When we go to heaven and get our heavenly bodies, Do we inhabit the same place with the angels? Can we do the same jobs as angels? Do we become angels? Or are we there to worship our maker and have nothing to do with fighting evil on earth?
So here are the sections separated:
When we go to heaven and get our heavenly bodies, Do we inhabit the same place with the angels?
Here we are again with the “go to heaven” bit. Folk-religion has got a lot to answer for!
Our Spiritual bodies will be like Jesus’s resurrection body. We won’t get them when we “go to heaven”, we’ll get them when Jesus returns.
If we have died before that time, we will have lived (without our bodies) in the presence of God. Jesus called this place “paradise” to the dying thief.
One day, Jesus will return, and all those who have already died will come with him. (You can see this best in 1 Thess 4 14.) Their bodies (new ones, now) will rise out of the EARTH (1 Thess 4 16).
So the resurrection body is unquestionably a PHYSICAL one. (Jesus provided lots more evidence by demonstrating to his disciples that his resurrection body was a physical one.)
Any Christians still alive at the time then are swept up into the sky to meet Jesus, getting their resurrection bodies on the way. From then on, we and Jesus will never be separated! (1 Thess 4 17)
So, we don’t get our new bodies in heaven at all, we get them in this physical world. They will be physical bodies.
So, what about heaven? The Bible speaks of Heaven as the dwelling place of God and the angels, and the place where Jesus came from, and goes back to.
And usually it is a SPIRITUAL world that is meant. Jesus told the woman at the well, “God is SPIRIT”.
Remember that the sin of Man caused a division between our world and the spiritual world. That’s why people cant understand spiritual things. They are cut off from the spiritual world.
BUT, when we get our new bodies, we will have full access to the spiritual world. There will be no separation any more.
I like to imagine it as if my body is walking on this earth, and I’ve got my head in the clouds of the spiritual world. This isn’t a totally accurate picture, but it helps me to understand.
There is just one more juicy nugget on this subject. Remember Eden? Where does it say in the Bible that it has all been dismantled and shipped back to the factory for recycling?
OK, it doesn’t. I was being silly. (Again)
Now Eden was a PHYSICAL place. Yet God (a SPIRIT) came down and WALKED in the Garden. Somewhere, outside the Creation which we are aware of, there still exists a REAL, PHYSICAL place which has no division between the physical and the spiritual.
And when Humans sinned, God excluded them from this physical/spiritual place, in case they should eat of the Tree of Life and become immortal sinners.
The Tree of Life, to us, represents Jesus. We cannot “eat of Him” unless we have reneged on our old sinful state and accepted his righteousness as our own. But you and I HAVE DONE JUST THAT. So we become eligible to enter past the Angel with the flashing sword (Gen 3 24) and go back into the Garden – BUT FOR ONE THING – our old sinful bodies. As I write, I notice I’ve have still got mine.
But, one day it will go, and I will get my new physical/spiritual body. I will then be able to enter “behind the curtain” into the Garden where God walks.
So will I be able to go where Angels go?
After the Resurrection, Yes.
But before the Resurrection, if I have died, I can’t come back to the physical world until Jesus comes back. Angels, however CAN be sent back here to do whatever job God has for them.
Can we do the same jobs as angels?
Worshipping God, yes, but angels have duties on this earth that we certainly won’t share.
After the resurrection we will judge angels and rule angels. (I think the prospect of this is one of the reasons why satan rebelled – he could not bear the thought of us teeny created beings having authority over him.)
And the next bit: Do we become angels?
Remember angels do not have physical bodies – they may look like they do, but they are entirely spirit beings.
Also remember that they weren’t created in the image of God – we are.
So, no, we don’t become angels. They stay angels, we stay humans.
Perhaps there is one cautionary note I need to sound here. Because the word “angel” simply means “messenger”, whether in Hebrew (OT) or Greek (NT), you do get passages where an “angel” is referred to and it fairly obviously means God.
One of these is the Gideon passage in Judges 6, where although Gideon doesn’t really know who he is talking to, we, the readers, are treated to the fact that it is really God doing the talking.
Last bit: …or are we there to worship our maker and have nothing to do with fighting evil on earth?
We are certainly there to worship our maker, and there is evidence that we will be interfering in God’s business by asking him “How long?” (Rev 6 10 – it reminds me of “Are we nearly there yet, Dad?”)
But, provided we specify “before the Resurrection”, I can’t think of any suggestion in Scripture that we have an active role to play in fighting evil in this world. ( We certainly will in the Millennium though.)
(If anyone else knows of something I have missed here, please post it.)
One place which helps us to see the issues is when Jesus tells the story about Lazarus the beggar. (Luke 16 19) Lazarus dies, and goes to a very nice place.
In the story, God refuses to send Lazarus back to warn people of the importance of getting right with him before you die.
God says he has already fixed all the evidence people need, there’s Moses and — all that crowd, so he doesn’t need any help from people – how shall we put it nicely? – whose race is finished.
Of course this is just a story, but Jesus never misleads us, even in a made-up story.