June 6, 2014 – Discourse on Heaven

“Though your outcasts are in the outermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.” NEHEMIA (1:9)

Here’s what I do ‘know’ about heaven.

1. Paradise is the Persian word for Gan Eden or Garden of Eden or Garden of God (Ezekiel 28:13, Revelation 2:3).  So when the man on the cross was told he would be in Paradise, it was really Gan Eden, God’s Garden.  There will be a restoration of Gan Eden in the future as seen in Revelation 22.  Holly, you are right,  there are no punctuation marks in Greek so the ‘today’ could be placed anywhere in that sentence.  Apart from Greek, eternity has no time either so what would be ‘today? ‘ – this present moment or another day?  We must remember that one day for the Lord is like 1000 years.

Perhaps Yeshua’s reference to ‘today’ was because the man on the cross understood the ‘judgement to come’, the day of judgment when all men stand before God.  He was, in a sense, doing that very thing in front of Yeshua. “Today” is also used in Hebrews 4:6-8 as referring to the time when ‘one hears the voice of the Lord’ and ‘doesn’t harden their heart’.  In referring to that ‘today’, the person enters Yeshua’s rest.  This could also be what was happening on the cross with that man, he heard the voice of the Lord, didn’t harden his heart, and entered his rest (sleep).  NOT Sabbath as many teach and think.

2. I do not see  Scriptures that say when people die they ‘go to heaven’ and ‘wait for their loved ones.’  Yeshua didn’t teach this nor did his apostles.  Nowhere did anyone say, “Believe in Jesus and when you die, you will go to heaven.”  Nowhere.  We are told that if we put our faith in Yeshua, we will have eternal life!

The concept of going to heaven and being with friends and family,  believe it or not, has pagan roots.  Hell is also given the same thought.  “Hey, I don’t care if I’m sinful and I die and go to hell, all my friends will be there with me!” Ever heard that?  What separates heaven from hell in that instance?  In my opinion, nothing.

What I see is that when people die they go to sleep.  They are WAITING for the resurrection. According to Revelation, there are TWO resurrections (Revelation 20:5-6).   There is the resurrection of the righteous who are raised never to die again.  They rule and reign with Yeshua from Jerusalem for 1000 years.  These are the saints who not only have the testimony of Yeshua, but also obey the commandments for how else does one ‘rule and reign’ if they have not understood the ‘rules’.   This 1000 years is known as the Millennial Kingdom.

After that there is a second resurrection and all who have ever lived and died are resurrected and have to stand before God to give an account of their lives.  Books are opened and there are more than just the Book of Life if you study Scripture. It is also possible for a name to be blotted out from the Book of Life (Ex. 32:32, Psalm 69:28, Rev. 3:5). Everyone, whether righteous or wicked, will be resurrected to eternal life or eternal separation from God.

3. Yeshua (Jesus) isn’t coming back to take us to some unknown place. He wants us to be living for the Kingdom of God/Heaven (interchangeable words) here and now, preparing for the Millennial Kingdom  to come and  anticipating eternity with the renewed heavens and earth when the New Jerusalem COMES DOWN out of heaven to earth – the time that YHVH Elohim makes His dwelling with mankind.   Nowhere does Scripture imply ‘heaven’ as some place we hang out with our friends after we die.   Again, I think this comes from some pagan ideas that the catholic church embraced as doctrines that infiltrated the church.  Consider the whole idea of people becoming angels!

4. When we die, we fall asleep. Those who die in Yeshua are with him in his presence – their soul or spirit until that first resurrection. Whether or not we have cognitive knowledge of this presence, I do not know. It could be like Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16).    Or, it could be that when Yeshua set the captives free, the place known as the bosom of Abraham was changed to the presence of Yeshua or separation from him.  There were firstfruits of the resurrection that walked around Jerusalem and they may be the set free captives.   Paul says that when we’re gone from the body, we’re present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8) so that means when we die we’re in Yeshua’s presence, but we have not been resurrected and therefore have no physical bodies.  Yeshua is the only one with a resurrected body.  The only one.

With a lot of stuff I’m hearing and reading and learning, I beginning to really see that the teaching of resurrection is/has been lost. It’s sad because it’s one of the elementary teachings found in Hebrews 4.  Yeah, people believe Yeshua resurrected from the dead, but that is not what we’re taught about our own death and resurrected life. Rarely, if ever, have I heard at a funeral, “He’s asleep waiting for the resurrection of the dead!”  People are more concerned with seeing with their loved ones again rather than being alive, resurrected in the Kingdom with Yeshua!!  Paul said that he preached the resurrection of Yeshua for if the dead are NOT resurrected then we have not hope (1 Corinthians 15).

I agree, Ruth. What does it matter if there are no more tears, no more pain? That for me is just ‘death’.   Dead people feel no pain and they don’t cry.  The dead don’t praise God, but the living.  The dead are in a place of silence  (Psalm 115:17).   But to LIVE ETERNALLY  with no more tears and no more pain and no more DEATH in a restored world (Gan Eden) without sin and death – THAT is the victory I am striving for, the upward high calling in Messiah Yeshua that Paul strove for.   That’s would be the ultimate praising of God? Right?  Paul says that he must somehow ‘attain to the resurrection of the dead’ (Philippians 3:10-14).  What does that look like?

I was recently told by a Messianic Jew in Israel that heaven in the Hebrew thought is ‘just above our feet’ which is why it is present in the here and now.   In other words, that’s why we wash feet – to wash the dust of this earth away or how Peter walked on water.  He was ‘just above the ground in the heavenly realm.’   I’m sure there’s more to that  and that’s what I want to continue to search out.

I can honestly say that I no longer believe that when someone dies, they ‘go to heaven’.  When I die, I’m not going to heaven.   I am not becoming an angel and I am not going to be watching over my loved ones. Only Yeshua can do that because he’s the only one whose LIVING after dying.  Those who have passed away are either sleeping in the presence of God or not. They are in a place of silence, waiting for that moment in time when the shofar sounds for the first resurrection (translation of the saints) or the second.    I think if we understood that concept better, we would be more powerful witnesses to eternal life because it involves a resurrection of our mortal bodies into immortal bodies re-infused with our eternal soul. That to me is awesome and no other religion in the world teaches resurrection.  In the days of Yeshua, the Sadducees were Sad U See because they did NOT believe in a resurrection of the dead; the Pharisees did.  I’m more like a Pharisee, like Paul. The gospel is more than just the cross and Yeshua’s death; it’s about his earthly life and example, his death AND his resurrected life when he was eating and fellowshipping with his followers.

Ruth, on the same concept, I always thought going to heaven for eternity sounded boring because of church services being equated with that type of eternity.  Now I understand with the resurrection and the restoration of all things including Gan Eden, heaven and earth and a New Jerusalem, eternal life in ‘paradise’  is going to be pretty awesome especially without tears or pain.  The Garden of Eden will be filled with the holy ones of God enjoying fruit trees and the river of life.

As for the verse in Nehemiah, it would seem that the ‘outermost parts of heaven’ are either on earth just above the ground or this is a reference to the dry bones in Ezekiel that will be risen from the dust of the earth and made into an army for Israel.  I’m leaning toward those ‘four winds of heaven’ being the ‘four corners of the earth. And Nehemiah is most likely prophesying to the end times when all Israel will be gathered together and brought  to Jerusalem where the name of God dwells.  Perhaps that whole verse hinges on what is an ‘outcast’?

©2014 Tent Stake Ministries

3 Responses to “June 6, 2014 – Discourse on Heaven”

  • Dawn Remus says:

    Hi Julie. I too have pondered heaven and where we hang out after death while we await the second coming. Here are some of my random thoughts:

    In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) it states that “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.” It’s interesting that the rich man can see and speak with Abraham and Abraham with him, but Lazarus pays him no mind…perhaps because he is asleep? It appears that they have gone somewhere after death, but not necessarily the “heaven or hell” that we hear of.

    I agree that people do not become angels when they die. Angels are created beings…to the best of my knowledge, there is no reference to them procreating or their numbers changing. The Bible clearly separates angels and men.

    I think my vision of “heaven” or the New Jerusalem was sparked by CS Lewis and his concept of Joy (not to be confused with pleasure). There are things on earth that give us Joy or produce a longing in us…walking in the woods, holding hands with a loved one, hearing a chord of music that for some strange reason touches your heart…it’s different for everyone. It doesn’t make sense why these simple things give us Joy in a world where every pleasure you desire is at your fingertips. I think that Joy we feel is God’s way of pulling us forward; giving us a tiny glimpse of life in the New Jerusalem…taking us back to the Joy Adam and Eve must have felt in the Garden walking with God. I don’t know if we will recognize our loved ones in our afterlife…I don’t think it will matter to us. Because in the presence of Jesus, we will be feeling Perfect Love, not the shadow of love that we experienced on earth. Everything that gave us Joy in our earthly life will be magnified 1000 times more in our heavenly home.

    • yahuliani says:

      Dawn, those are great thoughts especially about joy. I have ‘heard’ that the reason we long for ‘vacations’ and the rest – peace and joy – they give is because of that longing for what we lost in the Garden, the longing for restoration of all things. When we get a glimpse of it here, we never want it to end, and it’s only a tiny glimpse as you said. Then, we have to enter back into the reality of life only longing for another vacation and time spent away from the cares of this world.

      Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Those pleasures and joy will be nothing compared to what is being prepared for those who love God (Isaiah 64:4, 1 Corinthians 2:9).

      Where did you read about joy with C.S. Lewis? I would love to read whatever it was.

      Interesting idea about Lazarus being asleep because it’s not him that speaks to the rich man, it’s Abraham. I wonder why Abraham can speak or why Lazarus didn’t? Rereading it, I also saw that no one can cross the chasm separating the pain and suffering in Hades from the bosom of Abraham, but apparently the rich man believed in resurrection because he wants Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his family.

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks Yahuliani…the C.S. Lewis book I was referring to was “Surprised by Joy”.

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