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By what figure
does the Bible represent death?
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them
which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." 1
Thess. 4:13 (1 Cor. 15:18, 20) (John 11:11-14).
NOTE. - In sound sleep one
is wholly lost to consciousness; time goes by unmeasured; and the functions of
the mental organs are suspended for the time being.
Where do the
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall
awake." Dan. 12:2.
How long will
they sleep there?
"So man lieth down, and riseth not, till the heavens be no more, they
shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." Job. 14:12.
What must take
place before Job could expect to awake?
"If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed
time will wait, till my change come." Job 14:14.
Where does he
"If I wait, the grave is mine house; I
have made my bed in the darkness." Job 17:13.
While in this
condition, what does one know of those he has left behind?
"His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought
low, but he perceiveth it not of them." Job 14:21.
What becomes of
man's thoughts at death?
"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day
his thoughts perish." Ps. 146:4.
Do the dead know
"For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not
anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is
forgotten." Eccl. 9:5.
What part, if
any, do they take in earthly things?
"Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished;
neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under
the sun." Ecc. 9:6.
NOTE. - If one continued in
consciousness after death, he would know of the promotion or dishonor of his
sons. But Job says he does not know this, then if, as stated in the last text
quoted, in death one loses all the attributes of his mind, as love, hatred,
envy, etc., it is plain that his thoughts have perished, and that he can have
nothing more to do with living objects. Again if man in death prolongs his
powers of thought, he lives; and if he lives he must be somewhere. Where is he?
Is he in heaven, or in hell? If in either place immediately after death, what is
the necessity of a judgment in the end of the world to decide his case? Is there
a possibility that some have at death gone to the wrong place, and must needs be
sent to the other, after having been in bliss or torment for ages, perhaps?
What does the
psalmist say about the dead praising the Lord?
"The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into
silence." Ps. 115:17.
How much does
one know of God when dead?
"For in death there is no remembrance of thee." Ps. 6:5.
But are not the
righteous dead in heaven?
"For David is not ascended into the heavens." Acts 2:34.
If the dead
cannot praise God, what must take place to enable them to do so?
"Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake
and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the
earth shall cast out the dead." Isa. 26:19.
What was the
only thing with which David would be satisfied?
"As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be
satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." Ps. 17:15.
If there should
never be an awakening of the dead, what would be the result?
"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be
not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which
are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." 1 Cor. 15:16-18.
When does the
resurrection of the righteous take place?
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ
shall rise first." 1 Thess. 4:16 (1 Cor. 15:23).
NOTE. - If, as we have
learned (Eccl. 9:5), the dead know not anything, then they will certainly have
no knowledge of the lapse of time. A thousand years will be to them a day or a
moment. To go down to the grave, and wait till the resurrection, even though it
be a thousand years, will be to those who experience it like a sudden transition
from this life to the next. It ought to be a consoling thought to one whose life
has been filled with anxiety and grief for loved ones who persist in wickedness,
to know that they will in death be spared torment. Again, it would mar the
felicity of one's enjoyment in heaven if he could look upon earth, and see his
friends and relatives maltreated by strangers, or suffering from cold and
hunger. It is wise that God has ordered it as expressed by the patriarch:
"His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low,
but he perceiveth it not of them." Job 14:21.