Heaven and Hell - Real Places?
Ask any child where the devil lives and their answer will be that the devil lives in hell. Their description of the devil will be that he is red with black trim, has horns and a long tail, carries a pitchfork, and loves to torture bad little children. Children are not born with these ridiculous beliefs, they learn them from ignorant adults. Many use this fear of the devil to persuade children to behave. Be good or you will go to the devil! It is apparently very important to instill fear at an early age since this is the basis for many of our religions. In actuality, hell is not the home of the devil, his domain is the earth. Hell is going to be the eternal prison of the devil:
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)
As for his appearance, the devil or Satan, masquerades as an angel of light:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (II Corinthians 11:13-14)
So Satan's description and home as taught to children by most adults is totally fictional when compared to the truth of the Bible. It becomes even more absurd when Santa and the Easter Bunny are interjected. Here are two concepts which children truly want to believe! Once again, adults use these myths to bribe good behavior from children. Good little children receive lots of toys from Santa Claus.
Theologians and churches state that Santa and the Easter Bunny have absolutely no association with their religions. Really? Is it coincidence that Santa Claus appears on Christmas and the Easter Bunny on Easter, the two holiest of Christian holidays? Children make the association! If parents proclaim to their children that these myths are true, they lose much credibility when the children learn otherwise. If mommy and daddy lied about Santa and the Easter Bunny, perhaps they are not totally truthful about the existence of God either. Children are supposed to believe in a God they cannot see and be good to get to heaven. They are told to believe in Him on faith, but faith in their main source of learning has been shaken. Perhaps when they get older they will be told there is no God just like Santa and the Easter Bunny. Thus, another of Satan's tricks has succeeded!
Ask any child where heaven is located and they will invariably point up. Ask them where hell is and they will point down toward the earth. A few short years later they are taught science in school and learn that the earth is round and rotates on its axis. Therefore, when they point up or down toward the earth and sky; twelve hours later when they point up or down they can be pointing as much as 180 degrees in the opposite direction! What can that mean? Were the teachings about heaven or hell incorrect? Perhaps they really meant that hell in located in the earth, or below us, and heaven is up there away from the earth, or above us.
After leaving home and surviving day-to-day by their own wits for a few years it is an easy progression that hell is truly here on earth. Whereas heaven is obviously somewhere else! Heaven is far up there away from the earth, greatly separated from the earth. The truth is that no human knows the location of heaven and hell. Of course, no one desires to admit their ignorance, so we point up or down, which is sufficiently vague to allow for many interpretations. Since man does not know, he points up and down. The only possible indication of the location of hell in the Bible is that it is in "outer darkness:"
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 22:13)
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)
Terms such as "cast" and "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" imply that these verses are references to hell:
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
If these verses do refer to hell, then hell is located in outer darkness. But what does "outer darkness" mean? If the universe is infinite, one can travel from any point in the universe infinitely in any direction and never reach the end of the universe. Consequently, outer and inner have no meaning to mankind as locations within our universe. "Outer darkness" could indicate the state of death. That is, the darkest of dark, without any light or cognizance. After all, the dead know not anything:
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing... (Ecclesiastes 9:5)
Indeed, "outer darkness" is a good description of hell as regards man, since all men cast into hell are quickly burned to death. This is their second death and the end of their existence forever -- thus outer darkness!
On a smaller scale, we can create our own "heaven" and "hell" here on earth. More people seem to lean toward the creation of their own hell as opposed to heaven, "Life is hell!" Then there are the rare few who could be happy living on death row. The Texas "pickaxe murderer" Carla Faye Tucker claimed to have become a Christian on death row. Appearing on television shortly before her execution she was full of life and apparently happy, always with a beautiful smile. Her desire was to live and minister to other prisoners. The "Son of Sam" serial killer, David Berkowitz, claims to be a "born again Christian." He is happier and saner than he ever was outside of prison. Many others turn to the Islamic faith or other religions while in prison. Are these so called "death row conversions" real, or are they simply publicity stunts and efforts to please parole boards and authorities?
Many would not agree with my thoughts on this topic. I not only believe that most of them are sincere, I believe they are to be expected! These are the humans one should expect to seek God. Man has to be severely beaten down if he is ever to admit that his way is wrong. How much lower can one go than to be locked in a small cage, with every necessity of life under other people's control, awaiting their early death? You are no longer in control of your life. Is it any wonder that these people seek help from a higher authority? They have finally realized that what they have been doing is not working!
While some who have lost all control over their lives can be happy and cheerful, many of the unhappiest people I've ever known claim to be Christians! These Christians have all the physical items which should make their life fulfilling, yet they are obviously miserable. Belief in the immortal soul myth as instilled in them by Satan and their clergy at an early age causes them a lifetime of worry and misery. They worry about their family and friends possibly suffering in hellfire eternally. Oh what could I do to save them? Christian mothers constantly worry about where their children will spend their "eternity." In many instances this constant anxiety is carried over into their daily activities. Many cannot make a decision without worrying whether or not it was right or wrong!
Although we can create our own personal "heaven" or "hell" here on earth regardless of our circumstances, what about the larger question? Are heaven and hell real places? The answer to that question according to the Bible is definitely yes. The Bible specifically mentions heaven and hell as real places where beings can go. There are numerous verses indicating that hell is a real place:
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:30)
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Luke 12:5)
Hell is in existence presently. The only "inmates" currently are the angels which sinned:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; (II Peter 2:4)
Four words were translated from the original scriptures as hell in the King James Version of the Bible. They are:
Hades and Sheol - The Hebrew word sheol in the Old Testament corresponds to the Greek word Hades in the New Testament.
Gehenna - This Greek word referred to the garbage dump in the valley of Hinnon outside of Jerusalem. Fires were maintained constantly in the dump to burn garbage and prevent disease. Thus the association of Gehenna hell with everlasting fire.
Tartaroo - This Greek word is found only once in the Bible in 2 Peter 2:4. It means to throw into or imprison in Tartarus. Tartarus was thought of by the Greeks as a subterranean place lower than Hades where divine punishment was administered upon fallen angels:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartaroo), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; (II Peter 2:4)
If these four words refer to hell, one might assume that in all occurrences they would be translated as hell. That is not the case. Sheol for example, is translated thirty-one times as "hell," thirty-one times as "grave," and three times as "pit" in the King James Version of the Bible. Therefore, it is obvious that the translators allowed their understanding of the context in which the original words were used to sway their word selection in the translated version.
The word heaven is used as a noun throughout the Bible. That is, it is a real place:
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven... (Matthew 5:45)
Our Father which art in heaven... (Matthew 6:9)
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
And no man hath ascended up to heaven... (John 3:13)
The English language has two meanings for the word heaven or heavens. One is the abode of God and the other is the space around the earth. The space shuttle can transport one up into the heavens but not to heaven. The context in which the word is used must be considered when determining its meaning. For example:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
This verse indicates that the earth and its associated atmosphere shall pass away. Consider the following two verses:
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:13)
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (II Kings 2:11)
It is obvious that both of these verses cannot be true if both references to "heaven" refer to the home of God. Therefore, for both of these verses to be true, Elijah would have to be taken up into the sky by a whirlwind to another part of the earth, and not up to heaven where God resides. The first verse states that no man has ascended up to heaven except Jesus, the Son of Man. No man would include Elijah. Therefore, Elijah went up by a whirlwind into the sky or atmosphere. In addition, if heaven is away from the earth, Second Kings 2:11 is a physical impossibility as translated in the King James Bible! That is, whirlwinds only exist in atmospheres. Whirlwinds cannot occur or travel in the vacuum of space. Therefore, one could not travel through the vacuum of space in a whirlwind to another location. Second Kings 2:11 would better be translated as:
And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into the heavens.
Elijah's mission was completed at that location and his life was in danger as he had angered powerful religious leaders. So God transported him to a safer earthly location through the atmosphere via a whirlwind.
Proceed to the next chapter.
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