What God calls “the ordinances of the heavens,” (Job 38:33) or the first, second and third heavens, is a concept present on nearly every page of scripture, just under the surface. Like the disciples, we always wish God were “speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech,” (John 16:29) but that’s not how He works. He is speaking into a hostile environment, much like an agent speaking to people working undercover in a hostile country. If He spoke plainly then the plans would be subverted and come to naught. To get deeper truth to us He packs it in a form that creates offense or appears to point in another direction so it can slip by enemy defenses – the border guards – so it reaches us intact. We have to know God’s character and be friends with Holy Spirit to know how to unpack it. Proverbs says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2) God hides it at one end, we as His agents unpack it at the other end.
So what information about the heavens do we have? Paul said, “I know a man in Christ who… was caught up to the third heaven.” (2 Corinthians 12:2). He visited a place of unspeakable glory, where God dwells. “Third” means there are at least two more heavens. We know that nothing is higher than God, for He tells Job, “Who then is able to stand against Me? Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.” Solomon said, “And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him?”
Two heavens are mentioned here, both of which cannot contain God. One of those implies beings the world calls, “gods” for they have power and can do things we can’t. If it’s the only “higher power” we know we might be duped into believing they are gods. But if they are superior beings only because they are fallen angels, then we begin to better understand that realm. God explains where they came from and some of their limitations in Revelation 12:7-9, “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” They are banned from heaven, they are cast into the earth, and they are the ones who deceive the whole world.
So where are they if they are cast into the earth? God leaves another clue in Isaiah 25:7, “And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations,” and in Ephesians 2:2, “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” Something evil is trying to separate us from God. The covering mentioned in Isaiah 25:7 is actually a death shroud. What if all that is referring to the second heaven, the place where the enemy operates?
What if, then, there are three realms of increasing levels of substance and power, realms we might refer to as “heavens”? What if we inhabit the lowest level, as mortal beings easily subdued, crushed, and killed? What if the enemy inhabits the second level – albeit illegally – still retaining a measure of their heavenly power and substance but devoid of all life and goodness, trying to keep us separated from Papa God? And what if the highest level, the greatest of all is our beloved God, dwelling there with His faithful angels?
At first appearances it would seem we are up against impossible odds, for how are we to survive an oppressor who is more powerful than us and entertains himself with our torment? The shocking fact is that we have been positioned to win! That second heaven is illegal for it is supposed to be under our feet, and if it were gone then there would be no separation between earth and heaven, thus realizing Jesus’ prayer, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” God is utterly for us and is continually thinking up new ways for us to torment the enemy with goodness! Part of our comeuppance is that we get to have fun doing it – for the enemy’s plan is to create so much pressure that nothing is fun anymore. We have great joy as we work, and we create an atmosphere in which everyone else gets to experience joy as well! This is so great!
This model can be used to understand virtually every story, proverb and parable in scripture, or even any story, history, or situation in the world! Let’s try it out on Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
The man, in his natural state, dwells in the first heaven, subject to all the oppression and heartless toying with that characterizes our low position. The Lord is in third heaven, giving out the clues for how to live above enemy schemes by sending them through the border guards in the unattractive form called, “laws.” The enemy sits in-between in the second heaven, trying to subvert the man by creating an atmosphere of ungodliness (living separated from God), of sin (agreement with enemy ways) and scorn. But this man is not fooled. He is blessed (kissed by heaven) because he fixes his eyes above the enemy and the pressured circumstances, focusing on God alone. In spiritual terms we call that “abiding.” He delights in unpacking the secret, overcoming messages hidden in the law, and with that information is able to draw his nourishment from a greater reality than his oppressor, thus living a life of prosperity and fruitfulness.
Meanwhile, the lot of the failed enemy is to dry up and blow away. His accusations, when presented to the King are cast aside as worthless – not submissible evidence. The enemy perishes, the man assisted by God flourishes.
Part of the reason this is such a helpful tool for unpacking God’s secret messages is that the enemy loves to pervert truth – twist what is good just enough that it becomes a lie and keeps us subdued – living an inferior existence under the enemy’s thumb. To do so he paints shadows into the picture, then blames them on God or on man. When we focus on our perception that God is unfair or man is irreparably wicked, we fail to notice the enemy has bound us up and is robbing us blind!
But if you just read this post, then you know! You can extricate garbage planted in your circumstances and discover God’s secret messages to you that will take you up and over every tactic of darkness! Be empowered to do so and have fun doing it!!!!! Our God is for us and He submits to no one!