Boaz Baptist Chronicles

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Boaz Baptist Chronicles

Sheol

Posted on January 24, 2011 at 9:14 PM

The Place of departed souls. The Israelites had a conception of, and beliefs in, a state of being beyond death. Believing that death of the body was the extinction of existence, was very far from being the case. Sheol denotes really, the place or abode of the dead, and is conceived of as situated in the depths of the earth (Psalms 63:9; 86:13; Ezekiel 26:20; 31:14; 32:18, 24; compare Numbers 16:30; Deuteronomy 32:22). The dead are there gathered in companies; hence, the frequently recurring expression, "gathered unto his people" (Genesis 25:8; 35:29; 49:33; Numbers 20:24, etc.), the phrase denoting, as the context shows, something quite distinct from burial. For example, Jacob, was "gathered unto his people"; afterward his body was embalmed, and, much later, buried (Genesis 50:2). Even the Christian can bewail a life brought to a sudden and untimely close. But, even on natural grounds it is hardly credible that the pious Israelite thought of the state of the godly gathered in peace to their people as quite the same as those who perished under the ban of God’s anger, and went down to Sheol bearing their iniquity. There is a pregnancy not to be overlooked in such expressions as, "The wicked shall be turned into Hell (Sheol)" (Psalm 9:17), a "lowest Hell (Sheol)" unto which God’s anger burns (Deuteronomy 32:22), "…Brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit" (Isaiah14:15; Ezekiel 32:23) to which the proud and haughty in this life are consigned. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace." (Psalms 37:37), or (with reference to the being taken from the evil to come), "He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness" (Isaiah 57:2; compare Isaiah 57:21 "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked"). Even Balaam’s fervent wish, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!" (Numbers 23:10), seems weakened when interpreted only of the desire for a green and blessed old age. It has already been seen that, in the Old Testament, Sheol, like death, is not the natural fate of man; a connection with sin and judgment is implied in it. Writers who suppose that the hopes which find utterance in passages of Psalms and Prophets have any connection with existence in Sheol are on an altogether wrong track. It is not the expectation of a happier condition in Sheol, but the hope of deliverance from Sheol, and of restored life and fellowship with God, which occupies the mind. Job said, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27) And, last, David said, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

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