Is there a Heaven? Part 3

The Bible speaks of the afterlife, but it speaks more about life, because how we live will determine the afterlife. To look at the afterlife we must first consider this life. We have seen that sin separates us from God. We also have seen that hell is a real place for people who are unrepentant, and for those who do not believe, or  do not accept Yeshua’s sacrifice, His shed blood, on their behalf. We also have seen that those who believe can fall from grace due to their sins, and their disobedience to the will of God. So now, if there’s hell, we must ask ourselves, is there a heaven?

Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. So what does heaven look like? Isaiah 6:1-8, tells us about Isaiah’s experience when God pulled back the veil.  “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.  Seraphim were standing above Him, each having six wings: with two each covered his face, and with two each covered his feet, and with two each flew.  And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies. The whole earth is full of His glory.”  And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.  Then I said, “Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of armies.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.  He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away and atonement is made for your sin.”

Well, maybe Isaiah was hallucinating, but then the Apostle John must have had the same hallucination, for Revelation 1:10-16 tells us,  “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,  saying, “Write on a scroll what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And after turning I saw seven golden lampstands;  and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and wrapped around the chest with a golden sash.  His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.  His feet were like burnished bronze when it has been heated to a glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.” When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,  and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”  And again in Revelation 4:1-11 it speaks of the throne room of God, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and someone was sitting on the throne.  And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.  Out from the throne came flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God;  and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature like a calf, the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.  And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” And when the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever,  the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and they will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

Maybe John was hallucinating about angels, but then Ezekiel must have been also, for Ezekiel 10:1-22 says,  “Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them.  And He spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, “Enter between the whirling wheels under the cherubim and fill your hands with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.” And he entered in my sight. Now the cherubim were standing on the right side of the temple when the man entered, and the cloud filled the inner courtyard. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud, and the courtyard was filled with the brightness of the glory of the Lord.  Moreover, the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer courtyard, like the voice of God Almighty when He speaks. And it came about when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, “Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim,” he entered and stood beside a wheel.  Then the cherub reached out with his hand from between the cherubim to the fire which was between the cherubim, took some coals and put them into the hands of the one clothed in linen; and he took them and went out.  The cherubim appeared to have something like a human hand under their wings. Then I looked, and behold, four wheels beside the cherubim, one wheel beside each cherub; and the appearance of the wheels was like the gleam of a Tarshish stone.  And as for their appearance, all four of them had the same likeness, as if one wheel were within another wheel.  When they moved, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went; but they followed in the direction which they faced, without turning as they went.  And their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were covered with eyes all around, the wheels belonging to all four of them. The wheels were called, as I heard, the whirling wheels.  And each one had four faces. The first face was the face of a cherub, the second face was the face of a human, the third, the face of a lion, and the fourth, the face of an eagle. Then the cherubim rose up. They are the living beings that I saw by the river Chebar.  Now when the cherubim moved, the wheels would move beside them; also when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels themselves would not turn away from beside them.  When the cherubim stood still, the wheels would stand still; and when they rose up, the wheels would rise with them, because the spirit of the living beings was in them.Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.  When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the ground in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. These are the living beings that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; so I knew that they were cherubim.  Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and beneath their wings was the form of human hands.  As for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the river Chebar. Each one went straight ahead.”

Daniel also saw creatures with many heads, but they were not heavenly angels, but four kingdoms that will arise and out of the one, will come one  like a beast. He will be influenced by Satan as we see in  Daniel 7:1-14, “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.  Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it. “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’  “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully. “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow;  the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire,   and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him;  ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated,  and the books were opened. “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire.  (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Even the Apostle Paul was taken up to heaven, but he would not speak of such heavenly things as he says in 2 Corinthians 12: 1-4, “No doubt it is not seemly for me to boast. Nevertheless, I will come to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Messiah about fourteen years ago (whether he was in the body I cannot tell, or whether he was out of the body I cannot tell, God knows) who was taken up into the third heaven.  And I know the same man (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell, God knows),  how he was taken up into Paradise and heard words not to be spoken, which no man can utter.” 

So  yes, there is a heaven and a hell, but there is much more to the story as we will see next as we look at the restored Garden of Eden.

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