WHO IS “The Man Upstairs”?


            I have heard a variety of people from all walks of life make statements like “I’m good with the man upstairs;” or “I know I need to get things right with the man upstairs;” or I’ve talked about it with the “man upstairs;” and I’m certain that you could add more to the list based on your life experiences.  It’s as if the rent is late and you’re going to run upstairs to the landlord’s apartment and make your payment or relying on the knowledge of someone that has achieved degrees of higher learning in hopes that they can share their wisdom with you.  On a recent weekend, while our ThunderHeart Ministries Prison Team was in Parchman Prison, God really convicted me on this subject of hearing people say these things and I have just let them pass as if these statements actually meant something.  You see, when statements like this are made, whether intended or not, they are disrespectful to God and demonstrate a lack of understanding by the person making the statement.  I want to share some of the scriptures that God led me to read to give clarity to who is in heaven and who is in charge of all things.  When I say address, I am not talking about being judgmental or harsh, or being mean spirited, but using the love of Christ to bring someone to a greater awareness of who God really is.

We don’t have to go very far to find a verse that dispels these comments about a “man upstairs.”  Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”[1]  You see there is no mention of man being able to perform any of these tremendous wonders of creation but it was God that performed these miraculous acts.  From the beginning there was God not man.

Another example comes from Jeremiah.  Jeremiah was a prophet during a time when the children of Israel were being extremely disobedient and he had to give some difficult and strong messages to the people.  One such message was “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes.  They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.”[2]

God makes it very clear that He is the one and only God and we should have no other gods.  He tells us “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  ‘You shall have no other gods before me.  ‘You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”[3]  Verse 5 of this passage is often misquoted and misunderstood.  When God talks about punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation, He is not talking about punishing children for the sins of the parent but children continue to carry out the sins of the parents.  That is a significant issue in our world today because people are following the role model set by their parents which was potentially set in motion by generations long before them.  After reading this passage, imagine how offensive it is to the LORD your God to be referred to as “the man upstairs.”

Isaiah, another prophet who served God during difficult times with the children of Israel, provides a view of how God sees himself in comparison to man.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”[4]  We can clearly see that God declares His ways are not that of men and his thoughts are not our natural thoughts because of the impact of our sin nature.  God cannot be tempted nor can he be blind to the efforts of the enemy. Yet man falls victim to temptation and the efforts of Satan to lead us astray from the One who loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins and pay our sin debt in full (past, present, and future).  So how could we be so foolish to refer to God as the “man upstairs” and blind to the fact that if it were a man upstairs we would have no hope, no salvation, and no eternity with our Heavenly Father?

Some argue that they have never seen God and so it is difficult for them to believe in something they have never seen.  Paul gives us a very straightforward answer to this issue when he wrote “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”[5]  God has made His presence known in everything we see in creation.  There is no question that man could not have accomplished the complexity and magnitude of creation yet we want to question the very existence of God and refer to Him as “the man upstairs.”  Many people ask for proof that God is real, but it is a matter of faith; there is no proof that will convince someone who does not want to believe.

Let me close with this thought.  One of the Pharisee’s wanted to try and trap Jesus so he asked Jesus the question “Of all of the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”[6]  If you were absolutely honest with yourself do you believe you could love a man with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength?  We might be able to do that on a situational basis or for a period of time but to do it all the time would be absolutely impossible.  So how is it that we can overlook or pass up the opportunity to share the tremendous love of God who rules heaven and earth when someone refers to YAHWEH as “the man upstairs?”  We must share the One who is love and because of His love we can have a relationship with Him that will allow us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  I pray for boldness, courage, and obedience for all of us as we deal with a world who fails to realize the power and dominion of our LORD God Almighty.  May we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to share with those that fail to understand what they are saying when they talk about “the man upstairs” and let our words bring truth and understanding of just how great our God truly is!


[1] Genesis 1:1.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[2] Jeremiah 17:5,6
[3] Exodus 20:2-5
[4] Isaiah 55:8,9
[5] Romans 1:20
[6] Mark 29-31


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