Many have felt the turbulence swirling around them in this time of conflict in our nation. We were not expecting the unfortunate events that occurred, and now, finding our footing in the midst of everything can be perplexing. As God’s people we are called to walk in alignment with Him, but sometimes, even that journey can feel confusing. I want to share some perspectives that have helped me stay focused, centered, and aligned with God as well as knowing how to pray in the midst of everything happening.
We know that there are different “realms” of heaven as referred to in scriptures such as Eph. 6:12, “… and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Another scripture, 2 Cor. 12:2, the Apostle Paul refers to an experience where he was caught up into the third heaven. The fact that there is a third heaven would indicate that there is also a first and second heaven. Paul encountered what I would call the God realm of heaven or third heaven. Having a greater understanding of these three realms of heaven can bring insight and give us keys as to how God would have us navigate through uncertain times.
The first heaven is really just the earthly realm. It is the place of our human interaction with one another. On a good day it may be filled with joy, peace, and laughter, but on a difficult day it can be overwhelming as we are bombarded with human emotions such as pain, anger, or fear. It is impossible to avoid the first heaven experience, nor are we called to avoid it. But, we are called as believers to be “in the world, but not of the world”. Jesus said in John 17:15, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of it.” Though we are not of this world, we live in it, and we are to seek to live out the fruit of the Spirit as we encounter humanity in all its shapes and forms.
The second heaven is where we see the conflict between good and evil, or the angelic and demonic realms. Directing us to be aware of this realm, Eph. 6: 12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Paul highlights to us a critical element that should be a part of every believer’s arsenal. That is the knowledge that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Our battle is not against people, and our battle is not against race, or any specific group of people. As the people of God we need to have eyes to see where the real battle is taking place. As powerful as this knowledge is for us, we are not to set up camp in the second heaven. But, we can have great impact in the second heaven by understanding our relationship with the third heaven.
The third heaven is the realm that we are to access to see and understand what God is doing and saying. The third heaven is where God has already rendered his verdicts against satan as seen in Col. 2:15, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” The third heaven is God’s realm and it is where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.
“….That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at this right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”- Eph. 1:19b-23
The third heaven is also where we are seated with Christ as seen in Eph. 2:6, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” The third heaven, or our seat with Christ, is where we go to access God’s heart and solutions for the things going on around us. If we seek to operate from the first or second heaven alone, we will not be effective in releasing kingdom solutions to the pain and turmoil that is going on around us.
As we become more aware of these three realms, we find that we can encounter and interact between the three realms on a daily basis. Our experience as believers can be described as layered in that we do experience the first heaven, or human experience, daily. We feel the emotions of our interactions with others, and we can easily become bogged down in this realm.
If we are continually bogged down, we are not to remain in this place of immaturity, but begin to see and discern the battle going on in the second heaven. Flesh and blood is never our enemy. There is a bigger war going on around us that can’t be seen with the natural eyes.
Our experience with the first and second heaven should always lead us to access our place of authority with Christ in the third heaven. As we hear His heart then we can release the prayers, declarations, and decrees that can powerfully shift things in the second heaven between good and evil, causing good to triumph. This then will be felt in the first heaven in our relationships with one another and the world around us.
We will never fully understand all there is to know about the heavenly realms, or our interaction with them, but God is faithful to lead and teach us as we grow in understanding of our authority in Him. He did not leave us here to somehow make it on our own, but gave us the precious Holy Spirit, our teacher, who promises to lead us into truth as we follow Him. Understanding the realms of heaven can give us peace and direction as well as our stance in the midst of turmoil.