Spirit and matter



Let's now consider the scriptural evidence that heaven is filled with things, things which can be perceived by God and spirits, heaven's denizens, and that heaven has “places” to which spirits can come and go. Later we will consider whether these passages reveal things just the way they are or whether they are intended to give us a taste sensation such that, when we get to experience the spirit realm ourselves, we will say, “Ah, so that's what that meant”.

The testimony of Scripture consistently reveals that heaven contains objects. Take this verse for instance:

The LORD is in His holy temple , the LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men (Ps. 11:4).

One psalmist also stated that when he prayed, God heard his voice “from His temple” (2 Sam 22:7). Adherents of the babytalk method of interpretation may well dismiss this as just that — an image for babes. Yet one should not dismiss this passage with a shrug of the shoulders as just so much patronising pablum. Clements has shown that the earthly sanctuary “is the symbol and the counterpart of the other” (1965, p. 68), and that in the book of Psalms in particular earthly and heavenly sanctuaries fade into and out of the scene as if they were interchangeable. God, he says, is depicted immanently on earth in Jerusalem's temple and transcendently in heaven. Even the most ardent babytalk advocates take Hebrews 9:24 very seriously:

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies [Gk; antitupos] of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us… (Heb. 9:24).

Copies of the true! Earthly shadows of a heavenly reality. Wow. A temple in heaven. Amazing. Other passages speak of a heavenly temple, too:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple (6:1).

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them (Rev. 7:15).

Adding further detail, we note that the earthly temple contained, in the most holy place, a gold-covered chest, or ark (mercy seat), surmounted by two cherubims.

And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat (Ex. 25:18).

Six Old Testament verses speak of God “who dwells between the cherubim” (1 Sam. 4:4, 2 Sam. 6:2, 2 Ki. 19:15, 1 Chr. 13:6, Ps. 80:1, Isa. 37:16).

In line with the principle that the earthly temple serves as the antitype of a heavenly temple, should we conclude that God in heaven, just like God in the earthly temple, “sits between the cherubim” (Ps. 80:1)?

Other objects are described:

I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him (Dan. 7:13).

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war (Rev. 19:11).

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