What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘heaven?’
Some delicious ice-cream on a hot summers day,
Laying by the pool on holiday.
You may even think of a perfect place well out of reach.
Somewhere you hope you will go when you die.
In Jesus’ day two concepts governed the mind’s of the people.
The Greek concept of heaven, was the place that the pagan god’s inhabited, the ‘up there,’ a realm distant and disconnected with the earth, which was in sharp contract to the God Yaweh of the Old Testament who showed his power principally ‘down here,’ on the earth, on the stage of human history.
The prevailing Jewish view, at the time of Jesus was nationalistic, that of a political and religious system, headed up by the Messiah, on His military expulsion of the Roman occupation.
Then Jesus uses the term in his parables and says things like, ‘ the kingdom of God is within you.’ ‘your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.’ Yet even Christians, dare I say, have been slow to re-define heaven in our thinking.
Jesus manifested this realm called heaven, in the earth, through his behaviour, words and actions. So heaven is not so much a place but a lifestyle you and me are designed for.
Jesus is the blueprint for all mankind. – man as God originally designed him to be.
This is what God believes to be true about you. You are all He has to live His lifestyle.
I shared in my last video about Jesus conversation with Nicodemus where he understood Jesus to say to him that unless he went ‘back to the beginning,’ he would not understand the kingdom of God or Heaven. Nicodemus shows he understands this concept because he asks how he can get back into his mothers womb and be ‘born again.’ But Nicodemus has not gone back far enough in his thinking. He should have thought of THE beginning, where he began in the womb of the Trinity before time began.
Back to the Beginning. Gen 1:1
In Gen1:1 are the words earth and heaven. In Hebrew thinking these are nothing to do with the earth as we understand it – the ground we stand on, nor heaven to do with the stars, planets, sun and moon. These come on the scene later in this passage. Here these terms are branches of spiritual roots trying to help us understand the realities of the realm that God occupies and how He sees things on the earth.
The Hebrew mind thinks of things with regard to their function rather than form. For example, if I say ‘pencil,’ then you immediately think of a long colourful piece of wood with a lead point at one end. A Hebrew thinker would see the function, the ability to leave lead marks – to make its mark.
The Heb. word for earth is ‘eretz,’ which expanded root meaning describes its function rather than form, which is: ‘the desire to receive,’ specifically – pleasure.
The use of the word ‘heaven,’ rather than “God,’ as used by Matthew, is interesting because whereas earth is described as the ‘desire to receive,’ ‘heaven’ in Gen.1:1 is the Heb. word ‘hashamayim.’ which expanded root means the desire to bestow or give. This verse ties in with Gen.2 where man is created first. Really Gen. 1and 2 has man as its focus not the creation per se.*
Mankind as represented by the first man Adam, was a product of the earth – ‘the desire to receive.’ When God designed man He gave him the ability to receive, how else was he to receive what God was wanting to bestow? However this ability to receive involved choice.
This ‘desire to receive,’ as it chose to receive what God wanted to bestow – pleasure – love and belonging, would be find total fulfilment and satisfaction by the giving back to God in gratitude and worship – thus reflecting His nature and love. Sadly this desire to receive, became perverted to the ‘desire to receive for itself alone.’ Man began reflecting a totally opposite nature, than His creator intended. Nevertheless this desire (for pleasure) is real and is the essence of man, which, in modern day vernacular is ‘the ego,’ albeit an unfulfilled one.
Heaven still ‘hovers around mankind, as it were, as a ‘mother over her brood of chicks,’ trying to fulfil man’s desire to receive, with the complete pleasure only God can give. Jesus said, ’Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (to pleasure – fulfil you.)’ Lk.12:32.
(*For a detailed analysis and exposition of this perspective read Melchizidek by Dr. John Mastrogiovanni available via a link in 10minchurch.org publications.)
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