Posted in theology

Peeking into ‘the other side’- Two Questions (part 2)

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Last week I wrote three times about heaven. What We Have to Look Forward To, Where Is Heaven?, and, The Tree of Life and 12 Fruits each Month? With all the darkness in the world, I needed a spiritual bath and to bask in God’s pureness and His holy habitation!

I’d wondered about two questions. The first was, can the unsaved get a glimpse into the other side by means of divination? They seem to do it all the time. The true and biblical answer of course, was NO. That essay is here.

If the unsaved cannot look up to see what is happening in heaven, then, can those in heaven look down and see what is going on here on earth? This was the second question I’ll address today. The Bible isn’t totally crystal on this, but probably the answer is no.

John MacArthur addressed this question, “Do those in heaven know what is happening on earth?” He dealt with “the rare and unusual occurrence” of Saul’s interaction with the Witch of Endor, (1 Samuel 28), and the issue of the parable with Lazarus in Sheol. He debunked the Hebrews 12:1 issue by placing it in context and explaining it biblically, saying this-

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)

The witnesses in that verse are not modern-day loved ones, but the faithful saints in Hebrews 11 who lived victorious lives by trusting God. Those saints are witnesses to us because their lives testify about the value of trusting God no matter what hardships we face. They are active witnesses who speak to us by their example; not passive witnesses who watch us with their eyes.

Consequently, when we understand Hebrews 12:1 in its context, we realize that it doesn’t really support the idea that our loved ones are watching us from heaven. Our comfort comes not from knowing they can see us, but that they can see Jesus and one day we will see Him with them as well-never to be separated again.

GotQuestions asks and answers that question, too, here, and exegetes the verse Hebrews 12:1 to say, no, that is not what the verse is telling us. They conclude with this, “The Bible doesn’t specifically say that people in heaven cannot look down on us, so we can’t be dogmatic. However, it is unlikely that they can. People in heaven are likely preoccupied with other things such as worshiping God and enjoying the glories of heaven.

But, people have asked, doesn’t the ‘silence in heaven for half an hour’ recorded in Revelation 8:1 when Jesus breaks the 7th seal, mean that people in heaven know what is happening on earth? That they are following the events of the Great Tribulation as recorded in Revelation, in real time? GotQuestions muses on three possible reasons, but none of the three reasons indicate a sure knowledge that people in heaven are watching earth as if from a balcony.

Albert Barnes in his Commentary notes explains Revelation 8:1 in a way that makes sense, “The meaning here is, that on the opening of this seal, instead of voices, thunderings, tempests, as perhaps was expected from the character of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12 ff), and which seemed only to have been suspended for a time Revelation 7, there was an awful stillness, as if all heaven was reverently waiting for the development. Of course this is a symbolical representation, and is designed not to represent a pause in the events themselves, but only the impressive and fearful nature of the events which are now to be disclosed.

I’m not sure why anyone would want to watch earth, when they can see Jesus, watch the holy angels, and participate in heaven’s activities! There is no comparison.

If you want to be sure you’re acting in a holy manner pleasing to God, and are curious about the other side, and are saved, read the Word of God to see what He has revealed in it. Then when you depart this life and go to heaven, you will know for sure about the extent to which we can ‘look down’ (or not) and see earth.

We regenerated believers have a duty to those who are so obviously curious, so obviously searching for hope of another life after death. Jesus called us to be His ambassadors and witnesses. We have the HOPE and we have the TRUTH. Let’s share it far and wide. Those whom the Lord will open their ears to hear, He will open. For, how will they believe unless they have heard? Romans 10.

Further resources

John Wesley- (sermon) The Almost Christian

Matthew Mead- (pdf) The Almost Christian Discovered

CARM- (essay) Why Write about Wicca?

Ligonier- (devotional) Two Men, Two Kingdoms (Simon the Sorcerer)

Compelling Truth- (essay) Can People in Heaven Look Down and See us on Earth?

Podcast listing: season 2, Episode 260


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.