When you read the scriptures, you read certain places that mat get you confused because of seeming contradictions. The truth is that there is no contradiction in the scriptures as they were God-breathed. There is no confusion in God. We have may not understand the use of certain phrases that used back then when it was penned down. We have to make efforts to understand the Jewishness of Scriptures and look at a history for some contextual applications.
One of such scriptures is found in John 3:13 when Jesus had a chat with Nicodemus.
“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”
How could this be when the same scriptures say something that seemed different about Elijah. Now lets review.
The bible states that Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind “into heaven” (2 Kings 2:1) by “a chariot of fire, and horses of fire” (verse 11)
Did Elijah really ascend to heaven where God’s throne is, even though Jesus said he didn’t?
Now according to scripture there 3 kinds of heavens:
• The first heaven is earth’s atmosphere where birds fly.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” – Genesis 1:20
“I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away.” – Jeremiah 4:25
• The second heaven is outer space where the planets and stars exist
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,” – Genesis 1:14-17
“The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky.” – Deuteronomy 1:10
- The third heaven is also called “the heaven of heavens”. This is where God and the heavenly sanctuary exist
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. – 2 Corinthians 12:2.
Since Elijah could not have gone to the heaven of God’s throne, then to which heaven did he go?
Lets start by answering another question: Why was he taken up?
Elijah was the leader of the sons of the prophets in that day. God had sent Elijah as His prophet to wicked king Ahab and to his son Ahaziah. He did many notable things and miracles. Now God wanted Elisha to direct His work, as Ahaziah the king had died and a new king was ruling. So what did God do?
God was orchestrating a new move. I believe it was time for a new prophet on the scence. Both Elijah and Elisha was a reflection of John the Baptist and Jesus. Elisha received a double portion of his anointing. Jesus was anointed beyond measure by the Spirit at the same location, Jordan river that Elisha parted. He could not allow Elijah to be among the people with Elisha directing the work now with the New King Jehoram.
Lets first remember that Elisha met some other prophets after the Elijah was taken away.
“The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”
“No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”
Elisha did not say “No, he is gone to heaven”. First they believed that believed that he was in another location but concerned about his safety. Elisha did not want them look for him because God taken him where they were totally unaware of. It will be like looking for a pin in a desert without a tracker.
Joram king of Israel, the son of the king of Judah began to reign along with his father in Judah (2 Kings 8:16). His name also was Jehoram. The first thing he did to establish his kingdom rule was to put his relatives to the sword lest they should claim the throne from him as recorded in 2 Chronicles 21:4
Scriptures say that for nearly six years he followed the ways of the nations about him and did evil in the sight of God.
Almost ten years had now expired since Elijah was taken from the people. After this wicked rule by the Jewish king, God chose Elijah to write a letter and have it sent to the king! The contents of the letter are found in 2 Chronicles 21:12-15.
12 Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said:
“This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: ‘You have not followed the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah. 13 But you have followed the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ahab did. You have also murdered your own brothers, members of your own family, men who were better than you. 14 So now theLord is about to strike your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours, with a heavy blow. 15 You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.’”
Elijah pronounced judgement on this same wicked king who went to the point of murdering his own family to keep his throne.
A similar incident to Elijah’s took place in Acts 8:39,40.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away,and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Phillip was caught up into the first heaven, as Elijah was, and was transported to another location approximately 30 miles away.
This just further proves the accuracy and harmony of the scriptures.
It was only after Jesus had made his sacrificial death on the cross and presented the blood before the father before man could have access to the heaven of heavens. As Hebrews 9:23 says“It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.:
This sacrifice has made a way for men to reach the heaven of heavens but also brought heaven into our hearts. As the Old testament saints went to a holding place of the dead known as Sheol and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead.
Peter stated in Acts 2:34 (NKJV) “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand,
David was dead, but he did not go to Heaven. But he had a promise that he someday would. God had promised to redeem His people from the grave.
Hosea 13:14 (NKJV) “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.
Psalms 49:15 (NKJV) But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah
This verse expresses hope that God will provide salvation beyond the grave, a victory above the sting of death. This was a hope that Israel had. The fulfillment of this was to happen in the time when the Messiah’s kingdom would be established. That was to happen at the end of the Jewish/Mosaic age. Daniel had prophetic insight into the time when these things would happen.
Daniel 12:4 (NKJV) “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Daniel 12:8 (NKJV) Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?”In response to Daniel’s question at the end of verse 6, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” the angel answers in:
Daniel 12:7 (NKJV) Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
Daniel 12:13 (NKJV) “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”
Paul spoke of the nearness of the resurrection in his day:
Acts 24:15 (NKJV) “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be (mello -about to be) a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.
The greek word “Mello” is silent in many English translations and this goes a long to distort what Paul was saying. There was a sense of imminence in the message that he passed.
He was telling them that they were at the hour when there was going to be a restoration of things which would see the righteous find their liberty into the presence of God with the grave loosing its power to hold us down. Heaven would become a secure inheritance for believers. This is our fulfilled reality in the New covenant.