Here and Hereafter


9 Condition of Man in Death

FROM the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the death of Adam, already examined, it is clear that the death which has “passed upon all men” reduces them to a state of inactivity and unconsciousness in the dust of the earth. This conclusion will be found to be strengthened and buttressed on every side by much other testimony which the Bible furnishes on the condition of man in death. HHMLD 138.1

First, the Bible clearly describes the place of the dead. The word used for this purpose in the Old Testament is (sheol), and the corresponding word in the New Testament is (hades). They denote, as their use proves, a place of silence, secrecy, sleep, rest, darkness, corruption, and worms. They are names for the common receptacle of the dead, both righteous and wicked. The righteous dead are there; for at the resurrection they raise the victorious shout, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave [Greek, hades], where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55. And the wicked dead are there; for at the resurrection to damnation, it is said that death and hell (Greek, hades) deliver them up. Revelation 20:13. That the hades of the New Testament is he sheol of the Old, is evident from Psalm 16, compared with Acts 2:27. Thus, Psalm 16:10 says: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Hebrew, sheol]; and the New Testament makes a direct quotation of this passage, and for sheol uses the word hades. Acts 2:27. HHMLD 138.2

1. All Alike Go into Sheol. — Thus Jacob says, “I will go down into the grave [sheol] unto my son mourning.” Genesis 37:35. Korah and his company went down into sheol. Numbers 16:30, 33. All mankind go there. Psalm 89:48. HHMLD 139.1

2. What Goes into Sheol. — Sheol receives the whole man bodily at death. Jacob expected to go down with his gray hairs to sheol. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram went into sheol bodily. The soul of the Saviour left sheol at his resurrection. Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27, 31. David, when restored from dangerous sickness, testified that his soul was saved from going into sheol. Psalm 30:2, 3. HHMLD 139.2

3. The Duration of Its Dominion. — Those who go down into sheol must remain there till their resurrection. At the second coming of Christ, all the righteous are delivered from sheol. All the living wicked are then turned into sheol, and for one thousand years it holds them in its dread embrace. Then it gives them up, and judgment is executed upon them. Revelation 20:11-15. HHMLD 139.3

4. Location of Sheol. — It is in the earth beneath. It embraces the interior of the earth as the region of the dead, and the place of every grave. Ezekiel 32:18-32. It is always spoken of as beneath, in the interior of the earth, or in the nether parts of the earth. (See Numbers 16:30, 33; Isaiah 5:14; 14:9-20; Ezekiel 31:15-18; 32:18-32.) Referring to the fires now preying upon the interior parts of the earth, and which shall at last cause the earth to melt with fervent heat, the Lord, through Moses, says: “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest sheol, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Deuteronomy 32:22. Jonah went down into sheol when he descended into the depths of the waters, where none but dead men had ever been. Jonah 2:2. HHMLD 139.4

5. Death Is Compared to Sleep. — There must, then, be some analogy between a state of sleep and a state of death, and this analogy must pertain to that which renders sleep a peculiar condition. Our condition in sleep differs from our condition when awake simply in this, that when we are soundly asleep, we are entirely unconscious. In this respect, then, death is like sleep; that is, the dead are unconscious. This figure is frequently used to represent the condition of the dead. Daniel 12:2: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” Matthew 27:52: “Many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” After Stephen beheld the vision of Christ, and was stoned to death, the record says (Acts 7:60) he “fell asleep.” In 1 Corinthians 15:20, Christ is called the first-fruits of them that slept; and in verse 51 Paul says, “We shall not all sleep.” Again, Paul writes to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14), that he would not have them ignorant concerning them which are asleep. In verse 14 he speaks of them as asleep in Jesus, and explains what he means, in verse 16, by calling them “dead in Christ.” And the advocates of the conscious state cannot dispose of these expressions by saying that they apply to the body merely; for they do not hold that the consciousness which we have in life (which is the same that we lose in death) pertains to the body merely. Job plainly declares that they will not awake till the resurrection at the last day. “Man dieth, and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” Such declarations as these are decisive concerning the condition of man in death. HHMLD 140.1

6. The Dead Are in a Condition as though They Had Not Been. — So Job testifies; for he affirms that if he could have died in earliest infancy, like a hidden, untimely birth, he would not have been; and in this respect he declared he would have been like kings, counselors, and princes of the earth, who built costly tombs in which to enshrine their bodies when dead. To that condition he applies the expression so often quoted, “There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.” Job 3:11-18. And Obadiah (verse 16) speaks of the dead as in a condition “as though they had not been.” HHMLD 141.1

7. The Dead Have No Knowledge. — Speaking of the dead man, Job says (chapter 14:21): “His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” Surely, if the “real man” is conscious and intelligent in death, he would follow the history of his sons with great interest. As this passage says that he does not, it follows that he has no knowledge. Again, when the lord was about to bring judgments upon Jerusalem, he told King Josiah that he should go into his grave in peace, and that his eyes should not see the evil. 2 Kings 22:20. But would he not see it if conscious in death? Most certainly. This proves, therefore, that he would not be conscious. Psalm 146:4: “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” David here refers to the weakness and inability of men to be of service to their friends, because they are subject to death. They lose the breath of life, and their bodies go back to dust. Then, says David, their thoughts perish. The word here rendered “thoughts,” means more than simply one’s plans and purposes in life; it means the act of the mind in the process of thinking and reasoning. In the day of one’s death, that power with him ceases or perishes. How, then, can there be any immortal soul, surviving death? — There cannot be. As proof that this is the intent of this passage, hear the words of Solomon, David’s son, in Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6: “For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything.... Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.” Verse 10: “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Evidence like this can neither be mistaken nor evaded. It is vain for the immaterialist to claim that it applies to the body in distinction from an immortal soul; for they do not hold that the thoughts (, thought, reasoning), which David says perish in death, belong to the body, but to the soul. And according to Solomon, that which knows when the man is living, does not know when he is dead. There is no way for the immaterialist to avoid this testimony except to deny that Solomon told the truth. HHMLD 141.2

8. The Dead Are in the Dust of the Earth. — Job 17:13: “If I wait, the grave is mine house.” In chapter 14:14, he said, “All the day of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” The change referred to must therefore be the resurrection, and he describes his condition till that time, in the following language: “I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister, ... when our rest together is in the dust.” Job 17:13-16. The dead are not therefore in heaven or hell, but in the dust. Isaiah 26:19: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Is it possible that the phraseology of this text can be misunderstood? It speaks of the living again of dead men, of the arising of dead bodies, and of the earth’s casting out the dead. And the command is addressed to them thus: “Awake and sing.” Who? Ye who are still conscious, basking in this bliss of heaven, and chanting the high praises of God? — No; but, “ye who dwell in dust;” ye who are in your graves. If the dead are conscious, Isaiah talked nonsense. If we believe his testimony, we must look into the graves for the dead. HHMLD 142.1

9. The Dead Have No Remembrance of God. — Psalm 6:5: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” Psalm 115:17: “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” These texts do not say that it is the wicked only who do not remember and praise the Lord; but it applies to all who are “in death.” But who can suppose that righteous, if they are conscious in death, would not remember God and give him thanks? Good King Hezekiah, when praising the Lord for adding to his days fifteen years, gives this as the reason why he thus rejoiced (Isaiah 38:18, 19): “For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.” No stronger contrast between the living and the dead could be drawn than this. Modern doctors of divinity have Hezekiah in heaven, praising God. He declared that when he was dead, he could not do this. Whose testimony is the more worthy of credit, that of the inspired king of Israel, or that of uninspired theologians tangled in the meshes of a false theology, in the labyrinth of error and confusion? If we can believe Hezekiah, and we think we can, the righteous dead do not praise their Maker as long as they are in their graves. They are therefore wholly unconscious. HHMLD 143.1

10. The Dead Are Not Ascended to the Heavens. — So Peter testifies respecting the patriarch David (Acts 2:29, 34, 3): “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.... For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.” We call the special attention of the reader to the whole argument presented by Peter, beginning with verse 24. Peter undertakes to prove from a prophecy recorded in the Psalms, the resurrection of Christ. He says (verse 31): “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell [hades, the grave], neither his flesh did see corruption.” HHMLD 144.1

And how does he prove that David speaks of Christ, and not of himself? — He proves it from the fact that David’s soul was left in hades, and his flesh did see corruption; and his sepulcher was with them to that day. For David, he says has not ascended into heavens. Now if David’s soul did live right on in consciousness, if it was not left in hades, but did ascended into heaven, no man can show that David, in that psalm, did not speak of himself instead of Christ; and then Peter’s argument for the resurrection of Christ would be entirely destroyed. But Peter, especially when speaking as he was on this occasion, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, knew how to reason; and his argument entirely destroys the dogma of the immortality of the soul. Thus the doctrine of the conscious state of the dead is not only without any foundation in the Scriptures themselves, but it directly antagonizes some of the most important doctrines of the Bible. David will in due time ascend to heaven, but it will be by a resurrection from the dead. So he himself says (Psalm 17:15): “I shall be satisfied, when I awake [from the sleep of death] with thy likeness.” HHMLD 144.2

11. Without a Resurrection, the Dead Are Perished. — This is the conclusion Paul draws in his masterly argument in 1 Corinthians 15, and it applies even to those who have fallen asleep in Christ. Verses 16-18: “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are PERISHED.” HHMLD 145.1

As we read this testimony, we pause in utter amazement that any who profess to believe the Bible, should cling with tenacity to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and conscious state of the dead, which so directly contradicts it. If the souls of the dead live right on, are they perished? What! perished? and yet living in a larger sphere? Perished? and yet enjoying the attendant blessings of everlasting life in heaven? Perished? and yet at God’s right hand where there is fulness of joy, and pleasures forevermore? Perish amid the ruins of the heathen mythology from which it springs, that theory which thus lifts its dead men on high, contrary to the teachings of the word of God! HHMLD 145.2

Paul speaks of the whole being. As in Adam we die, so in Christ shall we be made alive. Is it conceivable that Paul drops out of sight the real man, the soul which soars away to realms of light, and frames all this argument, and talks thus seriously about the cast-off shell, the body, merely? The idea is utterly preposterous. HHMLD 145.3

After stating that if there is no resurrection, we perish, he assures us that Christ is risen, and that there is a resurrection for all. Then he takes up the resurrection of those who sleep in Christ, and tell us when that resurrection shall be. It is to take place, not by the rising from this mortal coil of an ethereal, immaterial essence when we die, but it is to be at the great day, when the last trump shall shatter this decrepit earth from center to circumference. HHMLD 145.4

The testimony on this point is well summed up by Bishop Law, who speaks as follows:— HHMLD 146.1

“I proceed to consider what account the Scriptures give of that state to which death reduces us. And this we find represented by sleep; by a negation of all life, thought, or action; by rest, resting place; or home, silence, oblivion, darkness, destruction, or corruption.” HHMLD 146.2

This representation is abundantly sustained by the scriptures referred to; and by all these the great fact is inscribed in indelible characters over the portals of the dark valley, that our existence is not perpetuated by means of an immortal soul, but that, without a resurrection from the dead, there is no future life. Can we do otherwise, reader, than accept this conclusion? HHMLD 146.3