Open up the Heavens

jesus john-the-baptist holy-spirit dove baptismWhen Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River, the heaven or heavens “opened.”[1] [See Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22.] The Holy Spirit descended like a dove as God the Father spoke audibly to everyone present. It was a public event. Heaven won’t open again publicly until Jesus’ Second Coming (Revelation 19:11).

God’s final revelation to men began with Jesus’ baptism and ended with the Holy Spirit given on the Day of Pentecost. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, spirit-filled believers live under an “open heaven” at all times. They don’t need to pray for God to open it. Believers can still have private visions like Stephen, who saw “the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56), or like Peter, who “fell into a trance and saw heaven opened” (10:10-11). However, both men lived under an “open heaven” before their visions. They didn’t pray for God to open it so they could have a fuller revelation of him.

Why do we expect more today? Why do we sing songs on Sunday morning like “Open up the Heavens”?[2] When I first heard it at a Southern Baptist church a few years ago, I liked the catchy tune. I’ve since learned that “melodies and harmonies” don’t grab God’s attention, only a pure heart and sound doctrine. So, as a worship leader played this song at a Pentecostal church recently, instead of singing I listened.

Refrain
Open up the heavens
We want to see you
Open up the floodgates
A mighty river
Flowing from your heart
Filling every part of our praise

“Open up the heavens” makes sense in the mouths of Old Testament believers like Hannah and David. They waited for the Messiah who would baptize them “with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16; cf Mark 1:8, John 1:33). Today, with the death and resurrection of Christ in our rearview mirrors, “open up the heavens” is nonsense!

We don’t have to pray, “We want to see you” either. No one can see God’s face and live (Exodus 33:20; cf John 1:18, 6:46, 1 John 4:12). However, Jesus Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). He was “manifest in the flesh” for all to see (1 Timothy 3:16, cf 1 John 1:1-2). The apostle John said that “we have seen with our eyes … and our hands have handled … the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). Therefore, if we’ve seen the Son, then we’ve seen the Father (John 14:9). We “see” Jesus himself in the Word, in prayer, and in the lives of fellow believers. We’ll see the Father face to face in heaven, with new resurrected bodies (Job 19:26, Matthew 5:8, 1 John 3:2). But that day isn’t here yet.

rivers of living water holy-spiritNeither do we need to pray for God to “open up the floodgates, a mighty river.” On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). What does this statement mean? “This spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (7:39). Since “rivers of living water” refer to the Holy Spirit given on the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago, believers have a “mighty river” inside them 24/7 just as they daily live under an “open heaven.”

Verse 1
We’ve waited for this day
We’re gathered in your name
Calling out to you
Your glory like a fire
Awakening desire
Will burn our hearts with truth
You’re the reason we’re here
You’re the reason we’re singing

Why should we wait for Sunday to dawn so we can “gather in [Jesus’] name” and “call out” to him in a man-made building? We shouldn’t “go to church” because we ARE the church, the body and bride of Christ, 24/7! If we aren’t worshiping God in our homes and businesses Monday through Saturday, then “going to church” won’t help us.

Is God’s glory “like a fire”? Yes. The final earthly revelation of his glory was the cross, a baptism of fire (Matthew 20:22-23, Mark 10:38-39, Luke 12:50). Fire isn’t connected with the cross, yet Jesus’ death was a sacrifice; all sacrifices acceptable to God are consumed by fire (Ephesians 5:2, Hebrews 7:27, 9:26, 10:12). We’re commanded to take up our crosses and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23), becoming like him in his death and resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11). We should “present [our] bodies” to God as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). This experience doesn’t “awaken desire” in us. Dying to self is painful. It burns the dross of sin (Proverbs 25:4, Isaiah 1:25).

fire-sinai-mosesWhat disturbs me is that “your glory like a fire” matches the Israelites’ experience at Mount Sinai. In their eyes, “the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount” (Exodus 24:17). I assume that “burn our hearts with truth” refers to the law written on stone tablets. Yet the law of Moses “prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:13; cf Luke 16:16). Jesus “fulfilled” it through his death and resurrection (Matthew 5:17). So we can no longer be “justified by the law” (Galatians 3:11, 5:4). Those who try are “fallen from grace” (5:4). Church isn’t like Mount Sinai. It isn’t like the Jewish tabernacle or temple either. So why are we longing for a stale, outdated experience?

Verse 2
Your presence in this place
Your glory on our face
We’re looking to the sky
Descending on a cloud
You’re standing with us now
Lord, unveil our eyes
You’re the reason we’re here
You’re the reason we’re singing

After Jesus’ ascension, angels asked the disciples why they stood “gazing up into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus would return for them “in like manner” one day (1:11). Until then, they needed to “tarry … in the city of Jerusalem, until” they were “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The situation is identical for us today. Spiritual power for evangelism should be our daily motto. We don’t need to “look up” until we see signs in the sky, “the powers of heaven … shaken,” and “the Son of man coming in a cloud” for us (21:28). That day of redemption isn’t here yet.

moses-law-sinaiIs Jesus “descending on a cloud” and “standing with us now”? No. These phrases match Moses’ second ascent to Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:4). “The Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord” (34:5). Moses had asked God, “Show me thy glory” (33:18). After granting his request, God’s “presence [was] in this place” and his “glory” was on Moses’ “face” – literally. The Bible says three times that “the skin of his face shone” (34:29-30, 35). Moses had to veil his face while he talked with the Israelites (34:33-35).

Through “the Word … made flesh” (John 3:14) and the indwelling Holy Spirit, “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). People with unveiled faces aren’t “blind” (3:13-15), so praying “unveil our eyes” is a contradiction. And why should this or any other song (e.g. Third Day’s “Show Me Your Glory”) want to return to the law-giving ministry of Moses, a “ministration of death” and “condemnation” (3:7, 9)? Jesus supersedes him (John 1:17, Hebrews 3:1-6)!

Bridge
Show us, show us your glory
Show us, show us your power
Show us, show us your glory, Lord

I don’t care if Moses said, “Show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God has moved from Mount Sinai – the giving of the law – to Mount Calvary, the fulfillment of the law. Has this song moved with him? No. It’s stuck in a Jewish time warp! The glory of God is the cross. The power of God is the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18). Repeat these truths to yourself until you believe them. You don’t need to pray for God to show you his glory and power because he already has!

Conclusion

“Open up the Heavens” is a barely disguised hymn to the law of Moses. However, those who sit under the law will be judged by the law, and there’s no eternal hope in that route! Paul states that we are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). Therefore, the songwriters don’t know their Bibles, are seeking new (heretical) revelations that are foundational to Dominionism, or are Judaizers in league with Jews. [Unbelieving Jews and their Jesuit-Knights of Malta handlers may fund Dominionism in ignorant churches.] In order to combat heresy in today’s “Christian” music, we must preach Christ crucified, a risen Savior who’s coming again!


[1] All Bible verses are from the King James Version (KJV). Punctuation and spelling have been altered for clarity.
[2] Written by James Macdonald, Jason Ingram, Stuart Garrard, Andi Rozier, Meredith Andrews. Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Essential Music Publishing.

Images: Garden of PraiseMy Utmost for His Highest, First Fruits of Zion, Hunger for Jesus, Kris Belfils

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One thought on “Open up the Heavens

  1. The theory behind today’s contemporary Christian music (that young people need their own music) is dangerously wrong. Nontheologians are writing anything, whether it makes sense or not, just to be published; and worship leaders are picking it up because they want something new, something for young people. It’s nonedifying, departing from the Faith that was once delivered to the saints (cf Jude 3).

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