Visions of the Spirit Realm
GAZE intently into the sky as long as you like, but you will not see a spirit person. Listen, but you will not hear one. Yet, you may be sure that spirits exist. Highly intelligent and powerful, they have distinct names and personalities. Some do us good; others want to harm us. All are interested in us.
The true God himself is a Spirit. (John 4:24) He has a unique name that distinguishes him from the many false gods. His name is Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18) The psalmist wrote: “Jehovah is great and very much to be praised. He is fear-inspiring above all other gods. For all the gods of the peoples are valueless gods; but as for Jehovah, he has made the very heavens. Dignity and splendor are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”—Psalm 96:4-6.
Visions of the True God
“No man has seen God at any time,” the Bible tells us. (John 1:18) His appearance and his splendor are beyond our comprehension, as colors are beyond a person born blind. But just as a good teacher explains complicated matters to students in terms they can relate to, so God, through his Word, the Bible, describes things we cannot see by means of things we can see. By inspired visions given to faithful ones of old, Jehovah helps us to picture the heavenly courtyards and to understand our relationship to those who reside there.
One vision given to the prophet Ezekiel, for example, associates the glory of Jehovah with fire, brightness, sapphire stone, and a rainbow. In another vision, the apostle John observes Jehovah on his throne and states that God “is, in appearance, like a jasper stone and a precious red-colored stone,” adding that “round about the throne there is a rainbow like an emerald in appearance.” Such descriptions tell us that Jehovah’s presence is one of rare and dazzling beauty, pleasantness, and serenity.—Revelation 4:2, 3; Ezekiel 1:26-28.
The prophet Daniel too had a vision of Jehovah, in which he saw “ten thousand times ten thousand [angelic creatures] that kept standing right before [Jehovah].” (Daniel 7:10) What a sight that must have been! To see, even in vision, one angel would be awe-inspiring, but try to imagine myriads of perfect angelic creatures!
Angels are mentioned nearly 400 times in the Bible, and their ranks include seraphs and cherubs. The Greek and Hebrew words translated “angel” in the Bible both mean “messenger.” Angels can therefore communicate with one another, and they have in the past communicated with humans. The angels are not former humans who lived on earth. Jehovah created these spirit beings long before the creation of man.—Job 38:4-7.
In Daniel’s vision, the multitudes of angels had gathered to witness a remarkable event. Daniel then saw “someone like a son of man” approach Jehovah’s throne to be given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Daniel 7:13, 14) The “son of man,” a central figure in the spirit realm, is the resurrected Jesus Christ, who is granted rulership over all the earth. His rule will soon replace all human governments and bring an end to sickness, sorrow, oppression, poverty, and even death.—Daniel 2:44.
The enthronement of Jesus surely brought great joy to the multitudes of faithful angels, who want the best for humankind. Sadly, though, not all spirit creatures felt that way.
Enemies of God and Man
At the very start of human history, one of the angels, consumed by a desire to be worshipped, turned against Jehovah and made himself Satan, meaning “Resister.” The ultimate personification of evil, Satan stands in bitter opposition to Jehovah, who personifies love. Other angels joined Satan in his rebellion. The Bible calls them demons. Like Satan, the demons have turned themselves into cruel enemies of mankind. Much of the suffering on earth, the injustice, the sickness, the poverty, and the wars are results of their influence.
Though talking about Satan has become unfashionable in many of the churches of Christendom, the Bible book of Job provides insight into the character and motives of this rebel angel. It says: “Now it came to be the day when the sons of the true God entered to take their station before Jehovah, and even Satan proceeded to enter right among them.” In the exchange that followed, Satan insolently charged that the man Job served God only for what he received in return. In an attempt to prove his contention, Satan brought great tribulation upon Job, killing his livestock and all ten of his children. After that, he struck Job with malignant boils that covered his whole body. All of Satan’s attacks failed to make his point.—Job 1:6-19; 2:7.
There are good reasons why Jehovah has tolerated Satan for so long, but he will not do so indefinitely. Soon the Devil will be done away with. Initial steps have already been taken and are described in the book of Revelation, where the curtain is drawn back to reveal yet another important event in the spirit realm that we could otherwise never see. We read: “War broke out in heaven: Michael [the resurrected Jesus Christ] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan], and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.”—Revelation 12:7-9.
Notice that Satan is said to be “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” He misleads people by promoting religious lies to turn them away from Jehovah and his Word. One such lie is that at death everyone passes on to the spirit realm. There are many variations of this idea. For example, in Africa and Asia, many believe that at death people pass on to a spirit world inhabited by their ancestors. The teachings of purgatory and hell are also based on the idea that a person goes on living after death.
After Death—Heavenly Life?
What, though, about the belief, held by millions worldwide, that all good people go to heaven? It is true that some good people go there, but their number is small compared to the billions who have passed away in death. The Bible reveals that 144,000 people will be “bought from the earth” and will serve as “priests” and “kings over the earth.” (Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 3) Together with the Son of man, Jesus Christ, they will make up a heavenly government, God’s Kingdom. That government will bring an end to Satan and his demons and will make the earth a paradise. Most of those who died will be restored to life at a future time with the prospect of living forever in that Paradise on earth.—Luke 23:43.
To sum up, then, multitudes dwell in the spirit realm. Supreme among them is Jehovah God, the Creator of all life. Faithfully serving him are myriads of angels. Other angels, led by Satan, turned against Jehovah and work to mislead humans. In addition, a limited number of humans have been “bought,” or chosen, from the earth to take up special responsibilities in heaven. With this in mind, let us now consider who can be contacted in the spirit realm and how we should go about making the contact.