Is there a conscious awareness of the soul after death? Is grandma really “looking down” on me? Does she (can she) come “talk” to me and guide me? I am having trouble with Eccl. 9:5-6 and Job 14:21
First we will examine the two passages and then answer the last two questions.
The first passage we are interested in is Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.
For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 (NASB)
Here we are told that the dead do not remember anything since their minds have ceased to function. The key phrase in this verse is “under the sun.” The phrase is used throughout the book of Ecclesiastes to refer to man’s activity upon this earth or “under the sun.” Ecclesiastes describes life on this earth. After death our dead bodies do not function. They do not know, love, hate, nor are they eager to accomplish anything. Dead bodies do not move, walk, or function in anyway. That is the same message in the verse that occurs four verses later,
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NASB)
The verse refers to Sheol. “Sheol” is the place of the dead. Sheol is the grave! Our bodies are buried in the grave, but our spirits go either to heaven or to hell.
Your second passage is found in Job 14:19-22.
Water wears away stones, its torrents wash away the dust of the earth; so You destroy man’s hope. You forever overpower him and he departs; You change his appearance and send him away. His sons achieve honor, but he does not know it; or they become insignificant, but he does not perceive it. But his body pains him, and he mourns only for himself. (NASB) Job 14:19-22
This passage is about a man who is currently living under the sun. Job describes the end of man. A man eventually becomes old. His face becomes wrinkled. His head becomes bald. His teeth may disappear. He may stoop in his old age, and then he dies. It is also possible that a man may not know what happens to his children. This is disappointing to Job. His body may be in pain. Recently, life has been difficult for Job. The book of Job is about Job’s suffering in the latter part of his life. Job is grieving his sorry state in life. God has allowed Job to lose everything in life but his wife and himself. Job has missed the point as to why God has allowed him to suffer. God has tested him in order to determine if he will remain faithful or become critical of God. Job became critical rather than being thankful for the many things that God had given him. Job missed the point that he was a steward of the things that God gave him. He was not the owner.
Is Grandma Looking Down?
Is grandma looking down from heaven upon us or up from hell at us? It is clear that the angels of heaven are watching us, since each person has a guardian angel who has direct contact with God the Father (Matthew 18:10). We are told that the angels of heaven rejoice when a person believes in Jesus Christ (Luke 15:10). Both of these passages indicate that it is possible to see what is occurring on the earth from heaven. So does that mean grandma and grandpa can watch what you are doing?
Some like to refer to Jesus’ parable about Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). In the parable we are told that Lazarus and the rich man could see one another. Lazarus was in paradise and the rich man was in Hades or hell. In the parable they could see one another. But that was a parable and not necessarily reality. Therefore, the answer to your question is that we are not sure. The Bible never explicitly tells us.
Can Grandma Talk To Me?
Some refer to King Saul’s request to speak with the prophet Samuel as proof that we can talk with the dead. There is a previous question and answer titled “What is the biblical belief on communing with the dead?” In that response we indicate that it is not possible to talk with the dead normally. God allowed Saul to speak with Samuel on only this one occasion. Otherwise, it is not possible, since God prohibits believers from having anything to do with the occult. When people think they are communing with the dead via seances and mediums for example, they are in fact being taken advantage of by demons who are preying on their desire to contact their loved ones. Demons impersonate or pretend to be the dead person. Again, we encourage you to read the response to the previous question.
The prophecy of Joel 2:28-3:17 is an important prophecy. Since it has been partially fulfilled, there is every reason to believe the rest of it will be fulfilled too! Praise the Lord.
Suggested Links:What is the biblical belief on communing with the dead?
What is an evil spirit of the Lord?
Why do bad things happen to God's people?