What Happens to us when we Die?
Shalom Mishpacha! I pray that you are all walking more closely to Yeshua than you were this time last week (I know that can be a struggle at times!) and I hope that as we are all being tested, we have firm faith and strength from on High.
Today we are jumping into the final week of our Christian Mythology Series. We have explored a handful of teachings in depth, some of them myths, some traditions, and some of them beliefs that are long-standing in the Body of Christ and within the Church. Some of them are Biblically based, although misunderstood, and some of them are not based on the word of YHVH at all. There are a lot of deeply held ideas within the Church community, and we have searched the scriptures to uncover the roots of some of these persistent ideologies, even debunking some of them. Thank you so much for your questions and inquiries during this series– I am better for having searched these things out with you!
While it might seem like an abrupt way to start a conversation, I wanted to get everything out in the open so that we can actually have an honest dialogue about this. The scriptures do tell us several things about Heaven and Hell- and today we are going to unpack those things.
OK… So what happens to us when we die? Without further adieu, I think it’s best to just put this one out on the table because it is one of- if not the – most widely and dearly held beliefs that is just not based in scripture. We do not go to Heaven when we die. Our dogs and cats and hamsters don’t go to heaven when they die. Aunt Matilda didn’t go to Heaven when she died. So, what did happen? Where are they?
Let’s ask the Yeshua what happened to Him when He died. Incidentally, He told us before it even happened so we have a little glimpse into the after life.
Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Now, let’s look at what the scriptures and other ancient writings tell us about “the heart of the earth”. The Hebrew word that is used to describe this is Sh’eol. Dictionaries – Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology describes Sh’eol as such:
“Sheol, ” refers to the grave or the abode of the dead ( Psalms 88:3 Psalms 88:5 ). Through much of the Old Testament period, it was believed that all went one place, whether human or animal ( Psalms 49:12 Psalms 49:14 Psalms 49:20 ), whether righteous or wicked ( Eccl 9:2-3 ). No one could avoid Sheol ( Psalm 49:9 ; 89:48 ), which was thought to be down in the lowest parts of the earth ( Deut 32:22 ; 1 Sam 28:11-15 ; Job 26:5; Psalm 86:13 ; Isa 7:11 ; Ezekiel 31:14-16 Ezekiel 31:18 ).
Unlike this world, Sheol is devoid of love, hate, envy, work, thought, knowledge, and wisdom ( Ecclesiastes 9:6 Ecclesiastes 9:10 ). Descriptions are bleak: There is no light ( Job 10:21-22 ; 17:13 ; Psalms 88:6 Psalms 88:12 ; 143:3 ), no remembrance ( Psalm 6:5 ; 88:12 ; Eccl 9:5 ), no praise of God ( Psalm 6:5 ; 30:9 ; 88:10-12 ;115:17 ; Isa 38:18 ) — in fact, no sound at all ( Psalm 94:17 ; 115:17 ). Its inhabitants are weak, trembling shades ( Job 26:5 ; Psalm 88:10-12 ; Isa 14:9-10 ) who can never hope to escape from its gates ( Job 10:21 ; 17:13-16 ; Isa 38:10 ). Sheol is like a ravenous beast that swallows the living without being sated ( Prov 1:12 ;27:20 ; Isa 5:14 ).
So, it is rather plainly laid out in both accepted theological thought and in many references in scripture that Sh’eol is simply the place that ALL people travel to upon shuffling off this mortal coil. When we begin to look at the translation of the Hebrew “Sh’eol” into Greek we get “Hades”. “Hades” is then translated into English, and we get “Hell”. All these words are, in fact, describing the same place. So, you see from this that we do not go to Heaven when we die. We go to Sh’eol/Hades/Hell. Everyone does. Yeshua did. This is what He was referring to when He spoke about Jonah. We go into Sh’eol and we sleep, awaiting the resurrection.
But what about the thief on the cross? Didn’t Yeshua tell Him that He would be accompanying The Messiah in Paradise? Let’s look at that more closely. Again, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary, and Bible Study Tools puts it this way:
Paradise: Persian loanword for “an area enclosed by a wall” or “garden.” Its three uses in the Hebrew Bible ( Neh 2:8 ; Eccl 2:5 ; Sol 4:13 ) retain this meaning. The Septuagint uses the Greek paradeisos [paravdeiso”] for the garden of Eden in Genesis (called the “garden of God” in Isa 51:3 ; and Ezek 28:13 ).
The intertestamental literature completes the transition of the word to a religious term. Human history will culminate in a divine paradise. Since Israel had no immediate access to the garden at history’s origin or conclusion, paradise, sometimes called Abraham’s Bosom, was associated with the realm of the righteous dead awaiting the resurrection of the body.
The New Testament understands paradise in terms of its Jewish heritage. In Luke 23:43 Jesus promises the penitent thief: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The intermediate state was transformed by Jesus’ emphasis on being with him “today.” No longer is paradise just an anticipatory condition awaiting the messianic presence at the end of the age. Those who die in faith will “be with Christ” ( Php 1:23 ). The dead in Christ will not experience life diminished, but life enhanced, as Jesus’ words to Martha in John 11:23-26 imply.
According to Revelation 2:7, the overcoming church will eat from the tree of life in the eschatological garden. Sin and death through redemption are now cast out of human experience. The way is open for the faithful to return to the garden of God. Paradise is the Christian’s final home. https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/paradise/
We can figure out, then, that Yeshua was telling the thief that because everyone sleeps in Sh’eol and therefore has no memory, that he will be unable to determine any real length of time before he “wakes up” at the end of the age, glorified body and all, in the presence of Yeshua. It will be like it was happening “later today” for the thief, and not thousands of years in the future.
But some might say, “Hell is eternal punishment reserved for the wicked! YHVH says so!”
My response to that is this: If we have a loving Elohim, WHY on EARTH would He relegate all the wicked people in existence to a place of eternal fire, pain, and judgement? Frankly, that does not sound right. Assuming the popular idea that we are born into total depravity, irreparably corrupt, and UNABLE to correctly obey YHVH from the word go, then doesn’t it seem more than just a little cruel that YHVH would punish people that He has both known and loved FOREVER because they were unable to do what He said? For more information that will help you better understand why this is false doctrine, please see my teaching on “The Doctrine of Original Sin” also in the Christian Mythology Series.
Then you might ask, if Yeshua tells us several times that the wicked are thrown outside with the weeping and gnashing of teeth, where is that if it’s not Hell, and what is their final destination?
OK, Let’s look at the verse on “weeping and gnashing”:
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. (41) The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (42) They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth….(49) “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous (50) and throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We also see the use of this phrase a few other places in scripture: Matthew (8:12; 22:13; 24:51 & 25:30) and Luke (13:28).
This is actually describing the state of the wicked upon realizing their fate apart from YHVH. Remember that He says that He makes the sun shine on the wicked and the righteous (Matthew 5) and that every eye will see Him and that all the nations of the Earth will mourn (Matthew 24). Yeshua here is telling us that those who are judged and found to be wicked will finally understand the gift that they’ve thrown away by not believing and the gravity of that will finally hit them. They will be so distraught that they will weep. The gnashing of teeth, on the other hand, is not an action of the wicked who are now in great agony over their earthly choices. No, the gnashing, in this context, is being used to describe the state of the Almighty. He is gnashing His teeth in agony and wrath just before destroying the wicked because of their earthly choices. It is the face of a Father who tried everything to love His children who refused to be His. Brothers and Sisters, we really need to understand this. We are created in the image of the Mighty Living Elohim– not total irrevocable corruption. Not broken, just stubborn and full of pride- but absolutely redeemable. YHVH would never be OK with discarding His most prized parts of creation into a state of eternal torture. That is not the heart of the Father.
The Bible tells us that Yeshua swallowed the grave (Sh’eol). It tells us that “The Gates Of Hell (Sh’eol) shall not prevail against the church.” and that Death and Hades (Sh’eol) were all thrown into the Lake of Fire and destroyed. Let’s piece this together. When Messiah returns, He will destroy death, sin, and the grave that was once used to house the dead- because we will be glorified and forever living, while those who were wicked are thrown into the Lake of Fire along with death and Sh’eol. They are annihilated. They simply cease to be. There is no room for them, or their memory in the New Jerusalem, and YHVH shows them MERCY by wiping them out completely. We will live forever–and the gates of the grave, hell, will no longer hold sway over the church. With these points then, we can easily understand that not only is Hell NOT a place where the wicked go to be punished because of YHVH’s wrath, but also that it is NOT eternal. But what about Heaven?
Why do so many people believe that good people go to heaven when they die?
It stands to logical reason that only those who are actually deemed righteous by Yeshua would even be allowed into a place like Heaven- but our standard of who is “good” is not YHVH’s standard. The idea that “good” people might go up into the clouds and play harps with cherubs is simply false. Redeemed people- the remnant, His Lost Sheep- are the only ones who will spend any time with Him, much less eternity. But Where?
We have already discussed that when someone passes on, they simply go into Sh’eol and await the resurrection- so they don’t go to eternal damnation. But they don’t go to Heaven either. In fact, The Bible tells us that No one has ever been to Heaven (John 3:13), except the one who came down from Heaven- that is Yeshua. So, where so we go? HOME! We go home.
Remember that Yeshua said in the Beatitudes that the meek shall inherit the Earth (Matthew 5) ? And then later He talked about the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21)? And He made mention of the fact that this Heaven and this Earth will pass away and be burned up in the fire, that it will melt away with fervent heat (2 Peter 3)…but then- just like in the days of Noah (Matthew 24) – that the Heavens and the Earth would be recreated (Psalm 162, Isaiah 65). Yep… that’s where we will be.
Revelation 21:1-8 says: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
There are many places in the pages of the Bible that tell us plainly that there will both be a New Jerusalem, and that we will live there with Yeshua forever in our glorified bodies. Why would anyone believe that we go to Heaven then? Bad theology Brothers and Sisters. We need to be doing our own research and reading the word.
Revelation 21:23-25 says this: And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
We have talked in several other places on this blog about the fact that Yeshua is the Torah made flesh (John 1:14) . He is our lamp, our light, and the way. Think about this. The above verse tells us that in the New Jerusalem Yeshua will be our lamp and by His light we will walk- we will walk in the light of The Torah after Messiah, in the way that He walks. Finally, we will be home, and following the way we were meant to. And because of this, there will be no need to shut the gates of the city for the Sabbath Day because we will be in the eternal Sabbath rest with our King.
So there you have it Brothers and Sisters. We do not go to either Heaven or Hell when we depart from this Earthly realm. We sleep. We wait. And when we awake, we will see the Messiah for who He really is- whether that is your most amazing dream or your worst nightmare depends on what choices you make while you are here.
If you have not given your life to Yeshua, if you are undecided, spiritually unresolved, or otherwise full of questions- please reach out to me. I would love so much to talk with you about these things, and pray with you. I hope this teaching is an eye opener and a blessing for you. Shalom and Blessings for you and your families!