There are those within the Christian community that verbalize their disdain for societal demoralization; pointing a finger at the Millennial generation or some specialty group seeking attention. They will use clichés like “progressive” and “liberal” and maybe even “god-less” when describing these groups. I would contest their protest a wee bit as we look at the bigger picture.
I would ask myself, and maybe the ‘church’ should too, what are the people being taught about truth and God and the words of Scripture. How much of todays progression is really a prophesied digression of humanity and faith. That maybe, just maybe, religion has become far too liberal in their approach, and that people aren’t god-less they are actually very happy with the god (small g intended) they serve.
The topic at hand will be the Law of Heaven. There are rules for our entry and there will be gatekeepers to insure our compliance. Sounds a little harsh? Not when we consider it our protection against the enemy. We learned last time that the ‘enmity’ God placed between the woman and the serpent, or the Law of Conflict exists and will until the very end. What happens when these two laws collide?
Half of the crowd has already started googling the word heaven and has a Bible app open. The rest ….well who knows…. but one thing is for sure. Based on statistics I have your full on attention. This is THE hottest topic among believers. And rightfully so, this is the ultimate promise… to co-habitat with the Creator God, King of Kings and Lord of All. Amen.
With songs possessing lyrics like, “oh what a glorious day that shall be, when my Jesus I shall see” and “I can only imagine what its like”, do we really know, or can we really know, what heaven looks like? Movies and books from various religious backgrounds talk about people who claimed to have seen heaven in dreams, or comas, or even still near-death experiences. These stories are gobbled up by the congregations and fill the conversations of small groups for decades, in some cases, but are they real? Do they fit the narrative of Scripture?
So….lets find out….
Genesis 1:6-8 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Read that again….. and again if need be….
The place that God created for you and I …. this place we named Earth… is where God intended to cohabitate with mankind… its not some ethereal or mystic place…. ultimately it is right here, terra firma, … Earth. Albeit a perfected and a return to glory Earth, it is none other. The promise is fulfilled in Revelation.
What went wrong you ask? Plain and simple, man did not listen to Gods instructions for earth. Ever open a box and start building the contents and then, half-way through, you start looking for the directions. That is the in-born sin nature all the preachers are talking about. You ‘get that honestly’ as they say…. Adam did the same thing with the garden. I jest. But seriously, look at his actions and then the resulting outcome. “Because of this, cursed is the earth.” OUCH.
Who and what were taken from the ground. Man and beast, same as the herb of the field and trees that were created to sustain us. Talk about rotten tomatoes. (one for the cliché crowd)
God knows what has to be done. I house cleaning. Peter says it starts with us. Jesus makes a whip out of chords and starts in the temple. Scripture says no revelation comes to man except it be delivered by the prophets… so…
Isaiah 65:17 “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”
And so the Revelation
21:1-2 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven*, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Here it is. The fulcrum of the debate. The phrase ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ somehow lends too heavily to the concept of a secondary habitat that can some how be ascended to at the end of life. This phrase in the original Greek says the following….
οὐρανός, οὐρανοῦ, ὁ (from a root meaning ‘to cover,’ ‘encompass’; cf. Vanicek, p. 895; Curtius, § 509), this term in Hebrew has the same connotation, chuppah or wedding tent, to signify the Bride of Christ. It also describes the work of the Ruach or Holy Spirit of God. This is the promise fulfilled. God resetting creation as it was intended to be.
This is why Jesus tells us he is “going to prepare a place for us”. It is in that preparation that the foundation has to be laid. Ever see a crew work a construction site for housing? They spend weeks digging, plowing, sifting, dredging and leveling the dirt before a stick of wood ever arrives to the site. He gave Noah a hundred and twenty years to warn that generation. He has given us plenty of time….. what happens when the earth begins to shake? Will we be elated to see our house being built, or, scoff and complain about the dust rising?
Here we are stuck in the waiting.
Heaven…. been there done that…
This mentality that we as humans have the ability, or even the ‘right’, to transcend back and forth in whatever dimension housing a perfect God, seems absurd to me. Paul very clearly states that the followers of YHVH will be translated in a blink of an eye and the people that were already dead in the flesh will be raised to incorruptible bodies.
Likewise in Joel we read that those who left the heavenly realm, “kept not their first estate”, became locked in “chains of darkness”….why? Because they no longer had access to the Light of the World. They, like Esau and Cain, rejected salvation. Is the concept of people ‘just passing thru’ heaven beginning to sound a little odd at least?
What should the “New Testament” believer says about such claims? Many get behind the non-confrontational view: “its not my place to say what he/she/it experienced. God shows himself in many ways.” That might work in a large group especially if you do not know them well. But face to face with a friend, who is really pressing the issue, this could get messy.
John 3:13 “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”
[If this sounds sarcastic it is not intended] Actual conversation between myself and a friend:
“so you are telling me this 10 yr old boy in this book, and the plumber from Akron in that movie, actually went to heaven and chatted with God. You 100% sure.”
“YES! look at all the descriptions of the place.”
“But the Bible says…”
“You’re just jealous.”