Deeply loved by his fans, Michael Jackson was nevertheless a polarizing figure. Will he be remembered for the wide-eyed exuberance he showed as a pre-teen sensation in The Jackson 5? Will he be lauded for "We Are the World" and its charitable outreach to starving Africa? Or will he simply be "Wacko Jacko"—a confused narcissist and alleged pedophile who literally seemed uncomfortable in his own skin, who by the end of his life had become a walking advertisement for the dangers of too much plastic surgery?
Michael Jackson never had a normal childhood. His father Joseph recognized talent in young Michael and his brothers, and before Michael was ten years old he was working day and night in the family act. Later, Michael would say that these were times of terrible suffering as he chafed under his father's alleged physical and emotional abuse. The Jackson 5 had several hit songs, but this early "success" took a heavy toll on young Michael, planting seeds of hurt and distrust that grew into a powerful force later in the troubled singer's life.
Jackson may be as famous for his plastic surgery as for his music. Beginning with a 1979 rhinoplasty after he broke his nose during a complex dance routine, Jackson underwent increasingly frequent operations, either to fix perceived problems or simply to change his appearance. Although Jackson often romanticized the idea of childhood, he spent his adult life transforming his body into something further and further removed from how it had appeared in his youth.
Why did he do this? We cannot get inside Jackson's head to say for sure. But can you imagine what it must have been like for a talented toddler to replace his father as the main breadwinner for his family while he was still grade-school-age? What was it like to be too young to drive a car, but already to be responsible for the economic livelihood not only of his father, but of dozens of artists, managers and others in his entourage? How many of us can be sure that we would not react to the stress even less successfully than Jackson did?
Jackson spent much of his life searching for something he never found. Brought up as a Jehovah's Witness, he briefly married a Scientologist, and professed to have converted to Islam before he died. Now that he is dead, what will be his fate?
Considering the often-debased lyrics in his songs and the troubling actions in his personal life, millions of "mainstream" Christians today will tell you with assurance, "Michael has gone to hell forever." But is that true? Did God give Jackson a tragically unhappy childhood, an unnatural early celebrity and a miserable premature death as the prelude to an eternity of unspeakably painful torture?
God's word says, "No!" Scripture tells us that the vast majority of human beings who have lived in this present age—who have never heard the true Gospel, living and dying while blinded by Satan, the "god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4)—will be raised again to physical life at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11). Jackson's life certainly displayed many indications that he is among those who are "blinded," who will be raised in the Great White Throne Judgment and for the first time experience a healthy society under God's loving rule. Healed of his childhood traumas and his lifetime of suffering, Jackson will then be able to look back at the troubles of his life, compare them to the blessings of living God's way—and, for the first time, be able to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Anciently, King David sang and danced in praise of God. A time is yet coming when the former self-styled "King of Pop" will, like David, be able to use his talent singing and dancing in praise of the King of kings. No longer motivated by fear or the need to provide for his father, Jackson will finally be able to praise the Father who loves him more than any fan of The Jackson 5 ever has—or ever will.
To learn more about what will happen to Michael Jackson and billions of others like him, read our article "What Happens When You Die?" or our booklet Is This the Only Day of Salvation? Scripture reveals that God's plan for human beings is both just and merciful.