Heaven: the destination that many people look forward to when they die. The question to ask is Was heaven always the destination for man? For many people heaven is just that and it seems that earth is just a conduit to a truer reality. A man’s life is lived on earth and then when he dies, he continues to exist without a body; and if he is a Christian, he is awaiting the resurrection. Regardless, after the resurrection, he is still destined to remain in heaven. This view of life and thereafter, however, assumes certain truths that will be examined here.
In a particular vein of theology in Christianity, we are in the age of the church awaiting a future age of the restoration of God’s plan with the nation of Israel. This hiatus according to some is unnatural at best and incorrect at worst and it demonstrates God’s altering his direction when the actions of men intervene. This is not to say that man’s actions overrule God but that in God’s kindness he allows men to make choices and those choices effect the future. In the system of theology mentioned above, Israel during Jesus’ time chose to reject him and thereby redirected God’s plan for the future. What we have called the age of the church was not originally in God’s plan but has now come into effect because God’s allows men to make choices.
Had Israel not crucified the promised Messiah, what would have happened? What would the first century have looked like? Would Isaiah’s hopeful prophecy been inaugurated? What would the following millennia looked like? Where would we be today? Would the swords turned into plowshares still exist? Would there be perpetual peace on earth? Alas, the choices of men: intervening historical contingencies.
We have laid the groundwork now to consider what role heaven placed in the original plan of God for man. If death is the result of man’s free action to obey or disobey God and if God’s original intent was that man would obey and live and not die…. Do you feel the weightiness of the query? Is it not a question worth asking?
Had man not chosen death over life, and were death not a natural course of life, what would history have looked like? Would Adam and Noah still be alive? Would over-population actually be something about which to worry? Or would man have translated from this life on earth to an heavenly one? But even to assert that last musing, assumes translation at all. Why ask the question? It is asked because we are told that there was a man who did not die, but was taken by God.
Enoch, we are told, walked with God and was not for God took him and this after a lengthy treatise on the sin of all men leading to death in Genesis 5. Every man prior to Enoch dies and death is the result of sin, but Enoch doesn’t die. It seems we can say that he was translated from earth to heaven. But this merely begs the question again—do men go to heaven when they die? When Abel was slain by his brother, was he immediately in the presence of God only awaiting the resurrection of his body in the remote future? Why was Enoch taken? Where was he taken? Is his being taken a model for us to consider when we ask about what reality lies ahead regarding death and thereafter?
What if heaven were actually the destination for all men as glorified men? What if earth was truly a place of maturity where man is born, grows wise and then when appropriately wisened, he is taken off the scene in an Enoch-like translation? What if heaven really will be where we spend eternity? We are back to the beginning; back to where most people are in their thinking but do not really understand why they are correct.
to be continued…