The Descent Of Christ Into Hades (Ten)

It is written:

Soon he will send me home to the world of the dead, where we all must go. (Job 30:23 CEV)

Job knew that he would die; but look at what he says about this. God would bring him to the “house” appointed for the living. The word “house”means a dwelling place usually indicative of “home” and “family.”

Job knew that he would be reunited with his children and his family in death. Personally, I believe this gave him great comfort with everything that he faced and endured.

The Bible teaches that Sheol is a place of reunion, where God’s people are brought back together again.

One way this is emphasized is in an Old Testament expression, “gathered to his people.”

Genesis 35:29-So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Genesis 49:29-Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

Genesis 49:33-And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Numbers 20:24-“Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.

Numbers 27:13–And when you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered.

Numbers 31:2-Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”

Deuteronomy 32:50-and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people;

The phrase “gathered to his people” definitely speaks of belief in a reunion with one’s family at the time of death.

“The last expression used is particularly noteworthy: he was gathered to his people. This cannot mean: buried with his relatives or ancestors, for we know that none of his kin except his wife lay buried at Machpelah. Apparently, the expression is then equivalent to the one used Genesis 15:15 , “to go to one’s fathers.” Those who have gone on before in death are regarded as a people still existing. This is a clear testimony to the belief in a life after death on the part of the earliest patriarch. Though no specific revelation on the subject seems to have been given to these patriarchs, faith in the Almighty God drew its own proper conclusions as to whether God would ultimately let his children perish, and its conclusion was correct: He cannot. This passage confirms that conclusion. If Scripture is to be explained by Scripture, then Hebrews 11:13- 16 offers the fullest confirmation of our interpretation….K. C. points out that the passage cannot mean “to be laid in the family sepulchre,” because it is used in cases where only one ancestor lay in the tomb ( 1 Kings 11:43 , 22:40 ) or none at all ( Deuteronomy 31:16 ; 1 Kings 2:10 ; 16:28 ; 2 Kings 21:18 ). Of course, when one’s “people” are thought of as having gone on before, they are thought of as assembled in the Sheol, which in this connection can mean only the “afterworld” or the “hereafter.” Nothing in this passage or in other instances of the use of the expression (cf. Genesis 25:17 ; 35:29 ; Genesis 49:29 , 33 ; Numbers 20:24 ; 27:13 ; 31:2 ; Deuteronomy 32:50 ) indicates that the existence in the hereafter is regarded as dull, shadowy or unreal. Since practically in each case men of outstanding godliness are involved, it would even seem strange if such were the ultimate issue of a godly life. True, the New Testament fullness of revelation is not yet found in the Old. But the common assertion that the Pentateuch knows nothing of a life hereafter and of the resurrection from the dead is merely a preconceived error. True, we shall have to resort in part to reasoning like that employed by Christ Matthew 22:31- 33 , but in reasoning thus we follow a very reliable precedent.” (H.C. Leuopold, Exposition Of Genesis Volumes 1 & 2,10594-10624 (Kindle Edition): Ephesians Four Group)

One modern researcher, carefully examine ancient Hebrew beliefs and practices, concurs:

“Burial in the family grave served to reconnect the departed one with a society of previously dead ancestors. This society was believed to exist in the tomb itself or perhaps in the surrounding locality. 9 Death itself was not seen as a cessation of existence. On the contrary, to be gathered to one’s ancestors implied but a passage to another realm where departed family spirits cohabited and the activities of kith and kin continued within the sacred ancestral society of the family tomb.” (Simcha Paull Raphael, Jewish Views On The Afterlife, 1188 (Kindle Edition); Lanham, Maryland; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)

Yet some claim that the phrase “gathered to his people”simply means that a person is buried in the family tomb.

However, a careful study will show that is not the case.

Genesis 49:33-And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Notice that Jacob was gathered to his people when he died.

The next chapter shows that Jacob was not buried until at least seventy days later!

Genesis 50:3, 10-Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days….Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father.

Clearly, the idea that being gathered to your people was not that of being buried!

“In any case, my point is simply this: any such veneration of the dead attests to a belief in their continued existence beyond the grave. The implications of some Old Testament idioms for death Such a conviction may be further attested by some Old Testament idioms for death, such as being ‘gathered to one’s peoples’ 24 or ‘sleeping with one’s ancestors’. 25 Both expressions (or variants thereof) frequently appear in association with physical death. However, contrary to what some suggest, they are not necessarily synonymous with burial in a family tomb. This is particularly so in the case of being ‘gathered to his peoples’–a distinctive expression that appears ten times in the Pentateuch, 26 and mentioned alongside death and burial. The fact that it is used of Jacob several months before his actual burial (cf. Gen. 49: 33; 50: 13) rules out identification with burial itself; moreover, that it does not indicate being interred in the family tomb is clear from the cases of Abraham, Aaron and Moses–none of whom was literally buried with his ancestors. Most likely, therefore, ‘being gathered to his peoples’ suggests joining one’s ancestors in the afterlife.” (Paul R. Williamson, Death and the Afterlife: Biblical Perspectives on Ultimate Questions (New Studies in Biblical Theology Book 44), 39-40 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; IVP Press)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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