A devotional thought from Ken Easley for “The Sign of Jonah”
Where do the dead go? The world’s religions answer this question in many ways. The obvious answer is that the dead go to “the grave,” without specifying whether this is a place of consciousness, punishment, blessing, purging, or something else. In the Greek language, the grave was “Hades,” the equivalent of the Hebrew “Sheol.”
Whatever the Hebrews or Greeks understood about the afterlife, they had hope that bodily death was not the end of existence. For one person, however, there was God’s promise that the death and the grave would be quite temporary.
In Psalm 16:10 David wrote: “You will not abandon me to Sheol; You will not allow your Faithful One to see decay” (HCSB). The apostle Peter quoted these words when he preached to thousands of his fellow Jews and pointed to Jesus’ resurrection as the fulfillment. He was the Faithful One of the psalm (Acts 2:27).
When Jesus was raised, He was the first to overcome death never to die again. As the apostle Paul said, Jesus is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Others raised from the dead (such as Lazarus in John 11) were only temporary. So far, Jesus is the only one on whom Hades has forever lost its grip.
Even believers must go through death’s door. Yet for those who are in Christ, death is not ultimate. “At His coming, those who belong to Christ” will be raised (1 Cor. 15:23). Ultimately, when that joyful day comes, resurrected believers will share in the reality that they have not been left in Hades.
Pause and Reflect
• How do David’s words in Psalm 16:10 support the Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection?
• How does the resurrection of Jesus make the grave (Hades or Sheol) a less daunting enemy?
• If you are a follower of Jesus, what do you most look forward to when you at last are raised?