Bible Study Devotional: John 3:13-14. No One Has Gone Up To Heaven?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Jesus states here that no man has gone up to heaven, but can that be true? This verse may need to be examined a little bit more closely.
The word for “heaven” means several different things in original languages of the Bible. In Hebrew, the word for heaven is “shamayim” and it is used of three main things: the sky, the firmament where the sun, moon, stars and planets are, and the dwelling place of God. So, it has been said that there were three “heavens” in ancient Hebrew cosmology. This makes sense because the Hebrew word for heaven is plural. In later Jewish religious thought, it is said that there are actually 7 levels of the heavens.
The Greek word for heaven is “ouranos” and it carries roughly the same meanings as its Hebrew counterpart.
The prophet Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot according to the book of 2 Kings, 2:11. Did he actually go the level of heaven that was the abode of God? Did he travel by heavenly chariot and go somewhere else?
Perhaps, but there is a difficulty with this explanation since here is a time later in [2 Kings 21:12] that Elijah sent a letter to the evil king Jehoram.
In short, either Elijah had the evil acts of king Jehoram revealed to him before he was taken up to the heavens and wrote the letter to be read in the future or Elijah sent the letter after he was “taken up.”
Was Elijah really taken up to dwell in the dwelling place of God?
We do not really know, but Jesus’ words seem to contradict this notion.
No matter what, the words of Jesus regarding his status as the heavenly Son of Man who actually has full knowledge of God the Father should bring to mind the words of the book of Proverbs…
“Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?” – Proverbs 30:4
Since Jesus calls himself the Son of Man that is present in the heavenly abode of God we should also think of Daniel 7:13-14.
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Jesus is the one who dwells in heaven, originated from heaven and has the full revelation of God because he is the Son of God, the Word of God and God himself.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up
This saying of Jesus illustrates a very interesting parallel between him and the bronze or copper serpent during the time of the wilderness journeys. This metal serpent was put on a pole and lifted up in the eyes of the people of Israel with the promise that, if they would look upon the serpent after they were bitten, they would survive and live.
This can be found in Numbers 21:8-9.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”
The implication of Jesus’ words is really very profound and serves to show a picture of the revelation of the rest of the New Testament.
These snakes were initially sent among the people in the wilderness as punishment for sin. They became a symbol of the consequence for sin, which is death. Then, the cure prescribed by God himself was a large symbol of a snake that would cure all those that looked to it and trusted God for healing.
In the same way, the Apostle Paul states the following in 2 Corinthians 5:12.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Did you catch that? The curse of sin and death, the “bite of the serpent,” (sin and death came from Satan’s deception of humankind) was intimately tied to its cure. The cure for the curse was found in the one and only pure, truly holy and perfect person. In order to cure those who have been bitten (us!), he had to take the poison ,our sin, upon himself.
We have all been bitten by the serpent. We have all sinned. Despite the seriousness of this, to be rescued what we have to do is to accept that was the plan of God, believe that he did this for us and rose again, and declare that he is our Lord!
“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” – Proverbs 8:11
All Bible Verses are from the KJV Unless Otherwise Noted
All images used are in the public domain from Pixabay
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