There are several testimonies with people claiming to have been to heaven or hell. Are their description of heaven or hell real? In this post we will explore these claims and discern the truth.
Heaven is God’s throne
There are some basic fundamentals of the very nature of our God, that God is Spirit – which we must fully understand to discern these type of claims.
- God is Spirit who doesn’t sit on any literal throne.
The LORD [is] in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne [is] in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.Ps 11:4
When prophets sing praises of God, they sing about His throne which is in Heaven.
Thus says the LORD: “Heaven [is] My throne, And earth [is] My footstool. Where [is] the house that you will build Me? And where [is] the place of My rest?Isa 66:1
However, when God Himself speaks, He converts the entire heaven as His throne.
None had gone to heaven
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, [that is,] the Son of Man who is in heaven.John 3:13
Jesus declares that no one has ascended to heaven but He came down from heaven. This includes the patriarchs who are not in heaven but will be resurrected when He comes again (Mark 12:24-27). Also, the place where the good reside after death is referred not as heaven but as the paradise of God (Luke 23:43) – which itself is a reference to the allegorical garden of Eden mentioned several times by Christ (Luke 23:43; Rev 2:7).
What about heavenly experiences?
There are two motives or reasons for testimonies about heaven or hell related experiences.
- Seeking publicity / financial gains (E.g, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven)
- True experiences
As we saw earlier, no one can go to heaven. Nor there is any throne where God who is Spirit had to sit physically. Throne of God and throne of Christ are symbols of authority, not physical seats to sit. Hence, when someone tells a story about their trip to heaven or hell, one of the most important point to look for is the message that was conveyed (which may be from God) and the rest of the imagery about heaven or hell is just their mental projection of what heaven or hell looks like or what to be. When God wants to convey a message which involves heaven or hell, He doesn’t take them there but use their own understanding of heaven and hell to deliver His message.
- four six-winged seraphim (or winged-serpents) above the throne of God ( Isa 6:1-2)
- four four-faced and four-winged cherubim around the throne of God (Ezekiel 1, 10)
- four six-winged animals and human like creatures around the throne of God (Rev 4:6)
What’s going on? Is God keep changing those who are around His throne? No, these are the mental projection of what the throne of God looks like for the prophets based on what they had seen in cultures of their time. Cherubim are mythological hybrids which are common in Ancient Near East who are usually guardians for a king or deity. E.g, Sphinx in Egypt, Babylonian lamassu.
None of the recent visions or dreams in modern days by anyone regarding the throne of God don’t have any of these strange winged creatures or serpents around the throne of God because mythological cherubim are alien to modern societies. Further, no one can see anything in their vision or dream which they haven’t seen before. E.g, a born blind person can never have dreams or visions of any picture but sounds (or) a color blinded person will only dream or see visions in black and white. The same is true with people who claim to have gone to heaven. Except the message (if they are truly from God), the rest of the imagery are all their mental projections.
Heaven is the throne of God and no one had ascended to heaven ever. The creatures around the throne of God, which are common in ancient near eastern societies, keeps changing according to different period in Israel’s history. None of the recent visions or dreams in modern days by anyone regarding the throne of God don’t have any of these strange winged creatures or serpents around the throne of God because mythological cherubim are alien to modern societies. Except the message (if they are truly from God), the rest of the imagery are all their mental projections. Hence, our focus must only be discerning the message of the vision or the experience, not the description of heaven or hell. In most cases, the vision or the experience which God gives is only to those who received it and it doesn’t make sense to others.