Death and the end times – Part II
11 / 08 / 08
(Comments in parentheses and emphasis are mine)
This study on death and what happens with our soul seems to hit a nerve. I received numerous responses both for and against this thought. I do NOT know the full truth because I have not died yet to find out (smile). But God has given us passages about this subject and, therefore, we are to study it. Let us not forget that the Scriptures, (I am speaking of the original Scriptures, not what we have come to know as truth from various English translations NIV, NASB, KJV and the like.) are infallible (the translations are NOT infallible). Today we have the technology to see what words and definitions the translators of these fine attempts to translate had to choose from.
We must remember that the New Testament (as we have named it) is nothing new. We do not need the New Testament to prove that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Son of God or His purpose (Since Paul and many others reasoned from Scriptures, the Old Testament, that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Messiah). Instead of how us Westerners have come to know the New Testament, instead, it is an awesome complement of what was already written. Why do I mention this? Because the teaching that has been handed down to us about death doesn’t seem to line up with Scripture. Most people believe that the body (flesh) remains in the grave, while the soul is either in heaven or hell (or even a holding tank). I’m trying to find Scripture basis for this belief, but generally find conflicting verses.
LET US EXAMINE SOME MORE SCRIPTURES:
Before you begin, it might be helpful to re-read “death part 1” and the Scriptures used (I’ll give you just a couple obvious ones to remind you):
- “… so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep.” (Job 14:12)
- “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2) (Daniel is speaking about the end times here. IF our souls are already with Him for eternity, what is the point of our bodies rising to everlasting life? Could Daniel have known that our souls sleep in the dust … our bodies return to dust … and our souls will awake when the Trumpet sounds? Some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. This does not seem to be speaking about our bodies rising to one or the other, for they cannot inherit the kingdom of God … they are flesh. 1 Corinthians 15:50 is clear about this: “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”)
Could it be that those writing the “New Testament” knew that when they died it was when God removed His Breath? Could they have understood that the first death means to sleep until judgment? It seems as though Martha knew this when speaking about Lazarus! “Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the last resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:23) God decided to give Lazarus back His Breath in THIS life … thus proving that HE was God who gives the Breath of life! Lazarus was not risen in His glorified state … just in his flesh again. Today? He is still sleeping since the Breath of God had been removed from him again. He is not in eternal life yet. Both his body and soul are in the grave. His body is dust, but his soul is sleeping (not my words, re-read the above Scriptures). It is okay to be this way. We are still saved by faith and still be watched over and will be with Him … HIS timing, not ours; HIS ways, not ours.
I have been asked about those who have appeared after death (i.e. Lazarus, the transfiguration, those rising from the grave when Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified). They simply were called by God and received back His Breath … for a time (”Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28-29).
- Lazarus was simply awoken from his sleep, spent the rest of his time on earth, then went back to sleep. (Yeshua (Jesus) even described his death as “sleep” and then had to tell them plainly … he is dead is what I am saying (John 11:11 says “After he had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’” They did not understand, for they thought the Master meant sleep or nap. Verses 13-14 are clear: “Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead,’”)
- Those rising from the grave when our Savior gave up His Breath? This is the same type of situation as described as Lazarus because Yeshua (Jesus) is the firstfruit to rise to eternal life (“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)) It is clear. NO one can be raised from the dead for eternity until Christ was (Notice that Paul says “those who have fallen asleep”). Notice the last part when addressing the fact that through Adam all die, but through Christ all will be made alive … in his own turn! Christ FIRST, then when HE returns those who belong to Him. That is our hope and faith. Until then, anyone rising on earth, as Lazarus, simply received the Breath of life again (That is God’s choice!).
- The transfiguration, I believe, may have been similar to John’s vision of Revelation. Occasionally, we get a glimpse of what is coming. What John saw in Revelation hadn’t even happened yet, but God allowed him to see the future. Again, how could Moses and Elijah be in Heaven and glorified if the Son was not yet glorified? It is impossible. If they were, then THEY were the First-fruit and not God’s Son.
WE ARE MUCH LIKE A BUNCH OF CELL PHONES!
I look at it this way (using an analogy) … Our lives are like cell phones. Someone might be a blackberry, another may be a Motorola “Q”, someone might be a flip top (crazy), another a razor (slim in appearance). These outward appearances are NOT what make up the phones. What we are looking at is simply the case for what is inside. Some phones have different talents, as do our earthly bodies. Some can do more functions than others or perform greater tasks. Have you ever broken your phone? No problem! Simply take the chip out and put it into another case. It is the chip that houses all our information (who our friends are and the settings we chose, etc…). However, the case and chip inside are absolutely useless without a charged battery. Every night, the phone sleeps until turned on in the morning. If we (the owners) decide not to turn on that phone, it remains dormant. God decides to wake us up each morning, as well. Take away the battery, or God’s Breath, we return to what we actually are … nothing but dust. Lazarus? God decided to turn him on again and use him one more time.
SOME PASSAGES THAT STILL ARE QUESTIONABLE:
The book of Hebrews was written to the Jews. They, like Martha in the above passage, knew Scriptures. They knew the deep things that we, thousands of years removed, can only ponder. Let us look at Hebrews 12:22-2 :
- “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
The question is: Does this passage prove that the soul separates from the body at death? It simply says that there are spirits of righteous men with God. Let us look deeper. The passage starts out by saying, “But YOU have come to …”. Well, obviously the listeners have not come to this place being spoken of yet. They were still on earth, so the writer is speaking of what is to come and it is THEIRS through the Messiah. If we look at the verses that led up to this, the writer is speaking of Esau selling his inheritance for a single meal. Then afterward, with tears and anguish, he desired to get it back but did not receive it. The writer of Hebrews is telling them that if Esau thought about what was to come, he would NOT have sold it for satisfying his flesh for the moment. NOW, the writer is speaking to the Jews about what is to come and is warning them, with the same. Do NOT sell your inheritance (then describes it) to satisfy your flesh for the moment.
- “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?” (Hebrews 12:25).
Numerous times in the Old Testament we read of people on their death beds described as: “their soul was departing …” Further study, though, reveals that the word for soul is nephesh, which means “breath”. This makes sense, “as they were breathing their last breath …”
Another thought. IF our soul is with the Lord when we die, then who are they that are rising up to eternal life?
- (Remember as you read, Yeshua (Jesus) has not returned yet at the last trumpet call. Plus, it speaks about what those who have died are doing and what will then happen to their souls): “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
- “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16) They were worried about those who had died before Yeshua (Jesus) came because they and “missed” the Messiah! Read it again. WHEN He returns, those who are alive will NOT come before those who have fallen asleep.
- John 5:28-29 (see above)
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (see above)
THERE IS NOTHIING WRONG WITH SLEEPING UNTIL HE RETURNS:
I am not here to upset anyone. I want to know the truth, as I’m sure you do, too. I do not worship the body that Yeshua (Jesus) was living in while here. I worship the Spirit that was within that body. Same here with this tidbit about death. Let us not look at our bodies as what life was all about, but what we did while IN the covering called a body. Just like when Yeshua (Jesus) walked the earth and He disturbed many doctrines and teachings, the same is true today. Allow me to give you one more passage before we study about the thousand year reign and the mysterious “Eighth Day Assembly”: 1 Samuel 28:13-15 is speaking of Saul disturbing Samuel from his sleep (death): “The king said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. What do you see?’ The woman said, ‘I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.’ ‘What does he look like?’ he asked. ‘An old man wearing a robe is coming up,’ she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’” How cranky do you get when you are awakened from your sound sleep? Now we know why Samuel was so upset for being disturbed!
This is part of a series titled, Death and the End Times: