BLTC Press Titles

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The Bhagavad Gita


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Heaven of the Bible

by Ida C. Craddock



What does the Bible say about that world beyond the grave, called Heaven ?

This is a question which many a devout Christian has asked, only to be referred to the apocalyptic visions of John in the book of Revelation,—visions which relate chiefly to the religious side of the future life. I maintain, however, that all through the Bible may be caught glimpses of that life, not only in its religious, but also in its social and industrial aspects. And if we bring our intelligence to bear upon each of these momentary revelations of Heavenly customs, we shall be able to construct a fairly vivid mental picture of life in Heaven.

Our sources of information, as revealed in the Bible, may be classified as follows :

1. The book of Revelation.

2. The statements of such seers as Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Daniel concerning various interviews which they claim to have had with angelic beings and with the Lord.

3. The allusions to angels and their ways of doing which are scattered throughout both the Old and the New Testaments.

4. Passages which seem to recognize that which is variously termed in modern times the dual personality of man, his wraith, his astral form, his double.

5. The angelic appearances of deceased prophets at the Mount of Transfiguration and in the abode of the Witch of Endor.

6. The ascensions of Elijah and Jesus.

7. The words of Jesus while on earth.


TTopograpbg of Meaven.

Heaven, according to the Bible, consists of both a city and a garden, the one being enclosed within the other. The city is laid out at right angles, and in the book of Revelation the amount of cubic space it occupies is given in furlongs each way. These figures, however, are considered by commentators to be either mystical or else expressions of rhetorical hyperbole, just as when we ourselves speak of " ten dozen people," " a hundred and one things to do," etc., to indicate a number too large to be conveniently computed.

Some difference of opinion exists among commentators as to whether the apocalyptic visions of John were entirely fulfilled in the early centuries of the Church, or whether they have been fulfilled only in part, or whether they are all to come to pass at some future day. The Futurists, the last of these three schools, see in the closing chapters of Revelation a prophecy of a millennium to come. Against these the Preterists (the first-mentioned of the three schools) point to the remarks uttered by the celestial speaker, " Behold, I come quickly. . . . Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand," and to similar indications of a speedy fulfilment of the prophecies as proof that their fulfilment is long since past.

However, whether the Heavenly City of Revelation has or has not yet been let down through space from the upper heavens, we learn from the Bible that it was already in existence at the time of the crucifixion, and that at least one human being was taken there upon the very day of his death. I refer to the thief upon the cross, to whom Jesus said, " To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise."

That Paradise is one and the same with the Heavenly City is shown by the text, " To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God" (Rev. ii. 7); for we find in the description of the New Jerusalem that the tree of life is in the midst of that city. If Jesus took the crucified thief with him to Paradise and to the New Jerusalem, has he left him there all these centuries in loneliness, awaiting the Day of Judgment to rejoin his fellow-beings ? That were a poor return for his championship of the Crucified One. Nay, from the remark of Jesus, it is evident that he was rewarding the thief by assuring him of a near happiness; and it seems to me that we are warranted in thinking of that thief as to-day walking the streets of the Heavenly City and tasting of the fruits of the tree of life in Paradise, in company with the angels and with those whom we term "the blessed dead."

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