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The Bible uses the word heaven 532 times in the Bible. The Hebrew word for "heaven" is shamayim and is plural meaning "heights," "elevations." It is found in the first verse of the Bible. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" and in Gen 2:1 "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array." The phrase "heavens and earth" refers to the whole universe (Genesis 1:1; Jeremiah 23:24; Acts 17:24).

But according to the Jewish belief and the OT, there were three heavens, all created by God. The first is our atmosphere and sky. The Scriptures speak of God opening the doors of heaven to provide food or rain. (Psalms 78: 23,Gen. 7:11-12, Deut. 11:17, 28:12, Mal. 3:10) The second is outer space, the Bible calls it firmament, and includes the sun, moon, and stars. (Genesis 1:17, Psalm 19:4,6) The third heaven is where God dwells and is located beyond the space and stars. Jesus called it the "Father's house" but he also called it paradise when he promised it to the thief hanging on the cross next to him. Paul also uses the word paradise to refer to the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:4) This is where God's throne is located. Jesus Christ is also there as are the angels. In fact, there are myriads of angels and heavenly beings serving the Lord in various ways. And finally, the saints of God who died on this earth are in heaven enjoying "everlasting life."

Is heaven real? Twice in three verses, Jesus calls heaven a place and so it is a real place, just as real as the place you call home.

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