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May I God, Now?
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Enoch and Elijah got to go to heaven without ever dying. Obviously, they were very close to God. Is it possible for anyone—maybe even me—to be that close to God and go to heaven before the Second Coming?

Pastor Steve Answers:

As a child I heard people read Genesis 5:24: “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”

Then they’d explain the text by saying something like this: “Each day Enoch spent time walking with God, and they got closer and closer. But then they would each go to their separate homes—God to heaven, and Enoch to his house. Then one day God just said to Enoch, ‘You know, you’re closer to My home now than you are to yours. Why don’t you just come home with Me?’”

After hearing that explanation, I’d think, I want to be so close to God that one day He’ll invite me to go home with Him!

In fact,when I’ve felt super spiritual, I’ve told God that He can go ahead and take me to heaven. Obviously, He hasn’t done that yet. So does that mean I’m just not good enough, or that I’m not close enough to God to go to heaven?

Notice how this can quickly slip into some type of legalism or contract with God that goes something like, “If I’m good enough, God has to take me to heaven. If I’m not good enough, I’ll have to stay here on earth. If I’m really bad, I’ll burn in hell.”

We don’t know much about Enoch. We know more about Elijah. He seemed to have incredible faith and absolutely no fear. He boldly took on the king as well as the 450 prophets of Baal (see 1Kings 17 and 18).

Elijah must have been very close to God, right? But 1 Kings 19 records that Elijah ran away from the queen. What happened to his closeness to God?

How about John the Baptist? He had a miracle birth (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80). And Jesus pointed out that John fulfilled the great promise of the return of someone as potent as Elijah the prophet (compare Malachi 4:5 with Luke 7:24-26).

Notice the high praise Jesus gave John (it’s recorded in Luke 7:28): “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

This means that Elijah wasn’t any “better” than John the Baptist. Yet Elijah went directly to heaven, and John the Baptist got beheaded (Mark 6:17-29).

Now, Elijah represents those who are alive and will go to heaven when Jesus returns. Moses,in contrast, represents those who’ve died trusting Jesus and will be resurrected and go to heaven when He returns. No wonder these significant figures appeared to Jesus prior to His time of torture (see Luke 9:28-32).

Will you go to heaven without ever dying, as Elijah and Enoch did? Or will you be resurrected and go to heaven, as Moses did? Either way, heaven is your goal. And it’s not a matter of being good enough—it’s a matter of trusting Jesus.

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By Steve Case. Reprinted with permission from Insight Magazine Online. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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