Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sightseeing (08/08/05)
TITLE: Moses’ and Paul’s “Sight-seeing” Experiences
By Doug Laird
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The fact is, however, even the best of them are destined for destruction when â€śâ€¦the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2Pet.3: 10 NASB).
Sight seeing can teach us the principle of enjoying what is here on Earth during the time that we have been given to do so, but should also teach us the principle of seeing all things in light of the eternal state. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sought of people ought you to beâ€¦. (2Pet. 3: 10, 11 NASB)?â€ť
Moses was given a sightseeing experience that provides a stern warning to those who are positions of authority in the spiritual realm. Moses (Deut. 34:1- 4) was permitted to look upon the Promised Land that his people were about to enter, but he (Moses) was not permitted to lead them into the land â€śâ€¦ because you have not believed Me, to treat me as holy in sight of the sons of Israelâ€¦(Numb. 20:12 NASB).
What Moses, in a position of authority, overtly did (Numb.20: 10,11) to incur this judgment may seem relatively trivial by human viewpoint, but failing to honor God in the execution of the authority that He has given is a very serious matter to God. Moses, in good health (Deut. 34: 7) died after this sight seeing tour and prior to the Jews entering the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua (Deut. 31:23).
One of the reasons that the Apostle Paul could face both life and death with such unshakable confidence is that he had already been to Heaven on a sight seeing experience (2Cor.12: 2) during the course of his lifetime. It actually takes greater faith to believe in what one has not yet experienced, yet believes it to be true (John 20: 29).
Paul records (2Cor.12: 2) that he is not sure if it was an out of body experience or not, but he was there in the third Heaven. [Because this event occurred â€śfourteen years (2Cor. 12: 2NASBâ€ť earlier than the writing of 2 Corinthians, many Biblical scholars believe that this happened in Lystra where Paul was stoned and left for dead outside of the city. If this was in fact the case, it was an out of body experience as Paulâ€™s associates stood around his body that had been dragged out of the city following the stoning and left for dead until Paul got up (Acts 14: 20) and returned to the city.]
The Bible speaks of there being three Heavens as points of reference. The first heaven in the atmosphere around the earth, the second in a reference to the stellar universe, and the third is the location of the throne of God.
The specifics of what Paul saw and heard while there in the Third Heaven was to remain secret (2Cor. 12: 4). Following this sight seeing experience, Paul records that â€śâ€¦there was given me a thorn in the flesh-a messenger of Satan to torment meâ€”to keep me from exalting myself (2Cor. 12:7). Bible scholars have long debated as to what exactly what this â€śthorn in the fleshâ€ť actually was, but all that is needed to know is that it was a source of torment for Paul and for us to be reminded of the reason it was given. In fact, Paul had asked God three times to remove it, but Godâ€™s answer was â€śNoâ€ť (2Cor. 12: 9)â€ť!
I believe that it was these same revelations that Paul that he was referring to in 1Cor. 2: 9 NASB, when he wrote of â€śâ€¦things which eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of Man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.â€ť
All of the passing sights to be seen in this world are nothing in comparison to those the children of God will behold for all of Eternity.
â€śScripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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