FIRST-PERSON: Your heavenly escorts
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)--For every Christian, the time is coming when we will move into our heavenly homes, assisted by the Lord's real estate agents -- called angels. After carefully studying this subject in the Bible, I've come to believe that angels take believers home to heaven when we die and help us move into our new houses. And the Lord Himself pays their commissions!
This is tremendously comforting, and it takes much of the intimidation out of the move. The primary Scripture teaching on this comes from the lips of Christ Himself. In describing the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16, Jesus said, "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom," referring to heaven. Notice that Lazarus wasn't merely escorted to heaven. The angels carried him there.
Death is our most universal and dreaded experience, and even Christians can be apprehensive. But in the Bible, death is never defined as the cessation of life, but as separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is being separated from God. Eternal death is being separated from heaven. For the Christian, the separation of soul and body is temporary; and at the resurrection, our eternal souls will be reunited with our glorified bodies.
I don't suppose the Apostle Paul was looking forward to having his neck forced against a block of wood with an ax hurtling toward it, but he was clearly anticipating being with the Lord. He told the Philippians, "I am hard-pressed between the two (living and dying), having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:23). And to the Corinthians he wrote, "to be absent from the body (is to be) present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Let me offer a surprising suggestion. Just as we look forward to our eternal destination, perhaps we should also learn to anticipate the trip. Why dread that moment of death? The journey to heaven will not be dark, fearful, or lonesome. God will dispatch His angels at just the right time, and they'll meet us just within the veil and carry us to the heights of His glory.
When the godless man died in Luke 16, Jesus simply said he was buried; and in hell, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment. But when this unloved beggar who lived with the dogs in the slums of Palestine died, the angels were honored to convey him to heaven. He was regarded poorly in this life, but that didn't disqualify him from having an angelic escort through eternity's doorway.
There are other hints about this in Scripture. In Jude 9, Moses' body was the special concern of the archangel Michael in his dispute with Satan. When Jesus comes again, according to 1 Thessalonians 4, the angels will be there to attend to those making their transports to heaven. They are heaven's ushers.
Why would angels provide this service at the time of our deaths? Well, the angels are commissioned by God to care for His children. Though we don't often see them, our lives are surrounded by angels; and they have more to do with our daily progress and protection than we realize. "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14).
Death may sound fearsome, but not when we're looking to Jesus who burst from the tomb, having purchased eternal life for His children. There's no denying that Christians have a different way of dying than non-Christians. I've been by the bedsides of dying saints in which I felt I could almost hear the fluttering of angelic wings.
But it's the Bible that gives us the truth -- not our speculations or experiences. And on the authority of the Word of God, I can assure you -- if you know Christ as Savior -- that the angels are real. They are real estate agents, ready to show us our heavenly homes and move us into the mansions Jesus has prepared for us. We don't have to worry any more about dying. In fact, it almost makes me eager for moving day!
David Jeremiah is the founder of the radio and television program "Turning Point for God," and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.