They shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”
f we had only this text to support the truth that the “dead are dead” or as Job puts it “asleep”, there is enough said here in a few words to silence those who would teach the “dead are alive”. Job is telling us clearly that when man dies he sleeps until resurrection, there can be no refuting that. Sleep is continually used in the bible, both in the O.T. and in the N.T. to describe those who are deceased. It is a term which refers to the unsaved as well as the saved as a reading of Daniel 12.2 reveals. Please also note that when this metaphor for death is used nothing is added to suggest that such are either in torment or bliss, but simply asleep. For instance in the O.T. we are repeatedly told of those who have died, both good and bad, and these words are added “He slept with his fathers”, but we never find any suggestion that they were in heaven, hell or Abraham’s bosom. The same applies in the N.T. where we find folk like Lazarus described as “sleeping” but again no reference is made to any existence beyond the grave. We could speak of Jairus’s daughter, Stephen the first Christian martyr, those raised after Christ’s resurrection, and those in Thessalonica who are said to be “asleep in Jesus”, all of these were dead or asleep and that is all the information that is given. All other comments on these passages are man made conclusions and find no basis in the actual contexts. Many try to insert the word “body” into these narratives but that will simply not do for as we have pointed out we believe in “verbal inspiration” and if God the Holy Spirit has not included the word “body” in the inspired sacred page then neither must we. The bible does not speak of the “resurrection of the body” but it does speak of the “resurrection of the dead(s)”. It is not dead bodies which are resurrected but dead people who are asleep, as Job has written. He is totally clear as to when this awakening shall occur for he tells us “Man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more they shall not awake” that is until the resurrection takes place man will sleep until God awakes him. The Lord Jesus spoke of this awakening “Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice 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(judgement)”. Jesus did not say those to be resurrected were alive in some other sphere, but that they were in their graves. Note once more the word body appears nowhere in the passage, Christ is speaking of the resurrection of persons not bodies. Job’s inspired words would need no explanation were it not for the confusion which has been caused by trying to fit an intermediate state into his statement of truth. If Christians could just accept that “the dead know not anything” that they “go down into silence” that the “dead cannot praise thee”, and that they are all asleep awaiting Christ’s coming, all confusion would cease. Why should they not believe these things? Even the reformers Tyndale, Luther and Wycliffe believed this and why should they not, after all it is what the word of God states. The major passage on resurrection namely 1 Corinthians 15 and the questions, “How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” will be dealt with later as we seek to examine these “misunderstood texts”.