“And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.” (Revelation 11:11-12 KJV)
Have you ever wondered where it was that these men ascended to? Duh! Heaven! But exactly where is that? Sure, they ascend via a cloud the same as Jesus did (and will return from), but where is that? It seems pretty near if it is just on the other side of a cloud, yet none of the space satellites seem to have collided with it yet. Our great telescopes photograph very beautiful pictures of the heavens and I can certainly make the correlation between heavens and the expanse in the sky. There seems to be more than what the telescopes are picking up though. What if heaven is really close to “here”, but not “now”? What if the passage between Earth and the eternal is a passage in and out of time? As opposed to forward to the end or backward to the beginning of time which have it’s own connections with eternity. Could the latter in Jacob’s dream be not so much going to two places of different distances, but rather two places which operate in and outside of time? Like two worlds which are right on top of each other but operate at different speeds?
Granted this brings flashbacks of movies like The 13th floor, Tron, or The Matrix where you have virtual worlds inside real worlds. To some degree I suppose there is a likeness, but I would suspect that ours is a bit less virtual. Of course, I would. 🙂 More importantly, these movies depict a sense of devouring, hence the term “copper top” which is more reflective of hell than heaven. I imagine as in the book The Great Divorce that one depicts what he is familiar with and becomes a creature more fit for that world. Certainly a reminder to the Christian that we must be totally remade by Christ.
I think the difference between Earth and Heaven goes far beyond the temptations (or the lack thereof) and the influence of a fallen nature. I think Earth (and the universe as we see it) operates inside a container of time. The events that happen here, while genuinely significant, happen in a relatively stopped state from the speed at which Heaven is actually operating. Somehow in a great mystery God in His mercy has not contained evil within the dimensions of height, width, or depth (although I am sure there is some of that too), but contained it by slowing this Earth (and all it can see) down to a speed or frequency that is much slower than all that which is in a yet more real reality.
I consider the wonder of this as someone who speculates about a mystery that tugs at him for some time. I do not necessarily think that there are portals or ways in and out between worlds. Notwithstanding, I am sure many have sought for them and God certainly has allowed some to cross that line at death and return. I simply consider such a question as to the location of Heaven so that I might better meditate on God’s Word day and night knowing that He really is close and there really is so much beyond what we can presently see. Faith by definition trusts in what it cannot see, but that does not disconnect the reality nor take the hope that when Jesus makes all things new that all will be quite visible. For now, Paul is accurate in stating that we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face (see 1 Corinthians 13:12).
“And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17 KJV)