How does the Bible refer to death?

Bible writers used the word sleep consistently to describe the state of death.

Old Testament references

Israel’s ancient historians spoke of their kings “sleeping” or “resting” with their fathers. “Solomon rested (slept KJV) with his father, and was buried in the City of David” (1 Kings 11:43). Job wrote, “But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, so man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep” (Job 14:10-12).

King David wrote, “Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3). Daniel the prophet foretold, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

New Testament references

Likewise, New Testament writers used the word sleep to describe the state of death. When Jairus’ daughter died, Jesus came to raise her up.  He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep” The child is not dead, but sleeping’” (Mark 5:39). When Lazarus died, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps” (John 11:11). And when they misunderstood Him, “Jesus said, to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’” (Verse 14). And when Luke wrote about the martyrdom of Stephen, he said, “Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60). Peter, also, referred to death as a sleep (2 Peter 3:4).

What happens at death?

Sleep is the perfect illustration to describe the state of death. For after death a person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) till the resurrection of the dead at the end of time (John 5:28,29).

Communicating with demons

The devil invented the popular belief that the dead are alive to deceive people. Therefore, reincarnation, communication with spirits, and the “undying soul” are all false teachings. For these erroneous doctrines teach people that when you die you are not really dead but alive in another form. When people believe that, evil spirits that pose as their loved dead ones “working miracles” (Revelation 16:14) will lead them away from God’s Word (Matthew 24:24).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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