â€œBut will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?â€ (1 Kings 8:27)
The term â€œheavenâ€ is not just a general term for where the souls of the righteous go after death. The Bible actually speaks of the â€œthird heaven,â€ the realm to which Paul was once temporarily â€œcaught up into paradiseâ€ (2 Corinthians 12:4). The term is also applied to the realm of the atmosphere, and to the realm of the stars (e.g., Genesis 1:14, 20). In fact, the Hebrew word shamayim is actually a plural noun, often rendered â€œheavensâ€ as well as â€œheaven.â€
The concept of â€œfirst heaven,â€ â€œsecond heaven,â€ and â€œthird heavenâ€ may also have another meaning, depending on context. For example, Peter speaks of â€œthe heavens [which] were of old,â€ â€œthe heavens . . . which are now,â€ and the â€œnew heavensâ€ which God has promised (2 Peter 3:5, 7, 13) in the ages to come. The phrase â€œheaven of heavensâ€ actually occurs at least six times in the Old Testament.
Presumably, the â€œheaven of heavensâ€ is where God now has His heavenly throne and to which, after His resurrection, Christ â€œascended up far above all heavensâ€ (Ephesians 4:10) to be seated at the right hand of the Father. It is beyond all the stars and galaxies and presumably has no end. It may be synonymous with the third heaven (the extra-biblical literature speaks of a â€œseventh heaven,â€ but this idea is not in the Bible).
Someday, however, the heavenly Jerusalem will come â€œdown from God out of heavenâ€ (Revelation 21:2), and â€œthe throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in itâ€ (Revelation 22:3). The heaven of heavens will be on Earth (the new earth) and we also shall be thereâ€”with our Lordâ€”forever. Therefore, sing praises â€œto him that rideth upon the heavens of heavensâ€ (Psalm 68:33). HMM