Should Christians celebrate birthdays?


 Short answer:

NO. Celebrating the date of one's birth is an ancient pagan custom. Christ never did, and even the day of His birth is not plainly recorded in the Bible. The early Christians did not celebrate birthdays, either.

In the Bible, birthday celebrations are mentioned only three times (the third is presumed), and each one was marked with death! The highest of all holidays in the Satanic religion is one’s own birthday.

A birthday celebration directs attention to oneself in a display of vanity, self-centered egotism, and pride. Pride caused the downfall of Lucifer. When a person celebrates his or her birthday, it is to honor oneself. Yet, the Scriptures say: “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one's own honor” (Proverb 25:27, NIV).

King Solomon said, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1). The day of one’s birth is not very important; it is just the beginning of life’s journey. What is far more important is what we do with our lives. It is like going to school. We do not celebrate after enrolling, we celebrate when we finish or graduate. And in life we do not graduate until death or until the Second Coming of Christ. Beginning life is nothing to be proud of. It is how we finish that really matters.

 

Detailed explanation:

 Each day, one in every 366 people observes his or her birthday. Some hold birthday parties, others do not; but in general friends and relatives greet and sometimes give presents to the celebrant, cheerfully wishing him or her a “Happy birthday!”

Ancient pagan custom. Celebrating the date of one's birth is an ancient pagan custom. The Bible makes no mention of Christians celebrating the event. Christ never did, and even the day of His birth is not plainly recorded in the Scriptures. Because of the link to paganism, the early Christians did not celebrate birthdays. 


Marked with death.

In the Bible, there are only three mentions of birthday celebrations (the third is presumed), and each one was marked with death! Let us see who the celebrants were.

Pharaoh: “And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: but he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them” (Genesis 40:20-22). Pharaoh had the chief baker executed to mark his birthday.

Herod: “But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison” (Matthew 14:6-10). The beheading of John the Baptist became the highlight of King Herod’s birthday celebration.

Job’s seven sons: “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned…  And there came a messenger unto Job, and said… Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:4-5a,14,18-19).

During a feast in the house of Job’s eldest son (presumably a birthday banquet), Satan killed all ten of Job’s children with what appears to be a tornado.

Job cursed the day he was born. "May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, `A boy is born!' That day – may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it. May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light. That night-may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months” (Job 3:3-6, NIV).

 

Shunned by godly people.

There is no historical record of godly people adopting the pagan practice. The Jews did not celebrate birthdays. Encyclopedia Judaica notes, “The celebration of birthdays is unknown in traditional Jewish ritual” (vol. 4, p. 1054).

It was considered to be against the law of God. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote: “Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the births of our children” (Against Apion, Book II, section 26).

Early Christians similarly shunned the pagan tradition. Origen of Alexandria wrote in a dissertation on Leviticus (245 A.D.): “None of the saints can be found who ever held a feast or a banquet upon his birthday, or rejoiced on the day when his son or daughter was born. But sinners rejoice and make merry on such days. For we find in the Old Testament that Pharaoh, king of Egypt, celebrated his birthday with a feast, and that Herod, in the New Testament did the same. But the saints not only neglect to mark the day of their birth with festivity, but also, filled with the Holy Spirit, they curse this day, after the example of Job and Jeremiah and David.”

 

Pagan origins of birthday celebrations.

Necessary for horoscopes.). There is a direct connection between the pagan practice of birthday celebrations and astrology (horoscopes), as well as fortune-telling in general. We read in the The Lore of Birthdays by Ralph and Adelin Linton: "Mesopotamia and Egypt, the cradles of civilization, were also the first lands in which men remembered and honoured their birthdays. The keeping of birthday records was important in ancient times principally because a birth date was essential for the casting of a horoscope."

Encyclopedia Americana (1991) states: "The ancient world of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Persia celebrated the birthdays of gods, kings, and nobles." 

Protective spirits or daemons. Author Linda Rannells Lewis (Birthdays) noted: “In the fifth century before Christ, the Greek historian Herodotus, describing the festivals of the Persians, wrote: ‘It is their custom to honor their birthday above all other days: and on this day they furnish their table in a more plentiful manner than at other times.’ The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life.”

The Romans had the same idea. According to their belief, if a male infant was born, Janus, the god of beginnings, came. If it was a female child, then Juno, the goddess of birth, women and marriage, arrived. This notion has been carried down in popular belief and is today reflected in the persons of the guardian angel, the fairy godmother, and the patron saint.

Cakes for the moon goddess. The custom of having birthday cakes started in ancient Greece, where many gods and goddesses were worshipped. Among them was Artemis, the goddess of the moon. The Greeks celebrated her birthday once each month by placing round cakes like the full moon on her temple altars. And, because the moon glows with light, the cakes were decorated with lighted candles. Birthday candles, in folk belief, had a special magic for granting wishes.

The Germans started the children’s birthday party tradition in the 1700s. It was first called kinderfeste (“children’s feast”). They put candles, one for each year of life, on tortes (rich cakes made with beaten egg whites, nuts, and fruit).


Highest holiday in the Satanic Bible.

The “Black Pope,” Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, taught: "The highest of all holidays in the Satanic religion is the date of one’s own birthday… if you are going to create a god in your image, why not create that god as yourself. Every man is a god if he chooses to recognize himself as one. So, the Satanist celebrates his own birthday as the most important holiday of the year… treat yourself like the king (or god) that you are, and generally celebrate your birthday with as much pomp and ceremony as possible" (The Satanic Bible, Book of Lucifer – The Enlightenment, Ch. XI, p. 96).

Honoring oneself. A birthday celebration directs attention to oneself in a display of vanity, self-centered egotism, and pride. The Holy Book cautions: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverb 16:18). Pride caused the downfall of Lucifer. “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” (Ezekiel 28:17).

When a person celebrates his or her birthday, it is to honor oneself. Yet, the Scriptures say: “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one's own honor” (Proverb 25:27, NIV).

 

Death more significant than birth.

King Solomon sagely said, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

A pastor preached that the day of one’s birth is not very important; it is just the beginning of life’s journey. What is far more important is what we do with our lives. It is like going to school. We do not celebrate after enrolling, we celebrate when we finish our schooling or graduate. And in life we do not graduate until death or, at the end-time, until the Second Coming of Christ. Beginning life is nothing to be proud of. It is how we finish that really matters.

 

Pagan practices forbidden.

"Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless…” (Jeremiah 10:2-3a, NIV). Following any of the various superstitious practices of people who do things against the will of God is just a waste of time.

God’s law only for Israel? Some may argue that God’s commandments are only for Israel. The Scriptures explain: “One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD” (Numbers 15:15).

To paraphrase, if a foreigner lives with or joins the Israelites in the worship of the one true God (“YHWH”), he or she is duty-bound to observe the same commandments God has given to His chosen people – the Hebrew nation or Israel.

Do you celebrate birthdays?  


Excerpted from the booklet Unholy Holidays by M.M. Tauson. Printed copies available at Amazon.com – For free pdf copies of our e-booklets, click the Booklets and/or Google Drive tabs on the menu bar.

Bible quotations are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise indicated.  


Who are the 144,000 in the Bible?

Short answer:

A very special group of faithful believers, called the “elect” (chosen ones), will be gathered up by the angels to Christ in the first resurrection of the dead prophesied in the Bible. God’s elect, according to the prophet Isaiah, is Israel. They will number 144,000 in all – 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who will have the seal of God placed in their foreheads by angels. “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).

Virgins… not defiled with women” – will they all be unmarried Israelite men only? However, several verses in the Bible tell us that a “woman” in prophecy personifies a faith, church or religion. So, “not defiled with women” actually means untainted by the wrong teachings of erring churches; “virgins” signify pure and spotless believers, both male and female. The word “firstfruits” means they will be the harvest of the first resurrection.

Israelites only? The apostle Paul taught that faithful Gentile believers can become “naturalized” Israelites spiritually and, thus, also “elect” and part of the 144,000.


Detailed explanation:


Two resurrections of the dead are prophesied in the Bible. “This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years…” (Revelation 20:5b).

The first resurrection will be at the Second Coming of Christ. “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

The second resurrection will be at the end of the ensuing 1,000 years of peace on earth (the so-called Millennium), with Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” (Revelation 20:5a).

The “elect”. A very special group of believers, called the “elect” (“chosen ones”), will be in the first resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ. Who are the “elect”?

The Bible identifies the elect for us. “For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me” (Isaiah 45:4). Israel is God’s elect.

 

The servants of God.

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:1-3). The servants of God will have the seal of God placed in their foreheads by angels.

144,000 Israelites sealed. “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel…” The servants of God are 144,000 in all.  

“Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand” (Revelation 7:4-8). 

 “1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads… These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:1, 4).

Israelite bachelors only? Virgins… not defiled with women”; did the angels put the seal of God on Israelite bachelors only?

“Woman” means church or religion. The Bible tells us that a “woman” in prophecy personifies a faith, church, or religion. “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman” (Jeremiah 6:2). “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2; also 17:1, 5, 16).

So, “not defiled with women” actually means untainted by the wrong teachings of erring churches; “virgins” signify pure and spotless believers, both male and female. The word “firstfruits” means they will be the harvest of the first resurrection. Therefore, the 144,000 are the “elect” who will be gathered up by the angels to Christ in the first resurrection at His Second Coming!

144,000 Israelites only? Doesn’t Romans 11:26a say: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written”? Apparently, all the twelve tribes of Israel will be saved, but not all Israelites individually. But… Israelites only? What about Gentiles?

Gentiles can also become “elect”. Paul taught: “…there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…” (Colossians 3:11-12).

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:1-2).

“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth” (2 John 1). Gentiles can become elect, too!

Gentiles “grafted” in. “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree…” (Romans 11:17). In this parable, a cultivated olive tree stands for Israel. Some branches (unfaithful Jews) are cut off and wild olive branches (faithful Gentile believers) are grafted in their place. In this way, therefore, some Gentiles can become “naturalized” Israelites spiritually and, thus, also “elect” and part of the 144,000.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world… Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God…” (Ephesians 2:12, 19).

The true Jew. With Christ, not all people of Israelite or Jewish descent may be called Jews, spiritually speaking. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29). The true Jew is no longer one in the physical or racial sense, but a member of the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:15-16) – “spiritual Israel”.

 

The “seal of God”.

In Revelation 14:1 – “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.” The 144,000 will have been sealed in their foreheads with the name of God.  

What is the seal of God? Does it solely consist of the name of the Almighty Father and nothing more? The word “seal” implies the presence of other elements aside from just a name. As a rule of thumb, a seal has a pattern containing three main elements: (1) name, (2) title, and (3) domain or territory (National Sunday Law, A. Jan Marcussen, p. 46). An actual example is below: the 1215 seal of King John of England on the Magna Carta (Internet) – Iohannes (name), Rex (title), Anglie (domain). Modern versions would be: Charles III (name), King (title) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (domain); or Joe Biden (name), President (title), United States of America (domain).

Sabbath commandment. In the entire Bible, this pattern can be found only in the book of Exodus, chapter 20, verses 8-11, which embodies the commandment of God to rest on the Sabbath, the seventh and last day of the week. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD (NAME / ”YHWH”) thy God (TITLE): in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is (DOMAIN), and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Three parts of the passage form a seal:

Name: “the LORD” (substituted for “YHWH”)

Title: “God

Domain: “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is

It becomes clear that the Biblical commandment enjoining God’s people to stop working and rest on the seventh day of the week (Saturday) is the seal of God!

Memorial to the Creation. Resting from work on the seventh-day Sabbath is the memorial or spiritual marker to YHWH’s work of creation. “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). For that reason, the commandment begins with the word “Remember…” By keeping the seventh-day Sabbath of rest holy, we honor YHWH by regularly remembering that He is the Creator of heaven and earth.

 

God’s law abolished?

Some people argue that God’s commandments have been abolished. In Paul’s writings, specially in his epistle to the Romans, some passages seem to say that God’s law is no longer observed: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4). The grace of God, rather than the law, now supposedly holds sway over believers. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

Unchanging validity. Christ Himself, however, affirmed the continuing validity of God’s law. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18). According to the Son of God Himself, God’s law will remain unchanged and continue to be in force until all prophecies, including those of the end-times, shall have been fulfilled to the last letter.

Key to eternal life. Keeping the law of God, Christ said, is basic to gaining eternal life. “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17).

The commandments are key to being admitted into the kingdom of heaven. Christ told John in the apostle’s visions of the Revelation: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).

 

The law upheld.

Paul himself said God’s law is still in force! “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). What is even more, the very people whom God considers acceptable to Him are those who obey the law. “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). Was Paul contradicting himself? Was he guilty of doublespeak – saying one thing and meaning another?

Tough topics misunderstood. Peter observed that Paul was sometimes misunderstood: “…our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15a-16). Did you get that? Some of the topics Paul wrote about were hard to understand!

 

Sentences suspended.

So, why did Paul say that we are no longer under the law? Fausset's Bible Dictionary notes that the law “convicted of sin and was therefore ‘a ministration of condemnation’ and ‘of death…’ (2 Corinthians 3:7, 9).” In other words, in the Old Testament, if anyone broke a commandment, punishment, the most severe of which was death, was usually meted out immediately upon the transgressor without much ado.

However, in Colossians 2:14, Paul said that Christ has blotted “out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” With His teachings of love, Christ suspended the inexorable punishments under the law, even death, which was very much against and contrary to us. 

The idea becomes quite clear in Romans 8:2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Christ has liberated us from the law which called for immediate and merciless punishments on lawbreakers. We see this vividly illustrated in a New Testament incident.

The adulteress. In John 8:3-11, the scribes and Pharisees caught a woman in the act of adultery, but, before stoning her to death according to the law (Deuteronomy 22:22), they brought her to Christ. “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her… And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Christ had mercy on the woman, thus saving her from immediate death. Nevertheless, adultery is still a sin (“sin no more”, He said, referring to the commandment in Exodus 20:14). Christ therefore affirmed, even if indirectly, that God’s law is still in force – but tempered with love and mercy under the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-32).

So, what Paul was trying to say was, Christ set aside the severe punishments under the law that were against and contrary to us – giving lawbreakers the chance to repent and return to God – but otherwise God’s law, i.e., its basic precepts and principles, still stands!

Early Christians kept the Sabbath. The early Christians kept God’s law, specially the Sabbath commandment, faithfully – not working or even cooking on the seventh day of the week (Saturday). “Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day" (Exodus 35:3, NIV).

 

Acts of mercy and necessity.

On a few occasions, Christ and His disciples appeared to have violated the seventh day Sabbath. We read in Matthew 12:1-4, “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?”

 “And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). To paraphrase, God gave the Sabbath to man for his benefit and comfort, not for him to observe regardless of any hardships. So, should there be any conflict between the Sabbath and a man’s pressing need that cannot be put off, it is the latter that may be given priority.

Christ also healed people on several instances on the Sabbath. “And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? That they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days” (Matthew 12:10-12; cf. Luke 13:14-16, 14:2-4; John 5:10-11).

Apparently, the law of the Sabbath is rather flexible. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary concludes: “Therefore, all work except acts of mercy, necessity, and worship were forbidden on the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13; Matthew 12:1-13).”

 

Sabbath day changed.

In 321 A.D., to unify the two dominant groups of people in the Roman Empire – pagan sun-worshippers and Christians – Emperor Constantine decreed as the Roman day of rest Sun-day (day of the sun-god), which Christians also venerated as the day of the Resurrection. The bishops of the Church, who wanted to distance themselves from the Sabbath-keeping Jews, whom they often called “Christ-killers,” welcomed the imperial decree. Pope Sylvester, the bishop of Rome (314-335), subsequently declared Sunday as “the Lord’s Day.” In 364, the Council of Laodicea conferred upon Sunday, the first day of the week, the holiness of the seventh-day Sabbath. 

Perpetuated by Reformists. Later on, in the 16th century, when Martin Luther, followed by John Calvin and others, led and spread the Reformation, the many Protestant churches that grew out of the movement continued to observe Sunday as the day of rest, as well as the other unbiblical holidays (Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day, etc.) instituted by the Roman Catholic Church that they had broken away from.

 

Blessings or afflictions.

People will be rewarded or punished accordingly, depending on whether or not they obey God’s commandments. Those who willfully ignore or neglect the Sabbath do not want to acknowledge YHWH as the Creator. That is a most grievous insult to the Creator.

Prayers of transgressors ignored. God ignores the prayers of those who disregard His law: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners…” (John 9:31a, NKJV). God finds the prayers of transgressors disgusting. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Proverb 28:9).

The lives of disobedient people who knowingly break the commandments of God are characterized by pitiful misfortunes. “But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD” (Proverbs 1:24-29, NIV).

No to worldly desires. Prayers for personal pleasures are usually not granted. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:3-4).

 

Prayers of the faithful answered.

God greatly blesses those who keep His commandments, specially Sabbath-keeping. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

God answers the prayers of faithful believers. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).

Poverty will be unknown among the keepers of God’s law: “…there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today” (Deuteronomy 15:4-5, NIV).

Elihu, one of Job’s friends, vividly portrayed the lives of people who obey God’s commandments: “If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures” (Job 36:11).

They are first and foremost the elect – the 144,000 with the seal of God in their foreheads. You can be one of them!

 



1215 seal in Latin of

King John of England


Excerpted from the book Angels & Men, and the booklets New Jerusalem, The Angels and You, and The Day of the LORD by M.M. Tauson. Printed copies available at Amazon.com – For free pdf copies of our e-booklets, click the Booklets and/or Google Drive tabs on the menu bar.

 

Bible quotations are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise indicated.


What Happens after Death?


Short answer:

The righteous goes to the “bosom of Abraham,” also known as the Garden of Eden (Paradise); the sinner goes to Gehenna, which is so close to the lake of fire that the heat and flames make it a place of torment. Both places are just temporary dwelling places for the spirits of the dead as they await the Last Judgment. 

All saved spirits, whether Jews or Gentiles, go to the bosom of Abraham. After all, “if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). 


Detailed explanation:

 

For a more detailed answer, let us first find out what the Bible, the word of God, teaches about the parts of man that can either cease or continue to exist when a person physically expires.

 

Three parts of a man

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul enumerates three parts of a man: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The three parts are: (1) spirit; (2) soul; and (3) body. Let us examine all three to determine the use or function of each one.

 

The body.

There is no exact term for “body” in Hebrew. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia explains: “Generally speaking, the Old Testament language employs no fixed term for the human body… Various terms were employed, each of which denotes only one part or element of the physical nature, such as ‘trunk,’ ‘bones,’ ‘belly,’ ‘bowels,’ ‘reins,’ ‘flesh,’ these parts being used, by synecdoche, for the whole… The Greek word which is used almost exclusively for ‘body’ in the New Testament is soma.”

Man’s physical body came from the earth. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground…” (Gen 2:7a). Chemically, human beings are made up of the same elements found in the ground.

 

The soul.

“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” (Gen 2:7). It looks like the soul came into existence as a product or result of life. The word “soul” is nephesh in Hebrew; psyche in Greek.

Instincts and desires. The soul feels and expresses some of the most basic instincts and emotions of man. According to Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, “The soul is the seat of the appetites, the desires, the will; hunger, thirst, sorrow, joy; love, hope, fear, etc…”  It is the soul that feels the need to eat and drink, as in Isaiah 29:8 (NKJV) – “It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams. And look -- he eats; But he awakes, and his soul is still empty; Or as when a thirsty man dreams, And look -- he drinks; But he awakes, and indeed he is faint, And his soul still craves.”  Or: “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps 107:9; cf. Deut 12:20; Prov 25:25).

Carl Jung (1875-1961), the world renowned Swiss psychiatrist who developed the field of analytical psychology, had a similar view: The soul is the lower nature of man, the personal unconscious with the instincts and desires.

 

The spirit.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia states that the term “spirit” has a shade of meaning that is “generally for all the manifestations of the spiritual part in man, as that which thinks, feels, wills…”

Mind. In other words, the spirit houses the intellect, the mental faculties, or the rational, thinking mind of man. Roberto Assagioli, an Italian Jew regarded as the father of transpersonal psychology, defined the spirit as the personal “I” or “conscious self.”

In the Old Testament, Hebrew ruach (“spirit”) is frequently translated as “mind”, as in Proverb 29:11 – “A fool uttereth all his mind (ruach): but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (cf. Gen 26:34-35; Ezek 11:5b; Dan 5:20a; Hab 1:11). The spirit can gain both knowledge and wisdom: “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit (Greek pneuma) that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things?” (Mark 2:8-9, NIV; cf. Ex 28:3; Dan 5:12). The spirit makes decisions (Deut 2:30; cf. Matt 26:41); it can be troubled or upset (Gen 41:8; Dan 2:1); it can be either patient or proud (Eccl 7:8). Thus, it becomes clear that the spirit can have all the thoughts that may enter into a man’s mind.

God and the angels. God is a spirit (John 4:24); and, as we know, God is all-knowing. The angels, too, are spirits (Ps 104:4, Heb 1:7, 12:9) and, unless they materialize, have no physical bodies with brains. Yet, although ethereal, they have individual consciousness and minds of their own. This goes to show that the mind, consciousness, and intelligence are in the spirit.

 

The parts of Adam.

“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” (Gen 2:7).

No spirit. Something seems to be missing. Adam had a physical body from the dust of the ground, and as a result of life he became a living soul (nephesh), having the instincts necessary to eat and drink in order to sustain life; but… he had no spirit! Adam lacked the part that is responsible for conscious and intelligent thought. What could be the reason for this?

Origin of spirit. The prophet Zechariah gives us an idea: “The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him” (Zech 12:1). God forms the spirit inside man. Hence, the physical body must first come into existence; only then can the spirit be divinely formed or fashioned inside the human body.

The process becomes clear. First, the body; next the soul (nephesh, with the instincts to survive by drinking, eating, etc.); then the spirit (ruach, with the consciousness and intellect). The spirit or mind seems to gradually develop as the physical body grows and matures – at the same rate as the physical growth of a child.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung taught something similar: the conscious mind “grows out of an unconscious psyche (soul), which is older than it…” as quoted by author Migene Gonzalez-Wippler (A Kabbalah for the Modern World, 1974, p. 148).  This explains why we cannot talk sensibly with babies and very young children – their spirits or minds are not yet well developed. If that is the case, then God must have created Adam as an infant or a little baby! 

 

A fourth part of man

Man appears to have a little known fourth part, in addition to the three (body, soul, and spirit) that we have already discussed.

 

Two kinds of spirit.

Another kind of spirit distinct from the ruach crops up surreptitiously, unnoticeably, in some Biblical verses. We thus find two markedly different kinds of spirit: One seems to be corruptible, while the other appears to be incorruptible or indestructible. We see in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Paul prayed for the preservation of the spirit, so it follows that that particular spirit can be destroyed. We see the same thing in other verses, both in the OT and NT: “Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit (ruach)(Job 10:12); “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit (pneuma) may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5).

On the other hand, there seems to be another kind of spirit that cannot be destroyed. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl 12:7). Solomon said that the spirit of the dead goes back to God, who gave it to man. The corruptible spirit (ruach), as Zechariah hinted, did not come from God, who forms or fashions the spirit that is already inside the body. Apparently, these are two different kinds of spirit!

The difference. Let us take another, much closer look. The perishable spirit, which did not come from God, if soiled by sin, can be destroyed. On the other hand, the indestructible spirit, which came from God, it appears, will return to God at death unconditionally – whether the person is a sinner or a saint! We are already familiar with the verses about the corruptible spirit (ruach or mind). Let us now look for examples of the incorruptible spirit for scrutiny.

“Spirit of life.” Several passages state that the spirit makes the body alive. “It is the Spirit (pneuma) who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63, NKJV). “For as the body without the spirit (pneuma)is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). “And after three days and an half the Spirit (pneuma) of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them” (Rev 11:11; cf. Luke 8:52-55).

“Breath of life.” In other Bible verses, the life-giving and sustaining element in man is referred to as the “breath of life” (Hebrew neshamah). “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (neshamah); and man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7). “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath (neshamah) of the Almighty hath given me life” (Job 33:4). “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit (ruach) and his breath (neshamah); All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust” (Job 34:14-15; cf. Isa 42:5).

The “breath of life” came from God. Hence, the “spirit of life” must also be the neshamah, which is indestructible and “shall return unto God who gave it,” whatever the spiritual condition of the person is. It is so unlike the other spirit (ruach) which has the conscious mind that is formed inside the body and, being corruptible, can either be saved or destroyed.

Big picture. We can now visualize the simplified big picture, based on the Biblical passages:

1) body of man was formed by God from the ground;

2) neshamah (breath of life) from God made the body alive;

3) nephesh (soul) spontaneously came into being as a result of life;

4) ruach (spirit) grew inside the body, and was formed or fashioned by God.

 

Different beliefs 

Solomon said there is a silver cord that keeps the body, soul, and spirit tied together, but this cord gets unfastened at the moment of death. We read in Ecclesiastes12:6-7 – “Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”

Death can no longer be averted once the silver cord is loosed. “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it” (Eccl 8:8).

That brings us back to the ages-old question: What happens after a person dies? The enigma of whether life and consciousness continue after death has haunted men since time immemorial. There are several different beliefs concerning what happens to a deceased individual after death.

 

Annihilation? This belief assumes that all things end for a person at death – physically and mentally. Proponents of annihilationism argue that this is consistent with biblical teachings about God's justice and mercy in relation to eternal punishment. The Sadducees did not believe in the existence and immortality of the soul or spirit (Matt 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Josephus Ant. 18.1.4.; Wars 2.8.14), because Moses made no mention of them. “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both” (Acts 23:8). 

 

Reincarnation?

Belief in the preexistence of the soul is behind the concept of reincarnation – the rebirth of a person’s spirit in a new human body, an animal, or some other form of life. The idea came with the Greek culture to Israel, finding its way into the Bible. “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2-3). The disciples were wondering if the beggar might have been born blind because he had sinned in a previous life. No, Christ said, the man was born blind so that the works of God could be manifested through His miracles.

Unbiblical. Paul, in a sweeping statement later, doused any notion the disciples might have entertained about reincarnation. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). He stated categorically that men can only die once. Therefore, the belief in preexistence and reincarnation is unbiblical.

 

“Sleep of death”?

Many times in the Bible, death is euphemistically called “sleep.” We see examples of this in the following verses: 1 Kings 2:10 – “So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David”; Matthew 27:52a – “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose…”; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 51 – “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept… Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” For this reason, some denominations teach that dead people lie in the grave with no consciousness at all until they are raised back to life in either one of the two prophesied resurrections.

Conscious spirits. Revelation 6:9-10 belies the “sleep of death” interpretation. “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” The martyred believers below the altar in heaven are fully conscious and calling to God from below the altar in heaven!

Moreover, Christ told the repentant thief crucified with Him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43b). It does not look like Christ would take the man along to sleep in Paradise.

 

Heaven or hell?

After life in this world, do righteous people go straight to heaven, while sinners go directly to hell (the lake of fire)? That is what some mainstream churches teach.

No man in heaven. Christ said, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). Quite clearly, therefore, no man, except Christ, the Son of God, has ever gone up to be with the Father in heaven.

No one in hell… yet. Sinners will be thrown into “hell” only after the Last Judgment: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). “Hell” is reserved for Satan and his minions. “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). After losing the war in heaven, Satan and his demons were thrown down to earth, not into the lake of fire (Rev 12:9). In fact, Satan is now the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4). “Hell” is still empty. 


What the Jewish sages taught 

So, what really happens after death? Let us again appeal to the received wisdom of the Jewish sages. But, wait a minute, why keep on consulting the Jews, you might say, they are not Christians. Paul explains: “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Rom 3:1-2, NIV). Christ also told the Samaritan woman at the well, “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22b, NIV).

 

Three separate destinations.

We read in a commentary on the Torah (first five books of the Bible): “Three names has the soul of man: nephesh, ruah and neshamah. They are all comprised one within the other, yet upon death they have three distinct abodes:

Neshamah (breath of life) ascends at once to her place, the region from whence she emanated, and for her sake the light is kindled to shine above. She never again descends to earth… And as long as she has not ascended to be united with the Throne, the ruah (spirit) cannot crown itself in paradise, nor can the nephesh (soul) be at ease in its place; but when she ascends all the others find rest.” This is basically what Solomon said. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl 12:7).

Ruah (spirit) enters paradise and there dons a likeness which is in the semblance of the body: that likeness being, as it were, a garment with which the spirit robes itself, so that it may enjoy the delights of paradise.” This is why Christ told the repentant thief crucified with Him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43b).

It is the spirit, not the soul, which goes to Paradise. The psalmist sang: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth” (Ps 31:5). Christ commended His spirit as He died on the cross: “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46-47, NKJV). The martyr Stephen likewise prayed for his spirit as he was being stoned to death: “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).

Nephesh (soul) remains in the grave until the body is decomposed and turned into dust, during which time it flits about in this world, seeking to mingle with the living… the three are one – yet separate. The neshamah ascends aloft to the fountainhead; the ruah enters paradise; the nephesh finds rest in the grave.”

 

The afterlife, according to Christ

The following account, related by Christ to His disciples, is not a parable, as some mistakenly believe, but an object lesson or practical example and illustration of what actually happens to the spirits of men after death. “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:19-23).

 

Two regions in Hades.

Lazarus the beggar and the rich man went to two separate destinations after death. The rich man had a rude surprise. (“Hell” in this passage is the English translation of the Greek Hades, which refers to the underground domain of the dead [not the “lake of fire”]; its equivalent in Hebrew is Sheol.) The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia notes: “Hades is here the comprehensive designation of the locality where the dead reside, and is divided into two regions, ‘the bosom of Abraham’ and the place of torment…”

Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote: “There is one descent into this region, at whose gate we believe there stands an archangel with an host, which gate when those pass through that are conducted down by the angels appointed over souls; they do not go the same way; but the just are guided to the right hand, and are led with hymns, sung by the angels appointed over that place unto a region of light, in which the just have dwelt from the beginning of the world; not constrained by necessity, but ever enjoying the prospect of the good things they see, and rejoice in the expectation of those new enjoyments, which will be peculiar to every one of them, and esteeming those things beyond what we have here; with whom there is no place of toil, no burning heat, no piercing cold, nor are any briers there; but the countenance of the fathers and of the just, which they see always smiles upon them, while they wait for that rest and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region. This place we call the Bosom of Abraham.”

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary concludes that “it seems clear that Hades was in two compartments, the residence respectively of saved and unsaved spirits.” Jewish teaching and the New Testament account agree.

 

Several names for Paradise.

According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, “The Jews expressed the happiness of the righteous at death three ways: they go to the garden of Eden: they go to be under the throne of glory; and they go to the bosom of Abraham…” The phrase “under the throne of glory” means the same as “under the altar” (Rev 6:9; q.v., Ex 30:1, 6; Rev 9:13).

Third heaven. Paradise is also the “third heaven,” as Paul illustrated in 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4a – “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven… How that he was caught up into paradise…”

Both Jews and Gentiles. At death, all saved spirits, whether Jews or Gentiles, go to the “bosom of Abraham” (Paradise, third heaven, or under the throne or altar). After all, “if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29).

 

Place of torment.

Let us now see where the rich man ended up after a lavish life on earth. “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23). Josephus gives us a detailed account: “But as to the unjust, they are dragged by force to the left hand by angels allotted for punishment, no longer going with a good-will, but as prisoners driven by violence; to whom are sent the angels appointed over them to reproach them and threaten them with terrible looks, and to thrust them still downwards. “Now those angels that are set over these souls, drag them into the neighborhood of hell itself, who, when they are hard by it, continually hear the noise of it, and do not stand clear of the hot vapor itself; but when they have a nearer view of this spectacle, as of a terrible and exceeding great prospect of fire, they are struck with a fearful expectation of a future judgment, and in effect punished thereby…”

Gehenna. The terrifying region on the left is Gehenna, Greek for Ge-Hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom), an actual deep, narrow valley below the southern slope of Jerusalem. It had an area called Topeth, where pagan worshippers sacrificed children (Jer 7:31) to Moloch, god of the Ammonites and Phoenicians. To stop the evil practices, King Josiah (7th century B.C.) littered the site with human bones, dead criminals and animals, and other unclean things (2 Kings 23:10). It became a garbage dump where the city’s wastes and dead animals were burned continuously. Flies abounded, and their maggots covered the remains of carcasses. It “became the representative or image of the place of everlasting punishment, especially on account of its ever-burning fires.”

Lake of fire next door. The rich man was desperate from great thirst in the unbearable heat. “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). The Greek word used for “flame” is phlox, which is the gaseous part of fire, not the fire itself (pyros), showing that Gehenna is not the lake of fire, but is simply adjacent and so close to it that the heat and flames make it a place of torment. 

Separated by a canyon. The rich man’s plea could not be granted. Abraham said, “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26). Josephus (ca. 37-100) echoes Luke’s Gospel account (ca. 56-58) – “where they see the place of the fathers and of the just, even hereby are they punished; for a chaos deep and large is fixed between them; insomuch that a just man that hath compassion upon them cannot be admitted, nor can one that is unjust, if he were bold enough to attempt it, pass over it.”

A Jewish tradition has it that at the bottom of the impassable canyon separating Gan Eden and Gehenna is a river flowing with cool, refreshing waters. However, whenever anyone from Gehenna goes down and tries to scoop some water from the river, the water recedes! This is repeated at every attempt endlessly. That was why the rich man begged Abraham to send down Lazarus to dip his finger in the water for him. He was in front of the water, and yet he was unable to refresh himself!

 

Temporary holding places.

Both Gan Eden and Gehenna, the two regions of Hades (or Sheol), are only temporary holding places for the spirits of the dead as they await the Last Judgment. Josephus said that the saved will be in the Bosom of Abraham “while they wait for that rest and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region.” The New Unger's Bible Dictionary confirms this, “The rich man, who is evidently still in Hades, is a representative case and describes the unjudged condition in the intermediate state of the wicked.”

 

Restoration of all things.

The spirits of the dead will be in Hades until the restoration of all things. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you -- even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (Acts 3:19-22, NIV). Implicit in the verse is the idea that the restoration of all things will begin at the Second Coming of Christ – which will also witness the first resurrection.

The Millennium. The full restoration will take place during the 1,000 years of peace on earth (the Millennium) when Christ will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled… and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev 20:1-3a,4b).

Vegetarian diet. What will be restored? For one, the Creator had commanded men and animals to be plant-eaters: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Gen 1:29-30). Yet, men and many animals have turned omnivores, carnivores, even predators.

During the Millennium, wild animals will no longer eat or otherwise harm fellow creatures. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:6-9).

Long life spans. From Creation until Noah’s Flood, men lived close to a thousand years. For instance, “And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died” (Gen 5:27). Men’s longevity will be restored in the Millennium. “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old… as the days of a tree are the days of my people...”  (Isa 65:20a, 22b). Trees are the longest-living organisms on earth. The lives of the Millennial Kingdom’s citizens will be similar.

 

Ghosts.

It appears that what people call “ghost” (Greek phantasma) is the nephesh (“soul”). As we have seen in the Jewish commentary, the “nephesh remains in the grave until the body is decomposed and turned into dust, during which time it flits about in this world, seeking to mingle with the living…” A “ghost,” though, seems to be a mere shadow or trace of the dead person’s soul (nephesh), seen only under certain favorable conditions of light and temperature. It appears to disintegrate sooner or later. Without the ruach (spirit or mind), ghosts usually do not interact with living people. They do so only if the nephesh (soul) is possessed by a spirit, usually an evil one.

Men have known and believed in ghosts and spirits since ancient times. Over 4,000 years ago, Job’s friend Eliphaz described one. “Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up” (Job 4:15). The spirit had an electromagnetic characteristic!

The disciples mistook Christ for a ghost several times. “During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost (phantasma)," they said, and cried out in fear” (Matt 14:25-26; Mark 6:49, NIV). After the Resurrection, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:36-39, NIV).

Sightings. Jewish sages believed that the dead can be revived. “Now when the children of men are in sorrow or trouble, and repair to the graves of the departed, then the nephesh is awakened and it wanders forth and rouses the ruah, which in turn rouses the Patriarchs, and then the neshamah.” The long-dead prophets Moses and Elijah appeared to Christ and were seen by disciples at the Transfiguration on the Mount. Christ brought back to life His friend Lazarus; Jairus’s daughter; a widow’s only son in Nain. The prophets Elijah and Elisha each revived a child. At the Resurrection, many saints arose from their graves and appeared to people in the city.

Spiritism  or necromancy. The witch of Endor summoned the spirit of the prophet Samuel for King Saul: “And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?” (1 Sam 28:14-15a).

Abomination. Contacting the spirit of the dead is disgusting to God. “There shall not be found among you… a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD…” (Deut 18:10-12).

 

Resurrection of the dead.

 All dead humans not taken in the first resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ will be resurrected after the Millennium for the Last Judgment before the Great White Throne “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev 20:5). The oldest will have been dead for close to 7,000 years!

Bodies and souls restored. The Jewish sages “believed that the body will be raised again; for although it be dissolved, it is not perished; for the earth receives its remains, and preserves them… but at the mighty sound of God the Creator, it will sprout up, and be raised in a clothed and glorious condition…for although it be dissolved for a time on account of the original transgression, it exists still, and is cast into the earth as into a potter’s furnace, in order to be formed again… to everybody shall its own soul be restored.”

 

The Four Parts of Man


 

Hebrew

Greek

Source

Function

Terminus at Death

Body

(various)

Soma

Ground

Vessel

Ground

Breath /spirit of life

Neshamah

-

God

Life giver

God

Soul

Nephesh

Psyche

Life

Instincts, desires

Ground

Spirit

Ruach

Pneuma

Neshamah

Mind

1)Hades (Paradise or Gehenna); 2)Kingdom of heaven or lake of fire

 

Excerpted from the booklet Secrets of the Soul and Spirit and the book Angels & Men by M.M. Tauson. Printed copies available at Amazon.com – For free pdf copies of our e-booklets, click the Booklets and Google Drive tabs on the menu bar.

 

Bible quotations are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise indicated.