In his latest book, Imagine Heaven, bestselling author John Burke compares near-death experiences to what Scripture says about our biggest questions of Heaven. In this excerpt, he focuses on God's heavenly messengers.
Eleven-year-old Jennifer was in a severe car accident and left her body. She saw her “limp and lifeless body” below. A spiritual being told her, “His nose is cut off his face; you will need to go back and help him; he is bleeding to death.”
Jennifer said, “No, let somebody else do it. He will be fine without my help. I do not want to go back down there. No!”
The voice said, “I will tell you what to do. You take off his shirt after you pick his nose up off the floorboard of the car. It will be next to your feet and his right foot. Place his nose on his face, pressing down to stop the bleeding. It’s just blood, so do not be afraid. . . . So then, Jennifer, you will begin to walk him up the right side of the road, and a car will come. Tell the man to take you to the nearest hospital. . . .”
When Jennifer returned to her body everything happened as she was told. A car stopped and carried them to the hospital. She was able to calm both the anxious driver and the man who lost his nose. And there was a happy ending: a skin graft was used to reattach the nose with “barely a scratch left to notice.” The astonished emergency room doctor said, “I cannot explain what kind of miracle I just witnessed in this emergency room today.”
We know when evil, pain, or suffering hurt us, but we do not know how often God orchestrates his angels to care for us. Angels are God’s servants sent to help people. Are they real beings or just mythological?
Well, just imagine God’s unlimited creativity. There seems to be no end to it—billions of stars clustered in billions of galaxies, and on just one planet orbiting one star, he’s created over seven million species of creatures (as best scientists can estimate—we’ve only catalogued 1.2 million). God has also created spiritual creatures who do not live confined to time and space as we do—one species we call angels. Angel literally means “messenger.” Angels are referred to 196 times in Scripture. Humans do not become angels—meaning we don’t go through a species change—but we can be messengers.
As you’ve probably noticed, NDErs often report seeing angels. Marv Besteman noticed, “My angels looked like regular guys, except regular guys usually don’t wear white robes. Both looked in their mid-forties and stood about 5’8” to 5’10”. One had longish brown hair, and the other one had shorter hair . . . neither one of them had wings [though he later saw winged creatures].”2 They can appear much like human beings, or they can shine with a radiant light, less brilliant than the radiance of God, but still quite impressive. Most do not have wings, though some creatures do (Ezekiel 1).
Dale Black reported angels coming in pairs. “I moved effortlessly along the road, escorted by my two angelic guides.”3 Marv and other NDErs noted the same: “Beside me stood two angels who would always accompany me.”4 After noticing this trend, I recalled Jesus’s statement: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels [plural] in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
What are angels and what do they do? With so much increased interest in angels come many diverse opinions. I’d like to show you what the Scriptures say and how our world of suffering may tie in to their story in Heaven. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Scripture teaches that angels are spirit creatures who live in God’s realm, but they can interact with earth in order to serve people and accomplish God’s will. Even in Heaven, God accomplishes his will through free-will cooperation of angels. Some are guardian angels assigned to individuals, some are assigned to churches (Revelation 2), some are over cities or nations (Daniel 12:1). And some were cast out of Heaven.
In Imagine Heaven, John Burke recounts some of the most dramatic and powerful near-death experiences and compares them directly to Scriptural accounts of heaven. The result is a profoundly powerful experience that allows you to better understand God’s loving promise to you – and glimpse the glorious, beautiful home that awaits you.
Learn more about Imagine Heaven.