We get to take a peek.
The Holy Scriptures only mention two men who have entered the third heaven. Jesus, our Messiah and the apostle Paul. Jesus called that place His “Fathers house.” (John 14:2) Until Jesus’ resurrection no man had ever ascended into heaven. “No one has gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven — the Son of Man.” (John 3:13) Paul wrote of an earlier experience of being “caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, that no one is permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:4) That was after Jesus’ resurrection. That’s it! Only two are mentioned in all of Scripture.
But what about …………….?
“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:24) Assume God took him to heaven, or believe Jesus when He said, “NO ONE has ascended into heaven …..” and admit you have no idea where God “took him.” If it was important, be sure the Spirit would have told us.
“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” (2 Kings 2:11) Three heavens: the sky, outer space and God’s home, paradise. Where did the whirlwind in the sky deposit this prophet whose time as a prophet had come to an end? Outer space? Jesus’ words rule out the “heaven of heavens,” (Deuteronomy 10:14) His Father’s home. Again, we do not know where Elijah went.
“But what about the Transfiguration of Jesus? Both Elijah and Moses were there!” “And as they were coming down from the mount, Jesus charged them saying, ‘say to no one the vision, till the Son of Man out of the dead may rise.” (Matthew 17:9) It was a vision! God, who “Declares the end from the beginning,” (Isaiah 46:10) caused men to see things that are still to be. Moses, like all men before him died (Deuteronomy 34:5-6) and like Adam became dust. Moses could not have been resurrected, Jesus had not yet died.
Men have had visions of heaven.
But they didn’t go there. Micaiah “saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing before Him on His right and on His left.” (1 Kings 22:19) Isaiah “saw the LORD high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1-4) Ezekiel “saw visions when the heavens were opened. (Ezekiel 1:1) John “saw through a door.” (Revelation 4:1-11) And Steven had a vision of Christ when he was being stoned. (Acts 7:55-56)
“Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned.” (Romans 5:14) No one could be resurrected before Jesus was. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after that the judgement;” (Hebrews 9:27) The eleventh chapter of Hebrews commends God’s saints of old for there faith, yet “they did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so apart from us they would not be made perfect.”
God has set the time to judge the living and the dead. Thank God that we await to be judged righteous in Christ. “What about the thief on the cross?” He is offered as hope that we enter heaven upon our death. And that “hope” is dependent on how you punctuate the sentence. “And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in paradise. Or Truly I say to you today, you shall be with me in paradise.) That day was not the day of Jesus’ resurrection!
Like Adam we return “to dust” (Genesis 3:19) waiting to hear the voice of God on the day of our resurrection. “….they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4-6)
Carefully read Paul’s words, “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” Preference. He would rather be at home with the Lord. He continues to say, “For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-10) Mankind awaits the resurrection before they “appear before the judgement seat of Christ.”
What is the application? Some will be alive when Jesus returns, but for most of us God’s breath of life will return to Him. So, let us be as Christ and now say, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) In faith we enter His rest and are at peace.