“If a man die, shall he live again?” asked the man Job long ago.
Job 14:14 If a man die, shall he live ‘again’? All the days of my warfare would I wait, Till my release should come.
Perhaps you, too, have wondered about this. How would you feel if you knew that a reunion with your loved ones was possible right here on earth under the best of conditions?
Well, the Bible makes the promise: “Your dead ones will live….. They will rise up.” And the Bible also says:
Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is ‘as’ the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth the dead.
Psalms 37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell therein for ever.
To have real confidence in such promises, we need to answer some basic questions: Why do people die? Where are the dead? And how can we be sure they can live again?
Death, and What Happens When We Die
The Bible makes it clear that God did not originally intend for humans to die. He created the first human pair Adam and Eve, placed them in an earthly paradise called Eden, and instructed them to have children and extend their Paradise home earth wide. They would die only if they disobeyed his instructions.
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 2:15 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Genesis 2:16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Lacking appreciation for God’s kindness, Adam and Eve did disobey and were made to pay the prescribed penalty. “You [will] return to the ground,” God told Adam, “for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Before his creation Adam did not exist; he was dust. And for his disobedience, or sin, Adam was sentenced to return to dust, to a state of nonexistence.
Death is thus an absence of life. The Bible draws the contrast” The wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life.”
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Showing that death is a state of total unconsciousness, the Bible says: “For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.”
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
When a person dies, the Bible explains: “His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in the day his thoughts do perish.”
Psalms 146:3 Put not your trust in princes, Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
Psalms 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.
However, since only Adam and Eve disobeyed that command in Eden, why do we all die? It is because all of us were born after Adam’s disobedience, and so we all inherited sin and death from him. As the Bible explains: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all me.”
Romans 5:12 Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:–
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
Yet someone may ask: “Don’t humans have immortal soul that survives death?” Many have taught this, even saying that death is a doorway to another life. But that idea does not come from the Bible. Rather, God’s Word teaches that you are a soul, that your soul is really you, with all your physical and mental qualities.
Genesis 2:7 And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Jeremiah 2:34 Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor: thou didst not find them breaking in; but it is because of all these things.
Proverbs 2:10 For wisdom shall enter into thy heart, And knowledge shall be pleasant unto thy soul;
Also, the Bible says: “The soul that is sinning – it itself will die.”
Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Nowhere does the Bible teach that man has immortal soul that survives the death of the body.
How Humans Can Live Again
After sin and death entered the world, God revealed that it was his purpose that the dead be restored to life by means of resurrection. Thus the Bible explains: “Abraham … reckoned that God was able to raise [his son Isaac] up even from the dead.”
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten ‘son';
Hebrews 11:18 even he to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called:
Hebrews 11:19 accounting that God ‘is’ able to raise up, even from the dead; from whence he did also in a figure receive him back.
Abraham’s confidence was not misplaced, for the Bible says of the Almighty: “He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.”
Luke 20:37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in ‘the place concerning’ the Bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
Luke 20:38 Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
Yes, Almighty God has not only the power but also the desire to resurrect persons whom he chooses. Jesus Christ himself said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”
John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice,
John 5:29 and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.
Act 24:15 having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust.
Not long after saying this, Jesus met a funeral procession coming out of the Israelite city of Nain. The dead young man was the only child of a widow. On seeing her extreme grief, Jesus was moved with pity. So addressing the corpse, he commanded “Young man, I say to you, Get up!” And the man sat up, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Luke 7:11 And it came to pass soon afterwards, that he went to a city called Nain; and his disciples went with him, and a great multitude.
Luke 7:12 Now when he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, there was carried out one that was dead, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
Luke 7:13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
Luke 7:14 And he came nigh and touched the bier: and the bearers stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
Luke 7:15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.
Luke 7:16 And fear took hold on all: and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet is arisen among us: and, God hath visited his people.
Luke 7:17 And this report went forth concerning him in the whole of Judaea, and all the region round about.
As in the case of that widow, there was also great ecstasy when Jesus visited the home of Jairus, a presiding officer of the Jewish synagogue. His 12-year-old daughter had died. But when Jesus arrived at Jairus’ home, he went over to the dead child and said: “Girl, get up!” And she did!
Luke 8:40 And as Jesus returned, the multitude welcomed him; for they were all waiting for him.
Luke 8:41 And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him to come into his house;
Luke 8:42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as he went the multitudes thronged him.
Luke 8:43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed of any,
Luke 8:44 came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately the issue of her blood stanched.
Luke 8:45 And Jesus said, Who is it that touched me? And when all denied, Peter said, and they that were with him, Master, the multitudes press thee and crush ‘thee’.
Luke 8:46 But Jesus said, Some one did touch me; for I perceived that power had gone forth from me.
Luke 8:47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people for what cause she touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
Luke 8:48 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
Luke 8:49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s ‘house’, saying, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Teacher.
Luke 8:50 But Jesus hearing it, answered him, Fear not: only believe, and she shall be made whole.
Luke 8:51 And when he came to the house, he suffered not any man to enter in with him, save Peter, and John, and James, and the father of the maiden and her mother.
Luke 8:52 And all were weeping, and bewailing her: but he said, Weep not; for she is not dead, but sleepeth.
Luke 8:53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
Luke 8:54 But he, taking her by the hand, called, saying, Maiden, arise.
Luke 8:55 And her spirit returned, and she rose up immediately: and he commanded that ‘something’ be given her to eat.
Luke 8:56 And her parents were amazed: but he charged them to tell no man what had been done.
Later, Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. When Jesus arrived at his home, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Although deeply grieved, his sister Martha expressed hope, saying: I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” But Jesus went to the tomb, ordered the stone to be removed, and called: “Lazarus, come on out!” And he did!
John 11:11 These things spake he: and after this he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
John 11:12 The disciples therefore said unto him, Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover.
John 11:13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death: but they thought that he spake of taking rest in sleep.
John 11:14 Then Jesus therefore said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
John 11:15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
John 11:16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
John 11:17 So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already.
John 11:18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off;
John 11:19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother.
John 11:20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary still sat in the house.
John 11:21 Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
John 11:22 And even now I know that, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give thee.
John 11:23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
John 11:24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live;
John 11:26 and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this?
John 11:27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, ‘even’ he that cometh into the world.
John 11:28 And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Teacher is her, and calleth thee.
John 11:29 And she, when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him.
John 11:30 (Now Jesus was not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met him.)
John 11:31 The Jews then who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there.
John 11:32 Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and saw him, fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews ‘also’ weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
John 11:34 and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see.
John 11:35 Jesus wept.
John 11:36 The Jews therefore said, Behold how he loved him!
John 11:37 But some of them said, Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die?
John 11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
John 11:39 Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time the body decayeth; for he hath been ‘dead’ four days.
John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
John 11:41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me.
John 11:42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the multitude that standeth around I said it, that they may believe that thou didst send me.
John 11:43 And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
John 11:44 He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Now think about this: What was Lazarus’ condition during those four days he was dead? Lazarus did not say anything about being in heaven of bliss or a hell of torment, which surely he would have done if he had been there. No, Lazarus was completely unconscious in death and would have remained so until “the resurrection on the last day” if Jesus had not then restored him to life.
It is true that these miracles of Jesus were of only temporary benefit, since those that he resurrected died again. However, he gave proof 1,900 years ago that with God’s power, the dead really can live again! So by his miracles Jesus showed on a small scale what will take place on earth under the Kingdom of God.
When a Loved One Dies
When the enemy death strikes, your grief can be great, even though you may hope in the resurrection.
Abraham had faith his wife would live again, yet we read that “Abraham came in to bewail Sarah and to weep over her.”
Genesis 23:2 And Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan. And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
And what about Jesus? When Lazarus died, he “groaned in the spirit and became troubled,” and shortly afterward he “gave way to tears.”
John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews “also” weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
John 11:35 Jesus wept.
So, when someone you love dies, it does not show weakness to cry.
When a child dies, it is particularly hard for the mother. Thus the Bible acknowledges the bitter grief that a mother can feel.
2 Kings 4:27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to thrust her away; but the man of God said, Let her alone: for her soul is vexed within her; and Jehovah hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.
Of course, it is difficult for the bereaved father as well. “O that I might have died, I myself, instead of you,” lamented King David when his son Absalom died.
2 Samuel 18:33 And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
Yet, because you have confidence in the resurrection, your sorrow will not be unrelenting. As the Bible says, you will “not sorrow just as the rest also do when have no hope.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.
Rather, you will draw close to God in Prayer, and the Bible promises that “he himself will sustain you.”
Psalm 55:22 Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee: He will never suffer the righteous to be moved.