Oh, How We Need An Open Heaven!
"In and through Jesus Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men..."
"Prayer is an ordinance that opens heaven: Knock, and it shall be opened unto you..." - Matthew Henry
"We can know nothing of future events but what God is pleased to discover to us; they are within the veil, till God opens the door."
"Sin hinders God's mercies from coming down upon us; it is a partition wall that separates between us and God."
- the above quotes are from Matthew Henry
There is information that we desperately need in order to face the days ahead. There are secrets pertaining to our own personal lives as well as to that which concerns our families, ministries, churches, and nations that we need to have disclosed. God holds the key to all knowledge. He has the key to heaven where all of our mercies, blessings, favors, revelations, insights, directives, etc. are locked up. But it is our responsibility to "knock" at the door of heaven until He opens it and gives us what we need.
In the Scriptures, we find the "open heaven" and the "closed heaven."
Let's first of all look at the "open heaven" and see what the Holy Spirit would have us learn in our study.
In Ezekiel 1:1, we read - "Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God." Ezekiel 1:3 goes on to say - "The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him." Here we see that the "heavens" had to be opened before Ezekiel could see, hear, or be touched by God. All the darkness and distance between him and God was conquered. He was uplifted into the glories of the upper world. Heaven was opened to him. Resultantly, he saw great and excellent things - displays of Divine Glory. Immediately, his ears were opened to hear a word from the Lord. It came expressly and accurately to him. It came in the fullness of light and power - so much so that it took possession of him and dwelt richly in him. He then felt the constraining power of God reviving and supporting him. Actually, at this time, he was filled with His power and the influence of a prophetic spirit - giving him the gift and word of prophecy.
In Matthew 3:16, we read - "And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him." In this case, John the Baptist saw an "open heaven" as he was baptizing the Lord Jesus. The heavens opening made way for the visible descent of the Holy Ghost in bodily shape.
Luke 3:21-22 gives an account of the same incident in this way - "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him..." Here we see that prayer is crucial in opening the heavens.
In John 1:51, the Lord Jesus said something very intriguing to Nathanael at first meeting him - "And He saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." What He was relating to Nathanael was that there would be a perpetual intercourse opened between heaven and earth for him. And it would all come about through the medium of Him - the Messiah. Clear and abundant revelations of God's will would be made unto him. All mysteries shut up and hidden would be revealed. He would enjoy angelic protection and assistance. This would all prove that Jesus is indeed Who He claimed to be - the Messiah.
This verse in particular draws us back to Genesis 28:12 which describes the account that Jacob had of an "open heaven" - "And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." Here is depicted the "ladder" as the medium of communication between heaven and earth. As we had seen in John 1:51, Jesus Christ is that medium. He is the way to heaven. All God's favors come through Him.
In the Book of Acts, we find Stephen, the first martyr, experiencing an "open heaven" as well as the Apostle Peter - "But he(Stephen) being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55-56). "On the morrow...Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners; and let down to the earth" (Acts 10:9-11). Stephen saw "the heavens opened." This is a figurative expression denoting that he was permitted to see into the eternal world. Heaven came down to him - giving him a view of the happiness he was going to. Peter also saw "heaven opened." This was also a common mode of speaking found in the Hebrew Scriptures. It depicted the sky above as a vast expanse opened to present an opportunity for anything to descend. It was an emblem of the opening and revealing of some sort of mystery. Notice that Peter had this experience after he prayed. His heart ascended to God in prayer - preparing him to receive the discoveries of divine grace and favor.
Lastly, in the book of Revelation, we find the Apostle John experiencing an "open heaven" - "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter." (Revelation 4:1) "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True..." (Revelation 19:11). In both cases, John was permitted to look into the world above. In the first instance, heaven was pictured as a door that remained shut to those on the earth. However, as soon as it was opened for him, he heard the voice of the Lord calling him higher in order to get a better view of future happenings. In the second incident, he was given the opportunity to see into the heavens and behold the Lord Jesus Himself as the Triumphant, Conquering, and soon coming King.
When the heavens were opened for the Prophet Ezekiel, he saw the "visions of God"...accurately heard and understood the word of the Lord...and was mightily strengthened by the "hand of the LORD" for the task ahead of him. When baptizing Jesus, John the Baptist saw the heavens open and the Holy Ghost descend like a dove upon the Son of God. This all happened as a result of Jesus' prayer. Nathanael was told by the Lord that he would experience Jacob's ladder - an "open heaven" where the angels of God would ascend and descend with the blessings from above. It would all happen through Christ and for His glory and name's sake. While Peter was praying, he received an "open heaven" whereby he was enabled to tap into the mysteries concerning the calling of the Gentiles. And John the Revelator experienced an "open heaven" whereby he was given "visions from God" concerning endtime events and the Second Coming of Jesus.
Oh! How we need such "visions" or divine revelations in our day and time concerning future events. How we need to hear the Word of the Lord and to be mightily touched or strengthened by His hand. How we need Him to "open the heavens" and give us a glimpse of heavenly matters and a clear vision of Himself.
The Scriptures do mention a "closed heaven." In Deuteronomy 11:16-17, it says - "Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD's wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, that there be no rain..." Although this is mainly referring to a physical condition, it can also apply to the spiritual realm. As we can see from this verse, sin causes a "closed heaven." It holds back the "rain" or the blessings of God. It shuts down any revelation or insight into the future. It blocks the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God from getting through to His people. It blinds them from seeing Jesus as He really is.
In Isaiah 59:1-2, a "closed heaven" is implied in these words - "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear." Once again, we see that heaven is spiritually closed because of sin. Man - whether sinner or saint - shuts heaven to himself through disobedience. All spiritual blessings are restrained or kept in as a result.
Unless the Christian deals with sin in his life or heart, he will continuously find the heavens to be as brass.
Why aren't more Christians experiencing an "open heaven"?
As was mentioned, hidden sin can be blocking the way. But there is another reason that seems to be implied in Revelation 4:1 which says - "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter." John had to "come up hither" in order to receive the things concerning the endtimes. Most Christians are too earthbound to receive an "open heaven." Their focus is too much on the "treasures of earth" rather than those in heaven. Their minds are set on the things of the flesh rather than the things of the Spirit. Their affections are on things below rather than on things above.
The result? The heavens are closed to most. They wouldn't know God's voice if He screamed at them. They can't receive a "vision from God" because they are too glued to the television - wondering who the next "American Idol" will be! They are not separated from this world through prayer and the study of God's Holy Truth. Their eyes are too much on the "glitter" and glamour of this world. And their hearts are too covetous and greedy to discern where the true riches are.
We desperately need "an open heaven." As the church, we need to hear from God in order to prepare for the endtimes. We need the wisdom from on high to outwit our enemy and to show the world that we are a step ahead of them and their world system.
The word that Jesus gave to Nathanael is His will for all of His people - "...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." However, there is one point that must not be overlooked here. The main reason why Nathanael was a candidate for an "open heaven" was because he was as the Lord Jesus described - "...an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (John 1:47)
Oh, How we need an "open heaven" in order to see into the eternal world.
Which of us will experience one?
Will it be you?
May God Bless His Word.
© COPYRIGHT Connie Giordano - All Rights Reserved