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Do you believe in a secret rapture?

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Secret rapture...
What has your searching of the word said to you?

I will wait for a few responses to post my findings w/scripture.

Peace be with you,
True very true.
I just posted this because alot of people believe that all Christians are going to dissapear in a 'rapture'

Some are very animent about it, and when anyone tells them there is not they can get very upset.

Many use 1. Thess. 4:16,17 as a secret rapture verse.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
1 Thess 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.(NASB)

If he will use the voice of an Archangel, and the trumpet of GOD, Everyone living and dead will hear that, no secrecy in that.

Peace be with you,
If all Christians were to suddenly be gone, and those who were left, how would they be able to come to know the Lord and salvation that only comes through Christ?

jjkirk... maybe you have the chatching away confussed with the scound comming......

like a thief in the night.......
Sorry it took so long for me to respnd been busy.

I know it sounds like I have it confused; that is what I was talking about to begin with. I personally believe people believe that there is a "rapture" of believers before the second coming. I have found that does not line up with scripture. I have found this supposed rapture is infact the second coming, and not a seperate event; like that is portrayed in the jenkins/lahaye books.
?like a thief in the night?

Debra said:
jjkirk... maybe you have the chatching away confussed with the scound comming......

like a thief in the night.......
""like a thief in the night"" does not mean that it is a secret, :lightning

what it means is that when He comes it will be an unexpected event, :lightning

the event will catch people unaware, :lightning

when we are expecting company we don't go to sleep and have the doors locked, :lightning

we sit up expectantly waiting for them to come with the lights on the the doors unlocked, :lightning

but if the company don't come when we expect them we tend to get tired of waiting, :lightning

we will go to sleep and lock the doors, :lightning

So the scriptures are a warning to us to not get tired of waiting and get sleepy, :lightning

We are to keep on the watch so that the event don't catch us unaware and sleeping.

Thank you for a very good analogy. You seem to have said it better than I did, and I thank you for that,
God Bless
The Second Coming

I have a bit of a quandry going on in my head I wonder can any of you solve it for me.
When a Christian person passes away-goes to Glory, Heaven Yes? so therefore a non-Christian goes to Hell yes?
but it says in the Bible in Revelations that at the second coming of our Lord Jesus the dead shall rise first to meet up with those christian's left in the world to meet in the air then shall take place the day of Judgement, so how can we go to Heaven or Hell now in passing on?
Hope you understand what I mean.
Thank you.
Well, when Christ raises the dead he raises all that ever lived, and for the Christians who are already in Heaven(Paradise) will be reunited with their bodies(which will be raised also)They will be be renewed and made perfect again. Raised to eternal life. The others will be raised to eternal death(The second death).
Hope this helps a little.
Peace be with you,
Staff Member
jjkirk said:
Well, when Christ raises the dead he raises all that ever lived, and for the Christians who are already in Heaven(Paradise) will be reunited with their bodies(which will be raised also)They will be be renewed and made perfect again. Raised to eternal life. The others will be raised to eternal death(The second death).
Hope this helps a little.
Peace be with you,
Perfect said :)
The second coming

Yes Strypes, it is how you say I believe also, that Jesus is to appear in the second coming on a cloud, this is also to take place back in Jerusalem isn't it, I remember hearing or reading that, it is to begin again were once our Lord first began his life, and when the 'word' has been preached in all the nations and there are not too many nations now that haven't heard although there are still some, but he is too come with a trump and a shout, won't that be an almighty day indeed but wouldn't we want all our loved one's to be saved before this would happen, pray to God we may see that happen in our homes those of us who do not have household salvation. Amen

jjkirk said:

Thank you for a very good analogy. You seem to have said it better than I did, and I thank you for that,
God Bless
Hi JJ,
Oh you are welcome, glad i could help.
i get busy doing other stuff and don't get here very often, but like to help when i can.
jjkirk said:
If all Christians were to suddenly be gone, and those who were left, how would they be able to come to know the Lord and salvation that only comes through Christ?

Well since no one goes to heaven or is resurrected untill judgment day, every one who dies according to scripture, it is their life force - breath of life which goes back to God Who gave life, the person is dead in the grave waiting for the resurrection at the second coming of the Messiah - Judgment day. The scriptures show us that the dead do not think or know anything, they are forgotten, they don't do anything in the grave. It is only at the Sound of the Trumpet call of the Resurrection during the Second Coming of the Messiah that the dead are raised into the clouds and then those who are alive and remain are changed in the twinkling of an eye and join the others in the clouds, and then comes the Judgment, the righteous to life and awarded according to their life, and the unrighteous are judged according to their works/deeds , and the evil - satan - demons ,,, etc,,, are sent to everlasting torment in the lake of fire, all according to scripture. At the end of things sin, death, hell, the grave, all are done away with. Then for the righteous will be no more pain, sickness, crying,,, HalleluYah to the Lamb for His Victory over all.
The Second Coming

So we actually don't get to be with our Lord until the second coming then. I had thought myself this to be the way, but why then do preachers, pastors etc, say 'they have now gone to be with the our Lord' are they maybe simply saying what will be when the final judgement day arrives only in a differant manor?
I beleive that when you depart you will be with Jesus. As Paul said in Phil.1:23 For I am in a strait betwix two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better; Also in Rev. 6.9-11 This also shows people have died and were under the altar of God. Those who were killed for there testimony for Jesus. Now as for Paradise , after Jesus had died on the cross and rose from the dead he led captivity captive. I believe refering to Abraham and all other dead saints who had died before. And ascended up to heaven. Who wait for the rest of the Church. The Christians.
As for the rapture and the second coming of Christ . These are two seperate events. For if you look at Rev. 4.1 This is when most theologians believe the rapture of the Church takes place . Then from this point God turns back to the Jews. And then the tribulation period begins. If you continue to read on in Rev. you begin to see the tribulation period chapter 6. Hope that helps. Nobody know it all ,but God. God bless.
Maureen said:
So we actually don't get to be with our Lord until the second coming then. I had thought myself this to be the way, but why then do preachers, pastors etc, say 'they have now gone to be with the our Lord' are they maybe simply saying what will be when the final judgement day arrives only in a differant manor?
Hi Maureen,
i looked up some answers for you, i hope it helps you to understand what the scriptures actually have to say about this subject, ok,

If God were trying to use the threat of eternal torment as a deterrent to sin, John 3:16 might read: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not burn forever, but have everlasting life.” And God could have made that plain in many other verses as well. The fact that the Bible simply says “perish” indicates that the unsaved will die, and thus exist no more.

What is Hell?

FAQ: I live in the USA, and it seems that our language is riddled with references to “hell.” I constantly hear that extremely versatile word used in conversations of all kinds. People say: “What the hell?” or “The hell with it,” or “Hell, yes / no,” etc. On occasion, some people, though not travel agents, have encouraged me to “go to hell.” I don’t think I want to, because I’ve heard that the Devil lives there, but if I did want to just drive by, where exactly is it located? Based on what people are saying, I assume that “hell” is a word used in the Bible, and if so, what is “hell”?

Actually, at this time, there is no such place, other than the small town of Hell, Michigan, which, by the way, has, on occasion, frozen over. But it hardly meets the description of the “Hell” that is propounded by so many Christians who erroneously believe that it is a place of everlasting fire where the “living dead” (???) are tormented forever in flames.

Also, the word “hell” is not found anywhere in the original text of Scripture. In the King James Version, you will find it as the translation of the Greek words hades and gehenna, but most modern translations recognize that “hell” is an incorrect translation for hades, and more correctly render it as “grave.” Even modern translations, however, do sometimes mistakenly translate the Greek word gehenna as “hell.”

So how did the word “hell” so permeate our culture? In this relatively brief answer, we refer you to two excellent books that will clearly show you, in detail, just what the Word of God says about this most significant issue. Is There Death After Life? by Mark Graeser, John Lynn, and John Schoenheit (108 pp), sets forth what the Word says about death and its aftermath, while The Fire That Consumes, by Edward Fudge (211 pp), is a very thorough exposition of “conditional immortality,” including the origin of the idea of “hell” as a place of everlasting torment for the wicked. Both are available from our ministry.

One of Satan’s ploys to make Christianity look foolish is to introduce ridiculous ideas (that is, ideas that can legitimately be ridiculed because they make no sense) into its theology. In regard to this overall subject, here are two such errors that came into Christianity from Hellenistic (Greek) thought:

(1) There is no such thing as actual “death” (defined in just about any dictionary as “the end, or absence, of life”).

(2) When one “dies,” he then lives on in some conscious, incorporeal form called the “soul” or “spirit.”

The lie that man is deathless (introduced by the Devil in Genesis 3:4 and later believed by the Greeks) spawned the corresponding notion that there must be an eternal residence for good people and another address for bad people. Thus arose the following falsehoods:

(1) A dead person goes either to “heaven” or “hell” and stays there forever.

(2) “Hell” is a place of everlasting torment in flames.

(3) Fire is a preservative (who else believes this?).

It is ironic that most Christians believe that Adolph Hitler will have everlasting life. You might be thinking: “What?! No they don’t.” But think again—if Hitler is being tormented forever in fire, does he or does he not have everlasting life? It’s a crummy life, but it is everlasting life, right? On the contrary, Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is everlasting life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God never says that the wages of sin is eternal torment. No, He says that the penalty for sin is an end to one’s life.

It is important to realize that no verse in the Bible says that the “soul” or “spirit” lives on by itself. No verse says that “hell” is a place of everlasting torment in fire. These falsehoods originated with God’s archenemy, and infiltrated Christianity via mistranslation and the mixing of Greek culture and beliefs with the truths presented in the Word of God.

Thinking logically, does it seem fair to you that God, who the Bible says is love, would forever inflict upon wicked people the excruciating agony of constantly burning? Think about it—if “forever” were likened to a feast, 50 million years of torment is a small hors d’oeuvre. Wouldn’t most rational thinkers conclude that, even for quintessential bad boys like Hitler or Bin Laden, that is simply not fair? Sure they would. Justice would not be served by such an egregious atrocity, and how sad it is that this erroneous belief has contributed to many people turning away from the God whom they were told would do such a thing.

The late Sidney Hatch well expressed how twisted is the idea of a just God forever tormenting by fire those who refused to believe in Him: “A civilized society looks with horror upon the abuse and torture of children or adults. Even where capital punishment is practiced, the aim is to implement it as mercifully as possible. Are we to believe then that a holy God—our heavenly Father—is less just than the courts of men? Of course not.”

And the late Swedish Lutheran Bishop John Persone wrote: “For me it is inexplainable how a person who holds the orthodox view [of eternal torment] can at any time have a glad moment in this life. He is constantly mingling with people whose final destiny will be to be tormented eternally without end…To me it is even more inexplainable that such an ‘orthodox’ person can expect even a happy moment in eternity, when he knows that contemporaneously with his blessed estate continues the endless torment and agony of innumerable millions of the accursed. Can he, if he loves his neighbors as himself, yes, even if he has just a little bit of human love and is not solely a selfish wretch, have even a single happy moment?” Well said, wouldn’t you agree?

Think for a moment about fire. What does it do to things it touches? What do you do if you come home and discover that your house is on fire? Do you feel any sense of urgency? Or do you say, “Hey, let’s go to a movie, and when we get back, we’ll call the Fire Department. There’s no hurry, because we know that our home will burn forever.” Nothing burns forever, and a simple word study of “fire” in Scripture shows that its primary purpose is to destroy useless things, like chaff, and evil things, like wicked people, evil spirits, and Satan (Malachi 4:1 is a classic example).

This FAQ about “hell” is not the place to exposit the biblical truth that death is the end of life, and that one who dies no longer exists anywhere in any form. That by itself renders fallacious the notion that “hell” is a place where “dead” people are alive and conscious. In His Word, God artfully chose the metaphor of “sleep” to figuratively describe death. Why? Because sleep is a temporary condition of unconsciousness that ends with an awakening. Ditto for death, for one who believes in Jesus Christ.

Where there is no consciousness, there is no awareness of time passing. Therefore, the Apostle Paul’s next conscious thought will be when he sees the face of the Lord Jesus at his appearing. Until that glorious moment, Paul, like all who have died and “returned to dust,” no longer exists. Nor will he ever exist again unless Jesus Christ actually died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and comes again to raise Christians who have died. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 says that this truth is the only basis for genuine comfort for the bereaved. How important is this subject? It’s a matter of life and death. See Is There Death After Life?

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word sheol means “the state, or place, of the dead,” and is usually translated as “grave” (see Ps. 6:5, 16:10, 49:15, 89:48, et al). Because there is not literally any such place, it could also be translated as “gravedom.” The Hebrews recognized that man is an integrated being who is either alive or dead (to us, this is obvious). They understood that man does not have a soul, but rather that, as per Genesis 2:7, man is a living “soul” (nephesh), that is, a living person. When he dies, he is then a dead soul (e.g., Lev. 19:28, 21:1; Num. 5:2, 6:6, 11), that is, a dead person.

In contrast to the teaching of the Old Testament, most Greeks believed that man has “an immortal soul,” which they saw as the non-corporeal essence of his being that was trapped in the temporal, fleshly prison of his body until the wonderful moment when his body “died” and his “soul” could freely wing its way to Mt. Olympus, the land of Shades, or somewhere else.

Because of this belief, the Greeks had no word that corresponded with the idea expressed by the Hebrew word sheol. The closest thing they could find was hades, and that is what those who produced the Septuagint (a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek) chose as the counterpart to sheol. As they do with sheol in the Old Testament, some English versions of the Bible erroneously translate the Greek word hades as “hell” in the New Testament [For a thorough examination of the meaning of sheol and hades, see the word “hell” in E.W. Bullinger’s A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (Zondervan Pub. Co., Grand Rapids MI)].

The impact of translating sheol as hades cannot be overstated. In sheol, everyone is dead, but in the Greek language and culture, everyone in Hades is alive. Thus, by the stroke of the pen of the Septuagint’s translators, all the dead (in sheol) were granted life after death in hades. The Greek-speaking Hebrews, reading their Greek Bible, would naturally come to believe that “the dead are alive” (it was, after all, in their Bible). This explains why, at the time of Jesus, many Jews believed that the souls of the dead lived on after the person died, and why Jesus would speak a parable springboarding off that belief (Lazarus in “Abraham’s bosom” – Luke 16. For a full explanation of this, see The Christian’s Hope, pp. 71, 72.

We should note that the English word “hell” comes from an Old English word meaning “to conceal.” The first definition in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary is “a place or state of the dead or of the damned; usually under the ground” (hence, the idea of “concealed”). The second definition is “a place or state of misery, torment, or wickedness.”

The idea that “hell” is a place of eternal torment came about because the word hades carried with it all the connotation of Greek mythology, in which Hades was the god of the underworld, a place where the souls of dead people went to be tormented. As Bullinger writes in Appendix 131 of The Companion Bible: “The Old Testament is the fountainhead of the Hebrew language. It has no literature behind it. But the case is entirely different with the Greek language. The Hebrew sheol is divine in its origin and usage. The Greek hades is human in its origin and comes down to us laden with centuries of development, in which it has acquired new senses, meanings, and usages.”

Scripture most certainly does speak of a place of fire where wicked people will be “punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:9). This is gehenna, a Greek word that the Gospel writers used in reference to what is elsewhere called “the lake of fire.” It is significant that not only wicked people will be destroyed there, but also “death and the grave” will be forever exterminated (see Rev. 20:12-15).

Gehenna is the Greek word for the Hebrew “valley of Hinnom,” which was the city dump outside of Jerusalem. When Jesus used this word to refer to the place of the future destruction of the wicked (e.g., Matt. 10:28—still erroneously translated as “hell” even in modern Bible versions), all who heard him knew exactly what he meant. As the note on Matthew 5:22 in the NIV Study Bible says:

“The Greek word is gehenna, which derives its name from a deep ravine south of Jerusalem, the ‘valley of Hinnom.’ During the reigns of the wicked Ahaz and Manasseh, human sacrifices to the Ammonite god Molech were offered there. Josiah desecrated the valley because of the pagan worship there (2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:6). It became a sort of perpetually burning city dump and later a figure for the place of final punishment.”

As Edward Fudge points out in The Fire That Consumes, “New Testament writers chose the word gehenna to describe the fate of the lost only in the Gospels, speaking only to Jews, and only when addressing people familiar with the geography of Jerusalem.”

The lake of fire is also called “the second death” (Rev. 21:8). What does that mean? God’s Word clearly states that the Lord Jesus Christ will raise from the dead everyone who has ever lived, and that “those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:29). Pending that Adolph Hitler had no “deathbed conversion,” he will one day face the Lord Jesus to account for his evil ways, and after that be cast into the lake of fire to be annihilated. He died once physically, and he will “die” again—forever out of existence.

Do you think that those listening to Jesus speak of the wicked burning in gehenna thought he meant they would burn forever? Of course not, because they knew that the garbage they took to the city dump did not continue to exist in the fire without being consumed. Rather, it burned up, and was gone. Jesus used the word gehenna to illustrate that the wicked were like the garbage, refuse worthy only of destruction. The only reason the fire continued to burn was because the whole city kept throwing their garbage there. Likewise, when it has done its job, the lake of fire will be no more.

If Revelation 20:10 is coming to your mind as an apparent contradiction to what you have read thus far, that’s great—it should. It speaks of the Devil and a couple of his henchman being thrown in the lake of fire and being “tormented day and night forever and ever.” However, the Bible was not written in English, and when we dig a bit deeper, we see that “forever and ever” in the Greek is more accurately “for ages unto ages.” In keeping with God’s decree in Genesis 3:15 that Jesus would eventually “crush the head” of the Devil (that is, destroy him), Ezekiel 28:18 declares that the Devil will be “brought to ashes.” Apparently, as a fitting recompense for his monstrous evil, this will take a long time.

Some Christians argue that annihilation is not a sufficient threat to stop people, and that the threat of burning forever is a more effective deterrent to sin. However, this is looking at the Scripture the wrong way. God says that it is His “kindness” that leads people to repentance (Rom. 2:4), not His threats of death, although that might work, because it is programmed within mankind to do whatever it takes to stay alive. Apparently, the thought of not existing is more terrifying to most people than the thought of living even under horrible conditions. What God does do is set forth His great love in giving His Son, and encourage people to believe in him and have everlasting life.

If God were trying to use the threat of eternal torment as a deterrent to sin, John 3:16 might read: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not burn forever, but have everlasting life.” And God could have made that plain in many other verses as well. The fact that the Bible simply says “perish” indicates that the unsaved will die, and thus exist no more. What faces those who refuse God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is annihilation. They will be terminated, gone—history. And the rest of us, because of the grace of God and the work of Jesus Christ, will live happily ever after.

For those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he has paid the price for their sin, and he will give them the gift of life in the age to come. Those who refuse to believe in him will pay the penalty for sin themselves. How? By dying forever in the lake of fire. Everlasting life is just that—life without end, and everlasting death is destruction without hope of recall—permanent extermination. This is God’s perfect justice, and it is definitely a matter of life and death.

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Or...

"I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise."

Recognizing this idiom and properly punctuating the verse with the comma after the word “today,” we see that Jesus’ meaning is clearly future, to be fulfilled when He comes again and establishes His kingdom on earth. "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Luke 23:42, 43 is often used to teach that the penitent malefactor who believed in Jesus immediately went to “heaven” when he died (even though the verse in question reads “paradise”). However, the phrase in verse 43, “I tell you the truth today,” was a common Hebrew idiom used to emphasize the solemnity and importance of an occasion or moment (compare Deuteronomy 4:26,39,40; 5:1; 6:6; 7:11, Joshua 23:14).

Recognizing this idiom and properly punctuating the verse with the comma after the word “today,” we see that Jesus’ meaning is clearly future, to be fulfilled when He comes again and establishes His kingdom on earth.

We must keep in mind that any punctuation in our translations today were added by the translators and not in the Greek. It is up to the translator’s discretion when to add a comma or take one away.

Thus the verse should read as follows:

“Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise.’”

Also, the word “paradise” is preceded by the article “the” and therefore refers biblically to the place of beauty on earth described in Genesis 2, lost in Genesis 3, that will be restored by the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns to earth (see Revelation 22:1-3). (For more information on “paradise,” see the note on Ecclesiastes 2:5, page 908; and Appendix 173 in The Companion Bible, edited by E.W. Bullinger.)

Not only did the penitent malefactor not go to “paradise” that day, neither did Jesus Christ. As stated earlier, he died and spent the next three days and three nights in the grave.

More about Death and afterlife, from the same site, www.truthortradition.com

While many verses in the Bible are so plain that even a child can read and understand them, for instance, “You shall not steal,” many other verses can be more difficult to grasp. This is attributed to several factors. For one thing, the Bible was originally written in another language (actually three other languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and the recorded events took place in another culture. This can sometimes result in an “outside looking in” perspective, not unlike someone visiting a “foreign” country.

Verses sometimes used to support the idea that our everlasting future is in Heaven

“Difficult” Verses

While many verses in the Bible are so plain that even a child can read and understand them, for instance, “You shall not steal,” many other verses can be more difficult to grasp. This is attributed to several factors. For one thing, the Bible was originally written in another language (actually three other languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and the recorded events took place in another culture. This can sometimes result in an “outside looking in” perspective, not unlike someone visiting a “foreign” country. The country is “foreign” only to the visitor, not to the people who live there, and it is easy for the visitor to misinterpret what he sees and experiences. Although this can make the task of accurately understanding the Bible somewhat difficult, no one should believe that it is impossible. If it is not available to understand the Bible and the truths contained in it, then God is being disingenuous when He says that He wants all men to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). 1

To a large degree, it is the failure to understand the cultural context of the Bible, as well as the scope of Scripture and the context of specific verses, that has resulted in some verses being misinterpreted and used to support the idea that heaven is the ultimate home of believers. The purpose of this chapter is to examine these “difficult” verses in the light of the scope of the entire Bible, the context of the verse in question, the translation of the Greek or Hebrew text, and the culture and customs of the time in order to bring their true meaning to light.

Elijah in Heaven

2 Kings 2:11 says, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (KJV). Most Christians immediately assume that Elijah went up to be with God, but that is not what the people who lived during Elijah’s time thought. First of all, “heaven” refers to other things beside the place where God lives. It is the place where birds fly, rain and snow come from, etc. Scripture mentions, “the fowl of the heaven” (Gen. 7:23, KJV), “rain from heaven” (Acts 14:17), “snow from heaven” (Isa. 55:10, KJV), and clouds in heaven (1 Kings 18:45, KJV). 2 The prophets of Elijah’s day did not believe that he was taken up to the place where God lives. They knew he was taken up into the air, but believed he would eventually be set down somewhere. They thought if they looked hard enough, they would be able to find him (2 Kings 2:16).

While others wanted to search for Elijah, Elisha understood that if the Lord had wanted Elijah there, He would not have moved him. Understanding the customs of the time further helps to clarify this section of Scripture. God had told Elijah to anoint Elisha to succeed him (1 Kings 19:16). According to custom, Elisha could not assume leadership of the prophets as long as Elijah was present. Therefore, in order to allow Elisha to lead, God had to find a way to graciously remove Elijah. He chose to do it by a whirlwind. Elijah was not taken up to the place where God lives, but he was taken up into the air and placed somewhere else. God simply moved Elijah from one place to another and he lived out his days somewhere else. Elijah could not have been taken to heaven to live with God because he lived before the time of Christ. It is Christ’s shed blood that is the only valid payment for all men’s sin, including Elijah’s. If Elijah were already enjoying everlasting life in heaven, there was no need for Christ to come and to die for his sin. 3 The Gospel of John makes it clear that Elijah did not go to heaven. It says, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

The Reward in Heaven

There are many verses that refer to reward, or treasures, or even a home in heaven. These include verses such as Matthew 5:12 (“Great is your reward in heaven”), Matthew 6:19,20 (“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven”), Colossians 1:5 (“The hope that is stored up for you in heaven”) and 1 Peter 1:4 (“Kept in heaven for you”). It is understandable that these verses and others like them can be confusing and may lead one to believe that the righteous will go to heaven. However, Jesus was talking to Jews who knew (or should have known from the Old Testament scriptures) that they would inherit the earth. Therefore, their understanding of these concepts would not be based on a literal use of the word heaven in the sense that these physical things, namely, rewards, treasures, and homes, were actually in heaven, but rather, that God, who is in heaven, is “storing” them or keeping record of them. The actual receipt of these things will occur in the future on earth. The Old Testament made it clear that people would get what they deserved and that this would happen when the Kingdom was established. The idea of God keeping track of man’s behavior is clearly recorded in the Old Testament.

Malachi 3:16

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

Ecclesiastes 12:14

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

The Book of Revelation notes that at the Judgment, “The books were opened” and “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev. 20:12). That God was keeping a reward or treasure for them in heaven, and that they could add to that treasure by their good deeds, was a common concept in Judaism.

The notion of a heavenly treasure, beyond the reach of corruption, was a common eschatological concept in Judaism. The righteous on earth do not yet possess it, for it belongs to the future; nevertheless they can now add to it. 4

An important concept in Jewish and Christian theology is the belief that sins and virtues accumulate and are “stored” the way money might be stored in a treasury. The Lord was believed to keep records of every sin and virtue and require the books be balanced from time to time. 5

The Jews in Christ’s audience knew that God was keeping track of their deeds with the intention of rewarding them. They will receive what is rightfully theirs when the Messiah returns and establishes his Kingdom on earth.

They Will Be Like the Angels in Heaven

Matthew 22 records that the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection,

came to Jesus and asked him a difficult question. They asked Jesus what would happen to a woman who had seven husbands in her first life. Whose wife would she be in the resurrection? Christ answered them by saying, “At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:30). What is important for the discussion in this book is the fact that Christ was not speaking about being on earth or in heaven. He did not say, “In the resurrection, people will be like angels [and live in heaven].” Rather, he revealed two great truths: angels do not have husbands and wives, and, after the resurrection, the saved will not have husbands and wives. Thus, as far as marriage is concerned, the saved will be like the angels in heaven.

It is also important to understand that Jesus never said that after death or after the resurrection, people become angels. Although it is widely believed that when people die they become angels, this is not the testimony of Scripture. Believers’ natural bodies will be changed and they will become immortal, but they will not become angels.

I Go to Prepare a Place for You

John 14:1–3 has often been used to teach that the saved will spend forever in heaven.

John 14:1–3

(1) Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

(2) In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

(3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

The NIV translation of verse 3 is misleading. The phrase “take you to be with me” incorrectly implies that Jesus would take the disciples somewhere, presumably back to heaven. A literal and more accurate translation of this phrase would be “receive you unto myself.” Christ was not going to “take” the disciples anywhere; he was going to “receive them unto himself.” The King James Version handles this section well:

John 14:1–5 (KJV)

(1) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

(2) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

(3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

(4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

(5) Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

An examination of this section of Scripture should begin with a careful study of what it does not mean. It does not mean, “When you die, you go to heaven.” Christ told his disciples they would be with him when he came again for them. He did not say they would be with him when they died. Even some orthodox Christians have noted that Christ must come for believers if they are going to be with him. On this basis they teach that he actually comes and retrieves each believer’s soul at death and escorts it back into heaven. Besides the fact that this is an assumption unsupported by Scripture, it would seem to be very impractical. There are so many Christians dying every day that Christ would be doing nothing but commuting back and forth from heaven to earth—if indeed he ever got a chance to complete even one round trip without interruption. In any case, these verses clearly refute the idea that the “soul” goes to heaven or hell when a person dies.

There are other orthodox Christian theologians who acknowledge that Jesus’ coming for the disciples refers to his coming from heaven to earth when he comes to fight at Armageddon. Yet these same theologians assert that, after gathering the disciples, Christ will take them back to heaven. One problem with this belief is that no verse states that once Christ conquers the earth he will go back to heaven. Scripture clearly portrays Christ ruling on earth, as we have seen throughout this book.

In order to see how the disciples would have understood what Christ was saying, the context of this section of Scripture must be examined very closely. Although the disciples did not fully understand what he was saying, they could have if they had carefully listened to, and believed, everything he had previously taught. Jesus’ disciples knew about the Kingdom coming on earth. What they did not yet grasp was that the Messiah would have to suffer, die, be buried, be raised from the dead, and then ascend into heaven before it could come, and Jesus was preparing them for these events. Christ spoke with his disciples and said, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Why would he say that? He wanted to ease the terror that the disciples would naturally feel when he was arrested, tortured, and crucified.

Jesus went on to say that in his Father’s “house” were many mansions. The “house” of the Father is the Kingdom that is to come. There is no reason to believe that the word “house” is literal. The Bible never speaks of God living in a “house” in heaven, and it never says that saved believers will live in separate rooms in God’s house. The Bible states that there will be people living all over the world in the Millennial Kingdom, not just in one house. Also, since the Everlasting Kingdom has a city that is about 1,400 miles square, it certainly seems that people will not live in just one house at that time either. It was common in the biblical culture to use the word “house” to refer to a nation or kingdom, such as in the phrase, the “house of Israel.” 6 Christ used the word “house” to mean a kingdom when he said, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17).

The “mansions” in the Kingdom are places to stay, rooms, or abiding places. The KJV translation of “mansions” is an old English usage. In 1611, when the King James Version was written, a “mansion” was a place of residence, no matter what size, and also the house of the lord of the manor. Over time, the word “mansion” came to be used only of large houses, as it is used today in common English. What Christ said in terms that were clear in his culture was, “In my Father’s Kingdom are many places to live.” This is certainly true, as is borne out by the many scriptures that refer to the Kingdom, including the one that says the people will live in “secure homes” (Isa. 32:18).

The truth being revealed in this verse is that there will be room for any and all who want to come. When Jesus said, “In my Father’s house [Kingdom] are many places to stay,” he was continuing to comfort his disciples. He was not leaving them behind because there was no room for them in the Kingdom; rather he was leaving to prepare “a place” for them there. The “preparation” that was necessary to bring the Kingdom included his torture, death, and resurrection. All of these events were necessary in order to complete mankind’s salvation. Without the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, no man would ever be raised from the dead to enter the Kingdom. When the disciples heard what Jesus said, they would not have thought about a house “in the air.” This would have been a totally foreign concept to them. They were, however, well aware that there was going to be a Kingdom on earth.

Verse 3 says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Bible commentators have had trouble explaining this verse and different commentaries have different explanations. Most orthodox explanations are incorrect because they involve mansions “in heaven” and living in the air forever. Even when one realizes that the Kingdom is on earth however, there are still several ways to understand the verse. Three possible interpretations will be examined. All of them are sensitive to the context of John 14, the time Christ was speaking (his last supper) and what the disciples would have been able to understand based on what they knew from the Old Testament and from what Jesus had taught them.

The “last supper” was no ordinary meal. When the Four Gospels are compared, we see that Jesus used the occasion to teach on a wide variety of subjects. He spoke about his betrayal; he instructed his disciples to serve one another and demonstrated his teaching by washing their feet; he taught about love and obedience; he spoke of the New Covenant and partook of the cup and bread; he taught about the vine and the branches; he forewarned the disciples that they would be hated by the world; he spoke of the coming holy spirit; he predicted Peter’s denials; he taught about his ascension, which he called “going to my Father.” With all this in mind, it is evident why the interpretation of John 14:3 is difficult. The three most likely interpretations are:

1) And if I go and prepare a place for you [by my death and burial], I will come again [be resurrected], and receive you unto myself [welcome you back into my life even though you fled, and did not at first believe I was alive]; that where I am, there ye may be also [in the Kingdom when it comes on earth].

2) And if I go and prepare a place for you [at my ascension], I will come again [at my Second Coming when I fight at Armageddon and conquer the earth], and receive you unto myself [welcome you into the Kingdom]; that where I am, there ye may be also [in the Kingdom].

3) And if I go and prepare a place for you [by my death, resurrection, and later my ascension], I will come again [first at my resurrection and later when I fight at Armageddon and conquer the earth], and receive you unto myself [first when I welcome you back into my life even though you fled and did not at first believe I was alive, and then later when I welcome you into my Kingdom]; that where I am, there ye may be also [in the Kingdom].

The third interpretation is actually a combination of the first two. People who argue for the first interpretation say that Jesus did not need to talk about his ascension at this time because his death was the more immediate event. He would have 40 days after his resurrection to teach about his Ascension. Those who argue for the second interpretation say that Christ had the ascension clearly in mind and that it was a major subject of discussion (it comes up after John 14:12 when he said he was going to the Father). Furthermore, they say, when he said later in his discourse that he was “going away,” it was clearly “to the Father” (John 16:5 ff) and not to the grave. People who say that the third interpretation is correct point out that Christ often communicated more than one meaning in a word or phrase and see no reason why he was not referring to both things—after all, both are true. This discussion over which interpretation is correct may never be settled, and, from the standpoint of this book, it is not necessary to speak definitively on which is correct. The purpose of this study is to show that the future home of the saved is on earth, not in heaven, and all three interpretations support this truth.

Continuing in John 14, Jesus said to his disciples, “Where I go, you know, and the way you know” (v. 4). These words are important. The disciples had been told both “where” and “the way” Christ was going. The “where” he was going was to the grave and eventually into heaven (at his ascension). The “way” was via his torture, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. The disciples “knew” all these facts either because of Christ’s teaching or because of Old Testament teaching. Nevertheless, they did not fully believe, and so they were confused by what he said.

Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). What apparently confused the disciples was that all of this was in the context of Christ’s “going away” and then coming back. The disciples did not yet believe that Christ would have to suffer and die as a prerequisite to entering into his glory. From their point of view, Jesus did not need to “go” anywhere. They thought he was going to conquer the earth and set up his Kingdom right then and there.

One last point: It is evident that the disciples did not realize that Christ would be ascending into heaven. After his resurrection, they asked if he was going to establish his Kingdom (Acts 1:6). If the disciples were not expecting Christ to go to heaven, they certainly would not have thought that they were going.

My Kingdom is Not of This World

The fact that Christ said his Kingdom was “not of this world” has led people to believe that it must be somewhere else, namely “heaven.”

John 18:36 (KJV)

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The key to properly understanding this verse is to know what Jesus meant by the phrase, “of this world.” It is commonly assumed that he meant his Kingdom would not be on the physical earth, but the phrase is not a reference to the physical earth. He was referring to the world as it is today—fallen and under the influence of the Devil. It is used with the same force as “this age.” 7 Christ’s Kingdom is not of “this world” because it will not be under the influences of the evil that so characterizes today’s world. His future Kingdom will not be of “this world” because “this world” is run by the Devil and it will have been judged (John 12:31).

Today’s world, “this world,” is going to pass away, even as 1 Corinthians 7:31 says: “For this world in its present form is passing away.” It cannot be that the “world” as a physical reality is passing away because both the Old and New Testament testify that God will create a new earth. That the phrase “this world” means the fallen world is made clear in other scriptures. For example, Jesus spoke of his disciples not being “of the world” (John 15:19). It is clear that the disciples were “of the world” in the sense that they lived on the physical earth and were fully human. Yet it is also clear they were not “of the world” in the sense that they were not a part of the evil influences of the world.

In stark contrast to the disciples, Jesus referred to the Pharisees who opposed him as being “of this world” (John 8:23). Like the disciples, they were human beings who lived on the physical earth, but they were caught up in its evil. The contrast between the disciples, who were “not of this world,” with the Pharisees, who were “of this world,” shows clearly that the phrase has nothing to do with actually being on earth or being in a physical body. It speaks of involvement with evil and demonic influences. Christ said that his Kingdom was not of this world, but that it will come at the “renewal” of all things and be exempt from the evil influences of this world.

Flesh and Blood Cannot Inherit the Kingdom of God

1 Corinthians 15:50

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Some people have used this verse to try to show that the new, immortal body each saved person will receive will be spirit instead of flesh, or that the saved will not be on earth in the future but in heaven. Both of these ideas are erroneous. Christians will be given a new body that is fashioned like Jesus’ glorious body (Phil. 3:21), which was still flesh and bone even after his resurrection. When he appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, they said he was a spirit, but he refuted that idea.

Luke 24:36–39

(36) While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

(37) They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.

(38) He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?

(39) Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost [pneuma] does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Although the NIV uses the word “ghost,” the Greek word is pneuma and is more accurately translated as “spirit.” In his glorified body, Christ had flesh and bones. He could be touched and felt. He even ate with the disciples (Luke 24:43). Therefore, if the King of the Kingdom has a physical body with flesh, flesh can most definitely enter the Kingdom. Then what is the meaning of this verse in Corinthians? The phrase “flesh and blood” is used five times in Scripture and it means “people” in the common sense of the word. Jesus told Peter that “flesh and blood” (i.e., people) had not revealed his identity, but his Father in heaven had (Matt. 16:17). Ephesians 6:12 states that Christians are not wrestling against “flesh and blood” (i.e., people) but against spiritual forces. 1 Corinthians 15:50 means that “natural” people cannot inherit the Kingdom of God because the present human body is not capable of everlasting life. It is corruptible. Therefore, it must be changed so that it becomes like Christ’s.

There is more to it, however. At the “Sheep and Goat Judgment” (Matt. 25), the righteous people living on earth will be allowed to enter the Kingdom without their corruptible bodies being changed into immortal bodies. This is why there will be death in the Millennial Kingdom. However, these people do not, at the point of entry, “inherit” the Kingdom in the fullest sense. The key to understanding this is in 1 Corinthians 15:50 itself. The last phrase of the verse says, “nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” This is true because “flesh and blood” is perishable. It must be made imperishable in order to “inherit” the Kingdom. Living in the Kingdom for a hundred years or so and then dying does not constitute “inheriting” the Kingdom—at best it is only visiting. The “flesh and blood” body must be made “imperishable” in order for it to actually inherit the Kingdom. This is exactly what Corinthians goes on to say:

1 Corinthians 15:51–53

(51) Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—

(52) in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

(53) For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

The above verses say that Christians will be “changed,” but not into “spirit beings.” The change is from mortal to immortal and from perishable to imperishable. The new, imperishable body will enable each believer to “inherit” the Kingdom and enjoy its fullness forever.

Our House in Heaven

2 Corinthians 5:1

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

This verse apparently contradicts the position that the saved will live forever on earth. It seems to say that the saved will have an eternal house in heaven. However, when the keys to the proper interpretation of Scripture are applied, then this difficult verse can be understood to fit with the many clear verses that say the earth will be the final habitation of man.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1, the word “eternal” describes the word “house,” not the phrase, “in heaven.” The verse does not say Christians have a house “eternally in heaven.” It is the “house” that is eternal, and although it is “in heaven” now by promise, that will change. This verse is expressing the fact that is stated in other parts of Corinthians and the Church Epistles that each Christian’s future heavenly body will be imperishable. What does it mean that the Christian’s house is in heaven? It cannot mean that God already has a closet full of “lifeless new bodysuits” waiting in heaven that Christians will somehow slip into when they get there. Scripture is clear that Christians will get their new bodies by having their old ones changed (1 Cor. 15:51,52). When God is reserving something that is not presently accessible or available, it is said to be “in heaven,” as if it already tangibly existed (see “The Reward in Heaven,” above, and Appendix E on the prophetic perfect). God will give each Christian a new body at the Rapture, so Paul could say that Christians have a house “in heaven.”

Seated in Heaven

Ephesians 2:6 has caused confusion to some Christians because it speaks as if Christians were already in heaven with Christ.

Ephesians 2:6

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

Since Christians are obviously living on the earth now, how can it be that they are also “in heaven” at the same time? Some Christians say that they are “physically” on earth but “spiritually” in heaven, but that is inaccurate. It is not biblical to say that a Christian’s “spirit” is in heaven because the Bible says that holy spirit is “sealed” inside each Christian and we are still on earth. 8

The key to understanding Ephesians 2:6 is knowing a common biblical idiom that uses the past tense when speaking of a future event that is certain to occur. This idiom is very well known to biblical scholars and is called by several different names, including, “the prophetic perfect,” “the historic sense of prophecy,” and “the perfective of confidence.” It is also sometimes known as the concept of the “here now, but not yet.”

At the Rapture, Christians will be gathered together to be with Christ in the heavenly realms. This future event is so certain that it is spoken of as having already occurred. This is a clear example of the prophetic perfect. This does not, however, mean that Christians will continue to live in heaven forever. Christians will return to earth with Christ at the battle of Armageddon and continue to be with him on earth forever (refer to Chapter 3). The prophetic perfect idiom is important to know in order to understand many biblical texts. The subject is handled at length in Appendix E.

They Were Longing for a Better Country—a Heavenly One

Hebrews 11:16 speaks of a “heavenly” country. This does not mean that the country is in heaven. Nor does it mean that there is a city in heaven to which people go when they die or after the resurrection. The word “heavenly” can describe the origin of something, the qualities of something, or something’s position in space. In this case, the word “heavenly” refers to the origin and qualities of the country.

The author of Hebrews called “the land of promise” (11:9) “a heavenly [one].” This does not mean it is not on earth any more than the “sharers in [the] heavenly calling” (3:1) who had “tasted the heavenly gift” (6:4) were not those who lived on earth. Indeed, it was the very land on which the patriarchs dwelt as “strangers and wanderers (11:13), but the expression means that it is a divine land which God himself has promised (Brackets are his). 9

Hebrews 13:14 sheds more light on the city and country referred to in Hebrews 11:16.

Hebrews 13:14

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

On earth today there are no “enduring” cities. The Amplified Bible reads “permanent,” which is a good translation. All the cities of this world are temporary, and will one day come to an end. Nevertheless, the Bible says that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. The new earth will be a glorious place, and its capital will be Jerusalem. Eventually, God will bring “the heavenly Jerusalem” to earth (Rev. 21:2). It is very significant in Hebrews 13:14 that the people were looking forward to a city in the future. Believers do not go to the city when they die, as if it were already in existence. The city is “to come” in the future and it will be on the earth.

Hebrews has many references to the Old Testament, including references to promises concerning the land. When God fulfills His promises to Abraham and others who are saved and they receive the promised land, the Hope of the Old Testament believers will become reality. In that “promised land” they will finally “rest.”

The author of Hebrews had basically one hope or aspiration: receiving the promised land in its full glory and prosperity, free from foreign rule or threat from enemies. This was called inheriting or acquiring the promises (6:11,15–17; 11:13,33,39) and entering into “rest” (3:11,18; 4:1,3,5,8,11). The promise is that which was given to Abraham that his seed should inherit the land and be blessed with power, wealth, and number (Gen. 15). This is also the “rest” (4:1), and the reception of the land was called an inheritance (11:8). The “rest” which the Israelites might have had if they had not rebelled in the wilderness is the very rest still available. The good news announced to the Israelites under Moses’ leadership is the same good news related to Jesus (4:1,6). Moses and Jesus were related to the same “house”—Moses as a servant and Jesus as a Son (3:2–6). Since the term “rest” was so closely related to the acquisition of Canaan, the intended readers were expected to object that the Israelites had received their promised rest when Joshua led the conquest of Canaan after forty years in the wilderness. The author of Hebrews had two answers: (a) If Joshua had really given them rest, at a later time God would not have spoken through David of another day (4:8); and (b) whoever finds rest ceases from his labors (4:10). Since Israel had never had a continuing period of settlement free from threat or “labor,” she had not received her full and final rest that had been promised. That did not mean the “rest” still expected was different from the one early Israelites expected, but only that it would at last be completely received. This promise of rest-inheritance was inextricably tied to the land of Canaan, which is the place where the patriarchs wandered as sojourners (11:13). 10

The Book of Hebrews contains clear revelation about the Hope of the believer. Unfortunately, because the information has been expressed as a fulfillment of Old Testament promises related to life on this earth, most Christians cannot relate to it. The average Christian is looking for promises of “being in heaven,” not promises of a “better country” (Heb. 11:16). However, the promise of a “better country” is the same promise Christ spoke when he said that the meek shall inherit the earth. Christians who have a clear understanding of this “better country” eagerly anticipate its coming.

The article above was taken from “The Christian’s Hope: The Anchor of the Soul

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1 Actually, according to the Greek text, God wants all people to come to a “full or complete knowledge” of the truth, not just “a knowledge” of it. The Amplified Bible expresses this very well, saying that it is God, “Who wishes all men to be saved and [increasingly] to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] Truth.” [All italics and brackets are theirs].

2 Although some translations use “air” or “sky” instead of “heaven,” anyone who checks the Hebrew or Greek text will see immediately that the text reads “heaven.”

3 Graeser, Lynn, and Schoenheit, op. cit., Is There Death After Life?, p. 85.

4 J. Emerton, C. Cranfield, and G. Stanton, The International Critical Commentary: Matthew (T. & T. Clark, Ltd., Edinburg, 1988), p. 631.

5 George Wesley Buchanan, The Anchor Bible: To the Hebrews (Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, 1972), p. xxv.

6 This can be verified very quickly in any concordance. The phrase, “the house of Israel” is used 146 times in the KJV, the “house of Judah” is used 41 times, and the phrase “house of David” is used 26 times.

7 C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1978), p. 536.

8 Some Christians may be threatened by the thought that they are not “spiritually” in heaven, as if the reason they can hear from the Lord is that they are in heaven with him. God created mankind as earth dwellers. Christians can hear from the Lord because each one has the gift of holy spirit within him. God has always spoken to His people, and the space between heaven and earth does not in any way hinder Him from communicating with people.

9 Buchanan, op. cit., Anchor Bible: Hebrews, p. 192.

10 Ibid., p. 194.