The real ‘you’ is a spirit being who lives in a house of clay, made from the dust of the earth. Sometimes the words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ are analysed by Biblical scholars who arrive at clinically and etymologically correct definitions, only to find subsequently that they are used more or less interchangeably in the Bible. Let’s have a look at a few definitive references. In this examination we shall be repeating the process mentioned in the last number, in other words, uncovering things that the translators have covered up for us!
Job 27:8 “What hope has the hypocrite, though he has gained, when God takes away his soul?” The Hebrew word translated ‘takes away’ strictly means draws out. It is used of the after-birth, which is drawn out of the womb. In like manner the ‘soul’ of man is drawn out of its clay house at death, by whom, we are not told, but after-death cases have reported that it is the task of certain angels, as in the case of Lazarus, who was carried by the angels to ‘Abraham’s bosom.’
Eccl.12:7 “The spirit returns to God who gave it.” Here the real person is referred to as the ‘spirit’. Hence we do not need to be semantic purists when using these words. Whatever we are, whether soul or spirit, we are taken from our clay house at death. Jesus said of the man who had increased his goods, and who expected to sit at ease for many years to come, “You fool, this night your soul is required of you.” (Luke 12:20)
What else do we know about the one who resides in his clay house? See Dan. 7:15 “I Daniel was distressed in my spirit within my body.” The word translated ‘body’ is used in just one other place, for an angel who put his sword back in its ‘sheath’ or scabbard. (1 Chron.21:27) Hence, Daniel was talking about his spirit within its ‘sheath’. This is the aura, corona, or nimbus, which is invisible to most people, but surrounds the physical body, and is like a protective shield for our spirit. Its existence was well known in earlier non-tech days, and was often depicted as a halo or sphere round the heads of Jesus and saints.
Solomon tell us something else about the moment of death in Eccl.12:6 “When the silver cord snaps, and the golden bowl breaks, and the pitcher breaks at the fountain, and the wheel breaks at the cistern, THEN shall dust return to dust, and the spirit return to God.” The silver cord is that which holds the spirit within its sheath. If the soul should wander out, it extends like an umbilical cord, and pulls the spirit back inside. But at death, the cord snaps. Some may deny the possibility of the spirit leaving the body before death comes, the event which psychics refer to as ‘astral travel’, but we must remember that the Apostle Paul actually referred to the possibility when he said that he was caught up to the third heaven, ‘whether in the body or out of it,’ he didn’t know. (2 Cor.12:2)
The ‘golden bowl’ is not just the head, but that part of the aura around the head, which splits open at death to allow the spirit to leave, much as a ripened pea-pod might split open to allow the fruit to escape. The ‘pitcher’ is the heart, and the ‘wheel’ its function in the circulation of the blood, which stop at the moment of death. What happens to the spirit when it leaves? Solomon said that it returns to God. Moses added a further comment in Psalm 90:10, “The days of our life are threescore and ten . . . . and then we fly away.” Fly away? Yes, the word is frequently used of birds. But, I hear you say, you are teaching the immortality of the soul, which is an unbiblical concept, propagated by ancient philosophers like Plato. But, I would answer, the expression ‘immortality of the soul’ is meaningless. Everyone dies! Everyone is mortal. Immortality means ‘undying’, like God Himself. When we die we are ‘dead souls’. But death is not the end. It must not be equated with extinction. We are told “It is given unto man once to die AND AFTER THAT the judgement.” (Heb.9:27).
The soul/spirit returns to God, and an assessment is made of the life on earth. Many of those who have died and been resuscitated have spoken of going through an impartial and objective life-review – the ‘judgement’. Paul had an important additional piece of information about the after-death state. He said (2 Cor.5:1-4) that “If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this (body) we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, if so that being clothed we shall not be foundnaked. For we who are in this tabernacle groan, being burdened; not that we want to be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” In a nutshell, Paul hoped for the ‘change’, whereby mortality might be exchanged for immortality in a heavenly body, rather than to die and for a while be ‘naked’, ‘unclothed’ as the spirit/soul that flies away at death, awaiting the day of resurrection.