In the first reading Ezekiel wrote, “There, above the firmament over their heads, something like a throne could be seen.”
By the “firmament” he meant the blue sky above, which he imagined to be a firm vault arching over the earth. In his dream he saw part of the firmament taken away, letting him see into heaven where God’s throne was being set up.
Such visions in which the sky is opened are known as apocalyptic visions. If we break down that five syllable word the meaning is clear. The middle syllable, CAL, is the core of the word. “Cal “ was the primitive word for a tent, and primitive people saw the sky as a big tent over the earth. The first part of the word apo means “away,” and the last part of the word lyptic means “to take.” So, the word apocalyptic means “opening up the sky.”
A century before Ezekiel the Persian mystic Zoroaster launched apocalyptic literature in a big way. In Zoroaster’s vision the sky was opened and he saw both a good and an evil creator up there. He called the good creator Ahura Mazda. The evil creator he called Ahriman,
We cannot take any of the apocalyptic literature as factual. As Paul told the Corinthians, “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love him.”
While apocalyptic literature does not give us factual pictures of heaven, it does assure us that heaven exists and that it is wonderful.