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Gazed Into Heaven

Acts 7:55 (ESV) -- But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  

In Acts 7, Stephen preaches one of the most incredible sermons in the Bible. He begins with Abraham and goes through the storyline of the Old Testament. But along the way, he shared how the people often rejected God’s servants and God’s work. He shared how their forefathers persecuted the prophets sent to them, and they were the very ones announcing the Righteous One that was coming into the world. At these words, the crowd grew indignant and seized him.

This is where we arrive at our passage today from Acts 7:55. Luke writes, “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” The text provides us not only with the historical record of Stephen’s stoning, but a theological insight into heaven.

Stephen looked into heaven. This indicates for us that heaven isn’t somewhere located outside the Milky Way or some distant corner of the universe. Heaven is visible to Stephen as he looks up. This is similar to when the apostles see Jesus ascending to heaven before their eyes. How does Stephen see into heaven? What does this teach us about heaven’s location? 

Heaven is near. Heaven is not located dimensionally in our universe the way that Jupiter or Mars is. It is right here among us. Think of heaven as layered over our universe. The curtain gets pulled back, the veil is drawn to the side, and Stephen sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God. It didn’t require a telescope or special eyesight. He was simply right there. It doesn’t say he saw a vision, but the living person of Jesus standing in heaven.

The moral of the story for our devotion today is that heaven is near. And because of that, Christ is near. He is close to us at all times. Remember how the Gospel of Matthew bookends with this reminder. He is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23) and He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Take comfort in knowing Christ is close to you today. Call upon Him
for everything you need. 

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Reflection & Journal:
- Why do the people get so angry at Stephen for his sermon?
- What does Stephen’s ability to look into heaven tell us about its nearness?
- How should a passage like this bring comfort to us? 

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