Even though I believe we’ll live in time in Heaven, God is certainly capable of bending time and opening doors in time’s fabric for us. Perhaps we’ll be able to travel back and stand alongside angels in the invisible realm, seeing events as they happened on Earth. Maybe we’ll learn the lessons of God’s providence through direct observation. Can you imagine being there as Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount? Perhaps you will be.
Want to see the crossing of the Red Sea? Want to be there when Daniel’s three friends emerge from the fiery furnace? It would be simple for God to open the door to the past.
Because God is not limited by time, He may choose to show us past events as if they were presently happening. We may be able to study history from a front-row seat. Perhaps we’ll have opportunity to see the lives of our spiritual and physical ancestors lived out on Earth.
Usually we’re not able to see God’s immediate responses to our prayers, but in Heaven God may permit us to see what happened in the spiritual realm as a result of His answers to our prayers. In the Old Testament an angel comes to the prophet Daniel and tells him what happened as the result of his prayers: “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you” (Daniel 9:23).
Will God show us in Heaven what almost happened to us on Earth? Will He take us back to see what would have happened if we’d made other choices? Perhaps. Will the father whose son had cerebral palsy see what would have happened if he’d followed his temptation to desert his family? Would this not fill his heart with gratitude to God for His sovereign grace?
Will I see how missing the exit on the freeway last night saved me from a crash? Will I learn how getting delayed in the grocery store last week saved my wife from a fatal accident? How many times have we whined and groaned about the very circumstances God used to save us? How many times have we prayed that God would make us Christlike, then begged Him to take from us the very things He sent to make us Christlike? How many times has God heard our cries when we imagined He didn’t? How many times has He said no to our prayers when saying yes would have harmed us and robbed us of good?
Perhaps we’ll see the ripple effects of our small acts of faithfulness and obedience. Like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, perhaps we’ll see how we affected others, and how living our lives differently might have influenced them. (May God give us the grace to see this now while we can still revise and edit our lives.)
If we believe in God’s sovereignty, we must believe God would be glorified through our better understanding of human history. We’ll no longer have to cling by faith to “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans8:28, NASB). We will see history as definitive documentation of that reality.
Does this discussion seem to you a bit bizarre? Consider it further. Surely you agree that God is capable of sending resurrected people back in time or of pulling back the curtain of time and allowing us to see the past. If He couldn’t do this, He wouldn’t be God. So the question is whether He might have good reasons to do so. One reason might be to show us His providence, grace, and goodness in our lives and the lives of others. Wouldn’t that bring God glory? Wouldn’t it cause us to praise and exalt Him for his sovereign grace? This is surely a high and God-glorifying response. Couldn’t this fit His revealed purpose “that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace” (Ephesians 2:7)?
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Don’t run away with the idea that when I speak of the resurrection of the body I mean merely that the blessed dead will have excellent memories of their sensuous experiences on earth. I mean it the other way round; that memory as we know it is a dim foretaste, a mirage even, of a power which the soul, or rather Christ in the soul . . . will exercise hereafter. It need no longer . . . be private to the soul in which it occurs. I can now communicate to you the fields of my boyhood—they are building-estates today—only imperfectly, by words. Perhaps the day is coming when I can take you for a walk through them.” [i]