A Question About Heaven
December 18, 2023, 9:38 AM

Question: Where does God live; does he reside in Heaven?

Answer: Thank you for your question. There are several approaches to answering this question. Most children are taught in Sunday School that heaven is where God lives, but we need to understand that God is omni-present (Psalm 139:7-12; Deuteronomy 4:39; Joshua 2:11; Proverbs 15:3; Isaiah 66:1). By that we mean God is everywhere present in His full being. So, if we want to say, “heaven is God’s home,” we can not mean by that God is not present on earth. As Psalm 139 suggests, there is no place on earth, in heaven, or even in Sheol where we can escape the presence of God.

God is omni-present, that much is established, but God is also invisible, or spirit (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:17). Spiritual beings (God, the angels, demons) can not be seen with the naked eye; they can not be perceived by physical senses. To be sure, God and angels have taken on human form (for God, these are called Theophanies; for angels, Angelophanies), but these are temporary physical manifestations of spiritual beings (e.g., Genesis 18 and the “special” visitors to Abraham). Biblically speaking, “heaven” is the abode of invisible beings. Consider what the Apostle Paul says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NKJV). When Paul says, “heaven and earth, visible and invisible,” he is connecting “heaven” as the “invisible realm,” and “earth” as the “visible realm.” So, while God is omni-present (that is everywhere present), He is also invisible (meaning Heaven can be spoken of as His proper abode).

We also need to look at the original Hebrew and Greek words for “heaven” and see what meanings they carry. In Hebrew, the word for “heaven” is shamayim, and it carries several meanings. It’s basic meaning is “heaven, the heavens, the sky.” So, it is the word used to speak of the sky or the visible universe (Psalm 19:1). But it is also used to reference the abode of God, where He and the “heavenly host” reside (Psalm 2:4; 11:4; 20:6; 102:19). In Greek, the word for “heaven” is Ouranos, and it carries the same meanings as the Hebrew word. So, when we say God dwells, or resides, in Heaven, we don’t mean the sky, above the sky, the universe, or even beyond the universe. Heaven, in the sense of God’s dwelling place, is the invisible realm.

It is the abode of God (Heaven) where Paul is “caught up” to when he says the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Then in 2 Corinthians 12:4, he calls the “third heaven” Paradise. It was there the Apostle Paul received visions and revelations (2 Corinthians 12:1). The entire Book of Revelation was given to John when he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10). In many of these visions, John is whisked into the heavenly throne room (Revelation 4:1; 15:5; 19:11). The author of Hebrews speaks of Jesus’ High Priestly ministry in the “greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands” (Hebrews 9:11). In fact, the earthly tabernacle is a copy of the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 8:5).

The beautiful thing is that while we can say “we go to heaven when we die,” the hope for which we wait is heaven coming down to earth. This is the scene in Revelation 21 as New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. The New Creation, for which we all long and hope, will literally be “Heaven on earth” as God will dwell with His people for all eternity. Heaven, for the believer, is not a disembodied experience floating around as spirits, but a glorified experience in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity.

I hope this helps.

~ Pastor Carl