I’m reading a kids book I got for my kids for Easter and in it is this statement that stopped me in my tracks: “Before Jesus died, no one could go to Heaven. Jesus changed all of that on the first Easter.” From The Miracle of Easter by Jean M. Malone.
I immediately thought, That’s just not true! You can’t tell me all those people are in Hell? Abraham, Sarah, David, Solomon, etc. What about Isaiah? You can’t tell me he’s not in Heaven!
Or are they?
So I set my mind to find out. But this wasn’t as easy as you might think. There are a lot of websites out there who “answer” this question but they are really just forums or people guessing the answer. Most had no scripture to back it up.
Here’s the summation of my thought process based on what I found and I will need your help on this because I am still unsure.
People before Jesus had faith. They believed in God who dwelled in Heaven and they believed they would be there. They atoned for their sins through various sacrifices and offerings ordained by God. Those who lived after the prophets knew of a Messiah to come and they believed in the Messiah before He walked the Earth.
If people (before Jesus, during Jesus, after Jesus) believed in the One, True God and accepted everything God did for them with all of their hearts, then God had a place for them in Heaven. But only after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven himself would these people rise and take their spots. Jesus had to be first. Jesus atoned for those before, during, and after Him, providing the cleansing needed to be with God. Jesus died for everyone before and since so we could all go to Heaven and be pure enough to be with our God.
Jesus himself in speaking to Nicodemus says, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man…the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:13-14
Where did these people go then while waiting for Jesus to rise from the dead? Several websites said there was a special place they went kind of like purgatory as they awaited to be fully atoned for. To me, this isn’t as important as their final destination: the fact they are in Heaven now.
Like my post yesterday, it all comes down to faith: faith to be saved, faith you’ll go to Heaven because you have faith in Jesus and accept His sacrifice, faith in God’s promises, and faith in God’s words (through the prophets before the written Bible).
God knew He’d send His son BEFORE He even created the Earth. You have to have faith He had a plan for those before Jesus. God is just. He wouldn’t create a system of atonement that didn’t apply to all of His Creation (all of mankind). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Hebrews 9, 10, and 11 are fascinating with regards to the Old and New Covenant, Christ’s sacrifice for all, and faith.
Here are my favorite sites on this matter. I’m still not 100 % sure about this with so many different view points out there so I’m hoping all you BSF’ers out there know about this and where to find it in the Bible!!!
This website has a whole lay out on the question with many Biblical quotes. It’s very hard to read though due to the bright colors:
This site is a forum that starts out on the question but as usual wanders off but I’m including it because the beginning is good and it has Biblical references as well:
Finally, I like the simplicity of this answer. It draws logical conclusions without heavy thoughts:
So, the kid’s book had been right. The key word was could. No one could go to Heaven. That doesn’t mean they didn’t go to Heaven after Jesus. This was definitely not explained and only confused my kids (and me!).
I never would have thought about this if this book hadn’t of brought it up. Aren’t books wonderful?