What is Heaven Like? Heaven and Earth Part 2
Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth? Ooh, heaven is a place on earth. They say in heaven, love comes first. We'll make heaven a place on earth...
Okay, that's Belinda Carlisle. But, Belinda may be on to something... if you haven't read Part 1 of this series, you should probably stop and do that first. In that article, we established that heaven is not just a place we go when we die and it's not far above the clouds in some physical space we cannot reach; rather, it is better thought of as "God's space" and it is everywhere!
In the last article, we mentioned that Jacob's "ladder" or perhaps more accurately, his staircase, was a vision of how God interacts with "our space" - earth, our home. There are heavenly beings, angels, ascending and descending the staircase; this is a symbol rather than a real depiction of how it works. (That is to say, there is no literal stairway to heaven, sorry Led Zeppelin fans...) There is constant traffic between heaven and earth though, a constant flow of God's will being carried to earth.
When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He set off the start of it by being baptized. After John the Baptist plunged Jesus beneath the water and He arose, the spirit of God descended upon Jesus "like a dove." And shortly after that, Jesus had this to say:
"I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." -- John 1:51
The interaction point, the portal between heaven and earth is Jesus. He is the temple, now.
Jesus answered, "Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days." Therefore the Jews said, "This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and You will raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking about the sanctuary of His body. -- John 2:19-21
God's presence, the place where heaven and earth overlap, was in the temple, behind the curtain, in the holy of holies. In that room sat the Ark of the Covenant, the physical manifestation of God's earthly presence. You could not touch it, priests had to go through purification rituals just to be in its presence. Taking with you into battle was the equivalent of taking God with you into battle. But now, Jesus was God in flesh, a walking temple. Heaven and earth overlapped wherever Jesus' feet trod.
Now flash forward to the end of Jesus' life. He promised He, God, would not forsake us. He was with us in the temple before and was with us in that moment through Jesus. He would be with us after Christ's return, too, but in a new form.
Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn't love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is form the Father who sent Me. I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit - the Father will send Him in My name - will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you." -- John 14:23-26
While He was together with them [the disciples], He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father's promise. "This," He said, "is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." -- Acts 1:4-5
This came to pass at Pentecost.
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. -- Acts 2:1-4
A wind came from heaven, not from the other side of the universe, but from the other side of the veil that divides our space from God's space, and that wind was the life-force of God. This signified the presence of God, animating the bodies of the disciples there. Notice that tongues of fire were over each head... think about when God consecrated the tabernacle, then the first temple in Jerusalem: He sent fire from heaven and filled those spaces. Now, He was sending fire from heaven to sanctify His new temple: His church.
What is heaven? It's God's space. How do we interact with God's space and with Him? At these locations where heaven and earth overlap - Mt. Sinai, the tabernacle, the Jerusalem temple, the Christ... and now, within ourselves. If you are saved by the blood of Jesus, then you are the temple; a walking, talking, portable temple of God where heaven and earth overlap and all things are possible!
Belinda Carlisle was sort of right whether she knew it or not! Little windows to heaven are all over the place in God's people!
Now, I know, I know... there are still some unanswered questions here. Do I go to heaven when I die? Right away? Is there a wait between death and heaven? We'll need one more blog post to handle all the rest!
Are you living your life like a walking temple of God? Is the peace of God surrounding you constantly and affecting the people around you? It certainly can, if you seek God and truly desire to be what He called you to be!
As the song says: Let the Lord prepare you to be a sanctuary. Pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, become a living sanctuary of God.