In the Bible, ‘heaven’ can mean slightly different things. For example:
- Heaven can be the area through which birds fly. Genesis 1:20:
And God said, ” . . . let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”
- Heaven can be the area where the stars are. Genesis 22:17:
I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.
- Heaven is where God is. Ecclesiastes 5:2:
. . . for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
- Heaven is used figuratively for political powers. Isaiah 1:2:
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken . . .
which is explained in Isaiah 1:10 as heavens being the rulers and the earth being the people:
Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
Further to these meanings, many people have misunderstood the Bible teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. The phrase ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’, occurs in Matthew’s account of the gospel. The equivalent phrase in Mark and Luke’s records, is ‘the Kingdom of God‘. This Kingdom of Heaven/God, is referring to the establishment by God through Jesus, of a Kingdom on Earth with Jesus as King ruling from Jerusalem. This Kingdom is where the resurrected faithful believers will be given immortality at the return of Jesus. It is called the Kingdom of Heaven because it is a heavenly kingdom operating on God’s principles and ruled over from the man from heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:47
Hell in the Bible, means the grave. Over the centuries, many have misunderstood the colourful language used in the Bible and have thought that God punishes sinners eternally in a fiery place called ‘Hell’. In reality, the punishment for sinners is eternal oblivion in the grave and exclusion from eternity with Jesus. Ecclesiastes 9:5:
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
2 Thessalonians 1:9-10:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed . . .