A lot of prophetic people are teaching about the open heavens right now. They tell of angelic encounters, seeing Jesus, encounters with the glory of God, and more. Some of their testimonies stretch us as they tell of supernatural travel or of conversations with Christians who have already died.
In this short article I can’t hope to share every scripture that puts these experiences in a biblical context. But I want to list three simple principles from the life and the words of Jesus and one from the book of Acts, to help us put open heaven experiences in perspective.
1. Jesus is the open heaven. He said so when He called Nathaniel as a disciple in John 1:51 — “hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” In other words, Jesus Himself is Jacob’s ladder.
If this same Jesus lives in us, we can expect His presence in us to be Jacob’s ladder. This not only gives us an open heaven, but makes us into an open heaven – a people who carry the connection between heaven and earth wherever we go.
2. Jesus lived in a constant flow of hearing the Father’s voice and seeing what He was doing. The fruit of the open heaven in Jesus’ life was the continual fellowship He had with the Father. As He saw what the Father was doing, Jesus could do the works of God. As He heard what the Father spoke, Jesus could speak with authority, not like the scribes.
The open heavens in Jesus’ life began when He was baptized in the Jordan. When we follow Him in baptism, we enter into the power of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Many scriptures testify to the power of these classic gospel realities to transform our lives. But for two thousand years, most of the church has overlooked the promises of an open heaven available to us while we live in this world.
3. Jesus took three men with Him when He talked with Moses and Elijah in the cloud of God’s glory, but the voice from heaven called the disciples’ attention to Jesus. There is a whole cast of characters in heaven, from God to angels to saints from other generations who have already left this world. For a more complete list, read Hebrews 12:22-24.
As we experience the open heavens, we will have encounters with other heavenly characters besides God Himself. This is normal. This is what happened to Jesus when He took Peter, James, and John up to the mount of transfiguration. A cloud of glory descended and Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus for a few moments. Peter wanted to build three booths, but the voice of God from heaven established something once and for all:
“This is My Beloved Son; hear Him.” Moses and Elijah have their place; angels have their place; saints from other generations have their place. But Jesus is and must always be preeminent.
As we hear about open heaven experiences or have them ourselves, we need to be careful and faithful to stay focused on Jesus.
4. In the book of Acts, more open heaven encounters are listed than times of using the gift of prophecy. Frankly, I was surprised when I discovered this. I was used to assuming the gift of prophecy was scriptural but open visions, encounters with angels, and appearances of Jesus were the exception.
One day I read the book of Acts and counted how many times it says someone prophesied, and how many times someone had an open heaven experience. I challenge you to do the same. I think you’ll see what I saw: that open heaven experiences are part of the church’s inheritance, and we’ve been overlooking it.
We need the rock and we need the oil, but don’t forget Jacob’s ladder. God wants to make it real in your life.
Stan Smith :: © 2009, GospelSmith :: http://www.GospelSmith.com