14. What do Jewish people believe about heaven, hell and life after death?
First of all, there is no general answer to this question. It really depends upon the back-ground of the Jewish person. Most of the Orthodox (the very religious) do believe in life after death. They take it literally. Most of the Reform Jewish people (the very liberal) do not believe that there is a literal life after death. If they do, they don’t give it a whole lot of thought. The Conservative Jews fall somewhere in the middle. How can we most effectively minister this truth to them? Are there some good things that we can say to them that might show them the importance of realizing that there is a literal heaven and hell? Before I try to answer this, what are some Bible verses that would be good for us to show them?
Now, what can we say that might get them to thinking? Here lately, a friend and I have had the opportunity to speak to some Jewish people that say they do not believe in heaven or hell. During the course of our conversation I try to bring up somebody like Hitler or some other individual of like character. More often than not they will respond by saying something like this, “I’m glad they’re getting what’s coming to them.” I immediately ask them how that’s possible if there is no life after death. If there is no hell, then how are they getting anything? I try to explain to them that since we are forbidden to seek vengeance ourselves, because it belongs to the Lord, hell really is the only way some people will get what is coming to them. Please don’t misunderstand, we are not trying to say that we are glad that anyone goes to hell, but simply that it’s a matter of God being just and people receiving God’s wrath for their own sins. This ministry seeks to help people repent and receive God’s forgiveness through the Messiah Jesus so they won’t get what they do deserve. We try to emphasize the importance of life after death as a way for God’s justice and grace to be manifested. Justice for those who are getting what they deserve, (hell) and grace for those getting what they do not deserve (heaven). Thank God this life isn’t all there is.