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February 15, 2011

Heaven, Hell, or Olam HaBa?

Pick One

Pick One by mes114 on

I admire (and accept) what Jewish thought has to say regarding eternity. The idea of Heaven or Hell is not a disturbing or daunting question for them. Heaven after death is not a matter of ultimatums. By this, I mean Jews do not understand Heaven and Hell under a Christian idea of "If you don't believe __, then hell, if you do believe __, heaven". 

They are concerned with serving God now, as God has commanded them in the Scriptures, not concerned with "Olam Ha-Ba" or "the world to come". It is simply not a matter of concern, because Jews admit that we cannot know for certain what is beyond this life, and even if we knew, we do not have the ability to determine our destiny, anyway. 

What is beautiful about Jewish thought about the Afterlife is that they do not submit to God because of a fear of entering Hell, but from pure love of God and desire to follow his commands. There is no means to an end for them, (in contrast to Christian ideology that says if you believe in Jesus, you will go to Heaven, therefore believing in Jesus would be a means to an end)  They believe, what is the point of musing about something we cannot determine for certain? We do not know or have absolute proof about what will happen in eternity; we can only speculate. So let us live our physical existence in the best, most just, caring, loving way possible. Let us live the existence we were made to live, and trust that if we do this, God will take care of the rest.

What is our earthly life if all we are seeking is some Heaven that we don't know anything about? Humanity is created essentially for earth. That is an obvious fact. We are physical-we eat, sleep, laugh, have intercourse, converse, and so forth. We have bones, breath, and bowels. So if God created man to live on earth, and our sole purpose in existence on earth is to help others "secure" what is beyond this life, then what the hell (pun intended) is life?

I believe in Olam Ha-Ba. I do hope it is true. But I say, "Enough!" to living for what is mere speculation that we have absolutely no control over either way.

We are of this world, so let's live in it the best way possible. 


Teresa said...

Hi, Sasha! This is Teresa. I haven't seen you and Cody for a while. It's good to know you are doing well.
I saw your blog on fb (Pastor Jim has one, I never have gotten my own page.) Thought I'd throw out some thoughts.
What you said reminded me of an old song that says, "If that's all there is, my friend, then let's keep dancing. Let's bring out the booze and have a ball...if that's all there is."
I am so very thankful that this life is NOT all there is! There was a sect of the Jews back in Jesus' day called "Sadducees". They did not believe in any life after death (resurrection), either. Mark 12:18. Jesus told a little of what Heaven would be like.
Another thought is: to live for Christ in this life can be hard. Look at all the martyrs through the ages. If there is no Heaven and no hell, they stood for their convictions that meant nothing. They basically threw their lives away. The disciples all (except for Judas, of course) all proclaimed the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in spite of the opposition they faced. They all died a martyrs death, except for John, and he was boiled in oil because he would not renounce His Lord, then because he did not die, he was banished to the island of Patmos. As you know, that's where he wrote the Book of Revelation.
Paul suffered all kinds of things for His Lord and he writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19 "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."
The Lord God didn't make hell for men, it was intended for the devil and his angels. But when men chose to rebel against God, the just and holy God had no choice but to sentence sinful man to hell. But He knew beforehand that we would all go our own way, and that's why the Plan of Salvation to redeem us back was laid and followed through. Yes, I do believe in a literal devil. Isaiah tells that he used to be an angel who praised God until he rose against God.
Because of Heaven and Hell, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. We can be God's child when we confess our sin and turn from it to the Savior. We can know Him personally. No matter what we go through here in life He will give us joy (as we live in His presence. The farther away from Him we are, the less joy we have. Psalm 16:11)
Thanks for "listening" to me. It's good to hear your thoughts. Even though we may believe differently, we can agree that love is a great connector.
In Christian Love,

Steve Whicker said...

Hi Sasha! Interesting post. You are picking up on an overemphasis on one aspect of the gospel - heaven. However, I think there is one big idea missing. The gospel is not primarily about heaven or hell. Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full - he came to redeem us - to forgive us...all so that our relationship with the Father could be restored. Eternal life is not primarily about a location but a relationship. Jesus gave us a clear definition of eternal life in John 17:3. "This is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." From Genesis 3, our biggest problem is not that we are going to hell, but that our relationship with God has been fractured by our sin (which will result in eternal death - hell). The focus of the Scriptrues and the purpose of the Messiah is to bring restoration to our relationship with the Father. The ministry of Jesus was about reconciliation (see the connection between Isaiah 59:2,2 Cor. 5:18, 5:21 and 1 Peter 3:18). Christ's work of reconciliation means we can truly know the Father and have a relationship with Him thus giving us eternal life. Our relationship with Him will last for eternity with Him dwelling with us in the new creation (Revelation 21:1-4). The gospel is about God - heaven is a "byproduct". This is the good news!
Give it some thought,
Pastor Steve