- The Firmament or "Atmosphere" of Earth mentioned in Genesis, which is where the birds fly and planes, when they're doing alright.
- The Celestial Heaven or space containing all of the various planetary bodies, stars and so forth. These declare the glory of God.
- The Third Heaven mentioned by Paul particularly, which is the dwelling place of God in the spiritual realm.
Now, none of these is ever said to have streets of Gold as we generally describe Heaven. The fact of the matter is that when we use these descriptions of "Streets of Gold and Gates of Pearl, etc," we are actually referring to the God-made city of New Jerusalem. But this is not Heaven in any of the three forms mentioned in scripture. The bible (Rev 21) says that New Jerusalem descends from God out of Heaven. Now we may postulate that this city actually comes into existence from the spiritual realm where God dwells and enters the physical realm to at the very least remain in orbit with the New Earth. Since the city's dimensions are approximately 1500 miles in height, width and length and is never said to actually touch down on the earth, it is safe to say that it might only remain in orbit, though at that size, highly visible.
One of the things Christians generalize away when considering eternity, is the fact that we aren't ever said to be hanging around on a cloud playing a harp, twinking halos. The future for a Christian is highly active...Praise the Lord for that cause I get bored easy! Think about all that the bible foretells:
- finishing our natural lives pursuing the Great Commission and a close, faithful walk with God...all with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- The gathering of all believers at the rapture, receiving glorified bodies at that time.
- The Judgment Seat of Christ, where every believer will give an account of their faithfulness to the work we have now (#1).
- The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, a great celebration which appears to follow the Judgment Seat and precede the Second Coming of Christ.
- The Second Coming of Christ where he will come with the armies of heaven...that's us as well folks...see Jude 14...and the battle of Armageddon!
- The establishment of Christs kingdom upon a renewed earth following the battle and imprisonment of Satan himself in the pit.
- The co-governing of Christ's kingdom with our Lord for 1,000 years leading to the final rebellion of Satan and mankind.
- The Great White Throne judgment where we will almost certainly stand present..."and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Likewise we will stand in judgment at some point of the angels that rebelled, perhaps at the same time Satan is judged finally...though we aren't told.
- A new Heaven and Earth will be created and the New Jerusalem will come down from God out of Heaven. We believers shall inhabit that city for eternity as well as having access to the new Earth and very likely access to the entire creation...no death, no pain, glorified bodies...oh, I'd say that's likely.
The point is that we have a lot going on for the believer in Jesus Christ...if we study the Word of God, we'll find not only greater accuracy in our understanding but a glorious future that shall never end!