James 1: 12
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today, I will talk to you about examples in the Bible of people who went into the third kingdom of heaven. The people I am going to introduce today all lived in the Old Testament times.
In the Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit did not dwell in the heart of each person. He worked as the spirit of God and worked on people by inspiring them.
Therefore, in the Old Testament times, it was not easy to circumcise one’s heart as it is in the New Testament times. Thus, the standard to decide sanctification cannot be applied the same.
In the Old Testament, even though they had sinful natures in heart, as long as they did not commit a sin in action, they were not considered ‘sinful’.
The people I am going to introduce to you today were not fully sanctified within the standard of sanctification of the New Testament. However, they did not violate the standard of the Law.
But these people did have the kind of heart to accomplish sanctification, which means, if they had lived in the New Testament times and received the help of the Holy Spirit, they certainly would have become sanctified.
Also, they were acknowledged as having been used as precious instruments in fulfilling God’s will and they went into the third kingdom of heaven.
But even in the Old Testament, there were people who received the works of the spirit of God, circumcised their heart, and became sanctified.
They were those who loved God to the utmost degree and realized the will of God clearly to cast off all forms of evil. They were Elijah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, and so on.
Each of these figures at his time was used greatly in the providence of God. It means they were faithful in all God’s house. Therefore, they go into New Jerusalem.
Please remember that this kind of difference exists between the Old Testament and the New Testament times as you now listen to the message.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the first person I am going to introduce to you is Noah.
Genesis 6:9 says, “These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”
He was a righteous man and blameless in his time. He was chosen by God to survive the judgment of flood. So, he accomplished the duty of becoming the new start of human cultivation.
Then, why did such Noah not go into New Jerusalem, but only third kingdom of heaven?
Before the flood, Noah was able to have confidence before God. He was even able to walk with God.
But as he continued to live 350 more years after the flood, he was not able to be as confident before God any longer. What happened?
At some point after the flood, people were again stained with the flesh. Also, the original fleshly natures that had been hidden deep inside their hearts began to be revealed.
Noah wasn’t an exception. Before the flood, his deeds were perfect on the outside, but his evil natures within began to show after the flood.
He began to receive human cultivation in full scale to cultivate even the deep things of heart.
But as he was being cultivated during the 350 years after the flood, he could not reach the level of sanctification that God wanted. It means he could not cast off the fleshly natures in the depths of his heart.
For example, when his son, Ham, spread word of his fault, Noah cursed him.
Of course, it was very wrong for Ham to spread the fault of his father. But, if we compare Noah with David, we can see a great difference of the goodness in heart.
While David was under refinement, a man called Shimei cursed David excessively. How did David react?
His people were enraged and wanted to kill Shimei, but David stopped them. He just kept quiet. He had a humble heart that was able to receive the trial that was allowed by God.
He said in 2 Samuel 16:12, “Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
Comparing David’s heart with Noah’s, who had cursed his own son Ham, we can see the difference.
Brothers and sisters, since the flood, Noah was the head of all people. This was one of the main reasons why he could not thoroughly discover his shortcomings.
Every single person who lived at the time of Noah was his descendant. Everyone had to call him father, grandfather, or great grandfather. So, even if they had something to say, it was not easy for them to tell him.
It’s the same when we have higher positions in the Lord and become a leader. As we move up higher as a leader, fewer people will point out our mistakes or give us advice.
That is why we have to continually humble ourselves and look back on ourselves. We should not just hear praises or flattery.
Sometimes, even if you don’t like it, you must be able to accept the words that are beneficial for your spirit. But at the time of Noah, there was nobody to speak such words that were really beneficial for his spirit.
Even if there were, Noah’s mind was lifted as the head of everybody, and he couldn’t accept such words.
Therefore, at the moment of the end of Noah’s life, he had more regret than thanksgiving. When he looked back on himself and found in his own view that he was not sanctified, he was not able to be confident before God.
Still, according to the standard of the Law in the Old Testament, he was a blameless man of his time.
Also, at the time of the flood, he played the crucial role of preparing the Ark.
Because of this, God allowed Noah the glory of the third kingdom of heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, among the Bible figures in the Old Testament, Isaac also will enter into the third kingdom of heaven. Genesis 35: 28-29 says that Isaac died and was gathered to his people at the age of 180.
Genesis 25:7-8 says that Abraham also died at the age of 175.
But there is a great difference between the deaths of these two men.
Just by what is written describing each death, it seems that both of them just died of old age, but the meaning contained in each account of death was completely different.
In the case of Abraham, his energy went out from his body and he breathed his last when the time came in the providence of God.
But in the case of Isaac, unlike the case of Abraham, there is one more expression, ‘an old man’.
For a long time, Isaac’s eyes had been weak. He was unable to distinguish between Esau and Jacob. Not only his eyes, but many parts of his body were weak, and he died of old age.
But that was not the case with Abraham. His eyes had not become weak and neither had his body become weak. Until he breathed his last, he had a strong and healthy body.
Abraham had accomplished the heart of whole spirit and was called ‘a friend of God’.
So, he was not only healthy, but his body was even healthier than when he was 100, when he gave birth to Isaac.
On the other hand, Isaac was very different from Abraham in spiritual level.
Of course, it was not that Isaac was sick or had anything wrong with his body.
It was just that he became weak as he got old, and he finally lost his energy and died. Also, when he faced his death, he had many regrets in his past.
He realized that he lacked many things compared with his father, Abraham.
Abraham had a very comfortable life in his last days begetting many children. On the other hand, Isaac had to watch the conflict between his sons Esau and Jacob and suffered in his heart.
Especially, he was separated from his son, Jacob, for 20 years.
But actually, the cause of the conflict between his sons was the result of Isaac showing of favoritism to one son and other shortcomings.
For example, when Jacob cheated his father and received all the blessings of his brother Esau, the relationship between the two sons was very seriously broken.
The direct cause of the problem was with the younger brother Jacob. But if Isaac had a heart of spirit, the problem wouldn’t have been so serious.
What if Isaac had possessed a broad and spiritual heart like his father? He would have sought a way for both of his sons Esau and Jacob to co-exist.
Because Jacob was also his son, he could have paid enough attention to them so that the relationship between Jacob and Esau would not have become worse and worse.
But because Isaac had favoritism toward Esau, he only thought from the viewpoint of Esau and blamed Jacob.
Abraham had no uncomfortable feelings whatsoever, even when his nephew Lot took the better land.
Also, when Lot, after taking the better land, was captured in a battle, what did Abraham do?
If he had had any fleshly mind, he would have blamed Lot for everything saying, “Look what happened. He took the better land first, and this is the outcome.”
But Abraham didn’t do so.
His concern for Lot was his first consideration, and he only wanted to save Lot. So, he took the men raised in his household and saved Lot himself.
This is the heart of spirit cultivated with goodness, which resembles the heart of God.
Isaac didn’t have spiritual heart like this; he was only quick to avoid having the blame put on himself.
He joined with Esau, and together with Esau he blamed Jacob.
But it doesn’t mean Isaac’s faith was at such a low level. Even when his father Abraham was going to offer him as a sacrifice, he just obeyed.
Also, he tried to remember and practice what he had learned from his father.
He cultivated a good heart and in his life he showed his faith to some extent.
But compared to his father Abraham, there was a difference in the depth of their cultivation of spirit.
It was because of these reasons that Isaac could reach only the third kingdom of heaven and not enter New Jerusalem.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, among the people in the Old Testament, Isaac’s son Jacob also will enter into the third kingdom of heaven.
He took the birthright of his brother with a bowl of lentil stew.
Also, he cheated his father and received all the blessings that were the birthright of his brother. The way he did it was not good, but Jacob did it because he had spiritual eagerness.
Also, he had a firm heart to achieve his goals. He had diligence, faithfulness, and endurance, too. God knew Jacob had these good points.
But even with so many good points, if a person’s self is not broken, God cannot use him. To fulfill God’s providence, we have to obey God’s will. If we insist on ourselves, everything is useless.
So, God refined Jacob in such a way so that he could break his ‘self’ completely. After he fled from his brother, God allowed him to humble himself while he remained with his uncle for 20 years.
Also, Jacob had an occasion to break himself completely at the Jabbok River.
Behind, he could not go back because of the covenant with his uncle, and in the front, his brother was waiting for him. He could not either go back or forward.
His wisdom and even all the wealth he had accumulated with 20 years’ of hard work were useless.
He considered everything he had accumulated so far as nothing, and came to rely on God only.
He completely broke his ‘self’ and became ‘Jacob the worm’.
Jacob also pulled out his cunning nature through these times of trials.
In the Old Testament, it wasn’t easy to pull out the sinful nature that was rooted deep inside one’s heart. But Jacob did it. God took Jacob, who had firm heart, to be the beginning of the people of Israel.
But although Jacob was refined, he did not become completely sanctified.
He suffered very much in heart because of the favoritism of his father Isaac. But still he also had favoritism toward some of his children.
He showed his partiality towards Joseph to a great extent. Genesis 37:3 says, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic.”
This favoritism of Jacob again created tragedy among his children. Jacob’s other sons, Joseph’s brothers, sold Joseph as a slave.
Of course, it was allowed by God in His providence because Joseph had things to change. But the original cause of the problem was the imperfect heart of Jacob.
Comparing him with Abraham, who offered even his only son Isaac without any hesitation, we can see how much shorter in faith Jacob was.
Because Jacob had these shortcomings, he couldn’t go into New Jerusalem, but will stay only in the third kingdom of heaven.
At the time of Jacob’s death, like Isaac, he also became weak and died.
But in the case of Moses who accomplished the whole spirit, Deuteronomy 34:7 says, “Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.” The reason why the Bible writes this is to let us know about the blessings of whole spirit.
There is a difference between just a man of spirit and a man of whole spirit. Of course, when Jacob and Isaac died, they lost their energy in a comfortable manner and faced comfortable death.
But in the case of Abraham and Moses, they did not lose their vigor but they were still healthy. God just took the spirit when the time came.
Those who read the Bible by the inspiration of the Spirit can realize these differences by the teachings of the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this session, I talked about the faith of the three people among the Bible figures who will go into the third kingdom of heaven.
Even those who played crucial roles in the Bible will not go into New Jerusalem, but stay in third kingdom of heaven.
It’s because their deeds were blameless according to the Law, but they didn’t really accomplish the sanctification of heart.
Because it was during the Old Testament times when they had no Holy Spirit in their hearts, God is taking them to third kingdom, not second kingdom of heaven.
In the New Testament where the Holy Spirit dwells in our heart, we can go into the third kingdom of heaven only when we accomplish sanctification of heart.
Also, now, only when we accomplish the perfect heart of spirit and we are faithful in all God’s house can we go into New Jerusalem.
From the next session of ‘Heaven’ lecture series, I will talk about New Jerusalem. We started this Heaven lecture on November 5th, 2006, and we had 42 sessions so far.
How much heavenly kingdom is accomplished in your heart?
If you move your house to a better house, you will also have to change the address. And, now, where is the address of your heart compared to one year ago?
I hope you will take hold of better dwelling place by force with unchanging faith and hope.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will surely become the owners of New Jerusalem that will be explained from the next session.