virtue of which it possesses certain properties. ii. The substance in context is compared to the goods of the Hebrew Christians which they lost due to persecution. iii. The things that we have lost in this life will be replaced with better and eternally lasting things in heaven. C. The resurrected Jesus Christ dwells in the present heaven (Mar 16:19). i. Jesus is a flesh and blood man with a physical body (Luk 24:39) as well as being God (1Ti 3:16). ii. Therefore, there is at least one physical thing in heaven. iii. Jesus also sits on a throne at the right hand of God (Act 2:30; Heb 8:1; Heb 12:2). a. Therefore, the throne must also be physical in order for a physical man to sit on it. b. Thus there are at least two physical things in heaven. c. If the throne is physical, would it not stand to reason that the place where the throne sits is also physical? D. Consider some other apparently physical things which are said to be in the present heaven. i. There are mansions awaiting us there (Joh 14:2-3). a. Mansion n. - 1. The action of remaining, abiding, dwelling, or staying in a place. Phr. to have, keep, make, take (one's) mansion = to dwell, abide. Also, permanence or continuance in a position or state. 2. a. A place where one stays or dwells; a place of abode, an abiding-place. Now arch. b. (Chiefly pl.) A separate dwelling-place, lodging, or apartment in a large house or enclosure. b. There is a huge house there with many separate lodgings or apartments in it. c. God's house and the mansions in it are physical things where the physical body of Jesus Christ dwells. ii. There is a temple in heaven which filled with smoke on one occasion (Rev 15:8). a. It's possible that this is a figurative temple with figurative smoke given the signified (Rev 1:1) nature of the book of Revelation. b. It's also possible that this is a physical temple with physical smoke. c. The tabernacle which God commanded Moses to build was to be patterned after the tabernacle in heaven (Heb 8:5; Heb 9:23-24). d. This fact suggests that the temple in heaven is physical since a physical tabernacle was patterned after it. e. Jesus as our high priest ascended into heaven and made an offering of His own blood in the tabernacle in heaven (Heb 8:1-3; Heb 9:11-12). f. Jesus and His blood are both physical things which suggests that the tabernacle that He entered into in heaven is a physical tabernacle. iii. There are 24 elders with crowns of gold and clothed in white raiment who sit on seats in heaven (Rev 4:4). a. These could be spirits of men and the crowns and seats could be spiritual or figurative. b. They could be crowns of righteousness (2Ti 4:8), crowns of life (Rev 2:10; Jam 1:12), and crowns of glory (1Pe 5:4). c. They could also be material crowns and seats since there are other material things in heaven. iv. There are martyrs in heaven who wear white robes (Rev 6:9-11). a. These martyrs are called souls (Rev 6:9). b. Therefore, the robes could be spiritual clothing which is "the righteousness of saints" (Rev 19:8). c. But they could also be material since there are other physical things in heaven. v. There are people in heaven with palm branches in their hands (Rev 7:9). vi. There are musical instruments in heaven (Rev 5:8; Rev 14:2; Rev 15:2). vii. There are horses coming in and out of heaven (2Ki 2:11; Rev 19:14). a. Jesus Christ in His physical body is riding on one of those horses (Rev 19:11). b. This would suggest that the horse is a physical horse. c. The horses of fire and chariots of fire transported the physical body of Elijah into heaven. d. This would suggest that they were physical things. E. The new Jerusalem is currently in the present heaven (Heb 12:22). i. When the new earth is created the new Jerusalem will be relocated to it (Rev 21:1-3). ii. If the new Jerusalem will be a physical city on the physical new earth, then wouldn't it be a physical city now in the present heaven? F. There is currently a tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God in the present heaven (Rev 2:7). i. The tree of life in the garden of Eden was a physical tree (Gen 2:9). ii. The tree of life in new Jerusalem on the new earth will be physical (Rev 22:2). iii. So if the tree of life on the original earth and the new earth were/will be physical, why wouldn't it be physical in the present heaven? iv. "Eden was not destroyed. What was destroyed was mankind's ability to live in Eden. There's no indication that Eden was stripped of its physicality and transformed into a "spiritual" entity. It appears to have remained just as it was, a physical paradise removed to a realm we can't gain access to―most likely the present Heaven, because we know for certain that's where the tree of life now is (Revelation 2:7). God is not done with Eden. He preserved it not as a museum piece but as a place that mankind will one day occupy again―and to a certain extent may now occupy in the present Heaven. Because we're told that the tree of life will be located in the New Jerusalem, on both sides of a great river (Revelation 22:2), it seems likely that the original Eden may be a great park at the center of the city. If we know the tree that distinguished Eden will be there, why not Eden itself? This would fit perfectly with the statement in Revelation 2:7 that the tree of life is presently in Paradise." (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, pp. 56-57) v. "The tree of life's presence in the New Jerusalem establishes that elements of Eden, as physical as the original, will again be part of the human experience. The presence of the tree of life in the present Heaven suggests that Heaven too has physical properties and is capable of containing physical objects." (Ibid)
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