The Intermediate State
By what figure does the Bible represent death?
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." 1 Thess. 4:13 (1 Cor. 15:18, 20) (John 11:11-14).
NOTE: In sound sleep one is wholly lost to consciousness; time goes by unmeasured; and the functions of the mental organs are suspended for the time being.
Where do the dead sleep?
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." Dan. 12:2.
How long will they sleep there?
"So man lieth down, and riseth not, till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." Job. 14:12.
What must take place before Job could expect to awake?
"If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will wait, till my change come." Job 14:14.
Where does he wait?
"If I wait, the grave is mine house; I have made my bed in the darkness." Job 17:13.
While in this condition, what does one know of those he has left behind?
"His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them." Job 14:21.
What becomes of man's thoughts at death?
"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." Ps. 146:4.
Do the dead know anything?
"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." Eccl. 9:5.
What part, if any, do they take in earthly things?
"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." Ecc. 9:6.
NOTE: If one continued in consciousness after death, he would know of the promotion or dishonor of his sons. But Job says he does not know this, then if, as stated in the last text quoted, in death one loses all the attributes of his mind, as love, hatred, envy, etc., it is plain that his thoughts have
perished, and that he can have nothing more to do with living objects. Again if man in death prolongs his powers of thought, he lives; and if he lives he must be somewhere. Where is he? Is he in heaven, or in hell? If in either place immediately after death, what is the necessity of a judgment in the end of the world to decide his case? Is there a possibility that some have at death gone to the wrong place, and must needs be sent to the other, after having been in bliss or torment for ages, perhaps?
What does the psalmist say about the dead praising the Lord?
"The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence." Ps. 115:17.
How much does one know of God when dead?
"For in death there is no remembrance of thee." Ps. 6:5.
NOTE: There is not even a remembrance of God. As already seen, the Bible everywhere represents the dead as asleep. If they were in heaven or in hell, would it be fitting to represent them thus? Was Lazarus, whom Jesus loved, in heaven when the Savior said: "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth?" (John 11:11.) If so, calling him to life was really robbing him of the bliss of heaven that rightly belonged to him.
But are not the righteous dead in heaven?
"For David is not ascended into the heavens." Acts 2:34.
If the dead cannot praise God, what must take place to enable them to do so?
"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." Isa. 26:19.
What was the only thing with which David would be satisfied?
"As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." Ps. 17:15.
If there should never be an awakening of the dead, what would be the result?
"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." 1 Cor. 15:16-18.
When does the resurrection of the righteous take place?
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first." 1 Thess. 4:16 (1 Cor. 15:23).
NOTE: If, as we have learned (Eccl. 9:5), the dead know not anything, then they will certainly have no knowledge of the lapse of time. A thousand years will be to them a day or a moment. To go down to the grave, and wait till the resurrection, even though it be a thousand years, will be to those who experience it like a sudden transition from this life to the next. It ought to be a consoling thought to one whose life has been filled with anxiety and grief for loved ones who persist in wickedness, to know that they will in death be spared torment. Again, it would mar the felicity of one's enjoyment in heaven if he could look upon earth, and see his friends and relatives maltreated by strangers, or suffering from cold and hunger. It is wise that God has ordered it as expressed by the patriarch: "His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them." Job 14:21.