Books and movies about Christians going to heaven as soon as they die are quite in vogue. And why not? They titillate imaginations. They comfort the bereaved. And they rake in millions of dollars. One such popular film is titled: “Heaven Is Real.” To that I must add, but going there before the resurrection is a big fat lie.
Now some will protest, “But what about the thief on the cross. Didn’t Yeshua say he would be with him in paradise that very day?” The answer, of course, is, “No!”
The original manuscripts are not punctuated. Punctuation was added by translators. Luke 23:43, without punctuation says: “And Jesus said to him Truly I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Sadly, translators have placed a comma before the word today, causing the sentence to contradict the rest of Scripture. When the comma is placed after the word today, the sentence reads: “And Jesus said to him Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
This is in keeping with what the Scriptures teach about death and the resurrection. But for those of you still not convinced, allow me to point out that Yeshua himself was not in Paradise that day. Had he told that to the thief, it would have been a lie. Yeshua was in the grave for the next three days and three nights (Matt 12:39-40), proving the Messiah could not have meant that on the day of his death the thief would be in paradise with him. Yeshua was simply, on the day of his crucifixion, promising the thief he would (eventually, at the resurrection as Scripture teaches) be in paradise.
The only other major argument promoting the false belief in an immediate heaven or hell experience comes from a literal interpretation of the parable about Lazarus and the rich man. But this is clearly a parable, not a teaching on heaven and hell. If it were, it would contradict everything Scripture teaches about death and resurrection, teaching instead that:
- The righteous dead go to live in Abraham’s bosom.
- Those in hell can speak to those in heaven.
- A drop of water is expected to relieve their torments in hell.
SO WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE TEACH ABOUT DEATH?
To understand what happens at death, we must first understand about the creation of life. Genesis 2:7 says: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (Ruach/ Spirit) of life; and man became a living soul.” The Hebrew word translated as soul is neh-fesh.
Strong’s Bible Dictionary defines nehfesh as “a breathing creature.” It has been translated throughout the Old Testament as soul, creature, and quite often as life.
Genesis 1:30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every foul of the air, to everything that creeps upon the earth where there is life (nehfesh)…
Exodus 21:23 … you shall give life (nehfesh) for life (nehfesh).
Leviticus 17:14 …for the life (nehfesh) of all flesh is in the blood…
Isaiah 44:2 …therefore I will give man for thee and people for thy life (nehfesh)….
The Creator formed a (lifeless) body from the dust. It wasn’t until Yahweh breathed into its nostrils that this clay-man came to life. When that man dies, expires (breathes out his last breath) the breath of life returns to God, and that man returns (eventually) to dust. Genesis 3:19 “… for out of it were you taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shall you return.” The soul, the neh-fesh, is what animates every living thing.
This is what the Scriptures teach about death.
The dead don’t think; they don’t know anything.
Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they shall die; but the dead do not know anything;
The dead do not praise God. They are in silence.
Psalms 115:17 The dying do not praise Jehovah, nor all those who go down into silence;
The dead person’s thoughts perish in the day he dies.
Psalms 146: 4 His breath will go out, he returns to the earth; his thoughts perish in that day.
The dead simply are no more.
Job 7:21 . . . For now shall I lie down in the dust. You will seek me diligently, but I shall not be.”
IN SCRIPTURE SLEEP AS A METAPHOR FOR DEATH APPEARS SOME 66 TIMES.
Job 3: 11-13 “Why didn’t I die from the womb? Why didn’t I give up the spirit when my mother bore me? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breast, that I should nurse? For now should I have lain down and been quiet. I should have slept, then I would have been at rest . . .
Acts 7:58-60 “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [ Man’s spirit, breath of life, always returns to the Lord at death, as explained in the beginning of this article.] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Daniel 12: 1-2 “ … And there shall be a time of distress, such as has not been from the being of a nation until that time. And at that time, your people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the Book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life …”
John 11:11-13 “… He said to them, Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going that I may awaken him. Then His disciples said, Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover. But Yeshua had spoken about his death…”
1 Cor 15:51-52 Behold, I speak a mystery to you: we shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in a glance of an eye, at the last trumpet; for a trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…”
There are many other verses I could cite, but I’ve made the point that the Bible teaches upon death, which resembles sleep, God’s breath returns to Him and our bodies to the dust.
Now for Scriptures about the Resurrection.
Psalms 17:14-15 likens the resurrection to awakening from sleep!
“O Jehovah, from men of the world whose portion is in this life, and their belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with sons, and will leave their riches to their babes. As for me, in righteousness I will look upon Your face; when I awaken, I shall be satisfied by Your image.”
Isa 26:19 calls the dead who will be resurrected dust-dwellers.
“Your dead ones shall live, my dead body, they shall rise up. Awake and sing, dust dwellers…”
Luke 14: 13-14 says that in the resurrection we will be repaid for righteous acts.
“But when you make a banquet, call the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and then you will be blessed, for they have nothing to repay you. For it will be repaid to you in the resurrection of the just.”
SO WHEN DOES SCRIPTURE SAY THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD WILL HAPPEN?
The resurrection will take place on the LAST DAY, not the last day of this world, but the last day of this world system, on the day Yeshua returns . . . returns to take over.
John 6:39-40 And this is the will of the Father sending Me (Yeshua), that of all that He has given Me, I shall not lose any of it, but shall raise it up in the last day. And this is the will of the One sending Me, that everyone seeing the Son and believing into Him should have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Martha knew when it would happen!
John 11:24 Martha said to Him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day.
So did the writer of Thessalonians.
I Thes 4: 15-16 For we say this to you in the Word of the Lord, that we the living who remain to the coming of the Lord will not at all go before those who have fallen asleep. Because the Lord Himself shall come down from Heaven with a commanding shout of an archangel’s voice, and with God’s trumpet. And the dead in Messiah will rise again first.
There are many things that can be discussed here, but just this one for the moment.
You say “going to heaven before the resurrection is a big fat lie”.
What of Paul and the third heaven.
Your logic does not work in that the description of Abraham’s Bosom and Lazarus and the Rich man were clearly not a parable, as there is a named man. No other parable has a named man. This is a direct example.
And Abraham’s bosom is clearly Paradise ( yes, I know you will say this refers to Heaven, but go and do your homework about Sheol/Hades, and if you approach it with an open and prayer prepared mind, you should come to the conclusion) Paradise mentioned in revelation is because of the agreed/ Persian influence.
Paradise is the Bosom of Abraham that Jesus went into and took up the captives in his train from. Thus, the Thief on the cross was indeed with him that day, as Jesus, Joshua, Jehoshua or any descriptor that you care to give the Glorious Saviour and Lord And Messiah of God, clearly said.
So yes, God can give access to the heavenlies to our Souls at his will, as indeed our Spirits are already there as “we are seated in heavenly places”. I urge you to reframe your whole theology again in much Prayer with the Lord and Fellowship with the Holy Spirit, who is the only Person who can give Revelation!
Paul was not talking about a dead person going to the third heaven, he was talking about someone who was alive and had a supernatural experience.
Regarding Joanne Quinn’s theory about why Yeshua did not allow Maty (Miriam) to touch him before He ascended to the Father, true, He may have waved the souls as a first fruit offering, but I believe that as the Old Testament was a type and shadow of what was to come, that just as the High Priest sprinkled the blood from the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat, so Yeshua sprinkled His Blood on the Mercy Seat in Heaven. He had to be clean /pure to do so and therefore could not be touched by fallen man first. Afterwards, He had fulfilled the requirement of the Torah and the Will of the Father, He is now our intercessor/mediator and has the authority to touch anyone He chooses.
I undertand what you’re saying, but Y’shua never says the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. All other parables He calls that.
Thank you, Joy
I’ve been challenged , but what about Shaul’s statement to desire to be with Master because absent from body, present with Him?
The thinking in Psalms wasn’t concerned with Y’shua being raised.
I, too, read most testimonies on heaven of grown ups and they cannot make up messengers taking iv’s out of them and leaving or the man in car wreck who was dead according to paramedics or the man who went somewhere and saw his son in law who just died and was told by a messenger that he had to come back and tell his story.
When he finished it, he was taken for good.
Or Dr. Eby who fell out a window, died, had no blood, etc. and was brought back to life, or Murdered Heiress, Petty Wagner, who came back to life? Are you saying you think all these people were hallucinating and their witnesses too?
I heard from YHVH to believe Him for anything in these last days.
Irish I had raised up my husband!
Please explain all these. Joy
In reference to the people who rose from the dead when Yeshua rose, you mentioned that they died again because they weren’t raised with their glorified bodies. I’m not sure that that claim can be made conclusively because Matthew doesn’t actually say if they had glorified bodies or not, or if they died again later. It doesn’t really say a whole lot except for the fact that they rose and appeared in Jerusalem. My take on these people, though it can not be validated either, because there is just not enough information given, is this: After Yeshua rose, Mary Magdalene saw Him and when she recognized Him -went to cling to Him but He told her, “Don’t cling to me, for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” (John 20:11-18; quote from verse 17 NLT) That evening He showed Himself to His disciples, but Thomas wasn’t there. Then 8 days later, when Thomas was with them, Yeshua appeared again and He told Thomas to touch Him. (John 20:19-29) So, something changed, first he told Mary not to touch Him since He hadn’t ascended to the Father; then later He told Thomas to touch Him. The book of Hebrews talks about a change in the covenant. The change was in the priesthood. The earthly sacrifices, under the Levitical priesthood could never take away sin, that’s why they had to be made year after year, but now Yeshua is our High Priest representing us in the Heavenly Tabernacle. He died once for all, and His sacrifice doesn’t need to be made again and again. (See the entire book of Hebrews -it’s beautiful!) As our High Priest in the Heavenly Tabernacle, and because He fulfilled the spring feasts during His first coming, I believe He needed to fulfill the wave offering of First Fruits when He rose. It is my belief that He took those people that rose from the dead (most likely in their glorified bodies) to the Heavenly Temple to wave them as a First Fruits offering before the Father, sometime that day (The Day of First Fruits) between when He had spoken to Mary and told her not to touch Him and that evening when He appeared to His disciples. I believe that’s what He had to ascend to the Father to do. Now, as I said, I can’t prove this, because it doesn’t come right out and say that’s what happened, but it sure makes a lot of sense to me that that is what happened, because He had to fulfill those prophetic pictures in the Spring Feasts completely, and He will fulfill the prophetic pictures of the Fall Feasts completely when He comes again. Halleluyah!
I’m just curious how 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 fits in with this line of thought you are sharing? The NIV shares verses 6-9 this way, “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” To me that sounds as though we are with Him as soon as we leave this body. (Being away from this body and being present with the Lord.) What about the people that were raised from the dead when Yeshua rose up from the grave? (Matthew 27: 51-53) I always believed that after His resurrection that things changed as far as His people going to Him after their physical death. He paid the price for our sins, so do we not have access to heaven now? Before His resurrection they were still waiting for their redemption, but now the price for our sins has been paid, so there is no longer that separation. Ah, so many questions! I hope you can help me with these.
While there are hundreds of scriptures in the Bible that teach about the resurrection of the dead, there are NO scriptures that teach that after Yeshua’s resurrection everything changed, and now believers go instantly to heaven. Matter of fact,Yeshua said, “But when you make a banquet, call the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and then you will be blessed, for they have nothing to repay you. For it will be repaid to you in the resurrection…”
Now that was a perfect opportunity for Yeshua to say as soon as you die you will go to heaven and be repaid for your good deeds, after I am resurrected. He didn’t! Likewise, after Yeshua’s ascension, Paul wrote, “In a moment, in a glance of an eye, at the last trumpet; for a trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…”
When the bulk of scripture teaches that upon death man sleeps in the dust until the resurrection, except for ONE verse (absent from the body is present with the Lord) which SEEMS to contradict all the others IF interrupted to mean (A) there is an actual immediate departure for Heaven, when ANOTHER interpretation, one based on scriptural assertions that in death consciousness ceases (Ecc 9:5; Psalms 146:4) UNTIL the resurrection, at which time it will SEEM like in the very moment after death he is present with the Lord, the wise will interrupt Paul’s assertion as (B), for (B) is CONSISTENT with the BULK of Scripture.
We should always look for consistency when studying God’s word. Whenever God has said 100 times not to do something, like eating pork, but a few verses MIGHT be interpreted to indicate it’s now okay, BEWARE! Look for another possibility, one that does not negate the rest of Scripture. ALWAYS GO WITH THE ONE THAT DOES NOT CAUSE CONFLICT! Don’t read your bias into scripture. That said, my take on the verse you mentioned only means that Paul realizes that upon death, his next conscious thought will be in the resurrection. Subjectively for Paul it will be the very next moment of consciousness. Paul was a Pharisee, who believed in the resurrection, and according to Peter some things Paul wrote are hard to understand.
As for the those who came back to life after Yeshua’s resurrection, and even Lazarus, they all died again because they did NOT come back to life in glorified bodies. That was not the resurrection, only miracles. But when Yeshua returns, they will rise from the dead to live forever more with their glorified bodies in the Resurrection.
Yeshua in deed ascended on First Fruits as our High Priest, and as such was not to be touched prior to offering HIMSELF (His blood) just as the earthly High Priest was not to be touched BEFORE entering the Holy of Holies, for according to the LAW that would defile them. But your contention that those who came out of their graves had resurrection bodies and lived forever is PURE CONJECTURE with NO Scriptural backing, and is at odds with what the Bible teaches about when the resurrection will occur, at Yeshua’s return, and that “all” will get their glorified bodies at the same time, except for Yeshua our First Fruits”.
Now I have a question for you. Where are all these people today? Why have we never heard of them? Why have we not heard of Lazarus? Where is the boy that was brought back from the dead by the Prophet in the OT? I will tell you again. Because they were miracles, but NOT the resurrection of the just. All those people died again and will not get glorified bodies until the resurrection at Yeshua’s return . But hey, you go right ahead and believe whatever you like. Yah’s peace be upon you.
What about theose killed for the sake of Messiah, shown in Heaven prior to Yeshua’s return (Revelation)?
What about Paul desiring to be absent from thr body and present with YHVH?
As Matthew 24:9 teaches, Yeshua returns immediately after the tribulation and the resurrection occurs, then there is an undefined period of time in which Yeshua fights the antichrist and his goat nations. It is during this period, right after the resurrection but before Babylon is destroyed, that this scene with the martyrs crying out for vindication occurs.
Before commenting on Paul’s statement that being absent from the body is being present with the Lord, allow me to make a few points.
1. Paul was a Pharisee, and Pharisees believed in the Resurrection occurring “on the last day.”
2. According to Peter (2 Peter 3:16) “Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of scripture.” (And please understand, I am NOT trying to be insulting, just quoting the verse to make my point.)
3. That said, when the bulk of scripture teaches that upon death man sleeps in the dust until the resurrection, except for ONE verse (absent from the body is present with the Lord) which SEEMS to contradict all the others IF interrupted to mean (A) there is an actual immediate departure for Heaven, when another interpretation, one based on scriptural assertions that in death consciousness ceases (Ecc 9:5; Psalms 146:4) until the resurrection, at which time it will SEEM like in the very moment after death he is present with the Lord, a wise man would interrupt Paul’s assertion as (B), for it is CONSISTANT with the BULK of Scripture. In closing, this principal should always apply to studying God’s word. For instance, whenever God has said 100 or more times he hates something, but in a few instances a verse MIGHT be interpreted to indicate he no longer does, BEWARE! Look for another possibility, one that does not negate the rest of Scripture. ALWAYS GO WITH THE ONE THAT DOES NOT CAUSE CONFLICT!
Thank you for your answer. This is very interesting.
It has been a while since I looked at the christian writings, but I remember a story about two dead people, one in ‘hell’ or whatever, and wanting some water from another guy on the ‘good’ side. The story was in the past tense, at least in my memory, so it might not be talking about a future time.
Per your #3 above, wouldn’t this be another pebble against nothingness-until-resurrection? It might not be so overwhelming on one side of the question.
The story you remember and cited above is the parable about Lazarus and the rich man that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. I will repost it below:
“The only other major argument promoting the false belief in an immediate heaven or hell experience comes from a literal interpretation of the parable about Lazarus and the rich man. But this is clearly a parable, not a teaching on heaven and hell. If it were, it would contradict everything Scripture teaches about death and resurrection, teaching instead that:
The righteous dead go to live in Abraham’s bosom.
Those in hell can speak to those in heaven.
A drop of water is expected to relieve their torments in hell.
Ah, thanks. Like I said, it’s been a long while since I’ve read through the christian writings.
Great article on the true state of those who perish. Finally , some clarity to this topic which so many Christians have misconstrued. Appreciate having this laid out so well !