The Scriptures teach that when a person dies, the spirit, the breath of life, or the divine spark of life returns to God and the body returns to dust. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
The Old Testament calls the place where people go at death “sheol,” which is a Hebrew word that simply means “grave.” The New Testament uses the Greek word “hades.” The Bible teaches that everyone who dies goes to the grave. “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” (Psalm 89:48). Both righteous and wicked people go to this place and remain until the Resurrection and the judgment (Revelation 22:12).
When Jacob thought Joseph had died, his children tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “I shall go down into the grave (sheol) To my son in mourning” (Genesis 37:33). Likewise, wicked Korah and his followers went “down alive into the pit (Sheol)” and perished (Numbers 16:30).
People are not conscious in the grave “… the dead know not any thing…Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10).
The Bible compares death to sleep. Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps… However, Jesus spoke of his death” (John 11:11-13 also Psalm 13:3; Daniel 12:2). And it explains that the soul does not have a separate entity that lives beyond the grave at death. The dead are in a state of unconsciousness in the grave until the resurrection when the grave (hades) will give up the dead “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works” (Revelation 20:13).
For more on what the Bible say about the state of the dead, check our The Intermediate State.
In His service,
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