Heaven in the Old Testament

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Image by Joanna Malinowska. Adapted for Redemption of Humanity. Used under licence.

Last edited on 3/Feb/2021

Enoch Taken into Heaven

Some people mistakenly believe that only the New Testament teaches the doctrine of heaven, God’s eternal dwelling place for all believers, and not the Old Testament. Although the topic of heaven is rarely brought up in the Old Testament, it is still taught there. Let’s consider a few of those passages. In Genesis 5:21-24, we are told that Enoch was taken by God into heaven even before he died because he walked with God:

“When Enoch had lived for 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah for 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:21-24)

Although the passage doesn’t explicitly say heaven, that’s what is implied.

Elijah Taken into Heaven

In 1 Kings 2:11, something similar happened to Elijah. Because Elijah walked with God, God also took him into heaven before he died:

“And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (1 Kings 2:11)

Dwelling in the House of God Forever

In Psalm 23:6, we are told that king David had the assurance that he will dwell in the house of the Lord forever:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

Being with God in Heaven

In Psalm 73:24-25, the psalmist Asaph wrote that God will receive him into glory, and that God will be with him in heaven:

“You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73:24‭-‬25

God’s People will Bless Him Forever

In Psalm 115:17-18, the psalmist wrote that while the non-believers who die will not praise the Lord, all who die having believed in him will bless the Lord forever and ever:

“The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence. 18 But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 115:17-18)

The New Heaven and New Earth

In Isaiah 60:20-21, when describing the new heavens and new earth, we are told that on that day the Lord will be our everlasting light, we will be made righteous, and we will possess the land forever:

“Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. 21 Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.” (Isaiah 60:20-21)

Describing the new heavens and new earth again in Isaiah 66:22-23, he wrote that just as they will remain, so will our name and offspring:

“For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. 23 From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:22-23)

Everlasting Life and Everlasting Contempt

In Daniel 12:2, the prophet Daniel wrote that some who have died will go to everlasting life, while others will go to everlasting shame and contempt:

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)

All of these passages clearly teach the reality of everlasting life for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (that is, when we look at them retrospectively from the New Testament’s perspective). Therefore, Jesus and the apostles who taught the reality of heaven in the New Testament based this purely off of what God’s Word has always taught all along.

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