Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
"Heaven" Is Not the Christian's Destination
Greek philosophy promoted the pagan idea that there is an immortal soul or spirit in every human being which survives in full consciousness after death. This false premise led in its turn to a post-mortem conscious state for the dead, contradicting the Bible teaching that "the dead know nothing at all...There is no activity in the grave to which we are all going" (see Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). The Christian Israelite who dies falls asleep, falls into unconsciousness. It is a state of nonexistence which will, thank YEHOVAH God, be reversed at the resurrection of the dead from the dust of the ground (Daniel 12:2).
by HOIM Staff
"Heaven" is everywhere in popular religion declared to be the goal of the faithful Israelites. Heaven is imagined as a place far removed from our planet earth. One leading evangelist, Billy Graham, has spoken of our Christian destiny in heaven as "polishing rainbows" and "preparing heavenly dishes."  Many intelligent people would find "polishing rainbows" interminably boring! The biblical teaching is very different.
Good New Testament scholars are frequently not heeded. The late J. A. T. Robinson, professor of New Testament at Cambridge, went on record as saying with conviction:
"Popular speculation is focused rather on the question 'With what body will [believers] go, that is to heaven.' Heaven is never in fact used in the Bible for the destination of the dying ...The reading of 1 Corinthians 15 at funerals reinforces the impression that this chapter is about the moment of death: in fact it revolves around two points, 'the third day' and 'the last day.'" 
Christian Israelites are challenged by the Messiah to accept, believe and confess the biblical point of view and to expose erroneous tradition, however cherished and popular. The Bible, as professor Robinson and many others have told us, nowhere speaks of "heaven at death" as the Christian Israelite objective. Yeshua and the Apostles constantly reinforced the Hebrew Bible's (our Old Testament's) promise that YEHOVAH God is going to renew this planet earth and invite those of Israel who follow Him to "inherit the earth." The Messiah said it in words that ought not to be misunderstood: "Blessed are the meek [of Israel], for they are going to inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Could anything be clearer, as a statement of the point and purpose and goal of the Christian faith?
The Messiah, whose words are the words of life (John 6:63) and who must be believed by all who claim to "believe in him," was citing Psalm 37:11. The meek of Israel are destined to have this renewed earth as their reward and inheritance. Not less than five times that Psalm announces the Christian Israelite future:
"For evildoers will be cut off, but as for those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity...The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever... For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off...The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever...Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it" (Psalm 37:9-34).
Popular tracts continue to make the biblical reward obscure. By avoiding the clear verses which spell out the Christian Israelite future, they leave the impression that "heaven" as a place far distant from this planet is where Christians are headed. This unbiblical teaching is reinforced in hymns, at funerals and by a deluge of literature. So-called Christians constantly and habitually speak of heaven as their destination. With this they reinforce their misunderstanding. Our own habitual words teach us -- not necessarily the truth! All this popular language about heaven blocks, jams and rejects the words of Scripture and of the Messiah about the Christian Israelite's destiny and destination.
Tracts will tell you that Heaven is described under various terms, including "the Kingdom of Heaven." From this you are invited to reinforce the traditional confusion over the Christian Israelite goal. Tracts do not tell you that inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven or the synonymous Kingdom of YEHOVAH God are explained in the Messiah's lucid words about inheriting the earth (Matthew 5:5). This verse, Matthew 5:5, is regularly omitted from any discussion of the Christian Israelites' future goal. It is that verse which most effectively corrects our mistaken notions. A child can grasp that inheriting the earth does not mean going off to a place beyond the skies!
Daniel knew well that the Kingdom of Heaven describes the renewed earth. The Kingdom of Heaven was the well established Jewish phrase for the future Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and of the Messiah to be established on a renewed earth "under the whole heaven" (Daniel 7:27). The saints of Israel, in that verse, are promised rulership with YEHOVAH God and the Messiah in the future Kingdom. "Under the whole heaven" means, of course, on the earth. And that is exactly where the heavenly, divine Kingdom will be located after the Messiah appears. New Testament disciples and people in general knew that the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God would be headquartered in Jerusalem, the city called by the Messiah "the city of the great King" (Matthew 5:35). "While they were listening to these things, Yeshua went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately" (Luke 19:11). They were not looking off into outer space! YEHOVAH God and the Messiah will rule this world and administer a new order from Jerusalem. The crowd were not wrong in this regard.
The Israelite Christians are promised the earth as their inheritance. The Messiah made that more than clear (Matthew 5:5). The promise is repeated forcefully in a wonderful summary of salvation. These words are sung in praise of the Messiah: "Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals; for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men [and women] from every tribe and tongue and people and nation [of Israel]. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they [the saints of Israel] will reign upon the earth" (Revelation 5:9-10). This is a plain confirmation of Matthew 5:5. The location of the Kingdom is the earth and Israelite believers of all the ages will reign as kings with YEHOVAH God and the Messiah over the earth and of course, "upon the earth." How do we know this?
The Messiah is appearing again on the earth and so he will thereafter be on the earth to which he has appeared. Then the words of Jeremiah and many other prophets will be fulfilled: "Behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous branch [the Messiah]; and he will reign as king [over all Israel] and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely" (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
What a grand and wonderful promise of peace on earth. This, and not "heaven" as a place removed from the earth, is the location of the saints of Israel in the future. This will indeed be the Garden of Eden paradise restored. Yeshua's promise of the inheritance of the earth is described as "paradise." It will be on earth. "To the one [of Israel] who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7). Eden will not be in the sky, nor will the beloved "city of the great King" (Matthew 5:35). The saints of Israel will be on the earth and their residence is to be attacked (unsuccessfully, after the millennium) by Satan who will eventually be destroyed forever: "And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them" (Revelation 20:9).
Popular tracts which have not carefully examined this issue of the Christian Israelite destiny continue to avoid any reference to inheriting the earth (Matthew 5:5) and deceive their readers with references to the "heavenly country" of Hebrews 11:16. They do not tell you that this "heavenly" country is the same as "the city which is to come": "Under present circumstances we [of Israel] do not have a permanent city; we are looking for the city to come" (Hebrews 13:14). The city will be the restored city of Jerusalem where YEHOVAH God and the Messiah will reside, the Messiah presiding from the throne of David over the first successful world government.
Yeshua promised the criminal on the tree, whose commendable faith was in the Messiah as the king of the future Kingdom, that he would be with the Messiah in the future paradise on earth, the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. "Remember me," said the repentant thief to the Messiah, "when you come bringing your Kingdom" (Luke 23:42). The thief demonstrates here his unswerving faith in the Gospel about the Kingdom. The Messiah replied: "I tell you even today, you will indeed be with me in that future paradise" (Luke 23:43, promised likewise in Revelation 2:7 as the future reward of the triumphant believers). The thief was assured that very day that he and the Messiah would be together in that Eden to be restored on this planet. (For a similar strong promise, see Acts 20:26: "I testify to you this day...")
Now notice the completely misleading mistranslation of the paraphrase version, the New Living Translation: "For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come" (Hebrews 13:14). The Greek original says not a word about a "city IN heaven"! If it did the basic promise of the Messiah that Israelite Christians are going to inherit the earth would be meaningless. In fact, YEHOVAH God and the Messiah are coming back to the earth, to remain here and to establish the millennial Jerusalem on this planet earth, where the saints of Israel will rule as kings and queens with them upon the earth (Revelation 5:10). The hoped for city is "the city which is to come" (Hebrews 13:14), not a city away from the earth to which we go! If the Messiah is not going to be here on a renewed earth, then his future appearance is a myth and a fantasy.
The Messiah will come to the earth (Acts 1:11). He will not be paying the earth a momentary visit! He is not "driving by" but coming to stay. If you want to be with the Messiah in the future, give up all talk about "going to heaven," because the Messiah will not be in heaven. He will be back here on planet earth. He will be here to bring into existence the worldwide Kingdom of YEHOVAH God which is the principal subject of the Christian Gospel (Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; Acts 19:8; 28:23, 31; Daniel 2:44; 7:18, 22, 27).
Christian language about the future will be corrected when heaven as our future home is dropped entirely from our vocabulary. We repeatedly reinforce our non-biblical hope when we speak of heaven. Certain hymns will need to be removed from our services as deceptive. Only then will the Messiah's promise about our inheriting the earth ring out clearly to us and our children, as we celebrate his wonderful words and the glorious future guaranteed to those of Israel who follow him fully to the end.
When Yeshua preached the saving Gospel he commanded belief in the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15). That is where Christianity begins. It is founded on the Gospel teaching of the Messiah himself. The amazing mistake of C. S. Lewis that "the Gospel is not in the Gospels" needs to be reversed and rejected. Yeshua is the first preacher of the saving Christian Gospel (Hebrews 2:3; 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 John 7-9). Yeshua's words, which "are spirit and truth," are all important as the basis of our faith.
And they include, at their center, his promise that he and his Father will return to this planet to inaugurate worldwide the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, and to resurrect the faithful Israelites of all ages so that they may be with them assisting in their government on a renewed earth (see for example Luke 22:28-30; Matthew 19:28; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26; 3:21; 20:1-6; 1 Corinthians 6:2). None of these passages has a word to say about "heaven" as the Christian Israelite objective. "Heaven" as the Christian goal is a post-biblical teaching, originating from a time when the faithful were losing their roots in the Hebrew Bible and the teaching of the Messiah and Paul, and were espousing the seducing myths of Greek philosophy.
Greek philosophy promoted the pagan idea that there is an immortal soul or spirit in every human being which survives in full consciousness after death. This false premise led in its turn to a post-mortem conscious state for the dead, contradicting the Bible teaching that "the dead know nothing at all...There is no activity in the grave to which we are all going" (see Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10).
If "souls" disappeared to a new location at death, it seemed reasonable to suppose that they went to heaven to be with YEHOVAH God, or to a torturing hell. The sad result of this redirection of the destiny of the dead was that the future resurrection of Israel at the future coming of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:23) for participation in the future Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth was suppressed. (Augustine, hailed as a Christian hero by many, was the major player in the suppression of the Christian Israelite hope of inheriting the earth at the future resurrection.) Popular Christianity continues to support the loss of the biblical hope of Christian Israelite participation in the future Kingdom of YEHOVAH God which the Messiah will introduce when he comes.
The "showcase" of contemporary evangelical Bible study, the Word Bible Commentary series, challenges us to give up Plato and paganism for the Messiah. Professor David Aune in his three-volume commentary on Revelation quotes a Stoic philosopher "reflecting a strong Platonic influence": "When the day comes to separate the heavenly from the earthly blend, I shall leave the body where I have found it, and shall of my own will betake myself to the gods. I am not apart from them now but am merely detained in a heavy and earthly prison. These delays of mortal existence are a prelude to the larger and better life." 
This stoic, platonic view of the afterlife is echoed today in hundreds of funeral sermons. The dead are alive and well and have departed disembodied to heaven (seldom to hell!). But on what basis is Platonism valid as Christian teaching? Dr. Aune says that this view of the cosmos "was prevalent in Greco-Roman paganism, providing the basis for the belief that upon death, the soul, the true self, ascends to a heavenly region, to the realm of the gods."
Just as Plato approved homosexual love, an epidemic in ancient Greece, so the Christianized West follows him. But Plato has been well entrenched in what we call Christian theology since soon after apostolic times. This information is widely known to scholars, but the public demands an instant survival of the soul at death, in heaven. What they demand the clergy all too easily affirms for them.
I finish with the testimony of two among multitudes of witnesses against the Church's introduction of Greek philosophy into the faith. Both are from Holland. At the University of Amsterdam Dr. F. W. A. Korff stated: "The doctrine of the immortality of the soul which we find in our theology does not come from a belief in Christ but from Greek philosophy, especially that of Plato. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is based on a separation of the body and the soul, but the Bible does not teach this. The resurrection is the other side of the cross. The resurrection is the beginning of the new life. Both our body and soul become decomposed. But Christ shall raise body and soul and he will give us new life, real life." 
And this from another Dutch professor. Dr. G. E. Van Niftrik of the University of Amsterdam wrote: "That anybody is so obstinate as to speak about the mortal remains, only shows that the world and the church fell away from the Bible. Only a few people seem to understand that this complexity of thoughts [about an immortal soul] is absolutely contrary to the Holy Scripture. This whole line of thought is heathen, Greek philosophy but in no case Biblical...We have to be very careful that our Christian convictions are not adopted from history and judgment rather than from the Bible. Much too long has theology remained connected with certain conceptions of the world and man. We need Scriptural theology.
"The Bible teaches us to confess the resurrection of the flesh, and this is something quite different from the immortality of the soul. When the Bible speaks about the flesh this means not only the body but also the whole man, with everything belonging to him, his soul included. The soul is not something mysterious, not a spiritual entity which lives inside of me; no, the soul is the life of my entire being. Everything that is human is mortal. I am mortal. I am the soul of my body. I (the soul of my body) am mortal. God, only, the Bible teaches, is immortal." 
Truly the Greek philosophy against which Paul warned (Colossians 2:8) has thrown Christian understanding of the Messiah and the Bible into confusion. The biblical system and the Greek system are at opposite poles. We have to choose one or the other. A mixture of both is detrimental to our spiritual health. We need the "health-giving words of our Lord Jesus" (1 Timothy 6:3).
The one-time president of the Methodist Church warned us, but churches seem bent on continuing "business as usual":
"'Your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece' (Zech. 9:13) arose first as a rallying cry in days long ago when some Jews sought to reinterpret Judaism in order to make it more acceptable to Greek ways of thought and life. There have always been Jews who have sought to make terms with the Gentile world and it has in time meant the death of Judaism for all such...
"The question needs to be faced as to whether it is right. Our position is that the reinterpretation of Biblical theology in terms of the ideas of the Greek philosophers has been both widespread and everywhere destructive to the essence of Christian faith. Father Hebert (RC) rightly sees in the Catholic system a conception of salvation conceived in Aristotelian terms and 'an idea of Beatitude...closely related to the Neo-Platonic idea of the Vision of the One and bearing little relationship to the Beatitudes of the Gospel.'
"Equally rightly he sees a marked tendency in contemporary Protestantism 'to lay emphasis on the development of personality and a human movement towards the realization of ethical ideals. The Kingdom of God is regarded as something achieved by human effort.' If these judgments are sound, and we believe they are sound, then neither Catholic nor Protestant theology is based on biblical theology. In each case we have a domination of Christian theology by Greek thought.
"What, then, is to be done with the Bible? Is it to be regarded as the norm, and its distinctive ideas as the determining factors of Christian theology? Or are we to continue to regard Plato and Aristotle with their pagan successors as contributing the norm, and the main ideas of Greek philosophy as the determining factors of Christian theology, with the Bible as illustrative and confirmatory when and where suitable?...
"We hold that there can be no right answer to the question what is Christianity until we have come to a clear idea of the distinctive ideas of both the OT and the NT and their difference from the pagan ideas which have so largely dominated 'Christian' thought." 
In stark contrast to Greek paganism and Plato, the Messiah knew nothing of "immortal souls" surviving death. He described death with such transparent simplicity: "Lazarus is dead...Lazarus is asleep. I am going to wake him up out of his sleep" (John 11:14, 11).
The Christian Israelite who dies falls asleep, falls into unconsciousness. It is a state of nonexistence which will, thank YEHOVAH God, be reversed at the resurrection of the dead of Israel from the dust of the ground (Daniel 12:2). Daniel will rise with the rest of the faithful to receive his lot and inheritance in the future Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth (Daniel 12:13). Belief in the future resurrection of the dead of Israel from their graves, rather than belief in the Greek myth of surviving departed souls or spirits, will make the Bible come alive, and make it relevant in a wonderful new way.
 Hope for the Troubled Heart,
 In the End God, pp. 104, 105, emphasis added.
 Seneca, Ep. Mor, cited in Revelation, WBC, p. 404.
 Cited in The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 659.
 The Reformed Church, 1948. Ibid., p. 960.
 Norman Snaith, Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, p. 187-88.
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