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Monday: Death in the Old Testament — 17 Comments

  1. The Old Testament offers an interesting portrayal of death. Here are three points to consider:

    • Death is a consequence of sin and is inevitable.

      "You started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt." Gen 3:19 MSG

    • The afterlife is portrayed as place of darkness, silence and inactivity.

      "I called out to you, God;
      I laid my case before you:
      “Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead?
      auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?
      When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs
      and stories of you won’t sell.
      So listen! and be kind!
      Help me out of this!” Ps 30:8-10 MSG

      "And not so much as a gravestone—
      I’m a black hole in oblivion.
      You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
      sunk me in a pitch-black abyss." Psalm 88:5 MSG

      "For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
      In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed." Ecc 9:10MSG

    • There is hope for the future: Isaiah provides insight to the final solution that is portrayed as a new beginning, not a spirit world.

      He’ll settle things fairly between nations.
      He’ll make things right between many peoples.
      They’ll turn their swords into shovels,
      their spears into hoes.
      No more will nation fight nation;
      they won’t play war anymore.
      Come, family of Jacob,
      let’s live in the light of God. Isaiah 2:4-5 MSG

    Perhaps it is worth noting that overall, the Old Testament is more focussed on living in a relationship with God rather than what happens after death.

  2. We are asked to read Daniel 12:2 and Job 19:25-26. And answer this question. What elements about the state of the dead are added by these verses?

    Let’s explore the additional insights about the state of the dead provided by Daniel 12:2 and Job 19:25-26:

    Daniel 12:2:
    In this verse, Daniel prophesies about a future resurrection. He says, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
    The people referred to are not in heaven; they are sleeping in the dust of the earth. They are not alive in heaven awaiting the resurrection of their dead bodies; they are in the ground, “sleeping,” which means they are dead.

    This passage teaches the doctrine of a general resurrection and emphasizes the facts of eternal life and a resurrection of both the and the unjust.

    Job 19:25-26: Job expresses his unwavering faith in God’s redemption. He declares, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the last day, I shall rise out of the earth."3.
    Job’s hope lies in the future resurrection. He believes that even though he will die and be buried in the earth, he will rise again. This anticipation of resurrection underscores the idea that death is not the end but a temporary state of rest before the final awakening.

    In summary, Daniel and Job contribute to the biblical understanding that death is not the ultimate end. Instead, it is a sleep-like state, and a future resurrection awaits both the righteous and the unrighteous. The hope lies in the promise of everlasting life for some and the sobering reality of shame and contempt for others.

  3. And when Joseph had taken the body,he wrapped it in clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb ..... Matthew 27:59-60.
    As a young man it always interest me how our saviour sinless as He went in to the tomb when he died ( but sinful me goes to heaven as soon as i died) thank the Lord for the spirit of truth.

  4. For me, it’s helpful to understand how other Christians arrive at another conclusion from reading Scripture.

    So some believe there is separation between body and spirit at death. They conclude that the body made of dust “will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). Other support texts for separation of body and spirit come from the NT: “The body without the spirit is dead” (Jas. 2:26). Here they read that the dead body is without the spirit, so they interpret that the spirit must still be conscious. Also, Philippians 1:21–23 (“my desire is to depart and be with Christ”) and 2 Corinthians 5:6–9 (“we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord”) sounds like Paul is looking forward to a sweet experience of being in Christ’s presence between death and resurrection. As for all the many references about death as sleep, those are thought to be merely a gentler description, much as we use the words “passing away”. A dead person looks asleep and so it’s described that way.

    I can see how these interpretations of Scripture are arrived at. Some of the confusion, I have learned, comes from language and what we understand soul/spirit/breath to be.

    Doug Batchelor explains “spirit is the Hebrew word ‘ruach’ and it means 'The breath of God is in my nostrils.' (Job 27:3 KJV)…The words ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ are interchangeable many times in the Bible. The word often translated ‘spirit’ in Greek is ‘pneuma’ and so the word ‘pneuma’ (as in James 2:26) also means ‘breath’. …What is a soul? Genesis 2:7 KJV ‘The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a soul.’ The combination of the two things (body and breath) becomes a soul.”

    As for Paul’s references to being “away from the body”…. my Bible commentary recommends reading more of Paul’s writings to understand more clearly what he means. For instance, in 1 Cor. 15:20-23 Paul says all die and then come to life again at Christ’s coming.

    In summary…, my understanding is that…
    We are safe. We are safe in Jesus now, we are safe at our death when our breath returns to Him and He holds the reality of who we have been (unconscious to us, conscious to Him) in reserve until at His Second Coming when He gives us a new and healthy body and we live with Him joyfully forever and ever in the new heavens and the new earth.

    • Regarding "what is it that returns to God", Ellen White provides an additional element of understanding. She suggests that our "character" = "the spirit" that returns to God.

      “The wondrous works of God are a mystery to man. The spirit, the character of man, is returned to God, there to be preserved. In the resurrection every man will have his own character.” Letters Manuscripts 15: MS76;par 10 (1900)

    • There’s an interesting text: 1Thess 4:14 that states “…when Jesus comes God will bring back with Jesus ALL the believers that have died.”
      Could this mean that the souls/characters/essence of the believers are to be united with their resurrected bodies (v 16)?
      The explanation of the 500 “first fruits” does not seem to fill full the v.14 statement.

        • William, thank you for your comment. Your blogs and comments have become a source that have given me pause to realize that I am a student, and that your and other’s perspective have more value than I, too often, am unwilling to admit. So, thank you Rabbi for the insight of your teachings.

  5. To put our understanding of death simply, we go back to creation, the Lord breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7.

    When the God-given breath of life exits the body for good, there is no longer a living soul.

    When the pilot has engine trouble and radios approach control, the 1st thing the controller asks is how many souls are on board. To me, that always ment, how many lives are at stake.

    Yes, understanding that it takes a body and the breath of life to make a living soul makes it much easier to realize that spiritualism is an illusion of Satan, or hoax if you prefer. The Lord warned against eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He also said, "Stay away from mediums. ‭1 Chronicles 10:13-14, ESV‬.

    When we ask the Lord to make us a transparent medium, Thy glory to display, medium takes on a different understanding. We are basicly asking the Lord to live out Thy life within us, oh Jesus King of kings. Remember, be Thou Thyself the answer to all our questionings. Taking this advice absolutly keeps us from going against the Lord's warnings, leading to death.

    • John - I agree with your statement: "Yes, understanding that it takes [both] a body and the breath of life to make a living soul . . . . .
      To me, this, by itself, settles the question whether a spirit [which does not have a body] represents the actual departed person. Without the body, it is an entity posing as that person; it's that simple.
      Maybe, if an angel would come to speak to those left behind, he would be clear that he is a messenger from God. The angel came to those who were visiting the grave of Jesus.

      • Brigitte, you wrote:

        Without the body, it is an entity posing as that person; it's that simple.

        It isn't quite that simple. "An entity posing as that person" may actually appear to have the actual body of the loved one. I know of an instance in which a dead child supposedly came back in the night and crawled into her mother's arms. She could *feel* her child! Perhaps you can imagine how difficult it was for that mother to reject "her child" because she knew her child was dead, and this was not her child. She had to cry out to Jesus for help.

        Our only safety against being deceived is to know that the dead are asleep until Jesus comes and to call on Him if we encounter a loved one we know to be dead. Until Jesus returns, anyone appearing to us as a deceased loved one - no matter how convincing the body or how convincingly that person speaks - is not the deceased loved one, but an evil spirit impersonating our sleeping loved one.

      • To my understanding the difference is that if an angel of God came to you, put your finger in his side and it will not go through to the other side. And yes you are right.
        Christ said, "it is I, when walking across the water." And the Lord with his angels eat with and talked with Abraham and Sarah. They were transformed into humans for the walk and talk with also Lot and his wife and daughters.

    • Yes Elsie, you can rest in peace before you die knowing that you will be in the 1st resurection, if you have submitted(asked for forgiveness, repented, and let Him control your thoughts, words, and actions) to Christ your life.

    • Exactly true, RIP to mean Resurrection Is Promised and not rest in peace, saying that is to talk with dead. be blessed


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