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Answering The Atheist
June 18, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 25

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Is death final? Some Bible texts indicate yes (Josh 23:14; Job 7:9; 20:7; Ps 6:5; 88:5; 115:17; Ecc 3:19; 9:5, 10; Isa 26:14; 38:18), but others indicate no, that there will be a resurrection from the dead (1 Ki 17:22; 2 Ki 4:32-35; 13:21; Dan 12:1; Mt 9:24-25; 25:46; 27:52-53; Mk 5:39-42; Lk 7:12-15; 9:30; 14:14; 20:37; Jn 11:39-44; Ac 26:23; 1 Co 15:16, 52; Rev 20:12-13)? Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
The Bible is clear that there is a resurrection from the dead. In John 5:28-29, Jesus said, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." There is a resurrection from the dead.

Let us address the texts listed by the questioner as being contrary to the thought of a resurrection from the dead:

  • Josh 23:14 - Joshua said that he was "going the way of all the earth", in other words, he was dying. For one to be resurrected from the dead, one must first die. This in no way contradictions a resurrection.
  • Job 7:9 - Those who go down to the grave do not come up to live fleshly lives again. We will be spirit beings in the resurrection, not physical (Mt 22:30; Lk 20:34-36; 1 Jn 3:2)
  • Job 20:7 - The text speaks of the fate of the wicked, that he will perish forever. The wicked are resurrected, but to a resurrection of condemnation.
  • Ps 6:5 - We must render faithful service to God here and now, for in death there is no remembrance of the Lord or giving thanks to Him. (as also in Ps 115:17
  • Ps 88:5 - The allusion is to those who have fallen in the battlefield. The verse does not exclude the coming of a resurrection
  • Ecc 3:19 - Death comes upon all God's creatures; in this manner, we are all alike. However, Solomon makes a distinction just a few verses later, asking, "Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" (v 21)
  • Ecc 9:5, 10 - The dead know nothing and do nothing, where? "Under the sun" (v 6). The dead are no longer engaged in earthly things. However, they await the resurrection from the dead.
  • Isa 26:14 - This appears in the midst of a song by the people of Judah, praising God for deliverance from their enemies. The Israelite people were not saying that their enemies would not rise up again in the resurrection. That is beyond the scope of the song.
  • Isa 38:18 - As with Ps 6:5 and Ecc 9:10, we must praise God and serve before Him while in life (see v 19)
There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible