Isaiah pictured a mountain touching heaven as our home in the afterlife.

Wednesday, 12/5/12

The Old Testament for the most part expressed no belief in an afterlife. What it promised to good people was they would not die until they had seen their descendents down to the third or even fourth generation.  The first half of the Bible’s paucity of heavenly references makes Chapter Twenty-five of Isaiah all the more precious.

Isaiah foresaw our afterlife as a great feast where all animosity between peoples would be canceled out. His blissful afterlife was not situated above the clouds, but on the top of a holy mountain. In that he was in accord with the thinking of all the ancients who saw the best of human existence as taking place on mountaintops that touched heaven.

With the Greeks the mountain was Olympus, with the Japanese Fuji, with the Jews Sion. (Mount Sion is just 2000 feet above sea level, but the Israelites said, “It touches heaven, and nothing can be higher than that.)  Both the Hindu and Buddhist Religions are centered on Mt. Meru, a site which has no physical existence outside their myths. (Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and all Chinese pagodas are stylized representations of Mt. Meru.)

Isaiah’s heaven is not as glorious as one pictured as alive with angels and harp music, but its simplicity is appealing to ordinary people like us. We could be happy if death is destroyed forever , and every tear is wiped away.

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