An Open Heaven
God is accessible to everyone through Christ
Some time ago there was a song on the radio titled “God is watching from a distance.” The second half of the title implies that God is remote and inaccessible. But the Bible says that God lives in heaven and that Jesus opened heaven for us. Let’s look at what this means in a literal and a metaphoric sense.
The Garden of Eden was paradise, heaven on earth so to speak. God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:8). They enjoyed an “open heaven” with ready access to the creator God. But after disobeying God they were banished from the garden. It was “paradise lost” and all of their descendants also disobeyed God. But we know that some had faith in God and trusted Him. For example, Noah was righteous and “walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). We also read about these in Hebrews 11: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David and the prophets. They lived like strangers in a foreign country and longed for a better country, a heavenly one (vv. 9-16). None of them received what had been promised, but they will share what was promised with us (vv. 39-40).
In Old Testament times God was not so accessible to everyone. When the Jews traveled in the desert from Egypt to Palestine, He was present as the pillar of smoke and of fire above their meeting tent. There were two rooms in this tent and in the temple: the outer one being The Holy Place and the inner one The Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place was where God dwelt, where He appeared in the cloud (Lev. 16:2), and it was an illustration of heaven (Heb. 8:5; 9:24-25). Only the High Priest was allowed to enter here once a year to make sacrifices for the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:1-34; Heb. 9:7). But Jesus changed all that.
When Jesus was baptized the Bible says that “heaven was opened” and the Spirit of God was seen “descending like a dove.” This was a sign to John that Jesus was the Messiah, and God confirmed this verbally: “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:13-17). Christ was God living on earth with us.
When Christ died “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mt. 27:50-51). The tearing down of the barrier between God and the people, meant that the once-closed innermost room in the temple was now an open place. The Bible says that Christ’s body is like the curtain (Heb. 10:20). His death was like the sacrifices offered in Old Testament times. Only it was much more effective, resulting in eternal redemption, a clear conscience, holiness and Christ appearing for us in God’s presence (Heb. 9:12,14,24; 10:10).
So, through Christ’s death we can confidently come near to God and heaven is opened to us (Heb. 10:19,22). It is like being in heaven with Him (Eph. 2:6). As a result of this we can receive insight from God through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and the Scriptures (Jn. 17:13; 2 Tim. 2:7). For example, Peter saw “heaven opened” and learned two things: not to think of anyone as impure and that God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:11,28,34). Paul was instructed by a “vision from heaven” to spread the Christian faith (Acts 9:15; 26:19). And we have the record of future events that was revealed to John when he saw “a door standing open in heaven” (Rev. 4:1).
Open Or Closed?
Unfortunately some don’t realize that heaven is open. They may not even think it exists and may rule out the existence of God and an unseen part of our world. Or they may follow different gods, such as the idols of their society or “the god within.” As long as they have a closed mind, then heaven is closed to them – because they have closed it.
Recently I went to a bank at 4 p.m. and found that it had just closed. For Christians, God is not like the bank, as He is available 24 hours a day! Heaven is always open and the Holy Spirit is always with us.
Before Stephen was stoned to death he saw heaven opened and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56). Are you looking forward to the time when all believers will enter an open heaven and be with God?
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Th. 4:16-17).
This event is known as the “rapture” or the coming of Christ for Christians. It involves the resurrection of the dead and a transformation of the living to “be made perfect” (Heb. 11:40). The living will be translated directly to heaven, like Enoch and Elijah were (Gen. 5:24; 2 Ki. 2:11; Heb. 11:5). It will be something like returning to the Garden of Eden – “paradise regained.” It is what those who lived by faith in the Old Testament times looked forward to.
As an open heaven is available to us all today, we should not worry or be afraid. Are you looking forward to being with the Lord forever?