The Sleep of Death
Posted by Truthseeker | On 01 Feb 2019 1:20 PM
Life comes with very few certainties. There’s an old saying that the only thing we can be sure of in life is death and taxes. In reality, that is only partially true. There are many who escape paying taxes, but no one is safe from the terrible grasp of death. It is a great equalizing force: afflicting the rich and the poor, the old and the young. Yet, this thing called death is often shrouded in mystery. The unanswered question on many hearts is what happens when we die. There are many schools of thoughts but, if you are like me, only what the Bible says really holds any weight. It is the settler of all questions, and so it is to this that we will turn to find answers.
For some reading, this article, some of these views might come as a shock. To a large degree, what the Bible teaches about death differs from what is commonly believed. There is no denying that this is a very sensitive subject. Who has not experienced the pain of laying a loved one in the grave? In those moments of anguish, we want to hold on to something that will help to lessen the pain. And there is admittedly great comfort in the thought that our deceased loved ones are now in a better place. However, I have found that comfort, if it is to have any lasting effect, must be anchored in the truth. So let’s dig in.
Death can simply be defined as the absence of life. In order to understand the state of man in death, it’s important to first understand what constitutes life. In Genesis 2:7 we read, “…God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Remember the formulas you had to learn in algebra? This scripture tells us the formula for life: dust of the ground + breath of life = a living soul or being. Two things are required for life; if either is missing then death results.
Genesis 2:7 also tells us that man is a soul, rather than man has a soul. This is very important to understand. The soul is not something that exists outside of a person.
But what happens when we die? Well, the reversal of the text in Genesis occurs. Ecclesiastes 12:7 makes it very plain: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” So at death, the dust returns to the earth and the spirit goes back to God. Now, what is that “spirit” that returns to God? We find the answer in Job 27:3, which tells us, “all the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” In this text, we see that the term spirit is used interchangeably with breath. So, it’s the breath that returns to God at death. We see the same thing in Psalms 104:29, “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.”
The Bible teaches that there is no consciousness in death and thus no possibility of the deceased maintaining contact with the living and vice versa. The wise man Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, said, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything…Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun.” He continues in verse 10 telling us, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” There are also numerous other texts concerning the state of the dead such as Job 14:10, 21, Psalms 115:17 and Isaiah 38:18.
The way the Bible describes death is very interesting. It refers to it as a “sleep”. The story of Lazarus in John 11:11-14 is a great example. Speaking of Lazarus, who was dead, Jesus said that he was sleeping. You will also find this thought echoed in Job 14:12. Moreover the righteous do not ascend to heaven upon death. David was a man after God’s own heart according to Acts 13:22. If ever there were a righteous individual that should be taken to heaven at his death, it would be David. However, the Bible tells us in Acts 2:29,34 that David is dead and buried and his grave remains to this day.
The Bible likens death to a sleep that man does not wake from until the heavens are no more. In other words, those who are dead, sleep in their graves until Christ returns (see also John 5:28,29; 1 Thess. 4:13-16). They neither go to heaven or hell.
The devil has sought to confuse the minds of people on this topic. Through the media and the wide acceptance of Halloween, people have become conditioned to believe that the “spirits” of the dead are floating around and that it’s possible to communicate with the dead. While it is impossible to exhaust this subject in this short article, we can see from the Biblical evidence that there is no consciousness in death. The dead simply rests in their graves until that glorious day when Christ returns. Revelation 21:4 promises a time when there will be no more death. I don’t know about you but I am eagerly waiting for that day.
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