Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” So God made two distinct places – one was earth and the other was heaven. Then He populated them. We tend to see heaven as the place where God lives, but obviously, He wasn’t there before He created it and we know He is here on earth too. We also see heaven as the place where angels live, but they too, are known to be here on earth.
Job 38:4-7 tells us the “Sons of God” shouted for joy when God laid the foundations of the Earth. Were heaven and earth created at the same time? That seems to be what Genesis 1:1 says. If they were, then, like God, the “Sons of God” were not in heaven either. Are the “Sons of God” angels? Most scholars believe they are. If so, than at creation the angels were also in a place that was neither heaven nor earth. A place so foreign to us that even our imaginations cannot tell us where they were.
One should keep in mind that the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’. The term ‘messenger’ is not so much a descriptor of the being as it is a job title. The job of messenger is usually regarded as fairly low on a hierarchy scale. That suggests there are other beings higher up the ladder. It is generally assumed that cherubim and seraphim are angels, however the Biblical text is not entirely clear on that.
Ugarit was an ancient city-state in what is today – Syria. Thousands of clay tablets were discovered there in the late 1920s. Some of those tablets speak of the life and religious views of the ancient Israelites. And just like the Dead Sea Scrolls, those tablets are important in our understanding of the language in the Old Testament. From these texts scholars have learned more about the meaning of the words that were used in the Bible and about the thinking of the day. Some Bible translators working after those discoveries have attempted to take advantage of the knowledge gleaned from them.
One example is the Hebrew word elohim. Earlier Bible translations assumed elohim was simply another name for God. We now understand from the Ugaritic texts and the Dead Sea scrolls that, like the word ‘God’ or ‘god’, the word elohim can have a broader meaning. Elohim can indeed be another name for God. But it can also mean any spirit being. (In English translations the capitalized ‘Elohim’ refers to God – lower case ‘elohim’ can apparently refer to any other spirit being) That concept of spirit beings includes not only the trinitarian God, but also angels, demons, disincorporated human spirits and possibly even other beings as well. (More on this in another article.)
Like the English words deer or sheep, the Hebrew word elohim can be either singular or plural. Which it is must be determined by the context.
Are the souls of animals in heaven? We don’t know for sure, but there is evidence to suggest they might be. Christ’s return on horseback is probably the best known piece of supporting evidence. There is also the clue that once God creates a being, it stays created. Even the evil spirits cast into the lake of fire continue to exist. But their existence is in eternal torment. So, are there dogs in heaven and in the lake of fire? Perhaps.
God loves family. Human beings are referred to in the Bible as ‘God’s children’ and those ‘children’ are told to call God ‘Abba’ or ‘Father’. Phrases like ‘Sons of God’ in Job 1:6 and 38:7 (or ‘ben elohim’ in Hebrew) tell us that God also thinks of spirit beings as His children. So it seems that God thinks of all His created beings as His children. We might also see that God has two families – a material family in human beings and a spiritual family in the elohim. At least we might see it that way. God might see it as one continuous family. (I’ll ask Him. You could ask Him too.)
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