An Open Heaven
Friday 26th April 2013
We are standing under an open heaven…
Since I heard this phrase a week or two ago, it has been running round in my mind. And thinking around the events of Jesus last week for our recent services has helped me to consider it in several different contexts.
I heard it in the context of Jesus calling Nathaniel under the fig tree, when Jesus says to him 'You shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man' - John 1:51.
And that text of course referred back to the much earlier context of Jacob's dream at Bethel. Here the angels ascending and descending the stairway between heaven and earth were a message to assure Jacob of God's presence: 'I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…' - Genesis 28:15.
Bethel became one of the great sanctuaries of Israel where worship was carried out in the belief that God was present there and as his people worshipped, the angels of God were coming and going to link heaven and earth.
Jesus in his meeting with Nathaniel is saying: Now you will see the reality of that dream, that belief. Follow me, and you will see what it looks like when heaven and earth are truly open to each other - and he went on to show through his ministry how God's kingdom was present and visible through him as the sick were healed, the outcast was made whole, and his teaching turned the old order on its head.
Look at that in the context of Easter, when as Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple which veiled the Holy of Holies was torn in two. Look at our Easter hymns which talk about opening the gates of heaven, and breaking the barriers of sin and death which separate us from God. Look at the teaching of Paul as he talks about reconciliation and blessing through the death of Jesus; and remember the words of Jesus as he promises his Spirit to be with us always.
We are so blessed. We are standing under an open heaven.