Heaven. Hell. Sheol? Hey. I'm a junior in high school. In eighth grade my bible teacher once mentioned the name "Sheol," (Hebrew for "grave") but didn't have alot of info to offer, just that it wasn't exactly Heaven or Hell. I wasn't quite satisfied with that, and last summer I did a bit of research. Growing up in church and everything, all I'd ever heard about was the standard Heaven and Hell, and as far as I and my parents were concerned, that's all there was. So I finally came to a personal conclusion about Sheol and the general Afterlife concept. I just wanted to share them here and see responses and other people's ideas, arguments/disagreements, general interest ... Anything. These are my current beliefs as listed below, and take note ... I will continue on as assumed correct for the sake of the topic. __________________________ Overall concept: Heaven. Kingdom of God and the righteous dead. Sheol. Also called Hell, Hades, and Death, divided into two sections, for the righteous and the wicked. The Lake of Fire. The final punishment for the wicked after Jesus comes for the second time. Sheol. Before Jesus came and died for us, Sheol was the resting place of all the dead. It was separated into 2 sections. For the righteous, Paradise. For the wicked, Hell (or Hades). In Sheol, all the dead experienced bliss/torment relative to their righteousness/sin. In Luke 16:19-26, Jesus preaches the parable about the rich man and the begger Lazarus. In this parable, the begger dies, and is taken by Angels to Abraham's bosom (Paradise), and there he is comforted. The rich man also died, but he found himself in a place of torment. While they were both alive, Lazarus longed to eat the crumbs that fell off of the Rich man's table, however he could not. In Hell, the rich man was tormented in flames, not quite the Lake of Fire, he thirsted and longed for Lazarus (whom he could see across the chasm) to cool his tongue with water, just as Lazarus longed to eat the crumbs from the rich man's table. When Jesus died for us, it said that he descended into Hell (Sheol), noted in the Apostles Creed. Upon his resurrection from Hell, he took the righteous dead with him up to Heaven. In Sheol, Paradise now remains empty, but Hell is still the place of the wicked until Jesus comes again. Using MS Paint, I made an image over the summer that displays the current Afterlife concept, as I have come to conclude. And of course, it's very elementary but you get the point ... http://img110.imageshack.us/img110/6866/theafterlifeuz3.png Now what really struck the realization about all this was when I was reading through Near Death Experiences. An understatement, because these people were actually dead ... The most convincing story I have found, also my favorite, is that of an African Pastor named Daniel. The full story is found here: Resurrection of an African Pastor Daniel was dead for days. No breathing or anything. His death experience was quite biblically accurate. He saw Heaven, and those worshiping God there. That is, they all were in unison, with the same glorious bliss. However, they still had another promise from God as noted by the Angel that escorted Daniel. I will explain in a bit. Daniel was also taken to see Hell. At first he could not see in Hell, it was all darkness. The Angel escort lit it up and he saw people in amazing torment, but they were separated into groups, each with noted punishments based on their sins. However, he noticed that everyone there was weeping and gnashing their teeth, a line Jesus often stated in his parables. [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]-Matthew 8:12 [/FONT] [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif] He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]-Matthew 24:51 [/FONT] What's notable about Matthew 24:51 is the statement "assign him a place with the hypocrites," another indication of the "sow what you reap" idea found in Sheol. Due to space limitation, section from Daniel's testimony couldn't be quoted, but his experience of Hell follows the "sow what you reap" idea. Important that that section is read. Daniel also states in his testimony that there is a distinction between Hell and the Lake of Fire, that they are not to be confused. Now lastly, I mentioned earlier about those in Heaven having yet another promise. However, they are in Heaven with God, not the Paradise of Sheol. In Revelations, we are told that in the end, God will create a new Heaven and a New Earth. The Great Mansion in Daniel's testimony is no doubt the new Heaven. Revelations tells us also how the New Jerusalem will descend from the New Heaven onto Earth, and will be the place of the Righteous. The section in Revelations about the New Heaven and New Earth is found here: BibleGateway.com - Passage*Lookup: Revelations 21:1-8 There are 2 major points to note in verse 8 of that section: 1. "This is the second death." Obviously, the Hell of Sheol being the first one, distinction between it and the Lake of Fire. 2. "The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur." Note the fact that all those different types of sinners are all doomed to the same thing in the second death. Another clear distinction between Hell and the Lake of Fire. I've also come across an interesting statement in 2 Corinthians 12:2. Checking context, I included the surrounding verses. [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif] I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif] [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][3[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]] And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif] [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif] [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][6[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]] Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.[/FONT] While it is a rather vague reference, we may possibly infer that this "third heaven" is the new Jerusalem, going in order of: 1. Paradise (Sheol) -> 2. Heaven -> 3. New Heaven/New Jerusalem The second bolded statement might reinforce the New Jerusalem idea, seeing as we do not have the opportunity to go there yet, and being shown things inexpressible to man. You will notice that this 3rd Heaven is also referenced as Paradise, as well as another similiar case: Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." - Luke 23:43 Now what we see about the whole case with Sheol is an inconsistent naming system, but I personally don't believe this changes the concept explained above. First off, noting that the verse was translated from Greek, the translation could easily have an affect on the terminology. Let's just assume that isn't the case though. So we know that Sheol (which I will use as the primary name) has also been called, with respect to Paradise within, Hell, Hades, and Death. These are all reasonable names. They all simply refer to death in general, since all of the dead collected there before Jesus came. Similar to the old Greek mythological ideas, where Hades ruled the underworld. All the dead went there, good or bad. The place itself has been called Hades, and Erebus. However the reference to Hell and Paradise in Luke 16:19-26 clearly divides the place in two, a separating chasm. When the begger Lazarus died he was comforted by Abraham, not Jesus however. And as he died on the cross, Jesus said to the righteous thief that he will be in paradise with him. They were otherwise in paradise with Abraham. I find that a large distinction, and I do not believe the terminology with Paradise and Heaven makes a huge difference. I am only using the terms consistently to be specific about the areas. So again, my MS Paint picture: http://img110.imageshack.us/img110/6866/theafterlifeuz3.png is the conclusion of my beliefs on the current afterlife concept. It's true, the very details of the Afterlife aren't that important in our faith. However, it's one of those ideas that are fun to chew on and contemplate. Well, I've found it to be. Besides, that's where the notion of faith is really important. Doesn't it require more faith to believe in something harder to understand? Again, I am interested in your responses, am willing to argue or discuss in general.