Heaven and the Kingdom
Heaven, incorrectly thought to be a divine retirement home, which is vaguely located somewhere “up there”, and “the kingdom”, also incorrectly thought to be a “place”, are inappropriately labeled as the destination we go “to” if we do whatever the pulpit says to do to “get” there. The Bible completely contradicts this concept. The prophecy “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5), is very clear about the true inheritance of those who seek his promise, not heaven but the planet. These two verses show that the Christ not only considered meekness an essential part of his own personality, but that it is also a spiritual trait of great value:
♦ “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
♦ “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (I Peter 3:4)
Heaven Is The Sky
Not a divine retirement home.
All these clouds, whirlwinds, pillars, vessels, chariots and pavilions are seen hovering in, coming down from or rising into heaven. The thunders, trumpets and voices that are heard are heard from heaven. All the men who leave the ground and all the angels and metallic, glowing beings that come down to the ground do so either to, or from, heaven. All the lightnings, streams of fire, brimstone and other destructive things mentioned have their origin in heaven. Even wars are fought in heaven. Since all these things are seen in relationship to heaven, the way the word ‘heaven’ is used is the key to understanding these phenomenon and must be explained. The word heaven is used over 700 times in the Bible. In the Old Testament ‘heaven’ is translated almost exclusively from two different words. The Hebrew word ‘shamayim‘ which is defined as ‘the sky’, the place where the clouds and stars are, or ‘shamayin‘, the Aramaic word of the same definition.
In the Old Testament ‘heaven’ is translated from other words only five times in the following verses:
Psalms 68:4 it is translated from the Hebrew, arabah, ‘ the desert ‘
77:18 the word is galgal, Hebrew for ‘ wheel or whirlwind ‘
89:6 & 37 where it is translated from the word shachaq, Hebrew for ‘ powder or thin vapor’.
Isaiah 5:30 heaven is translated from ariyph, Hebrew for ‘ the sky ‘
The New Testament defines ‘heaven’ from the Greek word ‘ouranos’ meaning ‘the sky’ in all but 7 instances :
Philippians 2:10 Greek epouranos, ‘ above the sky, celestial ‘
Revelation 8:13, 14:6, 19:1, 11, 14, and 17 from the Greek word mesouranema, meaning mid-sky
The infrequency of the word ‘sky‘ in the Bible must also be looked at in the overall study of this concept. The words sky or skies only appear 12 times in all 66 books. The words for things that normally appear in the sky such as clouds, stars, whirlwinds, storms, lightning, birds, rain, hail and wind appear over 600 times. Heaven is the word the translators of the King James Bible in the early 1600’s purposefully translated into the original words biblical authors used for the physical sky and not some ethereal plane. The King James Bible was translated for King James of England who lived in a royal castle, surrounded by royal people, all speaking a royal language; a very proper form of court English.The Court English employed entirely different words to describe things, thus,confusing the commoners as to the meaning of certain words. You was thee, raiment was clothing and sky was heaven. Therefore, in all but the above noted instances, the word heaven should be read as sky. Heaven is the sky and sky fits in every instance. Heaven is not the place with the ‘pearly gates’ or the ‘streets of gold ‘ as the pulpit would have you believe. That is the new Jerusalem and is described in Revelation. Heaven is not said to be a reward for paying your tithes or a final destination for certain church members. Heaven is where God flies, the same place the birds fly. Heaven is where God lives because that is where his throne is and his throne flies. And if any more proof is needed just consider the inheritance of the beatitudes. “The meek shall inherit the Earth”, not heaven. The heaven of the pulpit is a simplistic, human conceptualization not a Biblically based reality.
All definitions, are taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance available online here with many other reference links: Biblical Reference
Inherit the Earth?
But what does it mean that we will inherit something we are already physically living on? Perhaps the reference Jesus made to our earthly birthright was intended to counter the almost universally accepted concept in the biblically-based church that we go “somewhere” to be with him. This is rather surprising considering the Christ will be here on Earth:
♦ “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment as given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 20:4 – 8)
♦ “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.” (Revelation 2:26 – 27)
This is clearly in the context of “terra firma” and the “nations” he rules over with a rod of iron are nations on the planet Earth.
Of what value would the incredible treasure of eternal life be if it was filled with hatred, apathy, grief, and destruction; all the things present when love is absent? The emphasis on love as a vital part of mankind’s relationship to God and the absolute necessity of love in human affairs defines it as the highest priority of the gospel of Jesus. It is defined as the key to all productive results in mankind’s relationship with God and the entire spectrum of human affairs. Love of your fellow man is equated with love of God, declared as the “new” commandment, and even loving your enemies is commanded. On love, all the laws and prophecies given to man by God hang, and love fulfills the law. Love is the royal law, the key to freedom, and all things work together for good to them that love God. No one has ever seen or even heard the things which God has prepared for them that love him, nothing can separate us from that love, and love is not just spoken or written, it is shown in action.
A Description of Love
As a preface to this scripture it is important to know that in every case the word “charity” is synonymous with love. The word charity comes directly from the Greek word agape, pronounced ag-ah’-pay meaning simply ‘love’.
♦ “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:1 – 13)
Love Verses: See Appendix K
Wisdom and Truth
An eternal future filled with love is a wonderful concept, and when combined with true knowledge and seasoned with understanding, it becomes exciting and vibrant. Wisdom and its components, such as understanding and knowledge, appear over a thousand times in scripture. The Bible delves deeply into the value of wisdom, its benefits and cost, and its source. From Merriam-Webster is the following definition for ‘wisdom’: 1 a: accumulated philosophic or scientific learning: Knowledge b: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships: Insight c: good sense: Judgment d: generally accepted belief
Knowledge, the exposure to, and retention of, facts and information, is an essential component of wisdom. Understanding is the ability to properly discern logical associations between, as well as the proper meanings of, facts and information. To many, the concept contained in the phrase “common sense” embodies the true meaning of understanding. These two mental qualities combine together to compose the individual human quality known as wisdom. Knowledge, without the ability to apply or associate it, is simply dormant information. Understanding, without proper knowledge is counter productive and an antithesis to wisdom.
A description of wisdom in the Old Testament:
♦ “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:2 – 7)
A description of wisdom in the New Testament:
♦ “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:13 – 18)
Wisdom is for the asking:
♦ “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matthew 7:7)
Wisdom Verses: See Appendix L
Freedom is a common personal desire of the rich and the poor, the weak and the powerful, and the good and the bad. An eternal existence, lived in a tightly structured, heavily restricted way may be acceptable, but certainly not optimal. Humans will be freed from sin, from the law of sin and death, the yoke of bondage; they will also be called to the glorious liberty of the children of God and given the perfect law of liberty.
♦ “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
Freedom Verses: See Appendix M
Pursuit of absolute power has been the goal of humanity since the Creation. This intrinsic trait was the catalyst for the scriptural account of the first sin. Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets concealing the superhuman nature of mankind in Bible based religion is in clear view. The Bible speaks of an incredible and virtually unlimited power inherent in humanity. The key to human power is faith, a word translated from the Greek word pistis, pronounced pis’-tis; persuasion. The way you are persuaded is your faith. Merriam-Webster defines ‘persuasion’ as an opinion held with complete assurance.
Many believe this is some ethereal force that makes you believe in God and, indeed, it may be triggered directly by God’s Spirit. But, a specific definition can be found in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews:
♦ “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).
From the Greek we find these definitions of the prime words in this verse: faith – pistis, pronounced pis’-tis; persuasion / substance – hupostasis, pronounced hoop-os’-tas-is; a setting under (support) / things hoped for – elpizo, pronounced el-pid’-zo; to expect or confide / evidence – elegchos, pronounced el’-eng-khos; proof, conviction. A proper reading of this verse could be: Faith is the support of our expectations and proof of things not seen.
In life, anything we believe, the way we are persuaded, is based on a combination of the things we learn and the experiences we have. Faith is no different, being defined as persuasion. We see this in all aspects of personal performance in life with those taught to have confidence, and experiencing the result of positive self-confidence, being the most successful. Jesus was the most radical proponent of the power of positive thinking, and the first to reveal the true power inherent in human beings. He clearly stated even a minute amount of belief in this power he revealed will give mere humans supernatural power, making them capable of performing feats only limited by the level of belief itself. The followers of Jesus had a problem performing an exorcism on a certain man, which Jesus was easily able to perform. When they inquired why he was able, and they were not, he revealed the incredible power all humans potentially possess:
♦ “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20)
“Nothing shall be impossible unto you” is not said in a future tense; after all Jesus was in fact a human at this point, and performing super-human feats. He was literally saying that if you had the belief, were persuaded, that you could move mountains, an advanced from of psychokenesis, you could move mountains with your mind. And he further declared, by extension, that anything, and everything, you believe you can do is within your power.
♦ Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
♦ John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
♦ I Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
♦ 1Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Faith Verses: See Appendix N
Power Verses: See Appendix O