ONE HEAVEN IS NOT ENOUGH. Some people want more.
It’s probably Paul’s fault.
He gets everybody confused when he says, “I know a believer in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven 14 years ago,” (2 Corinthians 12:2).
Paul was talking about himself. Most Bible experts say they’re pretty sure about that.
As for what he meant by the “third heaven,” one guess is that he was talking about the place where God lives.
Some Jews taught there were three heavens:
- Sky, where the birds hang out.
- Outer space, where the planets and stars hang out.
- Paradise, where God and the angels hang out. And hopefully me after I’ve worn out my bone bag.
If those Jews were right, then there’s just one Heaven with a capital H and a five-star rating on a four-star scale. Everything else is just a Dew Drop Inn.
Some of the writings outside the Protestant Bible talk about seven heavens – all of them celestial.
The Jewish Talmud, a collection of Bible commentary, history, and laws, includes some teachings that say there are seven heavens. But they read like a stretch. I’ll give you just the first three as a sampling.
- First Heaven: Velon, “where the sun will never set” (Isaiah 60:20).
- Second Heaven: Raḳi’a, “God placed them [sun, moon, stars] in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth” (Genesis 1:17).
- Third Heaven: Sheḥakim, where God uses millstones to grind manna for his people. “God gave a command to the clouds, and he opened the doors in the skies. From heaven he sent grain that they called manna” (Psalm 78:23-24).
I’d give you the rest, but come on. Why bother?
It’s hard enough to believe in the one heaven that Jesus told us about. Seven heavens hurt my head.
And these seven seem based on a bug-eyed reading between the lines of the Bible – while smoking, drinking, or chewing something my mother would not approve of.
I’m all for creativity, but let’s keep it real.
Here’s what I know about heaven. I want to see it for myself.
Random book winner this week
I give away one free book a week to a randomly selected subscriber to my free blog and quarterly newsletter.
Susan is random this week.