The Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

Chapter 11 of Reclaiming the Rapture : The Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

The transformation known as the rapture will occur, as we are told by Paul in First Thessalonians Chapter Four, at the time of Christ’s coming/descending. We have already established 

from our study of the unmysterious verses relating the rapture/gathering to the Second Coming, the day of the rapture will also be the day when God will rend the heavens and come down. The return of Jesus from heaven is in fact the Day of the Lord. God will come down as the Son of God in His glory. This is His glorious appearing. But what does it mean to “rend the heavens?” This chapter will explore what the Bible says about this supernatural process and when it will occur. 

When Do the Heavens Pass Away? 

The question of, “When do the new heavens come about?” has to do with “When do the current (old) heavens pass away?” According to Revelation 6:14, the sky, the heavens (in Greek “sky” and “heavens” are the same word – ouranos) will roll up one day like a scroll. 

Then the sky [ouranos οὐρανὸς] receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Rev. 6:14 

That event takes place in the context of the tribulation and not after the thousand year reign of Jesus. Those inside the event, who are witnessing it, claim that it is the day of the Lord. 

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:15-17 

Peter also mentioned the monumental event of the heavens passing away, which he says will occur in the day of the Lord, in the context of the tribulation, not after the thousand year reign of Jesus. 

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Pet. 3:10 

We will consider the question, “What is the day of the Lord?,” which comes as a thief in the night, in a later chapter. However we will note here that it is in that day that the heavens pass away. According to Peter the heavens will pass away with a great noise in conjunction with the return of Jesus, not after the thousand years. God first revealed what the passing away of the heavens would look like in the book of Isaiah; 

the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. Isa. 34:4 He also said; The heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished. Isa. 51:6 

The timing of the heavens vanishing away like smoke is when the earth dwellers die – a reference to the tribulation when massive deaths will occur, not after the thousand years of peace and righteousness. Commentators have by and large been unable to appreciate this because, in some cases, they have interpreted the Bible allegorically; or they have been persuaded that the book of Revelation is a chronologically arranged book. The thematic arrangement of the Revelation is examined in another chapter. Adam Clark, for example, allegorizes it to mean pagan worship: “The whole system of pagan and idolatrous worship, with all its spiritual, secular, and superstitious influence, was blasted, shriveled up, and rendered null and void, as a parchment scroll when exposed to the action of a strong fire.”46 (emphasis mine) Albert Barnes, who is a fairly conservative scholar, interprets the passage in the same fashion. He stated that the passing of the heavens is nothing more than symbolic phraseology and cannot be interpreted literally of the physical realm: 

“This, too, is a symbol, and we are not to suppose that it will literally occur. Indeed it never can literally occur; and we are not, therefore, to look for the fulfillment of this in any physical fact that would correspond with what is here said. The plain meaning is, that there would be changes as if such an event would happen; that is, that revolutions would occur in the high places of the earth,  and among those in power, as if the stars should fall, and the very heavens were swept away.”47 Theologian Harry Ironside, conservative commentator on the Scriptures of last century, likewise interprets the passing away of the heavens in a figurative sense. He says that “the heavens, symbolizing the ecclesiastical powers of every description, will depart as a scroll when it is rolled up. The whole fabric of Christendom will be wound up as something obsolete and out of date.”48 The passing away of the heavens is clearly described in graphic detail. And yet, as we have seen from this small sampling of mainline commentators, it is commonly and unfortunately explained away as being figurative language. Once we shift our focus then it becomes apparent that the sixth seal of Revelation is the event of the passing away of the heavens, which happens at the end of the tribulation, the day that Jesus returns. 

Heaven and Earth Fled Away 

As careful students of the Bible, we must consider a passage that would seemingly contradict our entire thesis that the heavens and earth passing away would come at the beginning of the Millennium. In his visions of heavenly things to come, John saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. Rev. 20:11 This passage comes right after John sees the vision of Satan cast into the Abyss for one thousand years, and his subsequent release and final destruction when the fire comes down from heaven and destroys him. John said; and I saw a great white throne… The One on the throne judges the nations and then even Hades and death are done away with. Immediately following this vision, John says that he saw a new heavens and new earth. Therefore, it would appear obvious that the new heavens and new earth must come after the thousand year reign of Jesus. How can we reconcile our new paradigm with this verse? We need to take another look at it Revelation 20:11. 

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. Rev. 20:11 

This verse has been generally interpreted that the earth and heaven will flee away at that moment, after the thousand year reign of Jesus and just before the final judgment, followed by the eternal state. In other words, that would mean that John saw the heavens and earth flee away at that moment that he looked at the One on the throne. However, it is better understood as an adjectival-parenthetical statement, that is, the statement is adjectival and not verbal. It describes a significant feature of the person and not an action that happened at the moment. John is not describing the passing of the earth and heavens at the moment, but describing the one sitting on the throne. Thus, the one on the throne is the one from whose face heaven and earth fled away. 

The word “flee” [ephugen ἔφυγεν] is the aorist indicative which means that it happened in the past. The aorist tense in Greek is past tense with no aspect assigned. There is another past tense (imperfect) that does include aspect. We use aspect all the time in English to explain not the time of an event, but the event happened. For example, “I studied,” is in the simply (aorist) past. “I was studying,” is imperfect. There are variations of this as well. It is also possible for the aorist to act as (the English equivalent of) the pluperfect. The Aorist Indicative is frequently used in narrative passages of a past event which precedes another past event mentioned or implied in the context. “The Greek Pluperfect (Aorist) is used of any past event which is conceived of simply as an event (or as entered upon, or as accomplished), regardless alike of the existence or non-existence of an interval between itself and the moment of speaking, and of the question whether it precedes or not some other past action. It affirms nothing respecting existing result.”49 

Imagine that you saw Neil Armstrong at the mall one day and you wanted to tell a friend but couldn’t remember Neil’s name. You would say: “I saw the astronaut who walked on the moon today.” It would be obvious to both of you that Neil Armstrong did not walk on the moon at the time you saw him. You were simply using his most salient feature to describe him. So, too, when John says that he “saw a big white throne and the One sitting on it (from whose face the earth and the heaven fled and for them no place was found)” (Rev. 20:11, translation mine). 

The words in parentheses in my translation serve as the predicate. The predicate says something about the subject, which in this case is the “the one sitting.” John is giving a long description of who is the one sitting on the throne; and he is not saying what action was happening at that very moment. We already know when the earth and heaven fled – at the second coming of Jesus. That is when the heavens receded like a scroll with a great noise. That was the time that God tore the heavens and came down and startled the nations. Thus, Revelation 20:11 cannot be used to prove that the timing of the new heavens and earth comes after the thousand years. The phrase is being used to describe just exactly who is sitting on the big throne and what makes Him so special as compared to the other thrones and those who sat on them to whom judgment was committed (Rev. 20:4). 

There is a Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

The passing away of the heavens will be very much like the tearing of the veil in the temple. In fact, Isaiah yearns for the day when God would cause the heavens to pass. Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence. Isa. 64:1 The notion that the heavens will pass away is difficult to comprehend. What did both Isaiah and John see so that caused them to write that the heavens rolled up like a scroll? What did Peter intend when he revealed that the heavens would pass away with a great noise? What did Jesus mean when He said the heavens and earth would pass away? The answers to these questions lie in the reality of the veil between heaven and earth. 

There is a veil between heaven and earth that God will one day tear open and come down. Isaiah stated that when God does this, the mountains will quake at [His] presence—just as fire sets twigs ablaze and the fire causes water to boil. Isa. 64:1, 2 The ultimate effect would be to make known your name to your enemies, yes, to your enemies before you, so that the nations might quake at your presence!” Isa. 64:2 ISV He was literally calling for God to break, or tear, the heavens and come down. He may have yearned for that based on God’s revelation to him earlier in his book: And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. Isa. 25:7 

The opening of the veil is referred to as the heavens opening. There were several times when the veil was pulled back, allowing some to see behind it. As Stephen was being stoned, he “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God… and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened [the veil] and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” Acts 7:55-56 Ezekiel had a similar experience as he was sitting among the captives in Babylon by the Chebar River. He said, the heavens were opened [the veil] and I saw visions of God. Ezek. 1:1 At the immersion (baptism) of Jesus, the heavens were opened [the veil] to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove. Matt. 3:16 John also saw heaven opened. Rev. 19:11 

It is like there is a giant stage curtain between the domain of heaven and the domain of earth. All humanity is the audience waiting for the show to start. Occasionally a few people have been able to look through the crack between the curtains and see backstage. The return of Jesus will be the time when the curtains open once and for all. 

The word “revealed” in Greek is apo-kalypsis [Ἀποκάλυψις apokalypsis]. It literally means to unveil or uncover. The book of Revelation is not simply a book that reveals secrets of the future. It is more precisely the book of the unveiling of the Lord Jesus. We could call it ‘the disclosure of Jesus’. That reality is demonstrated by Paul’s statement in Second Thessalonians One; 

when the Lord Jesus is revealed [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei] from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. 1:7, 8 

Several other Scriptures demonstrate that Jesus will be unveiled, uncovered [apokalypsei] at His second coming. 

  • … that the genuineness of your faith…may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei] of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 1:7 
  • …that when His glory is revealed [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei], you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Pet. 4:13 
  • …eagerly waiting for the revelation [ἀποκάλυψιν apokalypsin] of our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Cor. 1:7 

First John 3:2 provides the same description yet with another word which underscores the manifestation, or disclosure, of Jesus; 

…when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2 In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) we see this  as  well;  Then  the  glory  of  the  Lord  will  be  revealed  [ְִש   ְִ ְף ִה venigla], and all humanity will see it at once…” Isa. 40:5 ISV The Hebrew word “gala” means to uncover something. Thus the heavens receding like a scroll is literally the moment when Jesus is uncovered, unveiled. That is to say, when the veil between heaven and earth is removed. When this happens there will no longer be any atheists on the earth. All who had convinced themselves that there was no God will be rudely awakened to the reality that there is a God. In fact, they will see Him coming down to the planet in His fiery-lightning glory. 

Then the kings of the earth, the important people, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and all the slaves and free people concealed themselves in caves and among the rocks in the mountains. They told the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to endure it?” Rev. 6:15-17 ISV 

When the veil is removed there will no longer be any doubts about Jesus. There will no longer be any doubts about who is the King. The removal of the veil which was protecting them from God’s fiery-lightning presence will leave everyone exposed to His power. They will suddenly realize that they are not able to endure it, which is why they run into the caves and call for the rocks to fall upon them. The veil, which was the very thing making man’s arrogance possible, will finally be removed the day Jesus comes back. At that time, “The haughty looks of mankind will be brought low, the lofty pride of human beings will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted at that time.” Isa. 2:11 ISV The heavens passing away, therefore, is not the destruction of the sun, moon, and stars; or even the entire universe passing away (because they are eternal), but is the protective barrier between heaven and earth being removed once and for all. 

The Two Veils 

The veil between heaven and earth was even modeled for us by the tabernacle and its two veils. The tabernacle, we must remember, was the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Heb. 8:5 The first veil was the gate or main door to the entire compound of the tabernacle. Behind the second curtain [veil] was the part of the tent called the Most Holy Place. Heb. 9:3 ISV In other words, the second veil was the inner most veil inside the structure where the Ark of the Covenant was. Therefore, there are two veils above. One is the general veil between the two realms just like the first veil or door to the entire tabernacle compound. The other is the inside veil to the Holy of Holies (not the acacia-gold-covered doors of the structure itself). At the death of Jesus the outer most veil in front of the temple tore in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, rocks were split open, Matt. 27:51 ISV indicating the beginning of the return to the unveiled relationship between the two realms. 

This had been part of God’s secret plan that He set forth in the Messiah to usher in the fullness of the times and to bring together in the Messiah all things in heaven and on earth… Eph. 1:9, 10 ISV 

Doing the work necessary on the cross was in large part to reconcile the two realms which Paul states in Colossians; 

Through the Son, God also reconciled all things to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, thereby making peace through the blood of his cross. Col. 1:20 That was the hope, firm and secure like an anchor for our souls, [which] reaches behind the curtain. Heb. 6:19 ISV 

Therefore, just as there were two veils in the earthly tabernacle, so too there are two veils in the spiritual realm. In conjunction with the return of Jesus to the earth, the temple/tabernacle of God in Heaven will be opened. 

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Rev. 11:19 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Rev. 15:8 

The opening of the temple/tabernacle of God in heaven is the inner veil. Jesus tearing the veil between heaven and earth is the outer veil of the tabernacle. When those two are opened, then the fiery-lightning presence of God will be revealed (unveiled) for all mankind to see. The response to that event will be nothing short of terror for those who dwell on the earth for the heavens/sky/veil will disappear and Jesus will be unveiled as He returns in flaming fire (2 Thess. 1:7, 8). 

Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:14-17 

The veil in the tabernacle was a copy of the things in heaven (Heb. 8:5). The tearing of the first veil (not in the Holy of Holies) is a picture of the literal veil that will be torn (Isa. 64:1) and rolled up (Isa. 34:4; 2 Pet. 3:10) at Jesus’ return. 

We Are Like the Boy in the Bubble 

Many of us have heard the story of David Vetter, better known as the boy in the plastic bubble, who had to live his entire twelve years of life in a bubble to protect him from the germs of the outside world because his immune system did not work properly. We can think of ourselves as that boy and God. Our loving Father is outside the bubble, longingly looking in. Parents can easily imagine the grief that David’s parents must have felt looking through the protective plastic veil between them and their son. On the one hand, the plastic barrier between them meant that their son could live. 

On the other hand, it meant that they could not be intimate with their dear and precious child. The only hope was that someday his body could be healed, and they could all be in the same space without the bubble. 

This is essentially the relationship that we currently have with our Father. Like the plastic between David and his parents, the veil between God’s domain and ours (inside the bubble) is what protects us from Him. Due to our infirmity, caused by the eating of the forbidden fruit, we and our Father cannot be together. We have a problem of compatibility. Before the fall of Adam and Eve there was no problem and no need for a veil between heaven and earth. The veil came about as a result of the fall. God used to come to the Garden of Eden and walk there. The first thing that Adam and Eve feel compelled to do after eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is to cover themselves. In my book, Corrupting the Image50, I demonstrate how Adam and Eve were covered in light prior to the fall, and as such were compatible with the fiery-lightning presence of God. 

Adam and the Adamáh 

The big event was nothing other than the Fall of Adam. God created Adam from the “adamáh” (earth, the dirt, the soil). Adam was literally the earth-man. We could actually call him Mr. Dirt, or Dusty, for short. He was the federal head of all creation. In Genesis 1:2 we learn that the earth was temporarily in a liquid, amorphous state. From that material (water), God formed the earth, the ball of dirt that we are standing on today. The heavens and planet in the beginning were perfect; there was no corruption, no decay, etc. When Adam ate from the fruit, thereby committing evil, he entered into a state of degeneration and decay because he was physically linked to the adamáh. Then it had to endure the same fate. 

At the sentencing of Adam in the Garden, God declared, and appears to have activated, the degenerative, decay-death reaction that Adam triggered (Gen. 2:17). The earth and material cosmos started to decay, wear out, and eventually fall apart. Things were going from a higher state of order to a lower state of order; such as the process we see when a piece of metal becomes oxidized, rusted (Rom 8:20, 21). 

Everything began decaying and dying, from the invisible world of cells and DNA, to all the animals, birds, and fish which God had formed out of the adamáh. They shared the fate of Adam and the adamáh. Degeneration and corruption ensnared everything, permeating the entire creation. The principle of rust entered the world where only a moment before, no such oxidation was ever known. Metals, and every material, would have remained intact forever. Even the rocks became degenerative from the release of alpha particles leaving them slightly radioactive. This is something students of the earth are only recently discovering. The discovery of the alpha particles is testimony to ruin at the Fall, when the Earth became corrupted. 

The Earth is now longing to be liberated (not destroyed) into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22), which will come about in conjunction with the resurrection and the return of Jesus, when the sons of God (believers) receive their new bodies. The decay (corruption) latent in the earth will be reversed so that we will live on the same ball of dirt as God created in the beginning.