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Where are the ancient dead today?

Submitted: 9/26/2007
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Question: Where are the souls of the first humans who are dead such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, or the apostles. Are they already in heaven? Is Eve also there?

Answer: In the Bible, when a godly person died he was buried to await the resurrection at the last day (see John 5:28-29 and John 11:23-24). Ecclesiastes 12:7 describes what happens at death this way, 'Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.' In Psalms 16:9-10 David described his anticipation of the resurrection this way, 'My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol.' Sheol is a Hebrew term meaning the grave or the place of the dead. David is saying that when he dies he will go into the grave with the hope that he will not remain there forever but will one day be raised to everlasting life. Paul describes this hope in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 when he writes, 'But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.'

The hope of all believers since Adam and Eve has been that death is not the end of life forever, but only the preparation for being raised to everlasting life. Even though they may be buried and return to the ground from which they were taken, there remains the hope of a coming day of resurrection. Paul described this hope in Acts 24:15 when he wrote, 'I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.' Notice that it is not only the goldy who will be raised from the dead, but also those who have not believed. The issue is not who will be raised, but what will happen to each of us after we are raised. Daniel 12:2 describes it this way, 'And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.' The book of Revelation provides more details when it says in Revelation 20:13-14, 'The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. But Revelation 20:6 says, 'Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power....' Those who live godly only die once and are then raised to everlasting life in the first resurrection, which Jesus called 'the resurrection of life' (John 5:29). Those who do not live goldy will die and be raised, only to have to face death again in the lake of fire. Jesus called this 'the resurrection of condemnation' (John5:29).