WHERE IS HE?
"Man, who is born of woman, Is short -lived and full of turmoil.2 "Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain. Job 14:1-2 (NASB)
"For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail .8 "Though its roots grow old in the ground And its stump dies in the dry soil,9 At the scent of water it will flourish And put forth sprigs like a plant.10 "But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he? Job 14:7-10 (NASB)
"As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up, 12 So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep. Job 14:11-12 (NASB)
There is an interesting phrase that is used in Job which needs our attention. It says in the KJV, “He giveth up the ghost”. The NASB simply says “he expires” and the NIV says “breathes his last.” The general idea is that he stops breathing. For a translation to say when the actual meaning is “giveth up the ghost”“man expires” or “takes his last breath” is in disagreement with the meaning of the text. Many get the idea that a “ghost” leaves our body when we die. Sometimes the dead are referred to as “the dearly departed”. Does our (departed soul) stay around on the earth for a while but ultimately ascend to heaven? Popular movies such as “Ghost”, which stared Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, have mirrored and may have had some influence on many people’s ideas about the subject.
- Who am I?
- Who is the real me?
- Where will I go when I die?
- When my loved ones are viewing me in the casket will I be looking down on them?
- Where will I be at my “viewing”.
- Will I be there for my funeral?
The NIV says that after he breathes his last “he is no more.” Both the KJV and the NASB ask the question, “Where is he”? So it seems logical to assume that the answer to the question, “Where is he?” can be summed up in four words “he is no more”. It did not say that he is no more and will always be no more. The question Job latter asks is, "If a man dies, will he live again"? Job 14:14 (NASB) These two questions:
- But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. Job 14:10 (NIV)
grab my attention. When a person breathes his last breath where is he? Is he immediately either in heaven above or in hell fire below? The answer to this question seems to continually evade many dedicated people today. I wonder; have you come to grips with these questions which have haunted mankind since the beginning of God’s creation? Where might one search for the answers? The best place to find the answers to these questions can be found in the “Creator’s Book”, the Bible.
- When a man breathes his last breath where is he?
- If a man dies will he live again?
When a person “breathes his last”, where is he? Are good people in heaven? Are bad people in hell-fire? These age-old questions are not without biblical answers. Jesus’ words in the verses above concern those who have done good and those who have done evil and where they will come from when he calls for them at his coming. Will he call them down from heaven? "All that are in their graves shall hear his voice." Special notice should be taken as to where these good and bad were when they were called by the voice of the Lord. They were all in their graves. No mention was made of the good being in heaven or the bad being in hell-fire.
- Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 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 damnation. John 5:28-29 (KJV)
Paul answered the question as well. In his words to the Thessalonians, where he said to “comfort one another with these words”, (Verse 18) Paul makes the point that “the dead in Christ shall rise first”. He began the comforting words by saying that he did not want them to be uninformed (ignorant KJV) regarding those who had fallen asleep. (Verse 13) The comforting words of Paul are built around:
- But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him (him being Jesus when he comes) those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout , with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NASB)
The key is to recognize that they have fallen asleep. This is the Biblical term for death. Daniel described them as being “asleep in the dust of the earth”. (Daniel 12:2) To fail to understand these principles is to be out of touch with the promises of God and the purpose of his son’s return to the earth. This was the promise left with the disciples at Jesus’ ascension:
- The return of Jesus to the earth,
- Those who are dead in Christ will be the first to rise,
- The resurrection of the dead.
Job realized the promise of a day when he would be called and would answer the call. (Job 14:15) “Thou shalt call and I will answer thee.” Job asked, “Where is man when he expires?” (Verse 10) Take the time to read further and think about his answer. As did Paul and Daniel, Job referred to death as sleep. We have been led to believe that the dead are more awake being dead than they ever were when they were alive. It seems to be very difficult for some to accept the fact that death is a sleep from which the dead will be awakened when Jesus comes. John 5:25
- "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." Acts 1:11 (NASB)
- "As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up,12 So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep. Job 14:11-12 (NASB)
WHERE WAS LAZAARUS
Jesus used very plain language when referring to Lazarus. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep." (John 11:11 (NASB) Lest there be a misunderstanding of what he meant, Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus is dead”. (Verse 14) This account of the resurrection of Lazarus presents a perfect opportunity to discover where people go when they die. It gives on site information. Lazarus was asleep as we have already seen. Jesus was going to Bethany to awaken him from his sleep. He was going to raise him from the dead.
Jesus did not call Lazarus out of heaven or out of hell fire. The man who had died (Lazarus) came forth from where he was buried. What a beautiful picture of the coming resurrection of the dead. No need to marvel over the resurrection of Lazarus, as miraculous as that was. The hour is coming when millions of people will hear the Lord’s voice and “come forth”. From where will they come? That will give an indication of where they were after they died, don’t you think? Yes the answer is quite simple. They were “in their graves”. So if we die, where will we be until the Lord comes and calls us? We will be in our graves.
- When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said* to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." John 11:43-44 (NASB)
- An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. John 5:28-29 (NASB)
Joshua was Moses’ minister. He had been with Moses for many years. When Joshua was about to take over the leadership of Israel, and lead them into the land of promise; he probably wondered, “Where is Moses; I really need him now”. God encouraged Joshua as he told him to “be strong and of good courage.” Joshua 1:6. But where was Moses when Joshua needed him? God made sure that Joshua knew where Moses was.
God said “Moses my servant is dead.” He didn’t say he was in heaven. He said he was dead. What about David the man after God’s own heart? Peter made it plain at Pentecost about where he was and where he was not. Remember, Paul said “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (KJV) There is no reason for anyone to be uninformed about where dead people are as well as where they are not.
- “Moses my servant is dead.” Joshua 1:2
IS DAVID IN HEAVEN?
That tells us where he was. What does it tell us about where he was not? “For David is not ascended into the heavens.” Acts 2:34 (KJV) I wonder why this simple statement evades so many very well meaning people? “David is not in heaven.” If a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) was not in heaven on the day of Pentecost, how can you and I expect to be there? It would be helpful to observe what David: a man after God’s heart; the one who at Pentecost had not ascended into heaven; had to say about what happens at death:
- "Brethren , I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Acts 2:29 (NASB)
Three things occur: His breath goeth forth (he breathes his last); he returns to the earth (even as God said, Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return); in that very day his thoughts perish (He stops thinking). I realize that process is hard to accept for someone who has heard all their life that people know more after they die than they did while they were alive. However, that’s the truth.
- His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Psalms 146:4 (KJV)
THE SAME PLACE
Most of us will be surprised to know that men and beast go to the same place at death. Solomon made a fine point of this fact. They are of the dust and turn to dust again. Oh, but some will say, “That’s his body” that turns to dust. God didn’t tell Adam that his body was made of dust and would return to it but his soul would go on into heaven. “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:19. God was addressing "thou", the “real Adam” when he made that statement. In believing this we get in step with God.
- For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity .20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Eccl 3:19-20 (NASB)
I think it interesting to put together a list of what became of the kings of Israel when they died. I have also added a group at the end that it might be helpful to think about.
- David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. 1 Kings 2:10 (NASB)
- Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David. 1 Kings 11:43 (NASB)
- All the days Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years; and he slept with his fathers.1 Kings 14:20 (NASB)
- Rehoboam slept with his fathers. 1 Kings 14:31 (NASB)
- Abijam slept with his fathers and they buried him in the city of David. 1 Kings 15:8 (NASB)
- Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried in Tirzah. 1 Kings 16:6 (NASB)
- Omri slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. 1 Kings 16:28 (NASB)
- Ahab slept with his fathers. 1 Kings 22:40 (NASB)
- Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his father David. 1 Kings 22:50 (NASB)
- Joram slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. 2 Kings 8:24 (NASB)
- Jehu slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. 2 Kings 10:35 (NASB)
- Jehoahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. 2 Kings 13:9 (NASB)
- Joash slept with his fathers. 2 Kings 13:13 (NASB)
- Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. 2 Kings 14:16 (NASB)
- Azariah… built Elath and restored it to Judah after that the king slept with his fathers. 2 Kings 14:22 (NASB)
- Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel. 2 Kings 14:29 (NASB)
- Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David. 2 Kings 15:7 (NASB)
- Menahem slept with his fathers. 2 Kings 15:22 (NASB)
- Jotham slept with his fathers, and he was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father. 2 Kings 15:38 (NASB)
- Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. 2 Kings 16:20 (NASB)
- Hezekiah slept with his fathers. 2 Kings 20:21 (NASB)
- Manasseh slept with his fathers and was buried in the garden of his own house. 2 Kings 21:18 (NASB)
- Jehoiakim slept with his fathers. 2 Kings 24:6 (NASB)
Paul said that Jesus…appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, (after his resurrection) most of whom remain he said until the time of his writing, but some he said, have fallen asleep; 1 Cor 15:6 (NASB)
It is not said of even one of these people that they were sent to heaven. It does however say that each one did sleep with their fathers. They are awaiting Jesus’ call when he returns to the earth. God hasn’t promised us a home in heaven but he has promised a kingdom to come. Matthew 6:10
With such a mountain of information available to us there is no reason for us to say that we are about death. Paul didn’t want us to be uninformed or ignorant. When we begin to understand about the sleep of death we will begin to understand a very important truth. This way of thinking might put you at variance with your friends or even your family. But it will help you in your walk with God. If we are going to walk with God we first need to agree with him about what he has said. God said through Peter, “David is not ascended into the heavens.” Acts 2:34 KJV Can you agree with that?
- Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3 (KJV)