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More People Have Basked in GOD’s Presence Than Have Walked on the Moon

Most people relate to heaven as where GOD and his heavenly hosts reside. We all aspire to go there after our deaths and judgment. However, some people have already been there, some to stay, but some to return to their earthly residences. Sometimes, people have basked in GOD’s presence here on Earth. That would count as a heavenly experience.


While reviewing the cases of people going to heaven or experiencing the presence of GOD, I would not have thought many people would have participated in the experience. Another rare experience with documented cases would be people who walked on the Moon. Between 1969 and 1972, twelve people, all Americans, walked on the Moon. However, my research shows that more than twelve people we know about have gone to heaven or have experienced GOD’s presence. Let me present the list:


1.      Most readers know about Mohammad’s trip to heaven in 621 AD. While there is some description of the journey in chapter 17 of the Qur’an, details can be found in separate hadiths by Bukhari, Muslim, and Tirmidhi. In this tradition, Muhammad is prepared for his meeting with God by the archangels Gabriel and Michael one evening while asleep in the Kaʿbah, the sacred shrine of Mecca. The night journey and ascension into heaven miraculously occurred when Mohammad traveled from Mecca to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. There, he rose through seven heavens, where he prayed with other prophets such as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus, and ascended to the skies, where Gabriel led him through Paradise and Hell, and finally face to face with God. He returned that night to his abode with directions to establish the five daily prayers.  


Christian and Jewish stories from the Bible make up a substantial number of accounts. The seven people below ascended to heaven under different circumstances.


2.      Enoch in Genesis 5:24. Actually, Enoch went to heaven twice. In the Similitudes of Enoch (39:1-14), Enoch relates how he is taken to heaven and told he will also ascend later in life. Like Mohammad, Enoch journeys through the seven heavens and returns to Earth.


3.      Elijah in 2 Kings 2:1-12. As Elijah walked with his son Elisha, a chariot of fire and horses of fire suddenly appeared and separated them, taking Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind.


4.      Jesus in Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9. In Luke, Jesus was blessing his disciples and was taken up to heaven. In Acts, it is written, “he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”


5.      Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Paul recounts his trip to the “third heaven” and “paradise” but cannot remember whether “it was in the body or out of the body.”


6.      John in Revelations 1:1-3 and 4:1. John was brought to Yahweh’s throne room by an angel. Chapter four gives a very descriptive image of the workings of GOD’s throne room.


7.      Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-13. These verses reveal Isaiah’s commissioning as a prophet. He visits GOD’s throne room and undergoes ritualistic cleaning.


8.      Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1, 10. The first ten chapters indicate many prophesies of end-times, and he gives a good account of what different angels look like.

 

There are also related accounts in which individuals behold the heavenly presence of Yahweh:


Listings 9-11 include Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel in Exodus 24:9-11. During the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the 13th Century BCE, Moses, Moses’ brother Aaron, and seventy (70) elders of Israel went to the mountain to worship GOD and confirm the covenant of the Lord with the Jewish people. A different version of this story can be found in Numbers 11:25.


12.  Micaiah in 1 Kings 22:19-23. The Prophet Micaiah recalls a vision with Yahweh on his throne, seeking an angel to entice King Ahab to enjoin an enemy who would kill him.


13.  In other cultures, there are examples of notables ascending to heaven. In Cicero’s Republic (6.9-26), his “Dream of Scipio Africanus” dissertation reveals Scipio’s vision of astral immortality. Scipio, a renowned Roman General and one not to be taken lightly, travels to the heavenly world above and returns with a revelation that all humans are immortal souls trapped in mortal bodies.


14.  Last but not least is the Zoroastrian priest, Arta Viraf, who, like Mohammad, but 400 years later, takes a night journey through heaven. Some critics mark the similarities between Viraf’s trip and Mohammad’s trip.

 

Well, there you have it. The phenomenon of the heavenly journey was a familiar one in ancient times. Not counting the seventy elders in Israel, we have identified that more people have basked in the glory of GOD’s presence than have walked on the Moon. There are probably a million stories of man’s interactions with angels. Interactions with GOD are a little rarer. I’m sure there are stories I overlooked or left out, such as GOD’s interaction with Adam and Eve, but the point is that man has experienced GOD’s presence more times than you would expect. Perhaps after judgment day, we will all have that experience of meeting our creator.




Credit to Wikimedia Commons and Giovanni Battista Cime de Conegliano for this Renaissance painting, circa 1510-1517, entitled “God the Father”.

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