Previously, we discussed how the international body of Messiah perceives heaven, the place where the Heavenly Father established His throne as well as the source wherewith He exercises His sovereign authority over the nations of the earth (for more information, see the study entitled “Heaven”). In this study we discuss how the views of the gentile nations as perceived within their religious assemblies differ from the biblical perspective as perceived by the international body of Messiah by discussing some of the most influential origins that crept in so that we may be cautious as to how these unique views do not overwhelm us from the glorious freedom we now enjoy in Messiah Yeshua.
For quite some time, mankind desired a glorious grandeur in residing within the vast heavenly realm. Some even believed that upon death, the essence of their conscious existence would enter the expanse of the universe by possessing a spiritual, celestial body that reflects the sun’s radiant glory and abides restlessly within the empty vacuum of space.
Unfortunately, this belief is not a new. This belief actually originated from among the idolatrous nations that surrounded the Israeli people. As the nations of the earth accepted the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible, the gentile nations also attempted to use the Bible as the source of their idolatrous belief structures and mesh the two into a new divine revelation. In like manner, the wicked attempted to sneak in false concepts foreign to the Heavenly Father’s standards within the holy assembly of His chosen people, Israel.
Why, then, does the sum of earthly inhabitants believe in going to heaven after death when the Bible really doesn’t express clearly such a thing? According to Scriptures, this idolatrous belief of ascending into heaven and residing therein is in accordance to the worship of their false gods was their allotted portion (reference Deuteronomy 4:19).
Let’s review two cultural examples that were truly distinct from the original biblical authors.
Historically, Egyptian pharaohs led their people to believe that the pharaohs were earthly deities; specifically, spiritual descendants of the Sun god Amman-Re. The Egyptian pharaohs taught their society to believe that they themselves were deities who have taken human form in order to rule among the Egyptians as earthly divinities; in fact, these wicked leaders claimed to belong out in the celestial firmament and taking their residence therein. Most of the Egyptian society accepted their leader's claims and dedicated much of their lives in service to Pharaoh as well as in devout love for their pantheons of Egyptian deities.
In their vain attempts of taking up their celestial residence among the stars and rule as gods, these Egyptian pharaohs had their people construct devices (i.e., pyramids) which would allegedly project the pharaoh's postmortem bodies out on their journey to an ultimate destination, heave. When the Egyptian pharaohs and priests saw that these mechanical devices were not functioning as proposed, they attempted to resolve the problem by inscribing magical incantations on the inner walls of the pyramids and buried their pharaohs with maps and charts that would assure their successful entry into the afterlife as their bodies allegedly rose from death and journeyed to have their coexistence among the stars.
These leaders realized that errors of their ways! These huge, massive structures drew much unwanted attention from thieves at all levels of Egyptian society. Also, the lack of significant evidence led the Egyptian religious system to reinterpret their beliefs, from massive mound-like structures that pierced into the heavens to structures hidden within the earth’s surface, from a literal interpretation to a spiritual, metaphysical definition. The physical evidence, therefore, converted to the Egyptian faith called ma’at. Compared to the vain attempts of the Egyptian leaders of ancient past, mankind recently began reaching the outer reaches of space; however, mankind have not been successful in radiantly glowing as the stars above nor are able to prevent death from ever taking place. Thus, we should be ever mindful of the Scriptures say “[...] though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down” (Amos 9:2).
As you can observe with your own eyes, the remains of many of these pharaohs are displayed in public. In their days, these pharaohs would not have entertained the idea that their bodies would be displayed as a public spectacle for their ancestors to view. Granted, they left a treasure trove of culture for many of us to admire today; however, their belief of ascending into heaven and ruling as gods proved the falsehood of such vain ideologies. Their end was not what many suspected and believed so adamantly.
The Egyptians weren't the only idolatrous nation who believed in one day ascending into heaven and taking their residence among the stars to rule as gods.
Historically, the Greek and the Roman concepts of ascending into heaven are not unique, either. They too taught their people this vain philosophy within their religious cultural centers too. They took the idea of ascending into heaven and turned them into many fables that we now known as “The Signs of The Horoscope.” Many of the Greeks and Romans depended on the false priests' abilities to read the signs of the stars to help the impoverished make the most foolish decisions for their own devastation. Believing that they were doing the will of their deities, many battles, travels and finances came to a complete utter lost.
Take, for example, the star constellation Cancer. According to Greek myth, the crab (i.e., Cancer) was sent on a mission by the goddess Hera to fight Hercules. The crab's complete total submission to this pagan goddess' discretion to the point of death allegedly earned his favor with the goddess. As the myth entails, Hera transfigured the dead crab’s body into a culmination of celestial bodies observable from the earth, a cluster of stars now known as one of the twelve Zodiac signs. To generalize, the concept of “ascending into heaven” was coined within the Greek pagan system and later adopted by Roman society. The belief of ascending into heaven was in the literal context of being adjoined to the clusters of stars out in the regions of space, the heavens; thus, many of both the Greek and Roman culture did what their religious leaders demanded of them without any question in adamant demonstration and love to their deities and obedience to their masters.
Whenever the comparison is made between what the Bible says in contrast to the already existing philosophy of the Greco-Roman now known as the present majority of Christian philosophies, the difference vary greatly. Much is based on spiritual interpretation of Scriptures forgetting what the Bible itself says: “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from Elohim” (2 Peter 2:1:20-1). For the most part, many believe in these idolatrous notions without ever knowing that they stem literally, not from Scriptures but, from foreign cultural practices unfamiliar to the Israeli people. They too struggle in finding the true meaning of Scriptures and result in their own personal visions, dreams and experience without ever finding the true biblical Scriptures to support their claims like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans once did.
Let's conclude this study with some final thoughts.
Many are under the impression that if they live good lives as they subject themselves to their spiritual guides, they themself will ascend into heaven. If the Bible enthusiast was to search Scriptures and read every single verse that contains the term "heaven" or "heavens," they will soon discover that this was not the Heavenly Father's original plan. They themselves may not truly appreciate Yeshua's sermon when he spoke the words, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5, KJV). If anything, we advise, "So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those Elohim has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away" (2 Peter 1:10).
© 2014 by Nehr HaOlam Publications.
Winslow, New Jersey, USA
All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
For more information, contact NehrHaOlam@gmail.com.
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