Hollywood Heaven and Cartoon Hell

Written on: April 1, 2024

Article by: Jon Jackson

We’re told in scripture that the devil is “the prince of this world” and that the language that he speaks in, is lies because he is “the father of lies.” It makes sense then that one of his most fervent deceptions involves the afterlife of Man and the type of morality, actions and words that determine whether a person either goes up to heaven or down to hell.

Over the years there have been countless Hollywood versions of what happens when “good people” die and go to heaven.

“Good people” go to heaven in the clouds. They ascend with the aid of newly minted wings, with harp in hand and a golden halo above their head. And once through the ‘pearly gates’ of Heaven and they get to do whatever they want, living in luxury for eternity. For some reason God is not seen or mentioned in Hollywood heaven, even though it is His home.

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There was a song years ago by U2, but sung by Johnny Cash, called “The Wanderer” that reflects this outlook. One section of lyrics goes:

“I stopped outside a church house where the citizens like to sit.

They say they want the Kingdom but they don’t want God in it.”

In reality, heaven is for people who want to know and follow God and to worship Him. They recognize His supreme righteousness as their Creator.

In Hollywood’s version, only the “bad people”, that is, the really evil people, go to hell…which is deep below us. And the devil is there to receive them when they arrive. He is a bright red figure with horns, a tail and a pitchfork, which he will use to personally torture you for eternity.

To anyone who thinks that this is an accurate outcome, I have some bad news. After an ungodly person dies, the devil does not care about their existence one little bit. The devil’s part is over, the part where he deceives you to separate yourself from God. Now you right along with the devil await the final judgment with fear and trembling, knowing that there is nothing you can do now to change the past, or for that matter the future.

Reality: hell is made up of a people, who were not necessarily all bad, but those who chose not to follow God and did not want to worship Him through His son. As we read in Matthew 7:21-23,

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Hell is eternal darkness without any hope of light in the future.

Matthew 8:11,12 states, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

If you have ever had a nasty burn from the stove or a fire, you know the only thing that can give some relief is applying ice to the wound. There is no ice in hell, to give even brief relief; Matthew 13:41,42, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

There is no water in hell, the thirst you have will be like Jesus Christ on the cross, but it will not be quenched; Christ is the eternal source of water. We read in Revelation 21:6, “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

Jesus’ account of the ‘rich man and Lazarus’ suggests that prior to the resurrection and final judgment, in the place of the dead, there is a foretaste of suffering for those whose lives have displeased God.

Luke 16:22-24, “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.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.’

Something similar appears to apply to rebellious angels in Jude 6 which states: “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”

The other part of what makes hell, torture, is separation from God and thus from all that is good in the human experience. By contrast, heaven is all about life in God’s presence, which is what makes it good and desirable as our eternal home. It is a place of direct and pure worship – the kind pictured by John in Revelation 4:

“After the vision of these things I looked, and there before me was an open door in heaven. And the same voice that spoke to me before, that sounded like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit, and before me was a throne in heaven, and someone was sitting on it. The One who sat on the throne looked like precious stones, like jasper and carnelian. All around the throne was a rainbow the color of an emerald. Around the throne there were twenty-four other thrones with twenty-four elders sitting on them. They were dressed in white and had golden crowns on their heads. Lightning flashes and noises and thunder came from the throne. Before the throne seven lamps were burning, which are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was something that looked like a sea of glass, clear like crystal.

In the center and around the throne were four living creatures with eyes all over them, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion. The second was like a calf. The third had a face like a man. The fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of these four living creatures had six wings and was covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
He was, he is, and he is coming.”

 These living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the One who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever. Then the twenty-four elders bow down before the One who sits on the throne, and they worship him who lives forever and ever.

They put their crowns down before the throne and say:

 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
because you made all things.
Everything existed and was made,
because you wanted it.”

Isaiah also was blessed with similar vision of God in Isaiah 6:1-4,

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

We praise God – not to get into heaven but because God is worthy. We begin to do that which we will continue – in the His immediate presence, for all eternity.

So forget about Hollywood. Only the Word of God is a trustworthy guide to lead us to the glories of heaven and to avoid the darkness of hell.