Death, What then?
In detail by Betty Martin
This booklet is written with the idea of providing a means to get started in this study. It is by no means an effort to answer every question or give you all the proof you need. To truly understand, you need to do some research on your own. Most of the Scriptures quoted are from The Interlinear Bible, by Jay P. Green, Sr., as general editor and translator.
It has been said that there is nothing surer than death and taxes. Taxes are simply a fact of life in today's government and society. But death is often feared. Some people don't even want to discuss the subject while others are obsessed by it and can talk of little else. Why is there such fear? Is it because of the unknown? What happens at death? Is that all there is? Or is there more? Can we look forward to an after-life of some sort? In what form? Where? Do heaven and hell really exist? Are there people in those places now?
In Webster's Columbia Concise Dictionary, we find man's definitions of several words that will be used throughout this article.
Death - that state of a being, animal or vegetable, in which there is a total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions."
Heaven - the blue expanse which surrounds the earth, and in which the sun, moon, and stars seem to be set; the sky; the upper regions; the final abode of the blessed; the place where God manifests himself to the blessed; bliss; a sublime or exalted condition."
Hell - the place of the dead, or of souls after death; the place or state of punishment for the wicked after death; a haunt of the vicious or depraved."
Immortal - not mortal; having life that shall never end; undying; connected with immortality; imperishable."
Soul - the spiritual and immortal part in man; the immaterial spirit which inhabits the body; the moral and emotional part of man's nature; the seat of the sentiments or feelings; the animating or essential part; a spiritual being."
What do other sources say about these subjects? Other religions?
From The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, volume 2, pages 811 and 812 -
"…Gen 2:17 places a close connection between man's death and his transgression of God's commandments, thereby attaching to death a religious and ethical significance, and on the other hand, makes the life of a man dependent on his obedience to God. This religious-ethical nature of life and death is not only decidedly and clearly expressed in Gen. 2, but it is the fundamental thought of the whole of Scripture and forms an essential element in the revelations of salvation.
"Death, though come into the world through sin, is nevertheless at the same time a consequence of man's physical and frail existence now; it could therefore be threatened as a punishment to man, because he was taken out of the ground and was made a living soul, of the earth earthy (Gen 2:7; I Cor 15:45, 47). If he had remained obedient, he would not have returned to dust (Gen 3:19), but have pressed forward on the path of spiritual development (I Cor 15:46, 51); his return to dust was possible simply because he was made from dust.
"There is nothing strange, therefore, in the manner in which Scripture speaks about death; we all express ourselves daily in the same way, though we at the same time consider it as the wages of sin. Beneath the ordinary, everyday expressions about death lies the deep consciousness that it is unnatural and contrary to our innermost being.
"This decidedly expressed in Scripture, much more so even than among ourselves. For we are influenced always more or less by the Greek, Platonic idea, that the body dies, yet the soul is immortal. Such an idea is utterly contrary to the Israelite consciousness, and is nowhere found in the Old Testament. The whole man dies, when in death the spirit (Psa 146:4; Eccl 12:7), or soul (Gen 35:18; 2 Sam 1:9; I Ki 17:21; Jon 4:3), goes out of a man. Not only his body, but his soul also returns to a state of death and belongs to the netherworld; therefore the Old Testament can speak of a death of one's soul.
"This death of man is not annihilation, however; but a deprivation of all that makes for life on earth."
From The Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, pages 15-17 -
"Like all cultures in the ancient Near East, the Israelites believed that persons continued to exist after death. It was thought that following death, one's spirit went down into a land below the earth, most often called Sheol, but sometimes merely "Earth," or "the Pit". Is the preexilic period, there was no notion of a judgment of the dead based on their actions during life, nor is there any evidence for belief that the righteous dead go to live in God's presence.
"The exact relationship between the body of a dead person and the spirit that lived on in Sheol is unclear, since the Bible does not discuss this issue. Many scholars assume that the Israelites did not fully distinguish between the body and the spirit, and thus believed that the deceased continued to have many of the same basic needs they had when they were alive, especially for food and drink. Unless those needs were met, the dead would find existence in Sheol to be unending misery. Such a close connection between feeding the dead through funerary offerings and their happiness in the afterlife is well-attested in Mesopotamia and Egypt. It is assumed that the Israelite funerary practices were similar and included long-term, regular provision of food and drink offerings for the dead.
"Other scholars have pointed out the lack of evidence in the Bible for such funerary offerings.
"Virtually no discussion of what existence in Sheol was thought to be like is preserved in preexilic literature.
"In the postexilic period, and particularly in the Hellenistic period following the conquest of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, Jewish thought concerning death and afterlife underwent a major change, owing to the widespread influence of the Platonic idea of the immortality of the soul. Whereas prior to the period of the Hellenistic empires the official religious stance of Israel acknowledged some form of shadowy existence in Sheol for the person after death, beginning in the third century we find a flowering of literature describing the fate of the human soul after death, often in vivid and moving terms.
"Two ideas concerning the fate of the soul after death were held in tension during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The first was that of resurrection, that is, that at the end of time the soul would be rejoined with the body and each person would then receive reward or punishment.
"The second idea was that the immortal soul lived on after the death of the body, and immediately received its reward or punishment."
From The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., editor, page 291 -
"Death - a term, which when applied to the lower order of living things such as plants and animals, means the end of life. With reference to human beings, however, death is not the end of life. The Bible teaches that man is more than a physical creature; it is also a spiritual being. For man, therefore, physical death does not mean the end of existence but the end of life as we know it and the transition to another dimension in which our conscious existence continues.
"The Bible speaks of death in a three-fold way: physical, spiritual, and eternal.
"The ancient Hebrews regarded death as entrance into Sheol, where they were cut off from everything dear in life, including God and loved ones.
"Because 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Rom 3:23), all men are spiritually dead - separated from God who is the Source of spiritual life.
"The Bible also speaks of 'the second death' (Rev 2:11), which is eternal death, the everlasting separation of the lost from God in hell. The 'second death' is equated with 'the lake of fire' (Rev 20:14); 'the lake which burns with fire and brimstone…is the second death'(Rev 21:8)."
From Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, J. I. Packer and M. C. Tenney, editors, page 117 --
"Death - the Old Testament affirms that, at least for the righteous, life continues after physical death (cf Psa 49:15; Prov 14:32; Isa 57:2). So in the biblical faith there is an afterlife for everyone who is faithful to God, whether that person is king or slave."
From The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible, published by Reader's Digest Association, Inc., page 145 -
"Death - Man 'is like a puff of wind; his days are like a passing shadow.' The Bible faces the fact that death comes to everyone. On the other hand, death is seen as something evil that strikes a note of terror in all our minds.
"Throughout the Bible there is a close link between death and sin. Death is part of the judgment that comes to Adam after his disobedience. Paul regards death as the inevitable consequence of the presence of sin in the world. For God is 'holy', and cannot tolerate evil. If we die with sin unforgiven, our death is not only physical but spiritual: it is separation from God. The New Testament often speaks of non-Christians as being physically alive, but 'spiritually dead because of disobedience and sins'.
From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, revised by Ivor H Evans, page 1020 -
"Soul - the idea of the soul as the immaterial and immortal part of man surviving after death as a ghost or spirit was an ancient and widespread belief. The ancient Egyptians represented it as a bird with a human head. With Aristotle the soul is essentially the vital principle and the Neoplatonists held that it was located in the whole body and in every part. It has also been located in the blood, the heart, the brain, bowels, liver, kidneys, etc."
From The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, page 1005 -
"Soul - a word with two distinct meanings in the Bible - 1 - That which makes a human or animal body alive. This usage of the word soul refers to life in the physical body. 2 - The word soul also refers to the inner life of man, the seat of his emotions, and the center of human personality."
From Sacred Origins of Profound Things, by Charles Panati, pages 450-452 -
"The Israelites did not have souls. They didn't realize this, of course; the concept hadn't yet come into existence. They did not speak of a spiritual component of the human body that survives death, is eternal, and ascends upward, being lighter-than-air. A dead Israelite descended into the neutral underworld that was Sheol for a long, numbing sleep. For eternity.
"The Holy Bible speaks of a 'breath of life,' nishmat hayyim; Then God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (Gen 2:7).
"But at the time Genesis was written, around 1400 to 1200 B.C.E., and for a long time thereafter, 'breath of life' was not conceived of as an immortal soul, only as an animating force. Further, the words from early Holy Scriptures translated as 'spirit' or 'soul' also refers to the personality of the individual.
"Later books, however, begin to make references to a spirit that can separate from the body. One of the clearest glimpses of the concept of the soul is development is Ecclesiastes:
All are of the dust and return to the dust. Who knows if the spirit of man goes upward and if the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth? (Eccl 3:20-21)
"But the true origin of the soul would come about only after the 'breath of life' was viewed as an independent spirit entity that survives death, retains the individual's personality, and returns to God, who'd breathed it into creation. And it would be the Greeks, not the Jews, who made this leap of faith.
"Greek views on the soul made a vivid and lasting impression on Jews, and eventually on Christians.
"Plato, the fourth-century B.C.E. Greek philosopher, laid the groundwork. He reasoned that the soul contained the vital essence of a person, which, once released from its imprisonment in the body, grew strong, more powerful, more rarified and refined - more godlike - and thus it floated upward. The soul of the righteous ascended high above the stars to a haven Plato called the Isle of the Blest.
"For Plato, the soul had three parts: desire and action were mortal and perished with the body; intellect was superior, eternal, forever incorruptible.
"Plato called the totality of a person's vital essence his psyche, a noun related to the Greek verb psychem, meaning 'to blow.' Thus, we see that the soul is the breath of life as well as the embodiment of personality: desire, action, reason."
From The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, volume 3, page 1459 -
"By 'immortality' is frequently meant simply the survival of the soul, or spiritual part of man, after bodily death. It is the assertion of the fact that death does not end all. The soul survives.
"For the Bible, 'immortality' is not merely the survival of the soul, the passing into 'Sheol' or 'Hades.' This, is not, in itself considered, 'life' or happiness. The 'immortality' the Bible contemplates is an immortality of the whole person - body and soul together. It implies, therefore, deliverance from the state of death. It is not a condition simply of future existence, however prolonged, but a state of blessedness, due to redemption and the possession of the 'eternal life' in the soul; it includes resurrection and perfected life in both soul and body."
From The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, page 503 -
"Immortality - exemption from death; the state of living forever. Thus, immortality is the opposite of mortality, or being subject to death. In the Bible, the word immortality refers primarily to the spirit, but is also used of the resurrected or transformed body.
"The ancient Hebrews believed in the survival of the spirit, although they thought of the afterlife as a shadowy existence. But the idea of a bodily resurrection gradually evolved. In Jesus' time the Sadducees denied a bodily resurrection, while the Pharisees believed in it."
From Sacred Origins of Profound Things -
From pages 440-442 -
"Most Christians may not be aware of the fact that the ancient Israelites had no heaven for themselves. No personal hereafter. In sacred Scriptures, heaven is the exclusive abode of Yahweh, God of the Israelites.
"The Israelites believed that because Yahweh created the sun and stars, his abode had to be higher up in the celestial sphere, a vantage from where he could glance down on creation. The Hebrew Bible makes no direct reference to a postmortem heaven for the righteous. Heaven is Yahweh's home, and its gates never open for mere mortals.
"The Israelites believed that after bodily death, all men and women - good and wicked - slept forever in Sheol, the underworld, a neutral place of neither pain nor pleasure, neither punishment or reward.
"It was only after the destruction of the first Temple in 586 B.C.E. and the subsequent exile of Jews to Babylon that the Jewish people began to seriously consider Heaven as the postmortem destination of the righteous, who would be resurrected to live with God. Why this reversal?
"The answer lies in the fact that Babylon was conquered by Persia, and the Jews in Exile came under the strong influence of Persian Zoroastrian teachings. Zoroaster, the sixth-century B.C.E. prophet, taught that four days after death, a person is judged by his deeds in life. If good outweighs evil, the person crosses a bridge into Heaven, (if evil outweighs good, the person falls from the bridge into a freezing, foul-smelling Hell). For the Jews suffering in Exile, the idea of spending an eternity with God, in his own well-appointed abode, was understandably appealing. Certainly more appealing than spending eternity in a numbing sleep in Sheol.
"The doctrine of reward and punishment, as applied to life after death, developed during the times of the Maccabees (c. 170-160 B.C.E.).
"Rabbis scoured the Holy Bible to support their newfound belief in the immortality of the soul and the existence of a personal hereafter. They found little, reinterpreted what lent itself to prefigurement and prophecy, and argued bitterly among themselves over what life in Heaven would be like, as well as where Heaven was located. All agreed that the just, like the prophet Elijah, would be restored to the bosom of the Lord that the wicked would feel the flames of an everlasting Hell.
"Some rabbis believed that the deceased would reside in God's celestial palace."
From page 444 -
"With the New Testament, Heaven really developed into the abode of God, elders, angels, and the blessed, especially through the vivid, kaleidoscopic imagery in the Book of Revelation (c. 95 C.E.)."
From pages 445-449 -
"John bore reassuring messages: No matter how bad life gets, God is in control. Remember that Christ, not the emperor, is Lord. Jesus is coming to execute justice. There will be a glorious afterlife, a peaceful, pain-free Paradise for faithful believers - especially for those who lay down their lives for Christ. Christian Heaven is reward for suffering.
"By contrast, Jewish Heaven is reward for executing life's obligations.
"The Roman Catholic Church would later stratify Heaven into tiers of desirability based on the concept of sanctifying grace. As the doctrine decrees, not everyone who makes it into Heaven gets an equal share of bliss, for each person's capacity for eternal happiness depends on the degree of sanctifying grace he or she has in his soul at the moment of death."
From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, page 519 - "Heaven - The word properly denotes the abode of the Deity and His Angels - 'heaven is my throne' (Is lxvi, 1 and Matt v, 34) - but it is also used in the Bible and elsewhere for the air, the upper heights, as 'the fowls of heaven', 'the dew of heaven' (Deut I, 28); a tower whose top should 'reach unto heaven' (Gen xi, 4); the starry firmament, as 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven' (Gen I, 14)."
From The Oxford Companion to the Bible, page 270 -
"Heaven - with respect to heaven as the final abode of God's people, this is hardly to be found in the Hebrew Bible, where for the most part the fate of everyone, good or bad, was the shadowy realm of Sheol.
"By the Roman period, a blessed future holds a sure place in Jewish thinking, particularly among the Pharisees; the Sadducees retained the conception of a universal Sheol. In the New Testament generally, the servants of God are encouraged to look forward to a blissful eternity with God, but the word 'heaven' is used sparingly in this connection, other terms such as 'eternal life,' 'glory,' 'my Father's house,' being preferred."
From The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible, page 148 -
"The Hebrews used the word 'heaven' to refer to the sky. The phrase 'the heaven and the earth' means the same as our word 'universe'.
"Heaven can also refer to where God is. So Jesus taught his disciples to pray, 'Our Father in heaven…' God is not alone in 'heaven'. He is surrounded by the 'angels of heaven' who serve him. Christians are promised a place 'in heaven' after this life. Jesus promised his disciples that he was going there to prepare a place for them. So 'heaven' is the experience in which all the angels and all the believers who once lived on earth joined in unending worship of God.
"What is heaven like? We are told that it will be 'home', where there will be rest, but also a share in God's work. In 'heaven' we shall be safe and happy in God's presence, with nothing to spoil things. In 'heaven' we shall meet all who have trusted Jesus in life - and we shall know them, as Jesus' disciples recognized him after the resurrection. 'Heaven' is a 'treasure-house', where more important things than money are kept for us. In heaven there are no tears, there is no pain, no weakness, no night or need for sleep. In God's presence there is joy for ever."
From The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, volume 2, page 1371 -
"Hell -- The English word, from a Teutonic root meaning 'to hide' or 'cover', had originally the significance of the world of the dead, generally. Now the word has come to mean almost exclusively the place of punishment of the lost or finally impenitent; the place of torment of the wicked.
"2 Peter 2:4 'to cast down to hell' is used to represent the Greek tartaroo. Here it stands for the place of punishment of the fallen angels."
From Sacred Origins of Profound Things, page 456 -
"Different hells depend on one's beliefs -
"The ancient Greeks had a distant island called Hades, where abandonment and social isolation were sheer torture.
"The Israelites who wandered the desert had a relatively tame site called Sheol, a dusty, dry underworld in which good and evil souls commingled in a state of continual thirst.
"The Norse netherworld of Neflheim was wracked by gale-force winds, bitter cold, and shrouded in impenetrable dark.
"Christian Hell, as we'll see, underwent many modifications to become the severest hellhole of all, a kingdom of cruelty, an eternal furnace of physical torture and emotional torment.
"An infamous ravine south of Jerusalem, the Valley of Gehinnom, gave Hell its name. And a pagan cult of child sacrifice conducted there, on a stone hearth back in the days when the highest offering a man could send up to a god was the body of an innocent, gave Hell its fiery imagery.
"Clearly, though, the law of Moses condemned child sacrifice. And in the seventh-century B.C.E., King Josiah destroyed the stone shrine in the Valley of Gehinnom. The charred stretch of earth had become a local dumping ground, a town garbage heap for sundry refuse as well as for the bodies of slain animals and executed criminals. For sanitary reasons, carcasses and corpses were routinely burned, and the valley's reputation remained that of a hellhole.
"Indeed, Jewish prophets continued to denounce the old-time abominations of God, such that, in time, the fiery place would become a metaphor for the site where God punishes the evil for eternity.
"Another word occurs sixty-five times in the Old Testament: Sheol. Sometimes it has been translated as 'Hell,' other times as 'grave' or 'pit,' which are more accurate, since Sheol is a dark region in the lower world where good and evil souls exist as ghosts, or shades, in a state of continual thirst.
"The Jews of the Old Testament, like their Mesopotamian neighbors, had no morbid fascination with the concept of eternal punishment and suffering. After death, a person's shade - from the Greek skotos, 'darkness' - passed into a dry, dusty, vague sort of desert. There was no fire, no Lucifer, no pitchfork and red embers, just thirst.
"Like Heaven, Hell enters Jewish lore after the destruction of the first Temple in 586 B.C.E. and the subsequent Exile of Jews to Babylon, at which time they fell under the influence of Persian dualism and Zoroastrianism - which made a profound impression on Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
"The Jews borrowed from Zoroaster's teachings, and in Talmudic times, especially during the period of Jewish persecution by the Romans in the early centuries C.E., the Jewish notion of Hell as fire-and-brimstone began to take root. At this point, Hell was also a reference to the notorious torrid Valley of Gehinnom."
From The Oxford Companion to the Bible, pages 277-278 -
"Hell is the traditional English translation of the Hebrew word Sheol, found sixty-five times in the Hebrew Bible, and of the Greek word Hades, used twenty-six times in the Apocrypha and ten times in the New Testament.
"Both Sheol and Hades refer to a general dwelling place of souls after death.
"Concerning the location of hell, the biblical references are colored by the usual cosmology of antiquity, which divided the universe into heaven, earth, and underworld. The concept of hell, however, did not depend on cosmology, but rather on concern for the destiny of the dead. There was a general conviction that existence continued in some way after its separation from earthly life, an event that implied separation from God, the source of all life."
From The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible, page 148 -
"Hell - the teaching of Jesus is clear about the fact of hell as an eternal punishment for those who do evil. Jesus uses very vivid imagery to describe it - a rubbish tip; outer darkness; fire which never goes out' a fiery furnace where people will cry and grind their teeth; and the place where God destroys both body and soul.
"These phrases are not to be taken as a literal description. They are meant as warnings. They emphasize the absolute and final nature of God's judgment and it is a mistake to draw exact meanings out of them. But it is also a mistake to dismiss the idea of hell as some medieval idea about little devils with pitchforks. Hell is an essential part of Jesus' own stern warnings about sin and its power. In fact Jesus said that he himself will pronounce sentence on the day of judgment - 'Away from me, you that are under God's curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels!'
"In English the word 'hell' has sometimes been used with a different meaning to describe the Hebrew word Sheol (Greek Hades). In this case it means, not the place of eternal punishment but the place of the dead."
These are a few examples that people have regarding the afterlife. All religions have their own doctrines. There are all sorts of ideas regarding the number of heavens, their locations, what hell is, where it is, who goes to either place and how they get there. Some have graduated levels of either place, with requirements to move up or down the chain. These are all confusing and often contradictory. But they cannot all be right, can they? Is Yahweh's truth found in any of these conjectures?
Who Is Subject To Death?
We can all agree on one point at least - that we all, as human beings, face the death of our physical bodies. And there really isn't anything we can do about that.
Job 14:5, 10-12
Ezekiel 18:4, 20a
Does that mean everyone? Isn't everyone a sinner?
But notice that this says "the soul" dies. How can that be? Isn't the soul what remains after death? If not, what is it exactly?
In the scriptures, there are two words translated as soul.
In Hebrew the word is Strong's #5315, nephesh. It means a breathing creature, i.e. animal of vitality and is translated as beast, body, breath, creature, man, or person.
The Greek word is Strong's #5590, psuche. It means breath, i.e. spirit and is translated as life, mind or soul.
So does everyone have a soul? No. Everyone is a soul. Adam became a living soul. And remember, in Ezekiel, it said that the soul will die.
No one, except Yahshua Messiah, has yet received immortality. He alone has that distinction.
I Timothy 6:13-16
I Timothy 1:17
Then what separates us from the animals? They die also. The word nephesh also applies to them. That is the word used when they were created in Genesis 1.
This passage mentions a spirit in man and a spirit in beasts. Is this where the difference comes in? Just what is the difference?
In Genesis 1, the animals were all created, each one being a living nephesh. But the description of man's creation is a little more detailed. Elohim blew into man the breath of life. It does not say that He did the same with the animals. Could it be this breath of life that sets mankind apart? Could this be where we receive the ability to comprehend, to reason, to think, to create, etc? It aids us in learning; it is where our character and personality develop and reside. This spirit, when combined with Yahweh's Spirit, is what assists us to understand the truth of Yahweh. Animals do not have that key to unlock understanding. Other creatures act only by instinct; they don't possess these same qualities as the human mind.
I Corinthians 2:11-14
So what happens at death? The body begins to deteriorate - exactly as Yahweh intended.
People have used this scripture to "prove" that the ones who die without Yahweh will forever be in torment. To what could this really be referring? Why would the worm not die?
The Hebrew word here for worm is Strong's #8438, tolah. It means a maggot. And what happens to maggots? They mature and fly away! They don't just remain there and die!
It also says the fire will not be put out. So people assume that it will burn forever - that there is eternal fire and torment in hell. But it doesn't say that. Is it necessary that the fire be put out? When you are burning something, what happens when all the combustible matter is burned up? The fire goes out, doesn't it? Do you have to extinguish it yourself? No, you don't.
Do you disagree? Do you feel that it must be a fire that burns forever? Then what about this?
Think about that. This says that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered an everlasting fire. Is it still burning today? Somewhere in the Middle East? Of course not. It was everlasting as far as those people were concerned, but the fire died when all flammable materials were burned up. If not, that eternal fire would still be burning!
Most churches today teach that people go to heaven at death. And many are comforted with the idea of their loved ones looking down on them, from the happy place with God. Tell me, if they are up there witnessing all the evil and mistakes and accidents and bad decisions made daily by their descendants, how could that make them happy? No, they aren't there witnessing our activities.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no consciousness in the grave. The dead are aware of absolutely nothing. And they aren't "taking it with them".
Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10
So what happens to the spirit in man? Does it come to corruption as well?
While the body disintegrates in the grave, the spirit in man, the one we received with the breath of life, returns to Yahweh. But nowhere in Scripture can you find that the spirit, apart from the body, is aware of anything. There is nothing about any activities in heaven to participate in during that time. Yahweh reserves that blueprint of our character for the day we are to be resurrected and it will be joined once again with a body, be it physical or spiritual.
One person explained it in this manner, as an analogy. Our body is like a tape recorder/player. As we live, whatever character we develop is recorded on a cassette tape. At death, our body (the tape recorder/player) goes back to dust. Yahweh removes the spirit (the tape) and stores it. It is only stored - it experiences no interaction. When we are resurrected, it is as though He reinserts the tape and restores our character.
At this point, some might ask, "So if we are all going to be resurrected any way, why didn't we just all go to heaven to start with?"
John 5:21, 24-29
Simply because that is not what He intended. He intends for man to live again and face up to what he has done, be it good or bad. Each person will have to stand as an individual and be judged. No one else can answer for the sins of another. Yahweh wants man to know that he is responsible for his actions and thoughts and that he will not go unpunished. Or he will know why he is being rewarded.
2 Peter 3:9
What if some have never yet had that chance? What if there are some who have never heard of Yahweh and His plan for mankind? Do they simply go into eternal death for something that is not their fault?
I Timothy 2:3-4
He has a plan for everyone to have the same opportunity. Before He completely destroys a being, He will make sure that being is totally against Him and refuses to bend to Yahweh's will. And that being will know why he will be destroyed.
Believe it or not, there will be more than one resurrection!
More Than One Resurrection
I Thessalonians 4:13-17
I Corinthians 15:16-24
I Corinthians 15:50-54
Notice. The dead IN MESSIAH will rise first - not everyone at that time. Then those people of Yahweh alive at that time will be changed, to join the returning Yahshua and those resurrected. These are the first fruits. The rest of the dead will not be resurrected at that time.
These go to meet Him in the air. So they are going to heaven to "ever be with the Lord"? No. They will rise up to meet Him and then His feet will touch down on this earth.
It says the saints shall be with Him - the ones who went to meet Him in the air. They won't be off living in heaven - there is work to be done here.
Revelation 19:11-16, 19-21
Yahweh is coming to wage war and fight and take over this earth from the one who is now the ruler - Satan the Devil. He will overthrow Satan and all his emissaries. But after that, in what condition will the world be? It will be a mess. The cities will need to be rebuilt and the fields sown.
Much of what we know regarding resurrections comes from one chapter in Revelation.
After Yahshua puts down all rebellion, He has Satan bound. The people who still survive on this earth will not have to deal with his influence for a thousand years. Just think: they will have a chance to be taught Yahweh's truth and learn His paths without the distraction of evil beings.
Revelation 20:4, 6
This describes the future of those who were either resurrected in the Messiah or changed (I Thess. 4) at His return. They are working! They are immortal - they cannot be touched by death again.
The first part of verse 5 is like an inserted phrase. The thought of verse 4 continues with the second half of verse 5. Only those in Messiah were in the first resurrection; the first fruits. The rest of the millions who have lived and died will not be resurrected till a thousand years after Yahshua's return.
Satan will be released at the end of a thousand years. Yahweh wants to see who will continue in His way that they have been learning and who will turn aside to follow evil ways.
For an example of a resurrection, read the prophecy found in the entire chapter of Ezekiel 37, noting especially the following verses:
Ezekiel 37:1-2, 7-8, 10, 12-14
This is yet future. This has not happened in any of history!
At that time, the remainder of humanity will be resurrected. They will be judged - based on their actions, works, character, etc. Yahshua gave an example of this in Matthew 25:31-46, where He talked about dividing the sheep from the goats. Some received everlasting life but some everlasting punishment. And, once again, everlasting does not mean that the punishment goes on forever. It means that the punishment is everlasting in the sense that they will cease to exist - forever. The sentence is everlasting.
There will be some who will be utterly incorrigible and will not be allowed to continue living. They will die again, permanently, for a second time. That is the second death.
2 Peter 3:10-13
Continuing in the prophecy of the valley of dry bones -
This has to be a future prophecy. It was written after the death of David!!
New Heavens And New Earth
Read all of Revelation 21 and 22, the last two chapters of the Bible.
Notice that it will be on the earth. The new city of Jerusalem will come down to the new earth.
Who will be there? Who will inherit this?
Revelation 21:7-8, 27
Revelation 22:3-5, 14
Yahweh is particular. Only those willing to follow Him and live His way will be permitted access to what Yahweh has planned. Is obedience to Him important? Well it says "the ones doing His commands."
Death does not seem so frightening when we realize that we will be raised again. There is something wonderful to look forward to. It involves a lot more than sitting on a cloud and playing a harp! This is talking about the Kingdom of Yahweh Elohim. We are going to be part of His family. With our older brother Yahshua, we will inherit everything.