What is Death? Rest In Peace or Dust. Which & Why?
Death is never a comfortable situation to face. The loss of a loved one. The tragedy of a sudden accident or a pervasive disease. Understanding death.
Can we comprehend death? Is it a deliverance? Is there life after death? Will we see them again? When will we be reunited? What about communication with the dead? So many questions.
Death is very present in life. No one escapes it. But, very few understand what the life-death cycle is all about and whether it fits in a bigger plan. We’re discussing this for two reasons associated with Genesis 3. We’re at the end of God’s judgment of the Serpent, the woman, and to the man He states,
In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return.
Think about this scenario. On day six, God created the man and woman. On the 7th day, He was with them, instructing them about His ways. Then, God allows the Serpent into the Garden; it seduces the woman, and both eat of the forbidden Tree, which leads to death. Day 6 is Friday, the 7th day is the Sabbath, and although I have no proof, the Serpent did its work, the next day, on Sunday. If this is the case, it took a short three days to unravel God’s plan, or did it?
The centerpiece of the Garden, the Tree of LIFE, never even came into use. Imagine going to a wedding and not eating the wedding cake! Then, God never allows the couple to touch the Tree of Life. Why? We shall see. But, the point is, after just three days, the created couple headed for sure death.
It’s rather difficult to talk about this subject, and I feel a little uncomfortable approaching it with an explanation. Why? Because death is such a personal issue. It touches each of us differently and in such a profound way. I remember the first time it affected me. A friend drowned in a boating accident trying to cross from Vancouver to the island. Much later, I learned what death is from the Bible. During my Ministry of 15 years in one area, I got to know the members very well, and over the years there were many joyous moments but also those of accidents, sickness, old age, death, and mourning.
Just recently, I lost a close friend, a bowling buddy, we’d hang out a couple of times a week. He died suddenly in his sleep. Sobering. Now, Coronavirus, confinement, ambulance sirens, and thousands of unexpected deaths. It’s not easy to cope with loss, uncertainty, the emptiness, the memories, the absence of comprehension when it’s a younger person. And then there are all the cloudy ideas and questions that thunder through our minds. Thankfully there are people to console and comfort, but questions linger.
Death provokes the most profound emotions, sentiments, and feelings — the black clothes we wear to a funeral sum up the loss and despair of many. In The Explanation below, there’s no intention of overlooking the grief that accompanies death.
The Bible does say there’s a time for mourning (Ecclesiastes 3:4) when we can be comforted and surrounded by supporting words of encouragement. Or, just merely a presence. A time-out from ordinary life to adjust to a new relationship situation. Unfortunately, often fraught with administrative necessities related to death. When alone, it can be a time of reflection, both downcasting and uplifting. There’s an example of King David, in the Bible, who didn’t mourn Bathseba’s son’s death (2 Samuel 12). At the child’s death, David stated, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” David knew he would die, just like his son. About 1000 years later, the Apostle Peter stated, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day (Acts 2:19).”
What next? Is there a next? Philosophy and Science are not of much use to answer. Mythology, religion, and other beliefs can offer hope and solace, but what about coherent answers?
Movies, like Gladiator, portray poignant scenes. Maximus, in his afterlife, walking through the fields of Elysium to meet with his dead wife and son. His fellow gladiator, burying the two statuettes of his loved ones and declaring, “I will see you again, but, not yet, not yet,” as he peers toward the sky, giving the impression that after his death he’ll join Maximus somewhere.
Death is reality but, how can we know what happens next?
We’ve already established some points about life and death in Genesis.
- God breathed nishmat chayim into the first man’s nostrils. Chayim is plural referring to MORE than ONE life. Please revise using the link.
- God told the man if he ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “you shall surely die.” Doubled to reveal the certainty of death.
- In Gen. 3:19, God says, “you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” Note the pathway of humans.
> Created from dust
> We are dust
> We return to dust.
- We know the neshama, and the ruach return to God, and the body returns to the ground.
In dust, there’s no life; this is a fundamental piece of our puzzle. Man or woman is born, exists for a particular time on earth, and then dies, there’s no ‘pre’ existence, and there’s no ‘post’ existence. It is non-existence before birth and death after life ends.
There are various ways to expound death in the Bible. Let’s start with a direct quote from Christ because His answer includes several important elements.
23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed to his brother.
25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife to his brother:
26 Likewise the second also, and the third, to the seventh.
27 And last of all the woman died also.
28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying,
32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living
From Christ’s answer, we can understand that a man DIED. To those Sadducees who did NOT believe in a resurrection, Christ confirmed that THERE IS a resurrection.
For those who might not know what a resurrection is, it is raising a human from the dead. They pass from death to life; This is NOT an after-death experience where someone’s health deteriorates to the point of death, and then moments later, they are revived. Resurrection can take place hours, days, months, years AFTER DEATH. Christ is the best-known example after three days. There are a number of other resurrections in the Bible. I leave you to study them over at UnlockBibleMeaning.com.
The Explanation has already compared the neshama and ruach to spiritual software with which God endows humans. The Bible says the first man received it at the first breath. Exactly when you and I received these TWO elements, I don’t find an answer to that in the Bible. It would appear that from conception to birth, in particular at the fetus stage, there is some sort of intelligence. Due to what mechanism, I don’t know. What is clear is that our neshama and ruach have NO life before conception and NO life after death. The Bible clearly states they return to God AFTER death, (Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
Nowhere does the Bible state they continue to LIVE after DEATH. There are examples which, unfortunately, are misinterpreted like the witch of Endor, who evoked Samuel’s spirit and the in the New Testament, the rich man, Lazarus, and Abraham. The first is a spirit but not Samuel’s, see Further study below. The second is simply a story to make a point.
In Matthew 22, above, Christ referred to a resurrection. In verse 31, Christ says Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are DEAD. They AWAIT the resurrection when they will be made alive. A resurrection is from the DEAD, not from some spirit that is still living. Christ, just before dying at his crucifixion, shouted, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. Christ’s spirit remained with the Father three days and three nights and was given back to Christ at His resurrection three days later.
Death is the absence of Life, awaiting a Resurrection.
In the same context as Peter talking about King David being dead and buried, he quotes Psalm 16.
“For David speaks concerning him (the Messiah), I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: (David knew he’d die but he had a hope). Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life (through the prophesied resurrection of the Holy One, the Messiah); you shall make me full of joy with your countenance. (Acts 2:25–28)”
The neshama and ruach are REactivated (that is a manner of speaking) at the resurrection. That is what happened to Christ. That’s what will happen to David.
Life is when a human breathes. Along with a heartbeat, this is how we verify life. It goes hand-in-hand with consciousness and mind (cognitive abilities). When a human ceases to breathe, they no longer have consciousness nor mind. Upon death, their spirit and neshama no longer function and return to God awaiting their resurrection.
The prophetical chapter Ezekiel 37 tells us what will happen to dead people’s ruach(es) that were gathered by God at their deaths. He will give each person a new body and REinstall the neshama and ruach at this resurrection; this is to PHYSICAL life. Revelation 20:12 refers to it, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God”. It is for ALL, we’re talking about billions and billions of people in all nations, everyone since the creation of the first man and woman. In fact, they, too, Adam and Eve, will be resurrected. Everyone who hasn’t had a serious opportunity to learn about the Tree of Life and God’s way will be present.
It could certainly be a shock to some, if not most. Each person will come alive and REgain their consciousness and mind. We can only speculate about the details. Whatever happens, they will have their memories intact, probably more than during their first life. Why? Because God wants them to retain the lessons they learned as the basis for living in the new world. God wants them to be able to make a calculated choice as to which life they want. Their former or the life they’ll learn about after their resurrection. The wondrous plan of God moves into the second stage for them.
I Corinthians chapter 15:35–54 refers to a different resurrection to SPIRITUAL life. Death is a temporary state. Life is the more permanent of the two. God desires that all have LIFE, but He gives each person that choice. There are a small number of people, down through the 6000 years of world history with whom God has worked. It’s another part of the story, but these people will be the future spirit teachers (Isaiah 30:20) of the multiple physical millions resurrected above. Just as Christ prepared the twelve Apostles and other disciples, so is He doing in an ongoing way. It is only with prepared leadership that you can develop a family properly.
God made us “in His image.” Read this context below, to see that at His coming, those who are prepared will PUT ON the full image of God. The earthy puts on the heavenly. The natural body puts on the spiritual body. For these people, when the trumpet sounds, at Christ’s Return, they become incorruptible and immortal. This culmination is the hope of those that serve God.
! Corinthians 15: 35–53
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 You fool, that which you sow is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which you sow, you sow not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God gives it a body as it has pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Note the final verse above. Death is defeated, that’s why we can say life prevails.
Life will Prevail
It is now that the understanding of Nishmat Chayim comes entirely into view. I suggest you revise that material. ChaYIM means more than just life: It means PLURAL liveS. Nishmat chayim refers to God’s Essence of liveS — death exists, but LIFE PREVAILS.
With life and death, life always wins because God breathed the breath of LIVES (plural, Genesis 2:7) into the first human being. Death is a stepping stone, granted, a difficult one to accept. Nonetheless, it’s a stage on the way to life. If you write the scenario for each human being, it will look like this:
- Physical Birth — Life
- Physical Death
- Resurrection to physical life (Ezekiel 37) or spiritual Life and immortality. In other words, Eternal Life (1 Corinthians 15)
- Those resurrected to physical life have the opportunity to make a choice that ends up in Eternal Life or Eternal Death, which the Bible calls the Second Death. (the first death is point 2 above.)
This one verse, below, sums up the entire Bible story and plan of God. To help humans make their own free will choice to move from their present human carnal minds (human nature, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) to God’s spiritual mind (God’s nature, Tree of Life and Peace). The spiritual process for which humans are on Earth, to go from tohu va bohu to wise with no confusion (naked and not ashamed).
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Note that the critical element here is the MIND, the neshama. The Explanation has pulled out all stops to reveal the origin and meaning of mind, neshama. We’ve emphasized the significant role the MIND plays and how the Serpent’s focus is on this element of humankind.
Death is a sad state. It is a time of mourning. But, the grieving can and should be tempered by the foundation of the Word of God’s knowledge. It is a time to meditate on death in relation to life, nishmat chaYIM. Below is a list of verses that you can use for meditation. I hope they will bring you the light to see that even in death, life prevails. These are New Testament passages, and I’d like to relate them to Genesis. In brackets, you’ll see TKGE and ToL, that’s the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. We are ALL in the same position as the first man and woman. Each has the free choice to eat of either of those Trees. Upon our choice lies our future, whether we stay out of the Garden of Eden or reenter it to receive God’s gift of Eternal Life.
Romans 5:17, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
Romans 6.5, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him.
16 Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death (TKGE), or of obedience unto righteousness (ToL)?
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death (TKGE); but the gift of God is eternal life (ToL) through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is you sting? O grave, where is your victory?
1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin (misbehavior — third step in how humans function); and the strength of sin is the law (ethics and justice).
2 Corinthians 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (Sam: This is an important verse because it reveals the error of believers of the I AM concept. That good is hidden INSIDE humans, we just have to reveal it. NO, the sentence of death is IN ourselves). Humans harbor human nature, the equivalent of the TKGE.
2 Corinthians 1:10 Who delivered us (past) from so great a death (TKGE), and does deliver (present): in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us (future); (Sam: God takes of us at ALL times).
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow works repentance (Sam: self-reproach — 6th step on how humans function) to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world (Sam: the sorrow of Genesis 3:16–19) works death. (Sorrow does have a purpose, to make us think of our spiritual state, our behavior)
2 Timothy 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Hebrews 2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Sam: they which are called is the small group I referred to above, who will be the spirit teachers.)
Revelation 2:11 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.
Death is a stepping stone. I could write all sorts of analogies and examples to show why, at a given point in time, we no longer need a stepping stone. Indeed, when God’s people inherit eternal life and immortal bodies, you understand that stepping stones will be a thing of the past.
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
All of the sorrow associated with the world of the first man and woman, the world we live in today, will be history, a thing of the past. Death is a part of that sorrow, and it too will be history. I understand that to envisage such a future is not comfortable. That’s why we meditate on this sure hope of the resurrection and putting down of death.
Understanding the spiritual meaning of death doesn’t mean there’s no emotion. Comprehension means we can temper our emotions, be in control of our feelings. Our sure knowledge, our conviction is more reliable than the circumstances we see around ourselves.
In summary, God gave Adam and Eve a few pieces of the puzzle.
They’d have sorrow during their lives on earth, mainly due to their decisional process, deciding for themselves, aside from God, how to lead their lives. To Eve God said, her descendant(s) would multiply and triumph over the Serpent. But her growing family would have relationship problems, the cause of much sorrow.
To Adam God said, there’ll be a lifetime accompanied by rulership difficulties with, on one hand, triumph, and on the other, death. Because of upset rulership, he too would have much sorrow.
In a nutshell, that’s the picture of the puzzle, the same picture as the two trees: Life and Death. The puzzle reveals to us that there are a FIRST life and death and then a SECOND life and death. A TEMPORARY life and death ultimately followed by a PERMANENT life and death. And humankind, as we’ve seen, was given free will and choice to decide which path each of us will finally follow. In the end, Life will have victory over Death.
This article is an excerpt from chapter 4.4 of the book Agony of Humankind.
Human life ENDS, spirit life CONTINUES
There’s a part of verse Genesis 3:15 that is important to elucidate, “I will put enmity between you (the Serpent) and the woman, and between your (the Serpent’s) seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shalt bruise his (the woman’s) heel.”
It involves a dangerous method used by the Serpent to bruise the woman’s heel., to hurt the neshama-mind of humankind, the seed of the woman.
After death, the neshama (mind) and spirit return to God, there’s no prolongation of life in heaven or anywhere else. There’s no communication with souls in the sense of contacting the defunct. There is, however, communication with the only spirits that defy time, who are disguised as these souls.
In reality, Lucifer, who became the Serpent, was a created spirit being as are all the angels. None of these spirit beings can reproduce (Matthew 22:30), but they do have the characteristic of not dying. Once created, they live forever. (The Serpent and his cohort are present at the beginning of Genesis and continuously, without interruption, to the end of Revelation, 7000 years including the Millenium). On the other hand, humankind reproduces and has a minimal lifespan, barely reaching about 120 years maximum in the 21st century.
Human generations come and go with an entire renewal of the world population every approximately 100 years. Whereas with spirit beings, angels (God’s spirit followers) and demons (the Serpent’s spirit followers), there is NO renewal, but there is CONTINUITY. They live from human generation to human generation. Every one of them spans the entirety of time humans have populated Earth.
This understanding has profound implications and explains most, if not all, of the paranormal phenomena. Particularly when it comes to the concepts of reincarnation, apparitions, demon possession, ghosts, ovnis, multiple personalities, and other such practices. Spirit beings do not die; they continue to live and can accumulate the know-how, the knowledge, memories, and capacities of human beings down through the ages.
We have already discussed how they disguise themselves as angels of light when they are, in reality, very dark; this is essential Biblical knowledge to retain given all the malpractices going on. The Explanation has discussed such practices and highly recommends not getting involved in them. Avoid being bruised.
Capital Punishment in the Old Testament
In the context of death, the cruelty of God, in the form of capital punishment, is raised as an objection and even a contradiction with a “Loving God.” Let’s answer this query.
After reading this post, you should already be in a better position to grasp God’s outlook on death. It is vital to pursue this sensitive subject from God’s point of view NOT a human or humanistic viewpoint. We’ll understand capital punishment in function of four factors which The Explanation elaborated at length.
- Everyone has free choice coupled with human nature, the imagination of their heart. The result of this is behavior. This means that some people can develop plans for torture, rape, murder, and any other despicable act at will. Then, they can enact their imagination and ruin another’s life or snuff it out altogether.
Is that behavior tolerable? Should that behavior be punished?
2. For society to function there must be a semblance of order. Should a population live in fear because a rapist or killer is on the prowl? The whole question of the Rights of Society versus Individual Rights is raised. From a Biblical perspective, societal rights have the priority. It is the responsibility of the individual to conform to the laws of society. When it comes to God’s society and the laws He’s promulgated, we can say that He knows what best for living in peace and prosperity. Respect for that way of life in that society is a necessity. The individual can make any choice they want, but they must be ready to pay the consequences if they choose wrongly.
If a guest stays in your home, you have the right to ask them not to smoke, for instance. If they smoke anyway, what do you do?
3. Death, including capital punishment, takes place in the context of justice. In society, there is always a code of ethics. Guidelines stating what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Justice includes respect for people’s rights which means some sort of reparation by those who infringe on the neighbor’s rights. The goal is restitution and rehabilitation. Such an application of justice takes place over time. Some infractions are beyond restitution and rehabilitation. Capital punishment is the ultimate form of justice when it comes to humans. God uses it in certain situations, and He advised it to humans, in certain severe situations as a form of justice.
4. Never forget “nishmat chaiyim.” The essence of liveS. God breathed into the first man liveS, it’s plural. From the start, God made provision of death. God knew humans would die, one way or another. Be it by old age, natural causes, accident, disease, war, murder or even paying the penalty, via capital punishment, for an illicit act. That foresight is a part of God’s mercy for humankind.
ALL people will participate in a resurrection, a NEW LIFE. That’s the essence of liveS. No matter what the CAUSE of death, even capital punishment, ALL will be raised from the dead, to learn a better way of life, God’s way. That’s part of His plan for humankind.
When we grasp these four principles, we can see the wisdom in God’s point of view and accept certain practices that, at first glance, appear cruel.
A wise man once said, Teach you me, what I do not know.
Let’s get started with The Explanation.
- Inventory of the Universe
- Audit of the Universe
- Audit of Humankind
- Origin of the Universe (Commentary on Genesis 1)
- Origin of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 1:26–2:7)
- Origin of Woman (Commentary on Genesis 2:8–25)
- Agony of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 3)
You can read all the books of The Explanation series online. Buy the books at your favorite store. Sam blogs weekly at TheExplanation.com The Explanation masters Biblical Hebrew to help you unlock more in-depth Bible meaning. Free tools to read and study the Bible online.