IT’S THE PERFECT QUESTION for the Easter season, what with the Resurrection and all.
It comes from Frances Foster, who gets a free book for taking the time to send me the question.
Here’s how Frances put it:
Can people in heaven interact with loved ones still on Earth, and if so, how?
The Bible doesn’t say, as far as I can tell.
We do have that one odd story of King Saul going to a medium and asking her to conjure up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel. Saul wanted to know if his army would win the next-day battle with the overwhelming force of Philistines camped below him, in the Jezreel Valley.
As the Bible writer reports it, dead Samuel shows up.
Bad news from the dead man talking:
“Tomorrow…you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat” (1 Samuel 28:19).
There’s also the story of Moses and Elijah showing up at the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-13).
Outside the Bible, we certainly have stories that suggest the dead are still alive and on call for chores here in the physical dimension.
I wrote about one in a blog post last summer: What about near-death experiences?
Here’s the excerpt about what happened to a close relative of mine going through drug rehab and a painful withdrawal:
After his toughest night he told the morning shift nurse that he wanted to thank the nurse who had stayed with him all night.
“There was no nurse,” she told him.
Years later my relative saw a photo of his grandmother when she was a young lady. I was there when he first saw the picture. It had come in the mail from a distant relative.
The young man had known his grandmother only when she was elderly. He had no idea what she looked like when she was young. I knew her well, and I would not have recognized her from the photo, either.
The picture shocked him.
It was quite obvious to me, standing there beside him.
Finally, he said: “She’s the nurse who stayed with me.”
As for me, I have never seen any evidence of my loved ones coming back to say hello or to scare the toe jam out of me.
For the record, in the event that God reads blog posts, I’d love to see Dad again.
Not up there. Not yet.
Not that I’m not looking forward to heaven. But first I’m looking forward to a little more heaven on earth.
No, dead people do not come back to Earth. Read Luke 16:19-31 the story about The Rich Man and Lazarus.
In verse 26 Father Abraham is talking to the rich man who is in Hades and I quote, “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.
Stephen M. Miller
I think 2 counterpoints some would make is that the story you mention is a parable, a fictional story and that the great divide is between heaven and hell.
The story of your friend’s encounter gave me goosebumps. I believe God’s love for us runs deeper than any other love we can know. He can certainly do astounding things to accomplish His plan in the lives of His people. Thank you for your Biblical answer to my question.
I second Francie! I have heard numerous testimonies by friends and relatives, people who are educated & rational and not prone to superstition or whack-a-doodle “spirituality” who have seen loved ones appear to them after those loved ones have passed. Who am I to doubt it? If it comforts you, encourages you, and assists you in drawing closer to God, then why not? I am envious of my friends and relatives, because I have not had such an experience…yet.
I submit to you that the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus in not fictional but in fact literal. Read the enter passage…it is not speaking of a great divide between heaven and hell at all. Apparently we aren’t reading the same Bible.
Stephen M. Miller
Hi again, Judy.
There are many Christians who read this story as literal history instead of another of Jesus’ many fictional parables. They could be right. I wouldn’t bet on it. Parables have a long Jewish history of serving as fictional stories that convey heavenly ideas and teachings. Some are in the Old Testament. Like the fictional story the prophet Nathan made up to convict King David of his sin of stealing Bathsheba from Uriah (2 Samuel 12). That was clearly a fictional parable.
As for the chasm, it was between Abraham in paradise and the dead rich man in Hades. Abraham tells the rich man, “between us and you a great chasm has been set in place,” (Luke 16:26).
It seems to limit God, many would argue, to insist that he wouldn’t send someone in heaven to comfort someone on earth in a time of great duress. As I stated in the blog post, there are Bible stories of people who have passed on but who came back for an encore.
Whether God does or doesn’t do that today, I’m okay with God.
Shortly before we were married, Jeff fell asleep one Sunday afternoon. He dreamed that my dad came up to him and told him, “Please take care of my little girl.” My dad passed away in 1961.
Stephen M. Miller
Dreams like that were a big deal in ancient times. Folks considered the dream state to provide a gateway to the Beyond. Some folks wanting to hear from God or the gods actually slept beside temples. My wife had a dream similar to Jeff’s. But it was about the child she lost in a miscarriage. Here’s the link to that story: A father’s reflection on a miscarriage.