Sunday, April 29, 2012
Is 2 Kings 2:11 Really Proof That Faithful Ones Who Died Before Jesus Went to Heaven? Did Elijah Really Ascend to Heaven?
If you carefully read the cited verses you will see that Elijah was "caught up" in the reign of Jehoshaphat who was father to Jehoram. Seven years after Elijah's "ascension" Jehoshaphat dies and Jehoram kills his brothers. Jehoram then receives a letter from Elijah condemning him for killing his brothers. The obvious conclusion is that Elijah is still alive here on earth when he wrote the letter.
Being caught up to heaven can be easily reconciled with all the explicit Scriptures above by understanding the "heavens" to refer to earth's immediate atmosphere, where birds fly and winds blow. This is a common usage in the Bible (Deut. 4:19; Lk. 4:25-26; Ps.78:26; Matt. 6:26).
Even more, there are also very explicit scriptures which prove that Elijah could not have gone to heaven even after his later death.
For example, at John 3:13 we have a very explicit and clear statement by Christ himself which shows that no one had ever gone to heaven before him. If Elijah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob went to heaven then we have to assume that Jesus was mistaken.
Christ's statement is in agreement with every other clear verse dealing with the resurrection to heaven:
Scriptures plainly state that the resurrection of chosen humans to eternal life with Christ would only occur after Christ's future coming and presence in the "last days." God did not promise anyone that they would be rewarded at death. (Matt. 16:27; 24:3; Lk. 14:14; Jn. 11:24; 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:22, 23, 51, 52; 2 Tim. 4:8)
The way to heavenly life was first opened up to imperfect humans after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ (Jn.14:2, 3; Heb. 6:19, 20; 9:24; 10:19, 20).
Long after Christ's resurrection the Bible writers wrote that the righteous dead were still "asleep" in death (1 Cor. 15:6; 1 Thes. 4:13) and the resurrection was still to occur at a future time (Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:12, 13; cf. 2 Tim. 2:18).
Jesus was also called "the first fruits" of all resurrected to eternal heavenly life, so no one could have preceded him to heaven (Acts 10:40; 1 Cor. 15:20,23; Col. 1:18).
All these explicit passages tell us that there must be something wrong with the interpretation that Elijah or any other human went directly to heaven before the Last Day presence of Christ.
However, some will point to the account of Christ's transfiguration as evidence that Elijah was in heaven (Mt. 17:1-9; Mk. 9:2-9).
Yet, did Elijah and Moses literally appear with Jesus here? Were they alive and conscious in heaven after their death? No, Christ did not indicate that this was a literal appearance of Elijah, rather he explicitly called the transfiguration a "vision" (HORAMA at Mt. 17:9). A vision is not reality. HORAMA occurs 12 times in the Bible all of the occurrences give the idea that a HORAMA is not real. At Acts 12:9 HORAMA is contrasted with real. The other occurrences are Acts 7:31; 9:10, 12; 10:3, 17, 19; 11:5; 16:9, 10; 18:9.
Those who believe that Elijah and Moses went immediately to heaven have some serious contradictions to account for. We have to reconcile all the Scriptures which clearly state that those who are dead do not know anything and do not praise God but are "dust" (Gen. 3:19; Eccl. 3:20; 9:5,10; Ps. 146:4; Isa. 38:18,19; Ezek. 18:4). Isaiah 38:18,19 says that the dead "do not praise Jehovah." If the dead righteous ones are conscious why would they not be able to praise God?
The basic problem is that because of their belief that all good people go to heaven most religions ignore the facts presented in the Bible that there are two destinies for righteous humans. They ignore the explicit statements by Jesus and the Scriptures that show most humans will enjoy everlasting life on earth. God's stated purpose is for righteous ones to live for "eternity on earth" (Mt. 5:5; 6:10; Ps. 37, 9, 10, 29; Isa. 66:19-24; 24:1-6; Rev. 21:3, 4).
Source: This is the chosen Best Answer by Bar_Anerges to this question from Yahoo! Answers.
For more on this subject, see:
What were “the heavens” to which “Elijah went ascending in the windstorm”? (w05 8/1 p. 8-p. 12 par. 3; Watchtower Online Library)
Ascension to Heaven (Insight-1 pp. 1059-1065; Watchtower Online Library)
Elijah (Insight-1 pp. 710-713; Watchtower Online Library)