There are various thoughts about heaven, or the potential lack thereof, in modern Judaism. Yet, in Hebrew Scripture (as well as the New Covenant), “Life after Life” is clearly described. For example, Proverbs 30:4 reads, “Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!” This passage evokes several curious concepts. Mainly, the Almighty, who made the heavens and the earth, has a son; that son has gone up to and come down from heaven to earth. What an insertion into this wise book! Many have read this as a foreshadowing of future, messianic events. Regardless, this passage depicts a unique property of God, moving between realms. These realms and this God certainly exist, and Jews for Jesus helps other people to see and embrace this truth, to know, love, and serve God fully both in life and into eternal life.
Two months ago my brother-like friend and co-worker, Sean Trank, asked me to write something about heaven for others to read. I honor his request today. Sean had shared a video from David Platt where Platt, in light of the “Heaven is for Real” movement, calls out the general public for overprizing the stories of children, and some adults, whose stories of experiences in heaven before returning to earth are marketed to the masses. Platt names it “a disturbing trend.” Sean agreed, and he wanted other to know the truth.
As of July 2, Sean can claim personal experience with heaven. And he hasn’t come back from there, either. I can assure you he’s in a better place—the best place. Sean met his maker after a seriously painful battle with lung cancer that, after eight months, resulted in pulmonary failure and death.
Half a year before he was diagnosed, Sean wrote the following,
“Tragedy, brokenness, death, these things are a part of this world. Ready or not we still have to deal with it. It is with great hope and expectation that I rely on the promises of God that Jesus will return and wipe away every tear from our eyes. There is no other person in human history that makes this promise. I know I can trust Jesus because he is the only person in human history to come back to life. It is the reason we have faith. Brokenness is not the final destination of those who have put their trust in Jesus. Death has lost its sting, and though pain may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.”
Sean’s thoughts echo this New Covenant passage:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:13–14).
In a very palpable way, the brief coma that Sean experienced before his passing fulfills the truth of these words to the maximum.
Sean’s hope in life was founded on his knowledge of the Messiah who was prophesied and who came, who would go between heaven and earth as a fully human, fully divine person, who could and did raise himself from death to life everlasting. We celebrate Sean’s life and his hope in the Redeemer of Israel.
To read more about Sean’s hope and the battle he fought before entering heaven, please go to www.seantrank.com. You can also see his tribute page at www.jforj.org/seantrank/. To talk to a missionary in our live chat, which Sean was so influential in setting up, please go here.