Why do most Christian teachers refuse to believe that the essence of who we are returns to God?

Author: BibleAsk Team

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Speaker 1

Dee is asking, why do most Christian teachers refuse to believe that the essence of who we are returns to God? The Jews teach otherwise, and it is one of the fundamental beliefs of Judaism.

Speaker 2

Thanks, Dee. I mean, honestly, I think most Christians believe that it’s the quote unquote spirit that goes back to God. But let’s break it down. And I know people do believe that instead of spirit it should be essence. And again, that’s a really vague term, but let’s see what the Bible actually does say. The verse you’re probably referring to and thinking of is Ecclesiastes Twelve seven. It says, Then the dust will return to the Earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. And pretty much most translations here are probably going to say spirit. What does spirit mean? Well, that’s not a word the Hebrews knew or had. They had the word ruach, word ruach. And the first time, see, ruach is when we see the Spirit of God hovering over the waters in Genesis One. So it can refer to like the Holy Spirit, but it has this connotation of wind, almost always with wind. So even with the Holy Spirit, it’s moving over the waters like a wind would. And it is very much associated with breath as well. And so let’s see how this is connected. Connect some quick dots.

Speaker 2

If you look at Genesis Two seven, for example, it says, then the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And man became a living being. In this case, the word for breath wasn’t rua, it was neshama. And the word for breathe was nafak. Neshama, nafak, these are all related words. And Adam or the man became a living soul. That’s the word nephesh. And nefesh is related to nafak and nefesh, and it means or could be literally taken as like a living creature or sorry, a breathing creature or a being, as some translations put it. So it’s not saying that Adam became a soul, a living soul. That’s, again, really, I would say poor English translation imparting modern post Greek understandings on it. But he was a living creature. A unified whole being is what Adam was. And the formula to make in him again was dust from the ground plus the breath that came from God, god’s breath of life. And then we start seeing even animals referred to as Nepheshes, just like humans. And they have a nephesh, a breath, like we do.

Speaker 2

Genesis 721, it says, and all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both a fowl and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing and every man, all in whose nostril was the breath. That word breath there is ruach. The ruach of life, of all that was on the dry land died. So talk about here within the nostrils we find the breath, the people, some translations, even the KJV, properly translates that as breath in that case. So we just really are all over the place in the Bible where sometimes even the KJV might translate it breath. And then later on, if they want to get spiritualistic, we’ll translate it as spirit. But you can really translate it consistently at times as breath. Now there are times where at times spirit is referring to like one’s essence, your nature, your core, your being. So there is that meaning to it. But if we go back to the verse we looked at, Ecclesiastes Twelve seven, it says, then the dust will return to the Earth as it was and the spirit will return to God who gave it dust and then returning back to God spirit. Do we see?

Speaker 2

This is language pointing back to Genesis two, to the forming of Adam. So just as Adam was a combination of dirt or dust and breath, when you die, your dust returns to the earth where God pulled it and then the breath returns back to God. So it’s not breath, it’s not your essence, it’s sort of that spark of life. The breath returns back to God. That is what goes back. And was really interesting. Go back to Ecclesiastes, ecclesiastes three, starting at verse 18, it reads I also said to myself, as for humans, God test them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of the human beings is like that of animals. The same fate awaits them both. As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath. There is a word ruach. We all have the same ruach. Humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. That word, meaningless, there is hebil, and hebil means literally like a vapor or breath. So he’s saying everything. He’s talking about breath, the spirit. Some people translate it and he’s saying everything is breath. It’s wind, it’s vapor, it’s meaningless.

Speaker 2

It’s a nice funny play on words. So he continues, all go to the same place. All come from dust, back to the Genesis two, language and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit, the ruach, rises upward and if the spirit or breath ruach of the animal goes down into the earth, who knows, right? So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy the work because that is their mean. To me. He’s really seeing it as breath. He sees it as breath ruach consistently. If you really are anchored into even the lessons of Genesis too, it’s nothing fancy, it just makes sense. God breathed in the spark of life through the breath of life into Adam. And when we die, in a sense, we breathe it out. I mean, everything that’s considered air is more or less considered of the heavenly realm, back to these ancient people. We are earthly beings, we’re tied to the earth. That’s our realm. The air, the wind, all this stuff would see more as God in a heavenly domain. So it makes sense they would see that then your last breath, your last exhale going back to God.

Speaker 2

And what do you see when Jesus dies? In Luke 23, verse 46, for example, it says, when Jesus cried with a loud voice, it says, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. That word is the Greek word numa, which is what the Jews then use to translate ruach into Greek. And you can in fact, trace what Jesus is quoting. He’s quoting in the Bible verse from the Old Testament again. And Jesus wouldn’t have spoken in Greek. When he’s done, he would have spoken in Aramaic. He would have said, Ruach, father Abba, into the hands I commend my ruach. And having said this, it says, KJV says he gave up the ghost. Terrible translation, terrible translation. NIV does a good job. It says, when he said this, he breathed his last. So it makes sense. Father, into your hands I commit my breath. And when he said this, he breathed his last. So hope this is helpful. There really is a lot of weird spiritualism that we read into the Bible because of our history of the Greek philosophy entering into Christianity. But I really do believe that what the Jews traditionally have thought and their understanding of breath and that’s kind of a nature of spirit or what we translate spirit, I think that is a much better, true biblical understanding of what’s going on here’s.

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