By Elizabeth Prata
Some believe that the souls in heaven have absolutely, not one iota of a visual of what is happening down below (John MacArthur). Others, for example, Catholics, (a false religion) think that the souls in heaven hear our prayers and intercede and even visit down below. The Catholic stance, I believe, has led to the popular culture’s opinion that the souls in the heavenlies are “looking down on us”. Certainly their false notion that we can pray to the dead saints and they will intercede for us adds to the misperception. Let’s explore this a bit more. Do dead saints know or see what is happening on earth?
In my opinion, there is a split between what the dead know and what the dead see. I believe that dead saints in heaven have knowledge of what is happening, and then there’s a second idea, do the dead saints see what is happening. They have knowledge of what is happening, because when we die and go to heaven, we will be glorified and have full knowledge of His word. If it is the time of the Tribulation, for example, we will know that the Lord is rendering judgment on the world because we will know the Word says that’s what happens after the rapture.
I think we may not actually have a window view of what is happening, that the dead will not be seeing it. But we will know about it.
As I mentioned, I think Revelation verses indicate the souls in heaven know something of what is happening down below during the Tribulation, at least, a time like no other that ever was or shall ever be. To what extent we will be having a window on the world, it is unclear and unknown. Since the Bible doesn’t say we can see what is happening or we can’t see what is happening, we cannot state equivocally one way or another, either.
I do think we will have some knowledge of what’s happening, because Revelation depicts saints praising Him (Revelation 5:13), we cry out to Him (Revelation 6:10), and we are awed into silence (Revelation 8:1). It will be a unique time, so I think it’s reasonable to say that we will participate at least as far as fuller knowledge of what’s happening on earth than in previous eras, if not having a window to look down and view it.
If we are translated to heaven before the rapture and Tribulation, I don’t think we will know what is going on down on earth very much at all. When we’re in heaven we are fully relieved of sin and are fully enjoying communion with the most perfect, holy, transcendent God. Ultimately, I think that we will be so preoccupied with the honor and glory of God that the things of earth will pale in comparison – and interest.
An old time preacher, J. Vernon McGee said, and I was in the car when I heard it so this is a close paraphrase,
The John who leaned familiarly against Jesus’ bosom at supper, is the same John who fell to his face as if dead when he saw the glorified Jesus. (Revelation 1:17). People say, ‘Oh when I get to heaven I am going to visit with Jesus and thank Him, but friends, when we get there we will probably spend the first million years on our faces.’
So maybe the question isn’t ‘will see see what is happening on earth after we’re dead?’, but ‘why would we want to?’