posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 04:27 AM
I wanted to comment on an earlier post about Elijah going to heaven on a firey chariot and whirlwind. I have a good explanation for this, keeping in
mind the verse of John 3:13 and Jesus being the only man to enter heaven.
Did Elijah go to heaven?
A biblical event many cite to support belief that the righteous go to heaven when they die involves the prophet Elijah. Elijah was a prophet of God in
the ninth century B.C. The Bible states that "Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings 2:11). But does this contradict the testimony of
Jesus, who was to state some 900 years after Elijah's time that "no one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of
Man"? (John 3:13).
How can we explain this seeming biblical discrepancy? A closer look shows that the two passages can be reconciled easily enough.
Careful study shows three "heavens" actually discussed in the Bible. One is God's dwelling place—the place of His throne—and the heaven where
the resurrected Jesus is today. Speaking of Christ, who is our High Priest, the Bible says: "We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right
hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Hebrews 8:1). Heaven is specifically called God's dwelling place (Deuteronomy 26:15).
Another heaven discussed in the Bible is what we call outer space. It is the domain of the moon, planets, comets, asteroids, sun and stars. David
spoke of this when he reflected on the awesomeness of God's creative handiwork, which he described as "Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the
moon and the stars which You have ordained" (Psalm 8:3). Many scriptures mention "the stars of heaven" (Genesis 26:4; Deuteronomy 1:10; 28:62;
Yet another heaven is the envelope of air that surrounds our planet, consisting of oxygen and other gases. This heaven—earth's atmosphere—is
mentioned in such passages as Genesis 7:11-12, which describes the great flood of Noah's day: "... The windows of heaven were opened. And the rain
was on the earth forty days and forty nights." The Bible also speaks of "the birds of heaven," those that fly overhead (Job 35:11; Jeremiah
To determine which heaven is meant in a Bible passage, we must carefully consider the context. It was into the lower reaches of this third kind of
heaven—the earth's atmosphere—that Elijah was taken. Let us notice the proof.
God had earlier told Elijah that he was to anoint a man named Elisha as prophet and, in so doing, designate Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:16).
Later, as Elijah and Elisha walked together, Elijah said to Elisha, "What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?" (2 Kings 2:9). This
led to a discussion of God's gifts to Elisha that would allow him to fill Elijah's role.
"Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and
Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (verse 11). Elijah was now gone. The former followers and students of Elijah now knew to look to Elisha as
their new leader. "Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, 'The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha'" (2 Kings
Many Bible scholars and other readers assume that Elijah at that point was made immortal and taken to the heaven where God resides. This was not the
case. The sons of the prophets knew otherwise. They knew the whirlwind had simply removed Elijah to another location on earth. They exclaimed to
Elisha: "Look now, there are fifty strong men with your servants. Please let them go and search for your master, lest perhaps the Spirit of the LORD
has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley" (2 Kings 2:16).
The disciples were concerned for Elijah's safety, so they sent out a party of 50 men to search for him. The 50 searched for three days but did not
find him (2 Kings 2:17).
Another passage proves conclusively Elijah did not go to heaven. The Bible records that Elijah wrote a letter to Jehoram, the king of Judah, several
years after he was removed in the whirlwind.
Notice the sequence of events recorded for us in the Bible. Elijah's last recorded and dated act occurred during the reign of the Israelite king
Ahaziah when Elijah told the king he would die for his sins (2 Kings 1:3, 17). Ahaziah's reign lasted only about a year ca. 850 B.C.
Elijah's removal and replacement by Elisha is then recorded in the next chapter, 2 Kings 2. The story continues with incidents from Elisha's life,
including an encounter with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (2 Kings 3:11-14). Several years later Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, succeeded his father as
king of Judah ca. 845 B.C. (2 Kings 8:16).
Jehoram proved to be a wicked king, leading the nation of Judah in rebellion against God's commandments. A few years into Jehoram's reign, and
several years after Elijah's removal, Elijah wrote a letter to Jehoram warning him of dire consequences because of his sins. This letter is recorded
in 2 Chronicles 21:12-15.
This letter proves the prophet was still alive and on earth some years after he was removed by the whirlwind and replaced by Elisha. God had chosen
Elisha to succeed Elijah as His prophet, so He bodily removed Elijah to another place, where he continued to live for at least several more years-as
his letter to Jehoram demonstrates.
The Bible tells us nothing more about Elijah after he wrote the letter. But he eventually died, since Hebrews 9:27 tells us "it is appointed for men
to die once." Elijah, like the other prophets and righteous men of the Old Testament, died in faith, not having received the eternal life God had
promised (Hebrews 11:39, NIV).
As these passages show, a careful reading of the Scriptures shows that Elijah's miraculous removal in a fiery chariot involved transporting him to
another location in the area, not to eternal life in heaven.
So, there you have it.