Spirit Daily


In Scripture And Near-Death Accounts Is Mystery Of Those Called 'Ancient Ones' 

There it is in Daniel. We've all heard the phrase: "Ancient One." Thrones were set up, and the Ancient One took his throne, it says. "His clothing was snow bright, and the hair on his head as white as wool" (7:9).

In Revelation, one like a Son of Man is seen, "wearing an ankle-length robe with a sash of gold about his breast. The hair of his head was as white as snow-white wool and his eyes blazed like fire" (1:13-14).

Should we not be capitalizing "one" and "his"?

It is an interesting issue and especially use of the word "ancient," for during alleged near-death experiences, older heavenly beings, very old beings, or "elders," are described in the same way: as ancient beyond ancient in the realm of the eternal.

Angels are "ancient": they fell with Satan. As for the good angels, there was one -- with flaming sword -- in the Garden, which was certainly in "ancient" times. Of course the King of Heaven, Jesus, is ancient beyond ancient, having formed our very universe with God.

In the Book of Revelation we see that surrounding the One on the Throne were "twenty-four other thrones upon which were seated twenty-four elders; they were clothed in white garments and had crowns of gold on their heads" (in 4:4).

Who are these? What does it mean to be "old" in eternity? Are the "ancients" the same as the "elders"?

It is interesting in light of a description from one woman who had a famous and of course controversial near-death episode and is offered simply as one of those things about which there is fascination.

During her experience she encountered three men who were her guardian angels, but not like we usually picture angels. In this case, "they wore beautiful, light-brown robes, and one of them had a hood on the back of his head. Each wore a gold-braided belt that was tied about the waist with the ends hanging down. A kind of glow emanated from them, but not unusually bright.

"The men appeared to be about seventy or eighty years old, but I knew somehow that they were on a time scale different than earth's. The impression came to me that they were much older than seventy or eighty years old -- that they were ancient."

That word again! Can we believe or fathom it? Most describe their entire lives as being reviewed upon death, usually by Christ, a Light they take to be God, or angels. A few mention a council or ancients.

Near-death experiences can come to us through the filter of the belief of those who "die," and often take what seems like a New Age slant. Could this be a deception? Do the ancient ones obscure the true Ancient One?

Or are they simply "assistants."

By and large, people in Heaven are described as appearing between the ages of 25 and 35 -- how they were at the prime of life. But not certain of them.

"I sensed in them great spirituality, knowledge, and wisdom," the woman wrote. "I began to think of them as monks -- mostly because of their robes -- and I knew I could trust them. They had been with me for 'eternities,' they said. I didn't fully understand this; I had a difficult time comprehending the concept of eternities, let alone eternity."

And so do we. At the same time, we remain open because there is the visceral notion that when we die, there were will many surprises -- that it won't strictly be out of a textbook on theology.



That image resonates -- and reminds us of how St. Padre Pio appeared and how with his incredible charisms he was never sure who he was. One might speculate that if such exists, he is now an elder -- that there are levels of Heaven and that our monks dress the way they dress because in prayer through the centuries they too have gained a notion of what lies beyond. Let us think of elders in terms of saints. That's one way of viewing it.

When she died, the woman with the near-death account says she was "led to a room, which was exquisitely built and appointed. I entered and saw a group of men around the long side of a kidney-shaped table. I was led to stand in front of them within the indented portion of the table."

She called it a "council" of men -- who evaluated her life. We think here of the gatekeeper, St. Peter. Or were they spirits of which we know nothing? "The men radiated love for me," she wrote. "And I instantly felt peace with them. They leaned together to consult with each other. Then one of them spoke to me. He said I had died prematurely and must return to earth."

Let us discern. In the midst of it a "light" appeared to one side, and it was Jesus.

He arrived far more splendidly. He was superior to the council. He radiated differently. In near-death cases, He is usually presented as young and yet somehow older than anyone else. Old signifies wisdom. It also signifies authority. He is overwhelmingly bright -- yet not hurtful to the eyes.

"As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of Heaven; When He reached the Ancient One and was presented before him," said Daniel. "He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed."

At Christmas, He is not old at all; He is an "Infant." But an Infant Who is timeless. And His timeless lesson? Judgment kills. Love heals.

If we're kind, we will have joy. We will go directly to Him. "Love is really the only thing that matters, and love is joy!" she was told.

Didn't a robed man named Benedict say that recently?


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