Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can Our Dead Relatives See Us From Heaven?

Question: Can people who have died see, watch over or contact those who are still living? What does the bible say about this and the people who claim to be able to contact the dead?

There is a growing interest in the idea of an ongoing connection between the dead and the living. In the movies, popular movies like Ghost portray this idea of a relationship with the dead. On T.V. it’s shows like Crossing Over with John Edwards, or the Discovery Channel series, A Haunting. There is a growing fascination with the paranormal. But what does the Bible have to say?

A good beginning point is Leviticus 19:31. In the midst of a long list of various laws, God issues this terse decree:

Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

Exodus chapters 7-8 describe the wickedness of the Egyptians practicing magic, sorcery, and speaking to the dead. In Exodus 22:18, the prohibition against occultism includes the ultimate legal penalty:

Do not allow a sorceress to live.

But is the Bible consistent? There is one occasion where God allows a necromancer to contact the living with a word from God? In 1 Samuel 28, a wicked King Saul finds that he is no longer hearing from God. So he, who had earlier killed many of the mediums and spiritists contacts the witch at Endor and asks her to raise the recently deceased prophet Samuel from the dead. The witch is reticent, fearing that this is a trap by Saul. But Saul swears an oath to the LORD that she will not be harmed and she succeeds in raising the dead prophet. The witch shrieks when Samuel appears, suggesting that she may have been a charlatan and was herself surprised that an actual spirit was speaking. Samuel proceeds to express annoyance at being disturbed and reiterates his own prophetic announcements that Saul has been rejected and that the kingdom has been transferred to David, as far as God is concerned. Some argue that 1 Samuel 28 is proof that the Bible is at best conflicted with regard to the occult.

Other supporters of spiritism cite Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16, which portrays a conversation between two people in the afterlife, Abraham in glory and the Rich Man in hell, as a prooftext that conversations with the dead are sanctioned.

It is important that we note that there is a very real difference between the descriptive and the normative. It is true that God allowed the witch of Endor to summon Samuel. However, this is not an indication of God’s approval of occultism. Rather, it is permitted by God as part of this process of pronouncing judgment against Saul and stripping him of his rule. Saul receives no words of comfort and no blessing. Within a very short while he will be dead on Mt. Gilboa and David will be king. The parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man is just that, a parable. And when the Rich Man pleads that he be permitted to contact and warn his brothers, Abraham refuses to allow this contact…they have Moses and the prophets…let them listen to them.
The bible is very clear that necromancy, the attempt to contact the dead through occultic channels is forbidden and spiritually dangerous.

However, part of this question has to do with the righteous dead in heaven. Can our dead relatives in heaven watch us? This question has been on my heart, especially since my Dad died in July of 2006. Can Dad see Erik and Deanna growing up? Will God allow him to see them graduate school? Get married? But, let me finish the question to draw a fuller picture. Will God allow my Dad to see my sins and short-comings? Will he have to sit through every one of his son’s blunders? Will he watch me die? Or does God permit us to see some things from heaven, and not others? The Bible does not answer these questions. However, I would venture one thought. Every description of Heaven seems to indicate a focus on God and his throne, not earth and its goings on. It is only natural that we, with our earthbound perspective, would assume that this is where the action is. However, I suspect that those in heaven have better things to do than watch us. And for those in the eternal kingdom of God, our homecoming to heaven is just a little bit away. We get a since of how different time is perceived from an eternal perspective from many passages of scripture. In 2 Peter 3:8-9, Peter says:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

We see this same perspective as John the Baptist describes the nearness of the kingdom:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 3:2) Jesus spoke in the same way. From our perspective, time passes slowly, but from God’s perspective, a perspective shared by those in heaven, time passes differently.

On the basis of these thoughts, I conclude that those in heaven are not “missing us.” They are looking forward to our return, in much the same way that a parent looks forward to their child coming home from school in a couple of hours.

7 comments:

  1. Dear Pastor Steve,

    A couple of thoughts: I have heard this passage in Luke 16:19-31 preached on many times over the years. There are many who state it was not a parable because our Lord never used names when illustrating these stories.

    If this is so, then it is an eyewitness account of activity which Christ Jesus observed and actually occurred in time. Whether it is a parable or actual event though isn't my point.

    The rich man (who Jesus left nameless - think of the grief his family would have had) never is able to observe events on earth but is fully cognizant of his own situation and torment. Further, this would illustrate that those who are separated from God continue in their doubts, fears, anxieties, experience physical pain, and are fully cognizant of their horribly awful predicament.

    At no point is this individual able to observe earthly events and Abraham provides him no solace concerning his family.

    Your point though concerning believers in heaven is well taken. God in His awesome splendor and radiant glory will be so magnificent as His purposes are revealed, I am certain the wonder of His being, the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, the Alpha and Omega fully of majesty will be so overwhelming as we finally understand His Sovereign purposes and perfect will.

    How reassuring is Rev.21:4-5 "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful."

    Scripture is silent on the reason(s) why God will wipe away the tears from our eyes but I wonder if it won't be a combination of joy unspeakable at being in the Presence of the Lord with a final last regret that we did not exercise Spirit-led opportunities to minister the gospel over the course of our lifetime. That is just conjecture but something to consider. Our time here is so woefully short. If a day is as a 1000 years and a 1000 years as a day then someone who died just 50 years ago could (according to this verse) theoretically be in heaven but 72 minutes while 500 years would be 12 hours. From the time of Adam, saints would experience less than 6 days before we join them in glory before God for eternity. Maybe this is the reassurance of tears being wiped.

    We will certainly understand the egregious nature and horror of sin to a Holy God the justice of His righteous wrath and why hell is where sinners do belong. Our finite minds cannot understand this now but one day we will.

    May the Lord bless you,
    In Him I live,
    bro ken in Christ

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    1. I THINK THE VISIONS JOHN HAD IN REVELATION WERE CONCERNING THE CHURCHES IN THE PRESENT AND A WARNING FOR THE PRESENT CHURCHES JUST LIKE HOW GOD SPEAKS THROUGH THE MESSAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT TO REFER TO THE THIS PRESENT TIME AND THE VISION REFERS TO THE FUTURE AFTER THE RAPTURE WHEN THE DEAD AND ALIVE WOULD BE ABLE GO TO HEAVEN BECAUSE BOTH THE DEAD AND ALIVE DON'T HAVE THE PROPER BODY TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD THE FATHER OF THE SON THAT'S WHY WE MUST ALL BE CHANGE EVEN THE DEAD AND PUT OUR GLORIFIED STATE. OR THE DEAD WOULD NOT HAVE TO CHANGE THEIR FORM TO BE ACCOMMODATED WITH THE NECESSITIES FOR THE HEAVEN WHERE THE ALMIGHTY GOD OF THE SON IS .

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  2. i would like to share a dream i had lately of my brother passed away. he comes in my dream saying that i cannot see him when i spoke to him in my dream that i see him in my thoughts and photos i have on my pc. is that real?

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    2. MAYBE GOD IS TELLING YOU THAT YOUR BROTHER HAS MOVE ON AND THAT YOU CAN SEE YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR MEMORIES OF HIM AND PHOTOS ON YOUR PC. BUT I DON'T THINK IT'S YOUR BROTHER CONTACTING YOU BECAUSE ONLY GOD KNOWS YOUR THOUGHTS AND IS OMNISCIENT. THE DEAD DOES NOT HAVE COMMUNICATION WITH US.

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  3. Pastor Steve I recently lost my mother on valentines day she was sick but passed suddenly. She actually knew she was dying which I find strange. We had no clue. I was caught up in my own problems and we were arguing even though we loved each other dearly we argued a lot and that really hurts. She passed right in front of us. I asked for time until I got my self together but I guess god has his reasons. do you think she knows how much I loved her and miss her please say a prayer for her. THANK YOU.DAVE P.S She also said she seen her father who had passed a long time ago. can you explain.

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  4. Pastor Steve i think you have been deceived by the devil you read the scripture wrong this is the king James version
    1samuel 28:7-15 7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit (These spirits know certain things of God for it is God who Gives The Devil Permission to kill and do what he the devil as for just like he allow the devil to cause trouble to Jobs life the devil is also knows everything about us he knows our ways HE KNOWS OUT PAST so thats why he some times take on the shape of the died and appear to people who are gullible and fully educated in God's word As a ghost, but it is demon and you know who are mistakenly called gods demons .Demons thats what Paul said in the new testament pagans make sacrifices onto fake gods which are actually demons so this pagan necromancer who said she saw Gods coming out of the earth was actually seeing demons one of whom was in the the shape of Samuel.it was probably wearing the same clothes he died in. )SO THE SCRIPTURE GOES ON TO SAY ........ that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

    8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

    9 And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul (SHE WASN'T SAYING SHE WAS AFRAID OF GOD BUT SHE WAS SAYING SHE WAS AFRAID OF SAUL AND THE UNKNOWN PERSON WHO IS SEEKING HER DEMONIC HELP )CONTINUE ......hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

    10 And Saul sware to her by the Lord, saying, As the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.

    11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.

    12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

    13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods (THESE ARE DEMONS )ascending out of the earth.

    14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

    15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.(DO YOU REALLY THINK GOD WOULD USE A NECROMANCER WHO HE HATES AND IS LABELED AN ABOMINATION TO TELL SAUL ABOUT HIS FUTURE IF THIS SPIRIT OF SAMUEL WAS THE REAL SAMUEL SO WOULD BE THE REST SPIRIT WHO CLAIM TO BE OTHER PEOPLE . GOD WOULD NOT NEGLECT TO SEND YOU A MESSAGE THROUGH HIS CHOSEN PROPHETS AND MESSENGERS AND CHOSE A DEVIL WORSHIPER TO GIVE YOU A MESSAGE .THAT IS NOT GOD'S WAYS )

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