He knew things he wasn’t allowed to talk about. Bound now by a law of silence he lived with the memory of being caught up into what he called “the third heaven” where he says he heard things that a man is not allowed to repeat.
Am wondering whether he was allowed to see anything.
He didn’t say. In fact, the Apostle Paul doesn’t even directly say that he had had this experience himself. But by the way he recounted it in his second letter to the Corinthians it’s evident that the Apostle Paul was, himself, writing with a memory of heaven that was so inexpressibly wonderful that it helped to explain a painful problem that kept bringing him to his knees (2Cor 12:1-9).
More importantly, it may help to explain something of the awareness that motivated Paul to endure countless problems in order to get the message and wisdom of Christ to as many as possible (2Cor 12:10).
By contrast, there was an assistant to the prophet Elisha who had a similar vision of earth (but without the requirement of silence). Seeing the armies of the Syrians surrounding their city and ready to take them, the young man came to Elisha and, in an apparent panic, asked the prophet what they were going to do.
Am guessing you may know the story told in 2 Kings chapter 6. Elisha responded with the amazing words, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2Kings 6:16).
Then Elisha prayed and asked the Lord to open the eyes of his servant and the text says, “Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (v 17). Seeing the armies of the Lord that were protecting them…the rest is history.
What if something similar happened to us? What if for a few minutes we were allowed to see into heaven, or the spiritual angels and demons around us, or the real wonder of the almost invisible people around us, or the wonder of a housefly, a dog, or the miracles of provision and protection that enable us to take the next breath… or to do the simplest– or most difficult– detail of the will of God for us today.
If we could only see a tiny fraction of what God has done and is doing in and around us to make our existence possible, am quite sure that we would either rise to our feet in complete attention to the Lord or, more likely, fall helplessly on our face before him.
The 19th century German writer and philosopher Goethe is quoted as saying that a person “can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days”
I’m guessing that if we could only see in and around us, we would realize there is no such thing… as “an ordinary day.”