Musings on Heaven/Earth
Musings on Heaven and Earth
© Daniel Yordy - 2012 - Our Path Home
I received the following note from Bonnie Morris.
Hello Daniel, I trust all is going well with you... Just had some thoughts on hell that I wanted to mention....
I noticed "hell" is not mentioned but 8 times after the cross... Most New Testament writers (after the cross) do not mention it. Why? Of the two times the word “hell” is used by Luke/Paul in Acts... One was David speaking of his own soul not being left there and the other was speaking of Jesus' soul not being left there or his flesh seeing corruption. (Both really speaking of Jesus)... both references to OT.
James mentions hell as a comparison to the tongue creating hellfire! Peter draws a comparison of punishment with the word “hell” to the, then present generation, showing that there will be a time of correction for those after the cross, but never says it is hell as in "the Old Testament Hell".
Then, In Revelation, it is mentioned 4 times: One said that Jesus had the keys to the grave... one was the pale horse rider; another the grave being delivered up and lastly the grave being cast into the lake of fire. (All references in Rev. are speaking of the grave)...
The Bible indicates that Jesus took the people out of the OT hell... led captivity, captive. Is the only hell that exists today, the same as Jonah spoke of... He was in hell in the belly of the whale. In other words his circumstances created hell.
I am musing over the death of an individual ... I know where they went in OT times... New Testament, I am not so sure... Seems there are people outside the gate of heaven (even believers as they have their place appointed with unbelievers.)... weeping and gnashing of teeth going on out there... Place of correction, not damnation... Feels like earth sometimes.
Any thoughts? Bonnie
Hi Bonnie, We are doing well.
I don't like using the word "hell" for many reasons. One, it's not the word used in the New Testament, two, it is the Germanic corpse goddess, and three, its imaginative connotations in the "Christian" world are so overwhelming that it is impossible to use it to refer to any form of reality.
In actuality, I presently understand the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades as basically the same thing. But I do little present study in the OT, so I know little about what it says on Sheol. I have reverted to using only the word “Hades.” When Jesus spoke of Gehenna, he was speaking of something entirely different. Hades is a realm of reality, Gehenna is not a realm, but rather it symbolizes judgment - specifically God's judgment on Israel. It also could speak of the condition of souls who do not have a physical body through which to express or satiate their desires.
I see heaven and earth as fully connected. In fact, I've begun to realize that it's very likely that just as we have a physical body and a spirit, both intertwined and connected at every point, so is heaven/earth. In other words, "heaven" is earth's spirit, or - earth is heaven's physical body. Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so earth without heaven would be inert with no energy or life.
So, let us speculate that earth's heaven extends as far as the magnetosphere. That doesn't limit heavenly creatures to earth's sphere, but it gives us a reference point. John saw an angel with one foot on the earth and one foot in the sun. That, of course, is symbolic, but symbols can be and usually are real objects in themselves. God doesn't use fantasy figures as symbols.
So, the atmosphere both corresponds roughly and is symbolic of the spirit side of earth or "heaven."
Now, even though earth/heaven - physical/spirit - are fully connected, they operate differently in substance. (I'm just jotting down present speculative thoughts that seem to make sense.) In other words, the laws of spatial dimension that rule in the physical do not pertain to the heavenly laws of place. In the physical, two objects cannot occupy the same space. In the spiritual, two objects can be congruent with each other, though completely separate entities.
Now, just as Christians and non-Christians can live on the same street in the physical, so angels and demons operate in full proximity to each other in the heavens. On earth, you do not have a country where all the good people live and another country where all the bad people live. Heaven is no different. There is not a "place" where all the good spirits live and another "place" where all the bad spirits live, and a third place where all the lost and wandering human souls live.
On earth, you could very easily be living next door to a thief, although by nature, humans congregate together with others of similar bent, still that tendency is not absolute.
So, in the same way, heaven is not divided into different places by law or barrier, but rather by tendency. Like gathers with like.
Now, let's throw in a monkey wrench that the Bible is completely silent about, yet that does not mean this idea is not true. It's a speculative idea only, but fascinating - though deadly for anyone who might pursue it seriously. What if Lucifer's rebellion caused a similar shattering of the heavens as Adam's rebellion caused on earth? In other words, in modern times, we have come to understand that 6% of the population is psychopathic. Almost all human woes and difficulties come from that group. If all psychopaths were removed from the human experience, we would know mostly peace and wealth. At the other end of the human spectrum, there are a similar number of kind, generous, and good people, whether Christian or not. The Christian part seems to make little difference. There are people who happen to be Muslim who are far more kind and generous than most Christians. And there are Christians who are most definitely psychopathic and who have no problem ripping you to shreds without thought.
So, what if the shattering of the heavens produced a similar result? What if there are demons that are without conscience, then angels who stayed close to God, but then, also, whole tribes and species of spiritual creatures (God is always too much when He creates) who are neither purely good nor purely evil, but lost and wandering, a bit selfish and boastful, but afraid, just like the majority of humans? Willing to help someone out if it’s not too difficult, but ready to cut and run if it is, just like the majority of humans? And what if they are included in the sons of God setting all creation free? What if they, also, are groaning for deliverance?
I know, it's all speculation, but it is fascinating. (Edward and Anne of sonsofgod.com believe the above scenario to be true and I cannot say that they are wrong. I would rather like it if they are right.)
You mention the times the apostles used the word, “Hades,” in their letters. Some of those uses are clearly symbolic, but the last is the most fascinating, that Hades is cast into the lake of fire, which is a symbol of God Himself - pure, agape, all-consuming Love. We do not know what all that means in practical detail, because God does not say. The "lake of fire" is mentioned only once in the Bible, and it is clearly a very future experience; it does not bear upon creation right now. But the one thing we know is that Hades, the place of the dead, comes to a complete end.
So, Hades is the place of the dead. (Sheol is also the place of the dead). Sheol, of course, was filled with both the godly and the ungodly. Jesus entered Sheol/Hades and many followed Him out.
But the place of the dead is mentioned by Paul in Philippians 2, only he used the phrase, "those under the earth."
Now, a Spirit-filled, godly, loving, and generous Christian can be friends with a full-psychopath who, though outwardly is winsome and generous, yet inwardly has absolutely no conscience nor any "human" feeling and is an atheist with no knowledge of Christ. As far as place and location, they can be in the same room together, and they can visit hospitably with one another. The difference between the two is a difference of condition or being.
Could it be the same way in the heavens? Could Hades be more a condition than a place - though the laws of society, that like gathers with like apply to all societies, whether in heaven or on earth.
You see, most Christians hold the idea of Heaven and Hell as very unreal structures; very much not the way God makes things.
In the book, Return from Tomorrow, George Ritchie shares what I believe to be a central truth of life after death - a reality that applies to all. He shared that, upon death, you go immediately in the direction of the largest desire of your heart. That which fills one's heart at the time of death is the immediate pursuit of their beings after they lose their physical body. Now, that immediate desire may be only a surface desire. As time goes on . . .
(And yes, I have realized from Scripture accounts that heaven operates by movement measured as time, just as the physical does. The whole "no time" concept is, to me, so absurd. Time is the measurement of motion. If there is no "time" there can be no motion or experience. If heavenly life is just sitting there as a thought, motionless and inert with no experience whatsoever, what kind of a future is that? God loves adventure; time is just part of His wondrous creation, fantastic and utterly good. That does not mean fallen hearts do not use or see time wrongly. The problem is heart, not time. Satan does not create, all he can ever do is to shadow a heart to use God’s good in the wrong direction. Christ through us turns it back again.)
So, as time goes on, the deeper desires of the heart overwhelm the momentary surface desire and the person follows their heart; they cannot do otherwise. That's why getting a heart transplant is not a wise thing to do. Where will this other person's heart take you? I don't know. We accept that practice as OK because modern science does it, but the more I think about it, the more I think that having your own heart ripped out and replaced with someone else's heart cannot be anything but wicked and utterly, utterly unwise, especially for a believer whose heart has been dealt with for years by the hand of God.
One of the things that has come up in our discussion on Facebook is that many Christians on FB say all kinds of Christian things, but, if someone asks a question of them, the true nature of the heart is revealed and out come the fangs. People can believe and speak all kinds of things, but the heart is who they really are.
So, when the unregenerate person leaves their physical body, the question is: what and where are they? I think that the term "under the earth" is partly symbolic and partly literal. Heavier objects fall, lighter objects go up. It's a simple law that is true in heaven as much as on earth. Things sort out according to their nature, but that sorting is not absolute, neither on earth nor in the heavens.
In Jesus' parable, Abraham said that there was a barrier between himself and Dives and that he could not break that barrier - yet they were certainly close enough to each other to visit. So the barrier is not one of location, but one of nature or condition. Jesus said that the barrier does not stand against the church (the gates of Hades do not withstand), but we break through it and walk among the lost in Hades, that is, we can reach those whom Abraham, at that time, could not help, though he could certainly talk with them.
So - when a human loses his or her physical body, they exist as a spirit only. The person, that is, the mind, will, and emotions, go with the spirit. The body is now utterly inert, lifeless. It seems to them that they are more alive than before, because they see the realms they were always blind to. But just because they were blind to the heavens while in their physical body, does not mean they were not fully a spirit being while on earth. So, all humans are incomplete without their physical body. Yet we at present are also "incomplete," not because we are not in heaven through our spirits, but because we are blind to the spirit realms in which we live and thus hardly know them. Yet being unable to connect with or touch or communicate with the physical is very distressing for ALL humans who have lost their physical body. They know that they are missing something that very much belongs to them and is part of them and they long for the day when they get their bodies back, when they can be fully human again. Thus the full attention of all dead humans, whether born again or not, is on the earth and on the sons of God through whom God will restore the creation.
But there are two things that rule all humans in the heavens. First is the condition of their spirit, and second is the desire of their heart. There are two conditions of spirit, either regenerate or unregenerate. I suspect that the unregenerate can see only those realms of heaven as described by Nirvana or by Hades or by Valhalla. They cannot see what Paul termed "the third heaven." They do not even know such a place exists. Thus, when they do communicate their experience with humans on the earth (channeling, mediums, etc.), they say, truthfully as far as what they know, that Nirvana is all there is. They even see many "Christians" wandering around in their realms of the heavens (Hades), in utter shock.
So, those humans with regenerate spirits go into a realm in the heavens that those with unregenerate spirits cannot see. That doesn't mean it's a separate planet. In heaven, humans with regenerate spirits can “walk the streets” with humans with unregenerate spirits. Outwardly they look no more different than Christians and non-Christians on the earth. Yet they live in different realms or conditions.
BUT, the condition of the heart also rules in all realms of the heavens. And again like draws together with like, that is a law of all society. I am a teacher; I enjoy the company of other teachers because I share so much in common with them. Though I worked as a builder for many years, I do not enjoy the company of other builders. Construction for me was a design and creation joy, not a way of life. When I'm around other builders, though I can talk their lingo, still I do not fit.
So it is in the heavens. Let's look at the unregenerate, those who live in the "unseen" realms - Hades. One might call them the unseeing realms in that they cannot see the better parts of the heavens. Those who love to fight spend their time with others who love to fight, in unending bouts of fighting, then pauses of camaraderie, then fighting again (Valhalla). Only they cannot accomplish their lusts because they have no physical body.
On the other hand, those who are in great emotional pain rooted in selfishness sink into a stupor down to the bottom and are probably little more than a slightly aware grief.
You see, without the physical body, no lust can be satiated. That's why it's such a "sin" for a human to develop great lusts while in the body. They will spend thousands of years with those overwhelming lusts without ever being able to satisfy them even for a moment - the lusts are related to the physical body and since they have no physical body, they cannot fulfill the lusts, which, however, continue right on as the passion of their hearts. That, I believe, is what Jesus was speaking of when He said, "the fire that is unquenched." He was not speaking of something God does to people, but rather of the reality of living without a body, but with all the lusts developed while in the body.
George Ritchie shared that he saw a suicide who was bound to the reality of the grief he had caused his parents and the utter selfishness and shame of his act. He could not leave begging forgiveness from his parents, but never finding it, because they, of course, could not see or hear him, though he continued in the same room with them, pleading and ashamed, pleading and ashamed, with no fulfillment or relief.
In other words, conditions in earth's spirit, heaven, are very similar to conditions of physical life on the earth. Reality is reality, whether in the body or out of the body.
But, I am convinced that the condition of the heart also rules among those humans with regenerate spirits who lose their physical body. Those who know God intimately now, know Him intimately then. Those who walk in the deepest of love relationships with God now walk in the deepest of love relationships with Him then. On the other hand, shallow Christians now, though they may have regenerate spirits and can enjoy all the happiness and pleasure of the better part of life in the heavens, still, they don't even know the places in God that exist for those who have walked closely with Him. Just as they are not close to Him now, in their hearts, so they will not be close to Him without their bodies. The physical body is only a factor in expression, it is not a factor in heart - though the physical human heart contains in itself the elements of heart found in the soul and in the spirit. Those elements of the heart leave the physical heart and go with the spirit/soul at death, yes, but it is evident by people's experience that those elements stay with a physical heart when it is transferred from one person to another.
Now, you probably think I'm writing quite a bit. The truth is, I've been thinking about these things, and I always write best when I attempt an answer of sorts to someone's question. And though these thoughts do correspond with the many vague references to heaven/Hades in the Bible, they are musings only.
You mention Jesus taking people out of Sheol. My understanding is that it was only some, those who were glad to hear Him, and not all. But it does show that individual humans can obtain regenerate spirits after their physical body dies. Jesus is as much Savior in the heavens as He is in the earth. The idea that He is not is just absurd. The heavens are different from earth ONLY in the nature of substance. They are the same in all the laws that govern society and human interaction and nature.
In other words, the heavens are as filled with reality as the earth, they are not airy-fairy non-real realms where angels float on clouds and demons poke people with pitch forks. And that is why I prefer to use the terms Hades and the heavens, because they allow us to contemplate reality, whereas "heaven" and "hell," are just the very limited creations of very limited human blindness.
Now, here's a direction of thought. Let's say there are 15 billion humans, dead and alive, at present plus 15 billion demons or more plus 30 billion angelic creatures or more plus many, many billions of animals. That means that the number of conscious or semi-conscious creatures existing between earth's crust and earth's magnetosphere, all going about their own business, all following the desires and bent of their own hearts could be somewhere between 100 and 200 billion. We can't leave animals out of the mix. Many animals have far higher levels of consciousness than we have allowed in our previous limited knowledge of them. Elephants and dolphins are among the most aware of animal species, startlingly aware at times. They are as much loved by God as anyone else. Our cat of many years just passed away. He was very much a part of the family. There was definitely a heart connection between him and us that was much more than just physical chemical reactions. What that means, I don't have a clue; it's just that reality does not exist inside the limited little boxes of limited and blind humans.
Almost all Christians stagger when they see the reality of the heavens. It is not anything like anything they have thought. Only those whose hearts walk closely in intimate love with God and tender compassion for people will not be shattered at how vastly different the heavenly realms are from their cloud and harp fantasies. The truth is: I am convinced that every single person continues right on in the same heart-path they were walking while in the physical body.
And in the end, that heart-path will have more weight in determining where they end up in the heavens than the condition of their spirit, regenerate or unregenerate. A good man with a compassionate heart who happens to be Muslim when he dies, may well find the tender Heart of Jesus drawing Him out of Hades before a born-again Christian who has filled his heart with the cares and concerns of this world and who has withheld himself from those in need - ever connects with that same Heart of Jesus.
Jesus is Savior, not ritual or doctrine - and Jesus is all about a man's heart. Jesus knows all who belong to Him and His knowing has absolutely nothing to do with their ritual or doctrine, but everything to do with the work He does upon their hearts while they still have their physical bodies.
David brought his Philistine friends into the Holy of Holies to sing and dance with him before the Presence of God in a manner completely not-allowed, forbidden, by Moses, and God honored David and his Philistine friends, one of which may have written a portion of our Bibles. Uzziah, a decent man and a half-decent king, of David's direct blood, entered the Holy of Holies, and God struck him with leprosy.
It's all a matter of the heart. God just pays no attention to the tiny boxes imagined by blind humans.
Now, let's look at your comment that Hades diminishes in importance after the cross. We can't know all that really means, but a similar thing seemed to happen with human-demon interaction. In other words, the open connections between humans and demons before the cross were no longer that open and dominating after the cross. The cross did not remove Hades or demons, but it definitely put them into a more restrained holding place awaiting the fulfillment of Christ in His people, by the seasons of God, to bring the final reality of the Salvation of Jesus to all. I suspect that the primary reason God put Hades and demons into a restrained holding place is simply that Jesus wanted to share the joy of His great work with us. That's what glory is. Glory has two definite parts. The first part is the accomplishment of a great work; the second part is the honor that comes to one who does accomplish a great work. Jesus wants to share both sides of His glory with us, thus God did not apply the fullness of salvation to all creation the moment Jesus sat down at the right hand of the throne. Rather, He waited until all of us came along so that we could share both in that great and joyous work, fantastically fulfilling in itself, and so that we could share in the honor of Jesus as well.
You see, that's what Jesus asked of the Father in John 17. And the Father honors Jesus by giving us to Him that we might share His glory, that great work of bringing life and hope and joy to all.
Well, I may not have addressed all the things you raised, but I love to write about these things. I don't see myself as "the answer man"; I just have a small gift of seeing a larger picture, so I see myself as one who can give a larger perspective by which (presently still dim) light, all the questions can find a place.
Blessings in Him, Daniel
Now, I insert a piece I wrote a few weeks ago in a beginning attempt to put on paper things I have been thinking about.
A few years ago, I was asked to explain my understanding of heaven, what it is, as the Bible actually describes it and not as Christian fancy has invented. I did that and placed that article in my first series, Home As It Really Is. When I wrote that, I was seeing through a glass darkly, I still am, but maybe not quite so darkly. What I shared in that answer remains true and a place to start. However, my understanding has grown and thus, I would like to share a much more definitive and real picture of heaven, what it is, where it is, and how it operates.
Heaven and earth are two parts of the same thing. One way to understand this reality is the light spectrum. Visible light is in the middle of the spectrum. To one side of visible light runs ultra-violet, to the other side of visible light runs infra-red. All levels of the light spectrum are simply waves of frequency from high frequency, with close oscillation, to low frequency with wide oscillation. Ultra-violet is “above” visible light in frequency; infra-red is “below” visible light in frequency. Other than a difference in frequency, all levels of light are basically the same thing.
No human eye has ever seen ultra-violet or infra-red waves. To the human mind before modern technology, these things do not exist. But some animals can see frequencies of light that humans cannot see, and all that humans need in order to “see” invisible light waves is the right lens in front of their eyes. We could say that, with the right eyes and with a brain programmed to read all the frequencies of light coming in, a human could “see” every level of light frequency. But if we could, the world would be a very confusing place; there would simply be too much information coming in.
Let's explain that. Think of all the radio and television frequencies there are. Add to those all cell phone frequencies, all garage-door opener and television remote frequencies. Add to those all the other human-generated frequencies we pass through all the time. What would life be like if we could perceive all frequencies all the time? We would be viewing every television show and hearing every radio program and all the nearby cell-phone calls going through the air all around us all the time.
God limited our perception to only one small portion of the vast light spectrum. Yet that small portion is filled with incredible nuance and shades of color – in fact, most Internet communication flows through visible light, not through the atmosphere, but through fiber-optic cables.
Now, we are using the light spectrum as a limited metaphor. It does not describe all of the relationship between heaven and earth, but it does describe a great deal of it.
Think of earth as the visible portion of the light spectrum and heaven as the invisible portion of the light spectrum. It's all the same thing, just at different levels of perception. There are heavenly frequencies higher than earth's frequencies and there are heavenly frequencies lower than earth's frequencies – thus the metaphors of “Heaven” and “Hades.” Hades is as much a part of the heavens as “heaven” is.
Heaven is all around us. That is, heaven, in part, corresponds to the atmosphere. Yet the atmosphere itself is part of earth and is only a metaphor of the heavens. Surrounding earth beyond the atmosphere is an electromagnetic or plasma sheath. This plasma sheath separates earth's frequencies from the electrical charges flowing out from the sun. Inside that plasma sheath are all the frequencies pertaining to earth, high, medium, and low.
Heaven, that is, the heaven with which we have to do, is inside that plasma sheath. I would not limit “heaven” to what is inside that plasma sheath only, but I personally doubt that the “spirits of just men made perfect” have gone beyond that sheath, not yet. They are incomplete and waiting on God for the finishing of what the present age is all about. And by “present age,” I include all seven days. John did see an angel with one foot on the earth and the other on the sun. This is symbolic, yes, but I would not limit it to symbolism only. Heaven is also substantial and real.
Now, many Christians reading this will cry, “Yordy, you are trying to turn heaven into something that can be studied by science.” Well duh! Is heaven not real? What most Christians fail to understand is that heaven is part of the creation. God did not create earth inside of an uncreated heaven. He created heaven and earth at the same time as completely linked-together elements inside this thing called creation. Heaven is created, and as an integral part of the same creation, heaven follows similar laws as earth does. The study of the physical is called physics; maybe the study of the spiritual should be called “spirics.” Spiritual is not “ethereal,” it is literal, though not physical, substance.
Let's look at man. God created man to live in both heaven and earth at the same time and forever. That is, man is capable of maneuvering inside of and communicating with all things found in the visible, physical realms and he is just as capable of maneuvering inside of and communicating with all things found in the invisible, spirit realms. Those spirit realms are invisible to us right now ONLY because we are blind - cataracts cover our spirit-eyes, which are literal organs of our spirit-body.
In order to live in the earth, God gave man a physical body, made out of the dust of the earth. In order to live in the heavens, God gave man a spirit body, made out of the substance of heaven, the breath of life. Both bodies are normal and natural to us, but we know very little about our spirit bodies because most people including most Christians do not walk in their spirits. Paul said, “If we live in the spirit, let's also walk in the spirit.” But that's too spooky for most, so we don't do it. We stay, rather, within the comfortable realms of what our eyes can see and what our feelings can feel ONLY. Walking in heaven by faith is a pretty scary proposal.
We do not see the lower frequencies and the higher frequencies as two different “places.” All frequencies of the heavens are intermingled. Angels and demons operate in full proximity and view of each other. However the in-between parts of the spectrum – the physical realms of earth – are unique. That is where our light-spectrum metaphor becomes limited. There is a powerful correlation between the things in the heavens and all things in the earth. Everything in the earth is copied after the pattern of things in the heavens.
But earth has its own unique and special flavor. It is in earth that Christ, the revelation of God, is manifested. It is earth in particular that reveals God in a way that heaven does not yet see.
Man himself is also a metaphor of heaven/earth. Man has a physical body and a spirit body. Heaven/earth has a physical body and a spirit body. We could easily say that heaven is earth's spirit. We could say that because it is true.
Earth does have a spirit; in fact the Bible talks about earth's spirit all the way from Genesis to Revelation. Earth's spirit is called heaven. And heaven does have a body; in fact the Bible talks about heaven's body all the way from Genesis to Revelation. Heaven's body is called earth.
Here is a diagram of earth's plasma sheath. (diagram not to scale.)
Here is an ultraviolet picture of earth's plasma sheath.
Notice that the initial “glow” above the solid ball of earth is the atmosphere. The plasma sheath goes beyond the atmosphere, but it has a definite, though fluctuating boundary.
Let us suppose – AND this is a supposition only. I cannot possibly know if it is fully true or not. I do suspect, though, that my supposition contains truth, otherwise I would not share it.
Let us suppose that all creatures in heaven and earth dwell inside that plasma sheath. We know that all the inhabitants of earth are either walking or crawling on the surface of the crust, or bury themselves into the dirt, or fly in the atmosphere, or swim in the ocean. There are even incredibly weird things living in the depths of the oceans and even things that feed off the volcanic flows at the bottom of the ocean. All physical life exists inside the limited arenas of the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere. Notice the many kinds and levels of physical creatures, inhabiting quite different arenas.
Let us suppose that all heavenly creatures pertaining to the Bible, God's word to humans on earth, are found inside the limits of the magnetosphere, the plasma sheath. Let us suppose that inside that plasma sheath, that is, inside of Heaven/Hades, are all spiritual creatures. That would include all humans who have lost their physical forms and can no longer be the manifestation of God, whether they are the made-perfect spirits of just men dwelling in the light of the Lord Jesus or whether they are lost souls in the murky shadows of Hades. And it would include all angelic beings, whether fallen or unfallen.
Let's consider the realms of angelic beings out from what we know of the nature of God in the physical realms. God is exuberant. He creates with abandon. Look at the multitudes of creatures in the earthly realms, billions upon billions, literally millions of species from one-celled amoebas floating in the goo to blue whales and jellyfish in the seas to eagles and sparrows in the air to horses to anteaters to warthogs to weird flaky things in the deep. Scoop up a handful of dirt from a rich organic garden and inside that handful of dirt are more creatures than you can count – thousands of species, trillions of individuals. An entire universe of creatures exists inside that handful of dirt, all interacting in relationship with each other. Scoop up a cup of water from a swampy pond. Inside that cup of water are more creatures than you can count – thousands of species, trillions of individuals. An entire universe of creatures exists inside that cup of water – and quite different from the universe of creatures inside the handful of dirt.
How could God's creativity in the heavens be any different? Look at the difference between a whale and a nematode. The difference is too huge to comprehend, yet both are living creatures operating within the realms of earth and described by that very generic word, “animals.”
I suspect that the worlds of creatures in the heavens, inside that plasma sheath are as varied and as populated as the worlds of creatures inside the realms of earth. And all of them can be described by that very generic word, “angels.”
Now I come back to my continued musings in response to Bonnie’s thoughts.
When I get thinking - and writing - on a topic like this, it's hard to get my mind onto something else, so let me jot down a few more thoughts.
We understand - utterly - that God does not "punish" without hope. Yet there is punishment in the sense that every man faces the consequences of his heart-actions. I don't believe that the sacrifice of Jesus removes the restitution that justice requires, but rather the opposite, the sacrifice allows the restitution that justice requires. A bloody man offering restitution out of his iniquitous and unwilling heart can only give a restitution that is itself offensive and ugly. But the sacrifice of Jesus allows all to give restitution for what they have stolen from others, a restitution that is holy and acceptable and comes out of the love of God and not out of unwilling fear.
And so, everyone who lives without a body, Christian or non-Christian, lives in the heavens BY the deeds they have done in their body. Those who have blessed others live out of the heart of blessing and those who have abused and hurt others live out of a heart of abuse. Yet neither one can express his heart in the direction all desire to express it the most, that is into the physical. Those who are with the Lord in the heavens carry the desire to show themselves in the earth (as seen in Revelation, the souls of the martyrs waiting under the altar) just as much as the unregenerate dead. They are told by the Lord to "wait a little longer." Thus they also are in a waiting time and place.
It is clear from Scripture that all who have died are waiting – and they are waiting on the sons of God who set all creation free. And, I suspect, only those whose hearts on earth walked closely with the heart of God are at complete rest in that waiting place - though Peter, Paul, and John are waiting for their physical bodies restored just as much as all others. The only one who is not "waiting" in that sense is Jesus because He still has His physical form; He is still as able to show Himself in the earth as He is in heaven. Yet, the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus is also waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool, and he/she makes it clear that such a thing has not yet happened in the church age.
I must insert this thought, though, all who are regenerate in heaven, though they are without their physical body, do live in and through their fully functioning spirit body, unlike the unregenerate dead. This is the level of experience of living in God that many Christians term as a “place” called “heaven.” It is not a place, it is a way of living and being.
Now, in Matthew, Jesus did not say, "These on my left will go into everlasting destruction." He did not say that, nor did anyone in the first 200 years of the church ever imagine such a concept. That idea came creeping into the church out of darkness, out of the pagan mutterings of the Roman world and it entered the Bible for the first time through Jerome's pen and the Latin Vulgate - over 350 years after the church was birthed.
Jesus said, and Matthew heard, "These on my left will go into a TIME of pruning." "Prune" is a Latin word come into English. It's Greek counterpart is "Pure" or "Purge." Thus Jesus defined "Hades" as "Purgatory." The problem is that Luther and Tyndale loved the Roman Catholic concept of "Hell," it was very Germanic, thus they also translated the Greek "Pure" into "destruction" rather than purifying (the KJV is only a slight re-write of Tyndale). Thus it is the opposite of the Protestant claim. Purgatory is what the New Testament church understood the afterlife to be and eternal hellfire is what the Roman Catholics added into the text of the Bible itself, just as Jesus said would happen.
But let's bring that into our larger present understanding. It is evident that the condition in which all humans find themselves, both regenerate and unregenerate, that of not having a physical body through which they very much want to express themselves - and thus, for those who have developed great physical and earthly lusts, feel the drive and thirst of those desires but are never able to fulfill them - it is evident that such a condition, in itself, does not purify. It is torment, and the person in whatever level of "torment" they have prepared for themselves, regenerate or unregenerate, by the "deeds" done in the body do not, slowly by that torment, become pure. That does not preclude the power of Jesus Himself to draw any soul into the knowledge of His salvation.
You see, this way of thinking agrees so much with the things we read about in Revelation. The idea that life on earth ceases utterly upon death and that people go either to a "heaven" of utter bliss or a "hell" of utter torment, all of which is utterly different from present normal societal experience, period, is just nonsense and does not fit with all the many things said in Revelation or in the rest of the Bible. Thus, those things are deemed "fantastical"; when they are, in fact, simply the seeing of the heavens as they are – yet can be understood only by mature Spirit-led sons who do not call God a liar, but expect the fulfillment of all that He speaks in their lives.
So, sitting in that holding time, enduring the unfulfillable desires developed in the heart – that in itself does not purify. Only the blood of Jesus purifies. What I believe God is doing with each individual one is bringing them to the end of themselves. Selfishness is very persistent and will endure much difficulty in "righteous" self-offense. Yet I see that our task will be to reach through all the barriers (the gates of Hades, the wall that keeps Love out) and to draw that lost, hurting soul into the light and love of God. That is the real "purification." The time of waiting is simply waiting on us - for God's perfect season, that He might give to Jesus His final request, the deepest desire of His heart - that we might share His glory.
The spirit-heavens are as real as the physical earth. And society in the heavens is as real as society in the earth. And actions and consequences experienced by those living in the heavens are as real as the actions and consequences experienced by those living in the earth. They are simply two realms, utterly connected to one another, differing in substance only, but in few other ways.
Now, here's an interesting thought. Angels and demons are normal in the heavens. That is, they have no distress of inability to do what is in them to do. They have spirit bodies only and all that they are functions and flows out of those spirit bodies. Humans are the only ones in the heavens who are dead, whether in Christ or not in Christ. That is, they are missing half of their outer expression - those who are unregenerate are also missing a quality of spirit body, their spirit bodies are shriveled and limited. Thus the unregenerate are more like wandering souls than anything. On the other hand, only the regenerate can "weep" in the way Jesus describes, as you mention. That is, only the regenerate, born-again Christians, who did not develop hearts filled with the kindness and the knowledge of God, can see some of the things they are missing out on. The unregenerate with shriveled spirits cannot see those things and thus do not weep for them.
And when we say "angels," whether fallen, unfallen, or wandering, we are using a term that is quite different from the term "humans." Humans are monolithic; that is, they are all the same blood, all one kind, one species, one blood family, actually. Some humans may derive a portion of their genome from fallen angels, but all humans obtain most or all of their genome from Noah and his wife at present or Adam and Eve originally. The term “angels,” however, is much more general. Inside of the word "angels" are all sorts of creatures, species of beings far different from other species of angels. Again, the realms of the heavens are as real as the realms of the earth. More than that, since heaven and earth are vitally connected all the time, the similarities of society and experience must be very great. We do not become something else after we die.
The place of heart we have come to in our time on earth is the place we begin from in our time of waiting, should we lose our physical bodies before the Day of liberty. A heart filled with the love of Jesus now will go directly into His heart after death, just like a bee into nectar. A heart filled with the rage of American politics now will go straight to Washington DC to cry and scream with all the other disembodied fools against their political opponents.
The new creation, the new heavens and the new earth, begin at the same time. If the earth is still blighted, the heavens are still blighted. If the sons of God set the earth free, they also set the heavens free. The new heavens do not exist right now in any other form than the seed inside of us. As a seed, they are completely real and everything in the new heavens is found inside the seed inside of us. But the plant and the fruit of the new heavens have not yet been made visible. Paul and Peter and John live right now deep inside the heart of the Lord Jesus, but they are looking towards the sons of God upon this earth with the exact same desire and groaning as all the rest of creation. The only difference is their travail shows itself in faith-filled shouting and joyous expectation.
They are expecting God through us. And they expect fully to take their place side by side with us when God through us has opened the veil. They step through first, but only a slight moment first. The joy of victory we will know together is far beyond our ability to conceive. Until that moment, they wait upon us with hearts filled with faith and hope - all of which is directed, moment by moment, towards you and me and those who also wait with us upon this earth in fervent expectation of His appearing in us.
Ah, I now notice your comment "feels like earth sometimes" and I realize that is the same as all I have been yakking about. So thanks for your thoughts and musings. I've wanted to write this for some time, but I do so much better as a response than straight out of my head.
Blessings again, Daniel
Thanks for this great insight Daniel... I love how the "heart" is the focal point. One of my favorite scriptures is: If your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart...
I have never seen animals with "souls"... only spirits. You may be right... aren't they instinctive...not "reason" creatures? I mean, they don't ask: "why", do they?
This all brings some balance in some of how I was seeing it...
So good to hear from you, Bonnie
Ah, more thoughts. I just sent the second and then read this.
Yes, I put a big question mark after animals as well. But it is a fascinating subject.
I don't see "soul" as a thing in itself. I rather see it as "person," "and man became a living person." Our spirit is a form in itself and our body is a form in itself - I don't see that there is a substance called "the soul." But animals are very much on a scale. Reading stories about elephants can shake one's ideas about animals as "instinctive only." Again, we can't know the full answer because God in no way makes it clear. But - a dog does think, he does feel, and he does make choices. And the higher up the scale you go, the more startling is the apparent conscious reasoning and awareness of those thoughts and feelings and choices.
Here is one story about an elephant I have on my shelf. A Brit in Burma tended an elephant who had been badly mauled by a tiger. He put salve on her wounds and tended her until she was well. A couple of years later, he returned to that place. He noticed that same elephant a distance away, but still within hearing range. He turned to the handler and asked, "How is ___ doing? He named the elephant. He was not facing her when he spoke. Immediately she came over to them, got down on her knee and bent her back toward the Brit to show him her healed wounds.
There are many similar stories about higher level animals that kind of shake the idea that they are physical instinct only. (Bonnie then commented that by “instinctive,” she was thinking of the animal’s spirit quality; animals can sense the intrusion of another spirit into their space – that sounds exactly right.) Again, we cannot know for sure about animals, but it's a fascinating topic. However, I in no way think that a particular animal will live again. Not at all. Their spirit vanishes into the earth upon death; it does not continue in the heavens. But while they are alive, they are very much a real being in whatever form of expression God made them and God loves them as He loves all.
And I suspect that when the curse is lifted, animals will tend more in the direction of Narnia than we might presently suspect. (I think C.S. Lewis was prescient about many things.) You can see I have a bent towards JRR Tolkien’s wonderful definition of "fairy-tale," a definition that speaks very much as if it comes out of reality, a definition that resonates with the reverberations of my own heart.
-- And I am convinced that the work God does upon our hearts is the most valuable and important thing on this planet.
And I am convinced that our futures are filled with more adventures and uproarious excitement than we could ever hope for. I am very much inclined towards Bilbo. I have a thing in my heart for adventure and exploration. "Mountains, Gandalf, mountains. How I long to see mountains again."