“This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’"
My older brother sometimes refers to our dad as, "our father who art in Aurora." That's because my dad and mom live in Aurora, Nebraska and he thinks saying that is funny. I mention it here because it does have some application to this study . . . Jesus identified our "father" by His location - in heaven.
We might think of heaven as being a kind of celestial gated community. God the Father lives there in his castle; sitting on His throne and handing out decrees and judgments. The apostle Peter has been appointed gate-keeper and it is his job to keep the riffraff out, making sure that only the elect get in. Heaven is a place where everybody wears a robe, plays the harp, and goes to church every hour of every day. It is a wonderful place and, as Kenny Chesney's song says, “everybody wants to go to heaven (but nobody wants to go now).”
Well, those ideas about heaven are based as much on cartoons and movies as they are on what the Scripture says. It may be helpful to know that, in the Bible, the word "heaven" is used three different ways: First, the word heaven is used to refer to the sky, the atmosphere of planet earth. The birds fly through the heavens and the clouds are gathered there. Second, the word heaven is used to refer to space, the expanse of the universe. The sun, the moon, the stars, the international space station, etc. are fixed in heaven. And finally, the word heaven is used to refer to the eternal dwelling place of God. This place (which Paul called "the third heaven") is normally invisible to the natural eye and, unlike the expanses of space or the atmosphere of the earth, it is not part of the Genesis creation.
Consider these passages:
Ps. 11:4 - "The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne."
2 Chron. 2:5-6 - "The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?"
Ps. 113:4-5 - "The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?"
Isa. 57:15 - "This is what the high and lofty One says - he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'"
What we see in these few verses is picture of God, the sovereign King of all creation, who inhabits a "high and holy" place; and yet is not restricted or restrained by it in any way, either in His transcendent being or in His relationship to His creation or His creatures. In addition to His glorious heavenly dwelling, "Our Father" gladly makes His home with us - the "contrite and lowly in spirit." It makes you wonder, when the Psalmist wrote: "How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!" --Ps. 84:1, which dwelling place he had in mind, the celestial tabernacle or your heart. It doesn't matter; it is God’s presence there that makes it lovely.
--- Pastor Keith Andrews