How Did Jesus “Ascend to Heaven”?

Winfred Neely
header for How Did Jesus “Ascend to Heaven”?

The writer to the Hebrews uses descriptions of the tabernacle in the Old Testament and the high priest’s prescribed movement through the tabernacle on the Day of Atonement to communicate the transcendence of Christ’s ascension into Heaven. Under the old covenant, the priests could enter the Holy Place for worship; but only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and he could enter there only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Heb. 9:7). On the Day of Atonement, the high priest alone passed through the court of the tabernacle, went through the first compartment of the tabernacle, the Holy Place, then through the veil, and entered the Most Holy Place. He sprinkled the blood of atonement on and before the mercy seat, making the annual national atonement for Israel (see Lev. 16; Heb. 10:1).

The Lord Jesus did not pass through the earthly tabernacle, but He passed through the heavens. But we must not mistake the language of the tabernacle to mean that Jesus passed through outer space and through galaxies en route to Heaven. When Jesus ascended, a cloud received Him from the sight of His watching disciples, and the next moment He was in glory (see Acts 1:9–11). In a twinkling of an eye, Jesus transcended all the limits of time and space. He has taken His place at the right hand of God, the true Most Holy Place, and there He has made atonement for us—and unlike the atonement offered by the high priest in the tabernacle, His sacrifice is once for all and never needs to be repeated. What a wonder!

For Further Reading:

Do Angels Really Have Wings?

by Today in the Word

Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims all pray to the same God? Is it okay to be mad at God? Did Adam have a belly button? We all have questions,...

book cover for Do Angels Really Have Wings?