Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Heaven 30

The book of Hebrews has a strong dualism between the earth and the heavenly realm, so what it says about “heaven” is of concern to us. Notice these texts:

Heb. 1:10 And,
?In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
Heb. 4:14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
Heb. 7:26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
Heb. 8:1 Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
Heb. 9:23 Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Heb. 11:12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, ?as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.?
Heb. 12:23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
Heb. 12:25 See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! 26 At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, ?Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.?


To begin with, there are some ordinary — heavens and earth-type — text here: 1:10 and 11:12 and 12:26.
Second, observe that Jesus passes through the heavens in his ascension to a throne above the heavens (4:14; 7:26). This surely gives the impression that he is King over the heavens and not simply a part of them. But, 8:1 clarifies that some: he is on a throne “in” the heavens.
Third, 9:23-24 shows that heaven is the place where God dwells and the earth is but a copy of it — an imitation copy — and so a more perfect offering/sacrifice was needed.
Fourth, 12:18-24 is important for our discussion, in part because it doesn’t quite answer our question but gets close. So, here’s the whole text:
Heb. 12:18 You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. 20 (For they could not endure the order that was given, ?If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.? 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ?I tremble with fear.?) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Here there is something heavenly that involves the perfection of the earthly types. It is this heavenly realm that the Christians have now approached. Is it the eternal state? It doesn’t say that it is. If you combine it with Revelation … it is this heavenly reality that descends to earth for the final state.

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David B Johnson

posted September 9, 2008 at 9:57 am

Especially in light of Heb 9.23ff, I’m wondering about the typological connection between the earthly tabernacle in the OT and the heavenly tabernacle, the place where God dwells. Doesn’t the EO church try to fashion their worship in light of this connection? Do you have any recommended reading on the significance of the OT tabernacle for Christian worship and how the OT tabernacle is a type of “heaven”? Thanks.

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Dana Ames

posted September 9, 2008 at 12:25 pm

you can find some interesting things in the work of Margaret Barker, who was curious and started writing about this topic ten years before she ever attended an Orthodox liturgy (an was flabbergasted once she did)… Here is a page of links.
It makes the most sense to me to approach this passage typologically. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any consistent guidance among Protestant teachers for approaching scripture passages typologically.

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Jeff Goins

posted September 9, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Hey Scot. Tom Davis sent me to this site. Great post on the significance of both heaven and earth. I love those verses in Hebrews. It kind of paints a picture of the duality of existence that we as the New Creation are living out. We’re still stuck in the copy of the “real world,” but we’re already participating in the new life of Jesus. No wonder things can get so complicated some times.
I’d love to do a Q&A with you some time for an online magazine that I edit called Wrecked for the Ordinary – Email me if you’re interested.

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