Creation is both physical and spiritual. That is, it consists of components that are seen and components that are unseen. (The Bible often refers to this distinction as flesh and spirit.) Everything in the physical creation teaches about spiritual reality, often mirroring it. That is, God uses what is seen to teach about what is unseen. That’s why the Bible is so full of metaphors, similes, parables, analogies, and such.
Thus, when the Scripture says that God created the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, it is giving us a pattern or a likeness of the spiritual creation. Specifically, heaven was created for God and the angels. Earth was created for man. And the sea – that is, the region beneath the earth, the netherworld – was created to house the dead.
The realm of the dead below was called Sheol by the Hebrews, and Hades by the Greeks. Thus the living were on earth, the dead were below.
Hell has nothing to do with this. Hell was called Gehenna, which was a burning trash heap outside of Jerusalem originally called Ben-Hinnom. It is a biblical concept but has nothing to do with the dead. It speaks of life outside of God’s blessed presence. The metaphor works like this: Jerusalem symbolizes life with God, Gehenna represents life outside His presence. That’s the contrast. But, again, it’s not speaking to the abode of the dead. In terms of the three-tiered universe, it’s speaking to life on earth: that is, it’s lived either in the blessedness of God’s presence (Jerusalem) or in the cursedness outside of it (Hell).
This view of a three-tiered spiritual universe permeates and undergirds all the Old Testament writings. Note well that it does not allow for the idea of any human being going to heaven! For humanity to ever get to heaven, God would have to reconfigure the entire spiritual universe. In fact, that’s exactly what He did through Jesus Christ. And that’s why Everyone Is Going to Heaven .
The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.