God formed Adam’s body out of the dust of the earth. But there was no life in Adam’s body until God breathed into it. The breath that God breathed into man, according to the Scriptures, is the spirit in man (Job 32:8).
When man fathers a child, he passes on to his child a measure of that breath of God, which is the spirit within the child. So every man, woman, child and baby, has this spirit within them, which is the breath of God. Even though an unborn baby has yet to take his first breath of air, he still has this spirit, the breath of God within him.
It does not matter whether a man is old in years, or still an unborn baby in his mother’s womb. When God withdraws His breath, the spirit in man, that man or unborn child will die.
Job 34:14 If he (God) set his heart upon man, if he gathered unto himself his spirit and his breath; 15 All flesh shall breathe their last together, and man shall turn again unto dust.
It is worth noting here, that if God were to withdraw from all mankind, his breath, which is the spirit in man. All flesh; that is all mankind, both the just and the wicked would perish, and their mortal bodies would return to the dust.
Man is a soul, he lives in a body, and he has a spirit. When God takes back his breath, which is the spirit in man, the soul of man goes to Sheol, while the body dies and returns to dust. Just as both the body of the just and the wicked return to dust, so both the spirit of the just and the wicked return to God who gave it.
The last thing that a man does in this life, whether old in years, or still in his mother’s womb, is to expire the breath of God, the spirit within him, which returns to God who gave it.
Both the writers of Genesis and Job understood that life did not depart from either the old man or the unborn child, with the expiring of their last breath of air. But that life departs with the expiring of the breath of God, the spirit within man.
Therefore to breathe one’s last, is to breathe out, or expire out the breath of God, the spirit within us. Both Moses and Job understood this and used the word ‘gava’ to explain this breathing out of the breath of God, the spirit within us. This word ‘gava’ means ‘to gasp out’ ‘to expire’.
(Genesis 25:8 & 17; 35:29; 49:33; Job 3:11; 10:18; 13:19; & 14:10.)
In the Gospels of Mark and Luke, the Greek word ‘ekpneo’ meaning ‘to breath out’ is used when referring to Jesus Christ giving up his spirit to God. (Mark 15:37 & Luke 23:46) The King James Version translates both these verses as ‘to give up the ghost’, while some newer English versions translate both of these verses as ‘to breathe one’s last’.
The account of Jacob’s death and burial:
Genesis 49:29 Then he charged them and said unto them: "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
Jacob here is telling his sons, “I (I being the soul of Jacob) am about to be gathered to my people. (Who have gone on ahead of me into Sheol). Bury me (me being the body of Jacob) with my fathers (Abraham and Isaac) in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite.”
Jacob knew that regardless of what his sons did or didn’t do, at the moment his spirit left his body to return to God who gave it, that he (his soul) would be gathered to his people. This was a job for the angels, and not for his sons (See Luke 16:22). But it was a job for Jacob’s sons to bury his body. Therefore Jacob commands his sons to bury his body with the bodies of father Abraham and Isaac.
Genesis 49:33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
Jacob gathered up his feet into the bed. Jacob’s body lay on his bed.
He breathed his last. Thus releasing Jacob’s spirit back to God who gave it.
And Jacob’s soul was gathered to his people” in Sheol.
These three things happened in an instant. But it took some time for Jacob’s sons to fulfil Jacob’s command, to take Jacob’s body from Egypt to Canaan to bury it.
The account of Abraham’s death and burial:
As a young man, Abraham travelled with his father about 600 miles (1,000 km) from Ur to Haran. After living in Haran a while, his father died and Abraham travelled on, about another 300 miles (500 km) to the land of Canaan. After living in Canaan for some time, Abraham’s wife Sarah died. Abraham, having decided not to take his wife’s body back to the city of Ur to be buried with the bodies of his people, bought the cave in Hebron in the land of Canaan, in which to bury his wife Sarah. (Genesis 23:1-11)
Genesis 25:7 These are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre. 10 The field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife.
Then Abraham breathed his last, releasing his spirit back to God who gave it. Just like Jacob, his body died, and his soul was gathered to his people in Sheol. But unlike Jacob, Abraham’s body was buried 900 miles (1,500 km) away from the bodies of his people. So clearly, in the first death, the soul and the body of man, does not end up in the same place. However, after the resurrection, the in the second death, the wicked will have both their body and soul, cast into the fires of Sheol. (Matthew 10:28)
Ecclesiastes 3:21 Who knows the spirit of man that goes upward, and the spirit of the beast that goes downward to the earth?
We know the spirit of man comes from God and returns upwards to God because God’s word tells us this is so (Ecclesiastes 12:7). While the beast, whose spirit is not from God but of the earth, returns downwards to the earth.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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