The loss of friends and loved ones invokes thoughts of the reality of being human and can cause one to hope or at least wish for life beyond death. In Mexico, they celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 1st, a mix of traditions stemming from the Aztec civilization and All Souls Day in Catholicism. What really happens to the dead, and how does God view the dead?
I had a different message in mind for today, but the events of this week caused me to go a different direction. None of us likes to say goodbye to someone dear, but we had to do just that this past week, and we’ve also had to do this before. Yet in such times as these we get an excellent reminder of not only what salvation truly is, but how God’s plan is to save all people, if at all possible.
At the funeral service many of us attended this week, as we were being given the words of the Bible on the subject of resurrection, a particular scripture came to my mind, and then as we drove to the cemetery, the events of that particular experience had a pronounced effect on my joy and hope for all mankind, so, though I know our emotions are tender at this time, I wanted to share with you some wonderful words of hope that apply to you and me, but not only you and me.
Let’s turn to Matthew 22, first, where Jesus provides to us a profound statement concerning the resurrection of the dead.
Matthew 22:31 Matthew 22:31But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying,
American King James Version× But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,
Matthew 22:32 Matthew 22:32I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
American King James Version× 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
Turning to King David, he knew several things, that he would die, but that he would also be resurrected, and he trusted in this because the LORD had revealed to him that the Savior would also die but not see corruption, or be resurrected. (From Psalms 16:8-11 Psalms 16:8-11  I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
 For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.
 You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.
American King James Version×)
Acts 2:25 Acts 2:25For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
American King James Version× For David says concerning Him: 'I FORESAW THE LORD ALWAYS BEFORE MY FACE, FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, THAT I MAY NOT BE SHAKEN.
Acts 2:26 Acts 2:26Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
American King James Version× THEREFORE MY HEART REJOICED, AND MY TONGUE WAS GLAD; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL REST IN HOPE.
Acts 2:27 Acts 2:27Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.
American King James Version× FOR YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HADES, NOR WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION.
Acts 2:28 Acts 2:28You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance.
American King James Version× YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF JOY IN YOUR PRESENCE.'
Acts 2:29 Acts 2:29Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day.
American King James Version× "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
Acts 2:30 Acts 2:30Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
American King James Version× Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,
Acts 2:31 Acts 2:31He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
American King James Version× he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
So, Peter clearly states that King David is dead and buried, yet Jesus said that, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” What gives?
This same account is given in the book of Luke, but in a clarifying way to me, and I hope, also, to you.
Luk 20:37 But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord 'THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB.'
Luk 20:38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him."
So, here is clarified that God does not just view resurrection as applied to the saints, but to ALL.
Remember being a child and not wanting to miss anything?
Having guests and not wanting it to end. (explanation)
Our brains are required to rest regularly, for most everyone, every single day for several hours, and when we rest we are no longer active in our lifestyle. We eat when awake. We work, we play, we search, we worship, when we are awake. Nevertheless, It seems built into most people the desire NOT to miss anything, because we feel like we would be missing out. Interestingly, however, as we age, and as we have accomplished many things and we’ve learned much, that rest and the rejuvenation sleep brings becomes more appreciated.
Still, when it comes to death, no one likes the idea of life ending, so people devise beliefs and traditions like loved ones dying and going to Heaven in a new life, immediately, or they believe the spirit of the deceased still exists in a state of consciousness so as to allow the living to pay them homage for which they will be pleased. The Day of the Dead is tomorrow in Mexico, an adaptation and mixing of ancient Aztec traditions with Catholic All Souls’ Day, celebrated to pay homage to the spirits of the dead.
From our perspective in the flesh, the saints have died, and so goes the way of all flesh whether in a relationship with God or not. This is clarified by Peter’s explanation of King David and the resurrection. BUT, from God’s perspective, Abel sleeps. Enoch sleeps, Noah sleeps, Job Sleeps, Abraham sleeps, Sarah sleeps, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, they sleep. The Apostles sleep, the Marys, they sleep, Martha, Tabitha, Timothy, Titus, and so on, but they will awake at the return of Jesus Christ, glorified, never to sleep again!
And what about Shirley?
Parents talking about children when they go to bed. (explanation)
The God who will raise Shirley up to new life sees her as just sleeping right now, and since God sees it that way, we can be certain that is EXACTLY what is happening. She rests, at peace, awaiting a glorified body and to see the face of her LORD and God, because she turned from sin and death to give everything else up for eternal life in the presence of her Lord and her Father. From our Great God’s perspective, she’s still a good hugger. She still focuses all her attention on you when she talks to you. She still stands by the truth and will take no guff about it otherwise. She’s still fiercely loyal to those she loves. And she’s still that person that says, “Anyway,” when transitioning from one thought to the next.
Some final thoughts… God’s view of those who have passed away and sleep does not stop with the saints.
Leaving funeral home. Funeral procession. People paying respects. School Bus. How it made me feel about the hopes of mankind.
God has a plan, but not for just you and me. To God, all who have ever lived and died, they are just sleeping right now, awaiting a resurrection, either to eternal life, or to their first real opportunity to choose eternal life. We read in…
Revelation 21:4 Revelation 21:4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
American King James Version× He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.