The dimension of heaven was separated from the dimension of earth by Adam and Eve’s rejection of God’s will. How then can the whole earth become the heavenly place God intended it to be? As the Bible story continues, we see that heaven and earth are not brought together by the religious efforts of humankind, but through God graciously opening doorways through which the power of heaven can come to heal a broken earth.
At the beginning of chapter 5, I write about going to a museum exhibition of religious artefacts which expressed ‘… the universal human desire to stretch beyond this earth and make contact with the supernatural.’
One example of a human attempt to reach heaven is the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:3-4, where we are told…
“As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves…’”
In the story of Jacob’s ladder told in Genesis 28: 10-19 we see a different type of doorway between heaven and earth.
“Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’ Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel… ‘” [Bethel means House of God.]
One important doorway in the Old Testament is the giving to Moses of the ‘Law from heaven’ on Mount Sinai. The centre of this law is the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17.
“God spoke all these words:
‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’
‘You shall have no other gods before me.’
‘You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my Commandments.’
‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.’
‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
‘Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.’
‘You shall not murder.’
‘You shall not commit adultery.’
‘You shall not steal.’
‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.’
‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’”
On p.66 I call these laws ‘…an antidote to the chaos caused by human hearts that have turned away from heaven’ because they restore the foundations for how human beings can live together in a heavenly way.
Take one of the Commandments and discuss…
God established a more permanent meeting place between heaven and earth in the tabernacle and then in the temple in Jerusalem. On p.69 I discuss how the structure of the Temple was modelled on the Garden of Eden.
On pages 71-73 I explain how the animal sacrificial system at the temple reflected the ‘seriousness of human sin and the demands of justice’.
Give thanks for the way God has opened doorways of grace into your life.
Ask God to show you how you can be an antidote to chaos rather than a cause of chaos.