Is Heaven in the Old Testament?

William Arnold III


I was recently asked the question about the promise of Heaven.

They asked is there any place in the Old Testament that mentions the promise of Heaven?

Did the patriarchs even consider such a hope?

The only thing that I thought of was Jobs statement in Job 14:14 - "If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." (KJV)

If you or any one else can help me with this question I would be grateful.


There is not a lot in the Old Testament about heaven except to say that it is the abode of God. When someone died in the Old Testament he went to Sheol, the heart of the earth. When Samuel appeared to Saul, we see him coming up out of the earth (1 Sam. 28:12-15). Even when Jesus died he went to the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40: Acts 2:27; Rom. 10:7; Eph. 4:9; 1 Peter 3:18-19). It seems that Sheol (aka the Underworld, Abyss, Deep, Hades) was compartmentalized into a place of torment and a place of comfort according to our Lord's story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). My belief is that a believer could not go directly into the presence of God until Jesus actually paid for the sins of the world in time. However, now when a believer dies he goes directly to be with the Lord (Acts 7:59; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phi. 1:20-23).

There are a few allusions and several clear references to a resurrection in the Old Testament (Job 14:7-15; 19:26; Psa. 16:9-11; 49:14-15; 73:23-26 Isa. 25:8; 53:12 and especially Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2, 13; Hos. 13:14), but the Old Testament does not say much about what was expected afterwards. However we do read in the New Testament that Abraham "looked for a city . . . . whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). I understand this to refer to the New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12; 21:2 also John 14:1-3), which is the ultimate dwelling place of the child of God, or what we would call "heaven."

Email IBS | Statement of Faith | Home | Browse by Author | Q & A
Links | Virtual Classroom | Copyright | Submitting Articles | Search