We hear so much about “going to heaven” or ‘going to hell.” Does anyone really understand what is “heaven” or what is “hell”? Are they geographical points somewhere in the universe or is it instead a state of mind? What about all the other references in the Bible to places like: Paradise, Sheol, Hades; how do they all fit in? Are these physical locations or are they instead other dimensions? Let us reason together and see what Scripture reveals to us.
In the Bible, Sheol is regarded as the place of the unrighteous dead and Abraham’s bosom was the place of the righteous dead, but both were closely associated. Most of you recall the story of Lazarus in Luke 16: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
Luke 16:20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
Luke 16:21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luke 16:22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
Luke 16:23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
Luke 16:24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
Luke 16:25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
Luke 16:26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
In His discourse, Yahshua was speaking to Jews and they understood perfectly the analogy He was drawing, but over the span of time how do we today understand it? We have to start from the beginning.
In the Beginning, there was only G-d, His Word (Torah), and His spirit. However, there came a time that a beautiful, created being more powerful and cunning than all of the heavenly host stood in the very presence of G-d and was ruler over His kingdom. He is known by many names in the bible, but Lucifer meaning “morning star or brightness” best describes his heavenly station. He was preeminent among the heavenly host. In Ezekiel we read of this being:
Ezek 28:15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
Ezek 28:16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
Ezek 28:17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
Ezek 28:18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.
Ezek 28:19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.'”
Ezekiel is giving us a truncated picture of the past, present, and future yet to come concerning this creature, but here we have all the elements necessary to explore the dimensions of heaven and hell. Lucifer enjoyed exalted status but succumbed to temptation losing his lofty station and earning a new name hasatan descended down to us to work his evil among humanity.
Satan is an ancient entity for in Isaiah, 48: 12-16 we learn that this being was there with G-d in the very beginning for he came into being before the creation of humanity. Furthermore, we learn that the creation of humanity is intimately connected with the beginning of all things. G-d also declares that He is the L-rd of time, and He will deal with all things, both supernatural and natural. In addition, we learn that all shall submit to His will in the course of time. At Satan’s rebellion, G-d could easily have obliterated hasatan and his minions, but He did not do so and too many of you it seems that G-d unmercifully unleashed evil upon the world when it was not necessary. That is the perennial question of humankind, “Why would a righteous G-d permit evil?” Many of you are familiar with my teaching on this subject. The creation of humanity in concert with the Adversary and evil in this world, our role in this universal drama, and how it is designed to teach the heavenly host that G-d is a G-d of Justice and Mercy.
This brings us to Paradise, Hebrew “Pardes,” and meaning garden. Pardes or Paradise was originally located in the dimension of heaven, but when hasatan was thrown down to the earth so was paradise, the heavenly garden with him. Jewish tradition gives us the reason why. It states that the original Pardes was located in the eternal realms of G-d, but through the actions of the rebellious cherub hasatan, the harmony of heaven was broken and it inhabitants broke into a schism between those that followed hasatan and those that followed G-d. Satan and His minions were cast out of heaven into the earth and Pardes having been corrupted by sin was cast out along with them. As the bible story goes we see that the paradise of Adam, and Eve called Eden in our English bible was also corrupted in the same way by hasatan as it had been in heaven.
The first man Adam was created in perfection. G-d filled His creation with the neshamat chaim, the “vital spirit of life,” and Adam’s former lifeless body became a living soul. He, a perfect man, without sin, was given a perfect environment, Pardes, such as hasatan had enjoyed. This garden, denoted by the Hebrew word Pardes, stems from the root Hebrew words: porat, meaning “fruitful,” and pherach, the term for “flower.” What we should understand is that in the Bible a “fruit” is not merely a definitive term for certain produce, but it is also a concept. Conceptually it is the outcome of cultivation, pruning, and harvest, all familiar terms in the bible. The word “fruit” incorporated within this concept exemplifies both “good and evil,” as the bible tells us, we shall know them by their fruit. For Adam, paradise was conditional depending upon his choice whether to obey G-d or not. Nothing has changed we still are faced with a choice whether to trust and obey G-d or not. As such, “fruit” is a perfect symbol of spiritual maturity and responsibility.
Unfortunately, Adam failed his very first test, and sin entered into G-d’s earthly creation burdening us with the weight of original sin that requires eradication and reconciliation to G-d before we can inhabit paradise. However, G-d in His mercy (chesed) gave us a way to overcome this hurdle through trust in the faithfulness of Yahshua, but we are still left with the choice of whether or not to obey Him just like Adam in Pardes. By trusting, we arrive at the point Adam enjoyed upon creation and like Adam, we are now faced with a choice. Adam’s seemingly benign act of disobedience triggered the deterioration of the universe, and humanity no longer walked with G-d within G-d’s continuum of space and time. For those that feel sin is inconsequential this should be a lesson for them, for sin, no matter how benign is no little thing. Hardship, pain and suffering, sickness, and death entered into our realm because of Adam’s disobedience introducing a confrontation with Sheol and Hades. We like hasatan had heaven in the form of Pardes, but now we also have Hades and Sheol to reflect on.
Paradise was removed from our intimate reach, but it still exists and the Tanakh (OT) places it in some subterranean location beneath the earth closely associated with Sheol the underground detention area of the unrighteous dead. That is why Yahshua who did not ascend into Pardes (Heaven) until 40 days after His execution could say to the repentant thief on the execution stake, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).” Many suppose this to be in heaven but that would be a contradiction in Scripture and we must get it right. Furthermore, modern society in this scientific age might think this is a ridiculous assumption, but the bible teaches that there is a literal underworld domain that the unrighteous, like the rich man in the Lazarus story, cannot escape.
Isaiah describes in chapter 26: 13, 14 that the unredeemed inhabitants of Sheol (a holding place) are beyond salvation. In these passages we read:
Isa 26:13 O YHVH, our Elohim, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honor.
Isa 26:14 They are now dead, they live no more; those departed spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.
In Pardes, the redeemed shall have no memory of loved ones assigned to Sheol. The Sages of Judaism taught that Sheol was comprised of two compartments existing side by side in the same dimension. In my opening remarks, we read from scripture that the righteous inhabited Abraham’s Bosom while the unrighteous the abode of the damned, Hades. Abraham’s Bosom is a euphemism for Paradise and Hades is the abode of the damned, hell, if you will, while both, are Sheol the holding place.
The Bible teaches us that this Garden, the Garden of G-d, was placed upon earth after hasatan’s rebellion and became the Garden of Eden. After Adam’s fall, Pardes referred to in the Tanakh as paradise was removed beneath the earth and became the habitation of both the righteous and unrighteous. Herein is a paradox: What sort of place exists that would permit conversation between the two components, but erected a chasm so great that the inhabitants could not cross over into each other? The only answer a rational mind can deduce is that there is some sort of dimensional barrier that cannot be breached. This would also explain how Paradise might be removed to the Heavenlies while hades the abode of the damned remains within the earth. For we know that since Yahshua’s resurrection, the Paradise of the righteous has been relocated into the Heavenlies and we will talk more about that later. Sheol still contains the souls of the unrighteous awaiting the coming judgment of G-d. That is why Sha’ul could say in 2 Cor 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the L-rd. The righteous when leaving this body will be present with the L-rd.”
Hades the constituent part of Sheol is still within the bowels of the earth. Interestingly, there is a lot of extra-biblical documentation of a superhuman race that lives beneath the earth’s surface. During the Second World War, the Thule society that supported Adolph Hitler was convinced that a group of super human beings lived there. Hitler was so convinced of this that during the height of the second world war invaluable radar units with all of their accompanying support units were diverted to the Artic Circle to look for the opening into the under world. This “Ultima Thule” is thought to be a land beyond the pole and is a place of warmth and plenty. It is thought to contain people who are super human who have no need for anything. All this seems far-fetched but less easily dismissed is what Admiral Richard E. Byrd reported by radio in 1947. While into a flight across the pole he reported that he saw below him, not ice and snow, but land areas consisting of mountains, forest. green vegetation, lakes and rivers and in the underbrush, he reports seeing a large animal that resembled a mammoth that had previously been discovered in the Artic ice. A later expedition that further penetrated the pole on January 13, 1956 reported that they had seen an iceless land, strangely illuminated and warm. Byrd also on that flight told friends that he encountered sights and phenomena so strange that he hardly dared to speak of them. In 1957, he died in the belief that he had discovered the doorway to the land beneath the earth.
Many years ago I read a book written by Theodore Fitch entitled: Our Paradise beneath the Earth. It was a fascinating book written as fact that purported there was a race of men who lived in the interior of the earth. It was filled with alleged facts and diagrams. There are many more documents available on this subject. There are not only books but also affidavits that declare to have found or list individuals who have visited this “Paradise” within the earth. It is something akin to the UFO phenomena. This is all very captivating, but is the Hades of the Bible a phenomenon that can be found in our physical realm or is it an other dimensional reality? In other words, is it subterranean or other-dimensional?
Hades is a term meaning underworld. “Under” need not necessarily mean under, below, beneath etc. et al. In dimensional time-space, it can mean a corridor or dimension just beyond our physical reality. We have biblical evidence that this is true: Balim and his donkey, Elijah and Elisha and others including Sha’ul were allowed to see into another dimension not commonly seen by human beings, into the dimension of the spiritual world. Hasatan and his demons have the ability to appear and then disappear instantaneously from our view. Angels also have the power to become visible at will and then disappear into their own dimension. There are many secular accounts of humans’ crossing over into this other dimension and it is advantageous to know that both the occult and the Bible verify that it exists. Scripture calls it Hades, the place of the damned, those awaiting judgment, a place of darkness, forbidding and a place of torment. Conversely, the occultists describe it as a place of occasional accessibility by advanced practitioners, a place of heaven “under” the earth inhabited by superior beings. Biblically the occultists’ definition seems to approximate the Paradise of the Old Testament, not with standing their description of it as heaven, contrary to Abraham’s bosom, the Paradise of the righteous. These are two opposing views seen from different perspective but they do agree on one thing it exists…and its existence is in another dimension.
In our age, the B’rit Chadasha tells us that Abraham’s Bosom, a euphemism for the abode of the righteous has left a sign on the gates of Sheol saying, Paradise has “moved” and the forwarding address is the Heavenlies. However, Hades once a tenant of Paradise remains in that dimension referred to as Sheol the holding place in the interior of the earth. In II Cor. 12: 1-4 we read: we read how Sha’ul “… was caught up into paradise.” Read with me:
2 Cor 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 Cor 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
2 Cor 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
2 Cor 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Sha’ul testifies that he was caught up into the third heaven into paradise.
Paradise (Pardes) has moved! “Paradise is now in the immediate presence of G-d as it was before it was removed to earth upon hasatan’s fall. The first Adam fell and it was removed into the earth, and when the Second Adam, Yahshua, overcame the Adversary, it was removed back to Heaven leaving Sheol and Hades with us in our dimension of space-time.
In Ephesians, we have further evidence of this move. Read with me:
Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Eph 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Sha’ul is telling us that Yahshua the Messiah descended to the underworld where He proclaimed His victory to the unrighteous dead and at the same time He transported the righteous from the underworld, moving Paradise and them into the Heavenlies, where it remains today in the presence of G-d Almighty.
Today, Paradise (Pardes) is in Heaven. As Sha’ul says, “to be absent from the body the righteous will be in the presence of Adonai.” There is one other thing we need to be aware of, and that is Paradise is scheduled to be moved once more. Sometime in the near future after the Millennial Reign, it will appear again in the midst of the New Jerusalem as the perfect Garden of G-d.
In Revelation 22:1-3 we read:
Rev 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Rev 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Rev 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
Paradise is the summit of G-d’s presence. After the fall of man, it was taken to the dimension of the underworld, where for a time it coexisted with Sheol but after the resurrection of Yahshua the Second Adam it was lifted to the Third Heaven. Its ultimate destination is with us in the New Jerusalem outside of the continuum of space-time. In the movement of Paradise (Pardes) we see the story of redemption. Five different locations, the number of grace, 4 + 1, with four the number of creative works being joined by loving kindness (grace) equaling five. In Hebrew gematria, Ha’eretz (the earth) is a multiple of four. HaShamayim (the heavens) is a multiple of four and Chesed (grace) is a multiple of five. This number five is a leading factor in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) measurements. It all begins with Lucifer’s fall and ends with the redeemed living in the presence of G-d in the dimension of Pardes. May we all be there to glorify our G-d YHVH Elohim.