Doctrine Article
Expanded Internet Edition - May 1, 1999 

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The Geography of Heaven

by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1999
Edited by David Sielaff, 2006

Read the accompanying Newsletter for May 1999


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We have all heard of the New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven (Revelation 21:2). That city which comes to earth after the Millennium is arriving to take the place of the earthly City of Jerusalem that was established in the time of King David about a thousand years before the birth of Christ. This biblical reference alone shows that there is a “Jerusalem” that exists in the heavens like the one on earth, and both function politically and domestically in practically the same category of influence. There was one difference. The Jerusalem in heaven was about a thousand times larger in area than the Jerusalem on earth (Revelation 21:16). In spite of this largeness of area, the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem are equal in size to human beings (Jesus in his glorified state and the angels when they appear to men always look like ordinary human beings in size. And Jesus is the same in body form as the Father (Hebrews 1:3; John 14:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15–16). Also, the measurements used to calculate the size of the heavenly Jerusalem are the same that mankind uses on earth, which are the same standard used by the angels:

“And the city lies foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs [about 1,500 miles]. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is [which is that], of the angel.

Vast crowds of “nations, tribes, peoples and tongues” (almost innumerable in population) inhabit the regions of heaven (Revelation 7:9; 12:12; 13:6; and 19:1 where it speaks of “much people” [a crowd] in heaven).

Whereas the earthly Jerusalem was the capital of all the twelve tribes of Israel in the time of David and Solomon, we find that the heavenly Jerusalem has twelve gates with the individual names of the twelve tribes of Israel on each of the gates (Revelation 21:12). Since the original twelve apostles of Jesus were told they would each sit on a throne over an individual tribe of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30), we find that each of the twelve foundation stones of the heavenly Jerusalem have the individual names of the twelve original apostles inscribed on them (Revelation 21:14). What we need to emphasize in this context is the fact that both the twelve tribes of Israel and the original twelve apostles of Jesus were of earthly origin, yet they had so much influence with God that these human creations had their names associated with the heavenly Jerusalem. Or, perhaps it is better to turn the example around and say that the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve original apostles were named after the names found on the gates and the foundation stones with the City of Jerusalem in heaven.

Three Heavens

What do I mean when I use the term “heaven” in this Geographical Report? The Bible speaks of three heavens, and they are all different from one another (2 Corinthians 12:1–4). The first heaven is one about which all of us on earth are very well acquainted because it simply means the atmosphere (particularly that where all weather phenomena occur). If a human being is six feet tall, then that person has the top of his or her head six feet upwards into the first heaven. So, even human beings live in the bottom part of the first heaven. The birds and the clouds are found in the middle and upper parts of this first heaven. This is the “heaven” into which Elijah was taken when he left Elisha in the 9th century before the birth of Christ (2 Kings 2:1). We later find Elijah still on earth in the land of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:12–13). We know that Elijah did not go into the third heaven (the heaven of God’s throne) because Jesus explicitly taught that no man before his time had ever gone into the heaven where God had his throne (John 3:13).

The second heaven is where the moon, the sun and all the stars are found (and this includes the billions of galaxies that modern man has been able to discover with the use of various kinds of telescopes). This “heaven” is described in Genesis 1:14–18 and it is one that all of us are familiar with, except we have not been able to go beyond the moon in any human exploration (though instruments from the earth are now in motion outside the solar system and located between various suns within our galaxy).

This Geographical Report is interested only in the “third heaven.” This is where God’s abode happens to be. He lives in a palace that is located within a city in an area called “Jerusalem” (or, “Mount Zion”). This vast region (remember, this “Jerusalem” is a thousand times larger than our earthly “Jerusalem”) is called in the Bible by the name “Paradise” (2 Corinthians 12:1–4). The word itself means a “Park” or a “Garden” and the Jews have long equated the Garden of Eden as a parallel (and a microcosm) of the grand Garden in heaven in which God the Father lives and has His throne. In fact, the Garden of Eden is nothing more than a type (or counterpart) of God’s own residence in His heavenly domain.

The first eight pages of my book Secrets of Golgotha give the scriptural and historical evidence that the Garden of Eden was the model that was used by Moses in constructing the Tabernacle in the wilderness (a type of portable Temple) and it was also the archetype of the Temple on Mount Zion that David had Solomon build in Jerusalem. From pages 110 to 147 in my book Restoring the Original Bible I have detailed information that the Temple in Jerusalem was also shaped to resemble the Garden that was in the Land of Eden and that even the Old Testament scriptures in its three divisions was arranged to fit in a symbolic manner with the three compartments of Eden (Paradise) and the Temple design. 1

For Israel to assemble in the outer courts of the Temple was like meeting God within the “first heaven” where all weather phenomena take place (it could even rain in this area since it was not covered with a roof). The Holy Place of the Temple, however, was where the priests were privileged to enter had a curtain in front of its entrance with the heavens embroidered on it (the moon, sun and stars, but not the zodiacal signs, representing the “second heaven”). The Holy of Holies inside the Holy Place was separated by another curtain (sometimes by two parallel curtains attached to one another) and inside that final curtain was considered the “heaven of heavens” which the heaven where God has His abode (the “third heaven”).

Remember that Moses was ordered to build the Tabernacle (a type of portable Temple) exactly like the pattern given to him by the angel (Exodus 25:9, 40) which the apostle Paul said was the same pattern of God’s throne and house in heaven (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23). There are more parallels. The 24 priestly divisions in Solomon’s Temple (1 Chronicles 24:1–18) represented the 24 elders in the heavenly Temple mentioned in Revelation 5:8. There were also four major Israelite tribes that encamped around the Tabernacle as a Lion, Eagle holding Snake, Man and Bull and their exact counterparts in heaven were the four Cherubs (Ezekiel 1:10; Revelation 4:7.). Indeed, the Garden and the whole area of Eden also represented a pattern of God’s abode and the country of God’s residence in heaven. The Garden had Cherubs guarding it, like God has before His throne.

Now note this important point. In my book 101 Bible Secrets that Christians Do Not Know, give detailed information about the geography of the four rivers (which finally merged to become one great river within the Garden in Eden). What I show in plain language (though most people of the present and recent past have adopted a false opinion that the “heads” of the four rivers were at their sources in four different mountain regions) is that the four “heads” of the four rivers are located at what we call their “mouths.” The Bible actually shows that the four rivers by the names of Euphrates, Tigris, Pison and the Gihon entered the Land of Eden separately but they came together in the Garden to form one river that left the Garden and the single river went into the Persian Gulf. The name of that one river was a continuation of the River Gihon. Thus, the water that left the Garden of God (typical of God’s throne) was the Gihon River (now made larger by the volume of the other three rivers).

This is important to know because when David had Solomon built the Temple at Mount Zion it was built over the single water source in all the area of Jerusalem and they called that spring by the name of Gihon to tally with the Gihon River that came forth from God’s throne in the Garden of Eden. The Gihon Spring (and the Gihon River) in turn were pattered after the River of Life that issues forth from God and His heavenly throne (Revelation 22:1–2). They are analogous to the Waters of Salvation that David so often talked about in the Psalms (87:7). Note the teaching.

“His [God’s] foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah. ...

The singers as the players on instruments shall be there [in the Temple]: ALL MY SPRINGS ARE IN THEE [Zion].”

God also has “springs” issuing forth from His throne in heaven.

“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the Lord is upon [over] the waters: the God of glory thunders: the Lord is upon [over] many waters. ...

In his Temple does every one speak of his glory. The Lord sits upon [over] the flood; yea, the Lord sits King for ever [olam, for the age].”

God even lives in a palace in heaven that has chambers with their beams of support located in the “waters” of the springs (Psalm 104:3). Note Psalm 36 where David is speaking both about the earthly Temple and God’s heavenly palace:

“How excellent is your loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house [the Temple at Zion]; and you, shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures. For with you is the fountain of life [from the Temple]: in your light shall we see light.”

Look what this means. Since the river that came from underneath God’s Temple in Jerusalem was called the “Gihon,” and the river that left the Garden of Eden (a symbol of God’s heavenly Paradise) was also the “Gihon,” then it makes sense that the earthly river called the Gihon (or the spring) derived their names from the heavenly “River of God” that emerges from the real throne of God in the “third heaven.” Since the geographical scene associated with Eden and the Garden is typical of the heavenly region of God’s abode, then it is not unreasonable to believe that the heavenly Eden also has four rivers flowing into it and they possess the names of the earthly rivers that were named after them.

There is certainly a region in heaven known as Persia because Gabriel the archangel fought with the Prince of Persia (an angel) IN HEAVEN (remember that there will be “War in Heaven” as stated in Revelation 12:7). Furthermore, Gabriel was later to fight a major battle with the Prince of Javan (Greece and the Greater Balkans) IN HEAVEN (not on earth). But both the areas of Persia and Javan in heaven have counterpart rulers and areas on earth.

Also remember that the earthly King of the North in Daniel 8:9–10 (comparing the context with the “Book of Truth” found in Daniel 10:21 and recorded in the Bible throughout Daniel chapter 11 to 12:4) was able through his counterpart in heaven to fight even with the “host of heaven” (he will war with angelic armies in heaven) and he will defeat some of the heavenly angels by throwing them into the earth.

What happens when there are wars in heaven? They have repercussions on our earth. When angels in heaven are fighting over who controls areas in heaven (for example, those heavenly regions called Persia and Javan), we have similar battles here on earth (usually in the wake of the heavenly wars). See Revelation 12:12–17.

Sometimes, though, events on earth precede those in heaven. Note that Jesus said there would be a time of trouble on earth (the Great Tribulation) starting with the setting up of the Abomination of Desolation and lasting about 3½ years. The Tribulation will be so bad that no time before or after could be compared to it (Matthew 24:15–29). But in Daniel 12:1, the Great Tribulation occurs only after the 3½ years (and is of short duration) and it occurs at the resurrection of the dead from the earth.

Note that Revelation 7:9 states that there are IN HEAVEN “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before [in sight of] the throne, and before the Lamb.” These are HEAVENLY BEINGS, not earthly men or humans. They are cited along with innumerable angels who always stay in sight of God’s throne and that of the Lamb (Revelation 7:11). They are the ones who come out of THE HEAVENLY “Great Tribulation” (mentioned by Daniel in 12:1) and NOT the EARTHLY “Great Tribulation” mentioned by Christ Jesus in Matthew 24. Thus, the Bible shows two “Great Tribulations” — one in heaven in which there was or never will be another like it, and another on earth in which there was or never will be another like it. It is a major mistake to get the two distinct Tribulations mixed up.

Indeed, virtually all of the prophetic teaching about Persia, Javan, the King of the North and the King of the South in what we call the “Scripture [or, Book] of Truth” (Daniel 10:21 and recorded in Daniel chapter 11 to 12:4) is describing WARS IN HEAVEN and NOT on earth! These wars in part are between the archangels Gabriel and Michael and the angelic Prince of Persia and the angelic Prince of Javan, with the angelic powers called the Kings of the North and the Kings of the South.

For example, the geographical regions of Edom, Moab, and Ammon mentioned in Daniel 11:41 are HEAVENLY districts, NOT earthly. And if the heavenly Jerusalem is about a thousand times larger is size than the earthly Jerusalem, these heavenly regions called Edom, Moab, and Ammon may be the same.

Remember, there are vast nations, tribes, peoples, and different languages now inhabiting the “third heaven.” These peoples are not on earth but they have come out of their own heavenly tribulations (Revelation 7:9–17).

Indeed, we have King David in Psalm 45 writing a vision of Christ Jesus at one of his former wedding ceremonies IN HEAVEN (and this is referred to by the apostle Paul in Hebrews 1:8–9) that tells us of a daughter of a king who comes from a district IN HEAVEN called “Tyre” (Psalm 45:12) and there is another district called Ophir (verse 9). Both these heavenly districts have counterparts on earth.

As a matter of fact, both the earthly King of Tyre is described in Ezekiel 28:1–10 and also the heavenly King of Tyre (a Cherub of angelic rank) are mentioned in the last part of Ezekiel 28 starting in verse 11. There is also an earthly King of Babylon who has a counterpart in heaven who wishes to take over the very throne of God in heaven (Isaiah 14:4 with 12–14).

Even humans on earth have their counterparts in the form of angels in heaven. Jesus spoke of children having “their angels” (Matthew 18:10). Early Christians thought Peter had his own angel with the same appearance as Peter (Acts 12:15). The angel of the Prophet Samuel even went by the name “Samuel” (1 Samuel 28:11–15). What we will one day discover is that the earth is a pattern of heaven in a microcosm sense. The regions in heaven are more vast in extent, but the inhabitants are the same size as humans on earth. At the present there is as much diversity in heaven as on earth. There have been as many wars in heaven as we have had on earth. Soon, heaven will become pure as the Father and Christ are pure. All this will be given in my forthcoming book on “Angels.” [Note: Dr. Martin did not complete his book on angels before his death in January 2002.  DWS]

Ernest L. Martin, 1999
Edited by David Sielaff, 2006

1 See also the detailed analysis in Dr. Martin’s article: “The Temple Symbolism in Genesis” at  DWS

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