Living in the Spirit on Earth
Living in the Flesh on Earth
Lake of Fire
We know there are three heavens because of the Apostle Paul’s words in his epistle to the Corinthians
2 Corinthians 12:2-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.
As there are three degrees of hell, there are also three heavens. The first heaven is our earth that God gave us, including our atmosphere and outer space. It is temporal meaning it is tangible, physical, and not necessarily spiritual, though it can be. Just as earth can be hell and man can suffer, it can also be heavenly because of all the blessings God bestows on man, in Christ and without. After all, sometimes evil people receive good things, and the most persecuted are those who follow Christ. Although overall, it is also true that Christ makes the difference between heaven and hell in our earthly bodies and existence.
Created for us over billions of years, the earth has been sculpted by our Father for us to live in and dwell in and to have joy in. From the platform of the earth, we can contemplate our Maker while looking out at our distant universe and back into the far reaches of time. In the first degree of hell, we can live a ‘lowly’ and ‘base’ life mired in dirtiness, darkness, and depravity; or live a higher life with a higher mind listening to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Not as tillers of the ground like Cain, living for the flesh; but as holy beings like Abel, living for the Spirit.
The second heaven is Paradise. That place where Jesus is meeting us when those who believe in Him pass from death unto life (Luke 23:43). The holding place where saints and those great and small await the Final Judgment. Analogous to Sheol, Paradise exists only in the Spirit realm between true Heaven and life on earth. Our bodies decay as in Sheol, but in Sheol those poor souls become less than a man, and in Paradise we become more like God. Like Sheol, it is a temporary holding place until Jesus completes His thousand year reign and Heaven is established. This is undoubtedly where the Garden of Eden is being protected from man.
The third heaven is Heaven, which is the New Zion, the New Jerusalem, which will be established in the Final Days. Paul was caught up to here for a while, transcending through paradise, but he did not like to talk about it lest he be seen as boasting. Its analogous dwelling place for those who are evil is the eternal Lake of Fire. They both last forever and ever: one good, one bad. Explained in the final pages of scripture, it is the long-awaited time when God places His tabernacle among men and they become His people, and He their God (Revelation 21:3).
How characteristic of God to make six levels of existence for man, just as He made six days of creation for man. Of course, God makes the circle complete as the seventh essence encompassing all these heavens and hells, transcendent and immanent among and in all of them, just as He is resting in His seventh day now, awaiting His new kingdom to come.
There is no place man can escape or disappear from God.