How the Words Heaven and Zion are Used In The Bible
How the words Heaven and Zion are used in the Bible is an important thing to know. The very word Heaven whispers peace to our soul. Heaven gives a peace that this old troubled world can never give. This world brings no peace, and no lasting joy. This world brings sorrow, heartache, disappointments, and death.
Heaven will be a place of unparalleled beauty. The costliest things on earth will be used for the humblest purposes in heaven. People kill for Gold down here, but in Heaven we will walk on it. Gold will be the paving for the streets, and the foundations are of precious stones. Heaven is a magnificent place.
The Bible tells us to set our affection on Heaven.
Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
So we are going to concentrate on heaven to try to increase our affections on heavenly things.
People have some very strange and unbiblical views of what heaven is like. I have talked to people who had some pretty strange ideas of heaven. One long time born again Christian that I knew thought that heaven is the shape of a pyramid. He had some strange theory on God is light so heaven must be shaped like a pyramid. He had no scripture for what he thought. He just wanted to believe it because he thought it was neat and no scripture was going to change his mind.
Another man that I talked to thought that we would all be faceless spirits in heaven just floating around. And since no one has a face you could not recognize anyone. That had to be the strangest idea of heaven that I have ever heard. I took that man to the Bible and showed him that what he thought is not true.
You do not run into that man’s view of heaven very often. But there are many very common views of heaven that are also wrong. Views that are commonly accepted by the lost world around us and Christians alike. When asked to picture heaven in their minds. The picture that many people get is.
People floating around on clouds with a harp in their hands and a pair of wings on their backs. This is not in the Bible at all. This idea of a heaven in the clouds and getting a pair of wings is just as unbiblical as that mans idea of having no faces in heaven.
There are many misconceptions that people have about heaven.
Many people think that Saint Peter is guarding the gates to heaven and that he lets you in or keeps you out. Again not true. That is not in the Bible.
In fact almost every thing that you have seen in any T.V. show or Movie about heaven is wrong.
People don’t go there and then get sent back for second chances or to help people with their problems in life. People do not become angels. There are many false ideas about heaven.
These false ideas of heaven are so ingrained into our society that we can often think that some of them are biblical when they are not.
In fact when I first got saved I believed some of them. For example when I first got saved I thought that we would get wings. It was only after I started to study my Bible and to get grounded in the word that I realized that I was wrong.
We are to believe the bible and not some tradition. So as we go thru this study on heaven don’t be surprised if you find out that you had a misconception or two about what heaven is like.
WHAT IS HEAVEN?
We often use the term Heaven loosely. The Bible actually refers to three heavens. The Bible uses the same word Heaven for three completely different places. And if you fail to make the distinction you can fall into doctrinal error.
We see the first Heaven in:
Gen 1:9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry [land] appear: and it was so.
Gen 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
Jer 4:25 I beheld, and, lo, [there was] no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
Dan 4:12 The leaves thereof [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
From these verses we see the term Heaven used to describe our atmosphere. This is the heaven that we can see with our naked eyes.
The second Heaven is farther out than our atmosphere.
We see the second heaven in:
Gen 22:17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
Neh 9:23 Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess [it].
From these verses we see heaven is used to describe the stellar heavens.
This is the heaven that we can see with telescopes. But even with the most advance telescopes we can only see a tiny fraction of the stellar heavens.
The third way Heaven is used for the abode of God
We see the third heaven in:
1Ki 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
1Ki 8:30 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.
1Ki 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, [even] thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
From these verses we see the term heaven used to describe the Abode of God.
This is the heaven that we see thru the eyes of faith.
It was the third heaven, it was the abode of God that Paul got caught up to.
2Co 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
The word heaven is used in the Bible to describe three completely different places. The atmosphere, the stellar heavens, and the abode of God. When you see the word heaven in the Bible, you need to look at the context to tell which one is being referred to.
I had a Jehovah Witness come to my door one time. And when they do I try to talk to them and tell them that their beliefs are based on a corrupted Bible. I tell them that the only pure Bible in English is the King James Bible. I show them in my Bible how the beginning of the book of John reads and how it is different in their corrupted Bible.
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Their corrupted Bible says and the Word was a god.
They will admit that Jesus is the Word, but they do not think that Jesus is God. But rather that He is only a lesser god.
After I show them John 1:1 they have some prepared response to this and just brush it aside. I then start giving them facts about manuscript evidence. At this point they do not have a prepared response and most of them leave. I usually follow them while they are leaving pleading with them to not trust their eternal future to a handful of corrupted manuscripts.
One time though this lady responds that the Bible is not trustworthy at all. She said let me give you an example. She pointed to some verse in Isaiah were he talks about heaven being dissolved.
That didn’t happen she said so you can’t trust the Bible.
I said just because it has not happened yet does not mean that it will not happen. I said the Bible is very clear that the heaven and the earth will pass away.
Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
I told her that this earth has been stained with sin. So before God brings in eternity there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
She said you just proved my point. There is no sin in heaven so why would he make a new heaven. I told her that the word heaven is used in the Bible for three different places. And one of the ways that it is used is to describe our atmosphere. I told her that the heaven that will pass away is the heaven where the birds fly.
She just got a blank look on her face and then shook her head, said you cannot trust the Bible and walked off.
One of her problems was that she refused to see that the word heaven in the Bible is used for three entirely different places. You need to make a distinction between the three different ways that word heaven is used in the Bible.
In this study we are concerned with the Heaven that is the abode of God.
Another name that is used three different ways is Zion. Zion is another name for Jerusalem.
Zion of the past
2Sa 5:6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.
2Sa 5:7 Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same [is] the city of David.
In II Samuel we have another name for Jerusalem. Here Zion is called the city of David. This Zion existed back in King David’s time. This Zion was in the past.
The second way that it is used is in:
Isa 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Isa 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Isa 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
This Zion is the Jerusalem of the Millennium. It will exist during the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth. This Zion is yet in the future.
The third way that Zion is used is in:
Heb 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Here Zion refers to the New Jerusalem of Heaven. This Zion is the heavenly city that will be our home for eternity. This is the one that we are interested in for this study.