The Bible teaches that nobody goes to heaven when they die and nobody will live for eternity in heaven. John 3:13 could not be any plainer! And it’s from the One who would know! The saints will rule with Jesus Christ on earth (Revelation 5:10). The Bible means what it says that the meek will inherit the earth.
The Bible says the resurrected saints “shall be caught up together … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and they will accompany Him from the clouds down to stand with Him on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4, Acts 1:11).
Will all the action occur there in the clouds?
Where will the saints be during the Seven Last Plagues and where will the Wedding Supper take place? Where will the saints be rewarded for their works? Where will they receive their assignment for the Millennium and how to accomplish it?
Newborn babies need a few years as a toddler protected for and taught by father and mother. Will God’s born-again sons and daughters at the Resurrection need intensive instruction and training in how to be a God and manage and control all the newfound POWER? While human family has always provided good parallels with God Family, God’s children will have already learned to talk godly and walk in righteousness. And they won’t need potty trained!
Obviously, immortal spirit beings, then Gods themselves, not bound by time or space, could go anywhere God has planned, probably at the speed of thought! Resurrected God Beings will inherit “all things” [the universe!] (Revelation 21:7).
A big question is,
Where will the Father be?
The Bible is clear that nobody except Jesus Christ has ever seen God the Father or heard His voice (John 5:37) because “your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). God the Father will come down to the new earth only after all physical, material, wicked humans and sin have been burned away in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:1-3). Most of us have been up into the clouds and even above them in airplanes. Twelve astronauts have walked on the moon. Perseverance is roving Mars and transmitting high-definition pictures of the Red Planet, along with a helicopter hovering about! The Father waits untouched in the third heaven and won’t come down to sinful territory where humans have long visited. He will make His eternal home on the New Earth (Revelation 21:3).
But can you imagine Him not wanting to officiate at His Son’s wedding! Can you imagine Him waiting 1,100 years to see His born-again sons and daughters! I was blessed to watch the birth of my last two daughters and soon hold them. Fathers who don’t have that privilege press their noses up to the nursery window to get a first look at their new child! How could God our loving Father do any less?
And who of us won’t wait any longer than necessary to hug our Abba Daddy!
All agree that the firstfruits will “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). “And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The resurrected firstfruits will be intimately one with Christ, and Christ and the Father are one (John 17:22). All we have to do is keep our eyes on Christ and follow where He goes! He is preparing a place for us, and at that time He will place us (John 14:2)!
Revelation 14:1 mentions 144,000 standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. In so many scriptures Mount Zion in Jerusalem is where Jesus Christ will make His Kingdom home. Psalm 2:6 is a good example: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” In Hebrews 12:22 Mount Zion refers to the Church of God and “the heavenly Jerusalem.” So is verse 1 referring to the resurrected saints on earth or up in heaven? John didn’t help when he used the Greek word for “heaven” [ouranos] which can refer to “sky” (the first heaven) or “abode of God” (the third heaven). We will have to look at context, which is a vital principle of proper Bible study. Too bad John didn’t do like Paul did and specify the Greek word for “third” when he wrote that he was carried up to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2).
Saying “standing on the sea of glass” is not conclusive since Christ’s portable throne has one (Ezekiel 1:22). And it has four Living Creatures. But proof that the third heaven is being talked about is when a passage says the 24 Elders are there. I guess there isn’t room for them on the portable one! Another proof that the third heaven is being discussed is when it says the Temple is there.
So, John is vindicated because Chapters 11 (verse 16), 14 [verse 3] and 19 [verse 4] specify the throne where the 24 Elders are.
Chapter 15 is the key chapter showing that the resurrected firstfruits will not be confined in the clouds but will follow Jesus Christ up to be with the Father in the third heaven. Verse 2 places the resurrected saints who achieved victory over the Beast on the sea of glass along with seven angels in verse 1 having the seven last plagues in “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony” (verse 5].
In all the critical sections regarding where the saints are after they rise up into the clouds to meet Christ in the air, the heaven is the third one where God the Father’s throne is.I
Chapter 14 is challenging in several ways. Being an inset chapter, does that mean it doesn’t have to be in chronological order? In due time Jesus will be ruling with the saints from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. But other inset chapters seem to be in chronological order within themselves. In verse 14, the Son of Man is “on the cloud” brandishing a sharp sickle to reap the earth—clearly before riding down to Jerusalem. So it would seem more likely that in verse 1, the 144,000 are standing at the heavenly Jerusalem.
Yes, but the wording in verse 2 seems like a change of location. And does “They” in verse 3 refer to the 144,000 or to the “sound of harpists” in verse 2. Does the statement that only the 144,000 can learn that song prove it’s them actually singing before God’s throne, or does it mean that only they on earth in Jerusalem can learn what the heavenly angelic choir is singing?
Some claim the clinching argument is that verse 4 differentiates God from the Lamb, and then verse 5 positions the 144,000 “before the throne of God.” But, oh that it could be so plain: NU-Text and M.Text omit this crucial phrase and modern translations leave it out. Churches of God have always advised relying upon the King James Version and New King James Version for doctrinal matters, and these include “before the throne of God.”
That being the case, chapter 14 would substantiate what seems crystal clear in chapter 15: that the resurrected saints “who have the victory over the beast” (verse 2) are standing at the third heaven sea of glass (Revelation 4:6, 5:8, 14:2)–playing harps like the group in chapter 14. Churches of God have tended to make fun of the notion of playing harps in heaven as how could anything be more boring! But it certainly appears as if we might get a crash course in learning to play before we come down to earth with Christ to establish His Kingdom! Maybe we should stop harping about that!
This is clearly at the third heaven where seven angels are on alert to dispense the Seven Last Plagues, and they come out of the “temple of the tabernacle of the testimony.” Revelation 14:9-10 notes that the 7 Last Plagues will be dispensed in the presence of the Lamb and of the angels. The saints are protected from the dispensing of the plagues, though resurrected God Beings wouldn’t be hurt by them anyway. The saints ride with Christ down to earth as He completes the Seventh Last Plague by conquering all rebellion.