Biblical Ambiguity on Death?

The claim is made that on the fundamental issue as to what happens after death, the Bible is totally ambiguous.

There is some deliberateness in the “ambiguity” in the Bible message. Jesus, when asked why he spoke in parables to the people, said: “To you [his disciples] it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them [those who are not his disciples].” (Matthew 13:10,11, World English Bible translation) Thus, Jesus further said that he spoke in parables “because seeing they [those who are not his disciples] don’t see, and hearing, they don’t hear, neither do they understand.”
See our study on Understanding Kingdom Mysteries.

Jesus also showed that the teachings and traditions of men make void the Word of God. (Mark 7:13) While Jesus was speaking directly of the traditions of the Jewish leaders that were attached to the Law, today tradition plays a great influence on how one may misunderstand the Bible. Thus, Paul wrote of the tradition of men, man’s philosophies, that can deceive us. (Colossians 2:8) And Peter spoke of those who twist the scriptures (2 Peter 3:16), in effect, placing their philosophy over the scriptures so that the scriptures seem to support their philosophy.

Thus, one has to change his way of thinking, so as to drop the traditions of men, if he is to appreciate the true message of the Bible.

While the Bible is indeed written in such a way that the world may not appreciable understand its message, at the same time the Bible is very plain in its statement that the “dead don’t know anything” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) and that all of us, good or bad, are on our way to the Bible hell, where “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1-3,10) These are not ambiguous statements at all, but are plainly written; however, the philosophies of men who place their philosophies over the scripture would twist the scripture to fit their philosophy. In other words, the assumption that the soul or spirit is immortal is assumed as a given, although the Bible never speaks of such at all, and then it is reasoned that Solomon must have only speaking of the view of an unregenerated man.

The point is that the heathen philosophies are so much assumed upon the scriptures, that the philosophy is read, often ambiguously, into many scriptures, with the desire to make the added-on philosophy appear to be in the scriptures.

Did Satan Tell the Truth? — Genesis 2:17

Adam and Eve did die as Yahweh said that they would; they are not alive and walking around on the earth today.

But of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, dying you shall die. — Genesis 2:17, Green’s Literal Translation.

Part of God’s covenant to Adam was that if he disobeyed, then his death process would begin, that he would be dying so that he would die. God spoke the truth. Adam is not alive today.

And the serpent said to the woman, Dying you shall not die, — Genesis 3:4, Green’s Literal Translation.

Adam and Eve died. If they did not die, we should be able to locate them somewhere on the earth today. The fact is that scripture records Adam’s death: “All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred thirty years, then he died.” (Genesis 5:5)

Of course, many believe that Satan has kept his promise to Eve by making it seem to be fulfilled in the all the various forms of immortal soul/spirit doctrines that prevail in practically all parts of the world.

Some believe that the serpent did not speak audibly, but rather by suggestion. However, it is evident from Revelation 12 and John 8:44 that the one who caused the serpent to speak (whether audibly or not) was Satan the devil, the one who as a light [Jesus was probably speaking of what many call “falling stars” — the light from a burning meteoroid] fell from heaven. — Luke 10:18.

One of Satan’s ploys is to mix some truth with a lie. Yes, the serpent, Satan, told the truth concerning their knowing both good and bad; however, he was deceptive in the way he presented this, since he presented as though it should be something to be desired.. Before Adam and Eve only knew the good, and had the prospect of living forever. Eve was convinced this knowledge of bad was something to be desired, something to make her like the elohim.

God, of course, had a knowledge of good and bad intuitively; the angels were beginning to receive the knowledge of the bad through the course of one angel who had become a liar. To what extent Satan had influenced the angels as this time, the Bible does not say. Under the background of speaking to the king of Babylon, Yahweh speaks of this king as having fallen from heaven (Isaiah 14:12), and saying in his heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit on the mountain of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13,14) The obvious connection to Jesus’ words as recorded in Luke 10:18 should be apparent. Evidently, the one who fell from heaven is being addressed here, as represented in the king of Babylon, as the king of Babylon was performing the works of the one who fell from heaven.

The Six Days of Creation

The Genesis account tells nothing about the creation of the planet Earth itself. It says, “In the beginning the Earth was — without form and void” — shapeless, empty. There were neither mountains nor valleys, trees nor shrubs, rivers nor oceans, but the Earth was. How long before that it had been created, is not stated. The account of the Days of Creation given in Genesis does not relate to the construction of our globe, but to the ordering of it for human habitation. Thus, the scriptures refer to these six days, the beginning, creation, in reference to the creation of the world of mankind (not the sun, moon, stars, etc.), into which world the Logos came. — Matthew 19:4,8; 24:21; Mark 10:6; 13:19; 16:15; John 1:1,2,10; 17:5; Romans 1:20; 8:19-22; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 9:11; 2 Peter 3:4.

There are various theories regarding the earth’s formation and its preparation, beginning, as the earth upon which man was to live. Most Bible Students believe that planet had “fields”, “belts” or “rings” of gaseous and mineral material, enveloping the earth, kept in place by magnetic forces. Today many know of what is usually called the “ozone” field. The “Van Allen” belts may provide a similar example. At any rate, it is believed that gradually the motion of the fields became different from that of the Earth in proportion to the distance from the center of gravity. These fields gradually approaching the Earth would be kept off by centrifugal force, particularly strong at the equator.

Genesis 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep. God’s Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Genesis 1:3 – God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Please note that planet “earth” already “was” before the beginning of the first day, and that it was covered with water. The waters referred to probably consisted of various forms of liquids, and made not had yet been developed into the waters as we know the oceans today. Before the first day began, however, the planet earth was already in existence, and the its watery surface was in total darkness.  We believe, in accordance with Isaiah 44:24, that the material universe was already in existence before the “beginning” that is spoken of in Genesis 1:1. We read in Job 38:4-7 that there were “sons of God” already present when the foundation of the earth was laid, evidently referring to the “beginning” and the “earth” spoken of in Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:10, not of the creation of the planet itself that already “was” as spoken of in Genesis 1:2, since Isaiah 44:24 indicates that God was alone at the creation of the material universe. If Yahweh was alone at the laying of the foundations of the material universe, then the foundations spoken of in Job 38:4-7 must refer to the foundations of the heaven and earth of Genesis 1:8 and Genesis 1:10.

In the first day, the “brooding” of Holy Energy developed a light, probably resembling the Aurora Borealis — but not sunlight. Many Bible Students believe that a canopy around the earth caused the darkness, and as the canopy disintegrated some light from the sun was allowed to shine on the surface, but that the sun itself could not yet been seen. The “light” could have come from the regions of the surface of the waters, as this time element would have a lot of underwater volcanic activity, which may have provided the source for such light. Regardless, we are informed that on Day One some form of light was provided, and that it was distinguished from the darkness.  The word “day” as used related to “light”, however, is not of the same length as when day is use of first “day” of creation.

The Sun itself, like the planet earth itself, must have already been existence as part of the earlier creation spoken of in Isaiah 44:24. However,  it did not appear in the sky until the Fourth Day, nor are 24-hour “days” actually mentioned until then. Thus, there must have been something that hindered the sunlight from reaching the surface of the earth that left the surface of the earth in darkness as described in Genesis 1:2.

Some have pointed to Luke’s genealogy, which goes back to Adam as the son of God, and have claimed that this proves that the Bible supports the idea that the planet earth has been here for only a few thousand years. Luke only provides a genealogy back to the first man created by God, but not back to the creation of the universe itself, which had already taken place before the six days of creation of the world of mankind. Likewise, the angelic “son of God” were already in existence at the time of the creation of the first man (Job 38:4-9), so there was a creation of these invisible beings before that creation which is spoken of in the first two chapters of Genesis.

Some insist the the six days of creation spoken of in Genesis 1 & 2 are 24-hour days, and that thus the Bible says that God created the heavens and earth in six 24-hour days. The Bible says nothing about creating the heavens and earth in six 24-hour days. This thought has to be assumed and added to what is written. There are at least three different usages of the word “day” in the first two chapters of the Bible, each with different time lengths. Each of the six epochs of creation are called a “day”, each made up of what is rendered as “evening” and “morning” without any signification as to duration (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31); the light is called “day” without any signification as to duration (Genesis 1:5); the light is called “day” in reference to the daylight hours of a 24-hour day, which “day” averages about 12 hours. (Genesis 1:14,16; See John 11:9); the first mention of “days” that we can actually identify in the sense of 24-hour days is in Genesis 1:14: “let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for *days* and years”; all six days/epochs of creation are called a “day” (singular). — Genesis 2:4.

Thus the six periods of time for creation are called “days”, followed by a seventh day of rest, providing a pattern for the work week and a day of rest, the seven days of a week that mankind is now familiar with. — Exodus 20:9-11.

As to how long the physical universe of stars and planets existed before God began those six days of creation, the Bible does not state.

The generations listed in Luke only go back to the creation of Adam, not to the when the physical universe itself was created, which could have been billions of years, according to our time as we now have it.

God created the universe, and the invisible “sons of God”, before he created the “heavens” and “earth” that are spoken of in Genesis 1:1.

Some claim that the Hebrew word translated as “heavens” in Genesis 1 does not mean the “sky”, since it is plural. Others have claimed that since the King James Version and others have “heaven” (singular) in Genesis 1:8 and that it has “heavens” in Genesis 1:1, then these two verses are not referring to the same thing.

The Hebrew word, *Shamayim*, is always plural all the way through the Bible, although many times translators render it as singular in many instances. The singular form never appears in the Bible. This plural form is used in Genesis 1:26,28,30; 2:19,20; 7:3; 9:2 in describing the region where the birds fly. Of course, the sky *can* include everything seen above from the earth, but the sun, moon and stars did not appear until in the “sky” until the fourth day, so the creative process continues over the six days.

We are not to think that the sun, moon, and stars were “created” as an physical bodies on Day Four, but it was it at that time that the fields above the earth became thin enough so that they could be seen in the sky above, as though from man’s standpoint upon the earth. The fourth day is actually the first mention of a “days” as we know 24-hour days. (Genesis 1:14-19) Additionally, the approximately 12-hour “day” – the average time of sunlight — is also first mentioned at that time. — John 11:9.

The expressions “evening and morning” and “day” cannot be understood to signify twenty-four-hour days, for neither Sun nor Moon was visible until the Fourth Day. The planet earth, already in existence before the account given in Genesis 1, was swathed in total darkness. (Genesis 1:2) The word “day” applies to any period, or Epoch, as for instance, the “Day of temptation in the wilderness” — forty years. (Psalms 95:8.) Note again, that we read of the “Day of Christ,” evidently referring to the thousand-year Day in which Messiah is to be King over all the Earth. (Isaiah 2:11.)

In the common affairs of life we use the word “day” similarly, when referring to Caesar’s day, Napoleon’s day, etc.

Thus, most Bible Students accept that each “day” of creation is not 24-hours, but periods of time much longer.

As one after another the encircling fields of gas and minerals approached the Earth they would spread out like a great canopy, but would not be permitted to fall upon the Earth because of the circumambient air, referred to in Scripture as a “firmament”, or “expanse”.

God made the firmament, or expanse, to appear above the earth’s surface, in the second “Day”, and separated the waters which were under the firmament, expanse,  from the waters (probably cloud-like vapor) which were above the firmament. — Genesis 1:7.

According to our theory, the strongly mineralized fields above the Earth, held off by the “firmament” and centrifugal force, greatest at the equator, gradually concentrated at the two poles, where later they broke and then reached the Earth, forming layer after
layer of mineralized earth deposited by the water which rushed from both poles toward the equator. — Genesis 7:11,18.

These fields, or belts, of gas and minerals followed each other as great deluges upon the Earth — perhaps thousands (millions?) of years apart. The deluge of Noah’s day is believed to have been the last, of vapor only, heavier minerals being attracted first to the surface. Hence minerals are generally under several layers of shale and soil.

Nevertheless, the second “day” describes the formation of the “heavens” spoken of as “beginning” in Genesis 1:1. The heavens at that time, however, did not include the sun, the moon, or the stars, nor did it contain any flying birds. Nor was it yet the heavens – the above – for mankind, since man had yet been created. It was the start of the creation of the heavens of the world of mankind.

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land of the Earth appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He seas. And the evening and the morning were the Third Day.”

Here we have the formation “the earth” that is spoken of as “beginning” in verse 1. It does not speak of the planet earth, but of the dry land as “earth”.

It is possible that several of the fields encircling the earth precipitated themselves upon the earth during this third epoch. Thus, many believe that these, according to the Divine intention, so increased the pressure on the crust of the Earth as to cause it to buckle or wrinkle. These depressions became ocean beds, and the upheavals became mountain ranges. Thus was the work of the Third Day accomplished. The waters were gathered into seas and oceans, the dry land was up heaved and began gradually to drain off in preparation for vegetation. This draining must have required a long time. — Genesis 1:9,10.

Appropriately we next read: “And the Earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit.”

That is to say, vegetation began on the Third, or Carboniferous Day, though it did not reach its perfection until after the light of the Sun penetrated. There are grasses and other vegetation which prosper best in darksome shades. Additionally, there was light being provided from the unstated source that was spoken of in Day One. Regardless, it was on Day Three that vegetation began to grow.

The claim has been made that in Genesis 1:16, the verse says that God created the Sun, Moon, and stars, and fastened (Hebrew: nawthan) them to the firmament. The Hebrew word “Nathan”, Strong’s #5414, means: “to give, put, set, allow, grant, show, cause, appoint”. We cannot find any support for the idea of “fasten”. The KJV most often renders this word as:

give 1078, put 191, deliver 174, made 107, set 99, up 26, lay 22, grant 21, suffer 18, yield 15, bring 15, cause 13, utter 12, laid 11, send 11, recompense 11, appoint 10, shew 7, miscellaneous 167.

God, by whatever means, did show, allow, bring, are cause these luminaries to be in the sky in as part of the fourth epoch of creation. What prevented these heavenly bodies from being seen from the earth’s surface before Day 4 is not directly given in the Bible.

“And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.”

The Sun, the Moon and the Stars were created long before, but had never, up to this time, cast their light upon the Earth because of the impenetrable veil which canopied it.The appearance of the Sun and the Moon on the Fourth Day implies that another field, or belt, broke at that time and precipitated its great mass of water and mineral upon the Earth. Great gullies were washed between the mountains.

The atmosphere, heavily charged with carbon, was very favorable to the development of plant life. It is supposed that the Earth still had considerable heat in its crust, that oceans were warm and highly carboniferous, and that the air was surcharged with carbon to the extent that no breathing animal could have existed. But those very conditions were extremely favorable to gigantic growths of vegetation. This vegetation presumably passed into a condition resembling that of the peat-beds of our day. These beds of incipient coal afterwards came under great pressure, as one after another the belts of Earth came down in deluges, burying vegetation under slimy deposits. Our coalfields are the result.

Nor should we assume that the Sun and the Moon shone on the earth in Day 4 as in the clarity that we now see them. But they were discernible even through heavy banks of fog and carbon-laden atmosphere. The influences of the Sun and the Moon were necessary to prepare for higher forms of plant and animal life.

It has been claimed that Genesis 1:1 begins with Day 1, with the heavens and earth being created on Day 1. There is nothing in the description of Day One about the planet earth or the stars being created. One has to read such a thought into what is said there. Genesis 1:1 is a summation of the entire six days. The “heavens”, as seen from the earth, were, in some way visible on the first day due to the light, but the actual creation of the heavens began in day 2, and continued. The actual creation of the earth, dry land, came on day three. That this is the intention of the statement, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth”, can be seen from Exodus 20:11: “In [during] six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.”  Also Exodus 31:17: “In six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested.” Thus the “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 describes the entire six days, not just the first day. Likewise, in Genesis 2:4, all six of these days are described as “the day [singular] that Yahweh God made earth and the heavens.”

Related Restoration Light Links:

Darkness, Light and the Logos

Jesus’ Pre-Human Glory

Genesis 1:1-2:4 – Seven days when no days?

Are the Creative Days Literal Days?

Beginnings in the Bible

In the Beginning (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1)

Hebrews 1:10-12- Does Yahweh Speak to Yahweh?

Without Jesus Christ Absolutely Nothing Was Made? (John 1:3)

Related Books

A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy (Book)

The Genesis Debate : Three Views on the Days of Creation

Three Views on Creation and Evolution

The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God

A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy

Beyond the Cosmos: The Extra-Dimensionality of God : What Recent Discoveries in Astrophysics Reveal About the Glory and Love of God
By Hugh Ross