This is a followup to one of my recent posts titled “25-2: Where did the Old Testament Saints go after death?“, which turned out to be one of my most popular posts ever. (Thank you everybody for reading and your support!!!)
The reason for this followup is that I was kindly shown an alternative viewpoint that challenges some long-held assumptions I have held about what happens after the death of a human being.
Since good reasons including Scripture and scholarly references were provided, in all fairness I felt this had to be shared.
So let’s get started.
First, if you recall from my original post, I said that in the Old Testament, the souls of the dead travelled to a place called “Sheol” where there are two chambers: “Abraham’s Bosom” and “Hades” (or “hell”, “gehinom” in Hebrew).
I said that those faithful to God went to “Abraham’s Bosom” and those who had rejected God’s faithfulness were sent to “Hades“.
My post was based on the following two assumptions:
1) The soul as a distinct and separate entity departs from the body after death.
2) The former dead person (now a disembodied intellect) retains his or her consciousness after death.
In fact, there is a substantial body of literature reporting near death experiences where people share their freaky testimonies of how their souls travelled to the dimension of heaven and/or hell and then returned to their physical bodies here on earth.
However, this new (to me anyway) and absolutely fascinating perspective that was shared is as follows and challenges the aforementioned assumptions of mine point by point:
1) THE BODY AND THE SOUL ARE ONE AND THE SAME!
Yes, you read that right.
This perspective asserts that while other religions teach that the soul is immortal, the Hebrew Scriptures make it clear that the soul does NOT survive the death of the body. The soul and body come together as an inseparable package, and one cannot survive without the other.
In other words, when the physical body dies, so does the soul.
Some of the Scripture references provided to support this view are as follows:
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”–Genesis 2:7
NOTE: It does not say that Adam was given a soul, rather he “became a soul”.
“In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”-Genesis 3:19
NOTE: Absolutely no hint that Adam’s existence as a disembodied intellect continues on forever. The Scripture here says his very existence returns to the dust from which he was created.
“Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so also the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul who sins is the one who will die.“-Ezekiel 18:4
2) CONSCIOUSNESS IS COMPLETELY OBLITERATED AT DEATH
So this assertion obviously goes hand in hand with the first assertion.
If the soul dies along with the physical body, then of course its inherent consciousness also disappears.
“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; there is no longer any reward for them, because all memory of them is lost. What they loved, what they hated and what they envied all disappeared long ago, and they no longer have a share in anything done under the sun.”-Ecclesiastes 9:5-6
When this mind-blowing information was shared with me, I immediately thought about Saul’s encounter with the “soul” of the dead Samuel and wondered if this account was evidence showing that a person’s consciousness in the form of a soul continues to live on after death.
Let’s take a look at that encounter recorded for us in 1 Samuel 28.
The following is the dialogue that transpired once Samuel (or an apparition of Samuel) arose from the spirit world.
SAMUEL: Why have you disturbed me and brought me up?
SAUL: I’m very upset; because the P’lishtim are making war against me; and God has left me and doesn’t answer me any more, neither by prophets nor by dreams. This is why I’ve called you, so that you can let me know what to do.
SAMUEL: Why ask me, if Adonai has left you and become your enemy? Adonai has done for himself what he foretold through me — Adonai has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to your fellow countryman David, because you didn’t obey what Adonai said and execute his furious anger toward ‘Amalek. That’s why Adonai is doing this to you today. Adonai is giving Isra’el as well as yourself over into the power of the P’lishtim, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Adonai will hand over Isra’el’s army to the power of the P’lishtim.
When I inquired about this episode of Saul raising Samuel from the dead, I was told that Saul didn’t really speak to a disembodied Samuel but was actually communicating with a demonic spirit pretending to be Samuel.
The reasoning given was that since King Saul used a spirit medium (which is forbidden by God) to summon up Saul, what King Saul encountered must have been of demonic origin.
So was this really the soul of Samuel himself or a demonic spirit pretending to be Samuel?
I can’t say for sure.
To be honest, I was taught that it was indeed Samuel but that God supernaturally allowed him to come up and was manipulating the situation to His purposes.
Another thing that bothers me is if this really was a demonic spirit pretending to be Samuel, why don’t the Scriptures tell us this directly?
The Scriptures plainly say it was Samuel.
Why doesn’t it say something like: “And then a deceiving spirit pretending to be Samuel arose from the earth.”
Furthermore, the being called “Samuel” in this episode pretty much reiterated what God had already pronounced concerning Saul and his doomed future.
In other words, King Saul heard the word of the Lord through this being called “Samuel” that the witch had brought up.
Was this just more satanic deception?
Let’s take a look at this Scripture from Ezekiel 14:
Then certain of Isra’el’s leaders came to me; and while they were sitting with me,
2 the word of ADONAI came to me:
3 “Human being, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, thus setting in front of themselves the stumbling block that leads to sin. Should I let them consult me at all?
4 Therefore speak to them, and tell them that Adonai ELOHIM says, ‘Everyone in the house of Isra’el who takes his idols into his heart, thus setting in front of himself the stumbling block that leads to sin, and then comes to the prophet, I myself, ADONAI, will answer him in a manner suited to his many idols,
5 in order to grab hold of the house of Isra’el in their hearts; since, through their idols, they have all fallen away from me.’
6 “Therefore say to the house of Isra’el that Adonai ELOHIM says, ‘Repent! Turn yourselves away from your idols, turn your faces away from all your disgusting practices!
7 For everyone, whether from the house of Isra’el or a foreigner living in Isra’el, who separates himself from me and takes his idols into his heart, thus setting in front of himself the stumbling block that leads to sin, and then comes to the prophet, asking him to consult me for him, I myself, ADONAI, will answer him.
8 I will set my face against that person, make him a warning sign and an example, and cut him off from my people. Then you will know that I am ADONAI.
I believe this Scripture addresses the situation of Saul and the medium he used to bring up Samuel.
This Scripture is talking about idolatrous Hebrews who are seeking God through idols, which is exactly what Saul was doing with the witch at En Dor!!!
Now what does YHVH say He will do when a Hebrew seeks Him through idolatrous means?
He says He will tell them to repent from their idolatry or be cut off from Him.
This is exactly what happened in the situation with Saul, Samuel and the Witch of En For!!!
Okay, this is getting long.
I’ve totally broken my rule to keep things concise and simple, but once I started typing, something took over and I just couldn’t stop.
So let’s bring this to a close.
Here’s my take on everything I’ve shared so far.
And when I say “my take”, I mean exactly that.
I’ve been wrong in the past and I could be wrong here.
And when proven wrong, I’ll be more than happy to be the first one to admit it.
I believe the perspective shared here about the soul NOT being separated from the physical body upon death makes good sense scripturally and logically.
At the same time, I am not so sure that the being that communicated with King Saul from the spirit world was a demon just pretending to Samuel.
I am apt to believe that as an exception, God allowed Samuel (or maybe it was God manifesting Himself as an apparition of Samuel) to come up and then had him reiterate His pronouncements regarding King Saul’s doomed future.
God is sovereign and He can do whatever he wants.
So, again I believe the perspective that the soul cannot be separated from the body makes good sense.
Am I saying that I accept this as the correct view?
Well, hmmm, sort of, yes.
I mean it makes good sense and this perspective should be shared and considered.
So what are the implications if this view is correct?
It means we do NOT go to heaven (or hell) when we die.
We stay in the grave until the resurrection…
…which commences the judgement.
Just as the Scripture says.
And we should also take these reports of after death experiences with a serious grain of salt.
So where in the world did we get this idea that the soul separates from the body at death?
Based on the feedback I received (thank you Mei Ling!), it appears that the idea of an “immortal soul” comes from Greek philosophy, NOT from our Bibles.
Also, many of our ideas concerning what happens to us after death comes from Dantes Inferno. (Thank you Dee Anne!)
An interesting question that was brought up is…
“If man has an eternal soul separate from the body that goes to heaven (or hell) after death, then what need is there for a resurrection?”
Finally, check out this quote from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
“Only through the contact of the Jews with Persian and Greek thought did the idea of a disembodied soul, having its own individuality, take root in Judaism. . . .”
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
Look, I will tell you a secret — not all of us will die! But we will all be changed! It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed.-1 Corinthians 15:51-52