Many people have claimed to have communicated with their dead loved ones. Let’s see what the Bible teaches about the dead speaking to the living.
It is estimated that over 60 million people die annually around the world. If we divide this into days, we get 164,383 per day. These are not just numbers but people. People who are beloved family members, colleagues, friends, or known to us in one way or another. When they die they leave a gap that no one else can fill. We often wish we could have one more moment to have a chat with them. The question then is,
Can the dead speak to us?
Let’s begin by understanding what constitutes a human being. Two prominent schools of thought on this issue are the theory of creation and the theory of evolution. For this short discussion, let’s start with evolution as pertaining to a human being. Evolution theory, which arose in the 1800s, teaches that people are a result of the Big Bang and evolved from apes to the stage where we are now. According to this theory when death strikes it’s a form of evolution (survival of the fittest). It does not give us any indication that a dead person can come back and connect with the living.
Now for the creation theory. We find the creation story in the biblical book of Genesis. It teaches that human beings were created by God. Let us take a look at Genesis 2:7.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
How man was formed
Dust + breath of life = living soul
This is what is called a human being. A being that has the ability to speak and reason. So what happens when we die then?
It is simply this: death is the reversal of the creation process.
Living soul – breath of life = dust
This dust is the body or ashes that we take for burial. At this stage, there is no ability to speak. What happens to the breath of life then? According to Ecclesiastes 12:7
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
As the separation happens, the spirit (breath of life) goes back to where it was before it became part of forming a human being. So, the spirit without the body is not a living soul. Then we have Ecclesiastes 9:5.
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
This tells us that the dead know nothing. If they know nothing, then how can they speak to us? What about the experiences of those who have spoken to their deceased loved ones? They have seen and heard them clearly, while others have communicated with them through dreams or channelled them through mediums. What do you say about these interactions?
We acknowledge that these meetings do happen, whether they appear real or as dreams. Sometimes a message is given, or a future event is foretold (which sometimes comes true). So, if our dead loved ones cannot speak, who is giving us these messages?
All these are genuine questions and to get the answers, we need to go back to where death started.
Where did death start?
God had told Adam that if they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree (if they disobeyed and sinned) they would die. But the devil, who spoke through the medium of the snake, had a different message in Genesis 3:4.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.
So to back up his lie, as people would be dying because of sin, the Devil told them in verse 5 that when they eat the fruit (and thus sin) they will be like God. He basically advertised sin as a means of becoming a superior being who would not die.
The Devil knows that we are emotional beings driven by love towards our relatives and friends. So, when our loved ones die, he presents himself and his angels in the form of our departed ones (see 1 Samuel 28). We converse with them, thinking that we are speaking to our loved ones. Gradually he moves our hearts away from God who warns us about speaking to the dead in Deuteronomy 18:10, 11.
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
How then does the Devil imitate our loved ones down to the very things they used to do or the way they used to speak?
Remember that the Devil is older than Adam. He was there when the dead were still living, watching them closely so that he could imitate them in many aspects. The Devil has been the master of deception from the beginning of time. He may sometimes predict what he is planning to do in your future and unless God stops him, what he tells you may happen because he causes it to happen.
What must I do when it appears that my dead beloved ones approach me?
Firstly, the Word of God says in Job 7:9, 10
As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so one who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more.
Your loved one is peacefully sleeping, irrespective of whether they had a relationship with God whilst living or not. All the dead are sleeping, waiting for the day of resurrection and judgment (see Daniel 12:2, Revelation 20:5,6 and John 11:11-14, 24). Therefore, when this form of a loved one approaches you, rebuke it in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ (Acts 16:16-18). Thereafter you can pray for God to protect you from the evil spirits attacking you. Remember, the Devil wants to enter through your emotions knowing that you are attached to your beloved departed ones.
Secondly, remember that we are at war. And it is a spiritual war, where the enemy can come disguised to deceive you (Ephesians 6:12).
And finally, be thankful that the devil is a defeated foe! Like Christ, our commander, we can also defeat the Devil with an ‘It is written’ when we know His Word, the Bible. The Holy Scriptures are our safeguard, along with hiding ourselves in God through prayer.
According to the Bible, the dead know nothing.
Want to dig deeper into this topic?
If you have more questions on this topic, please refer to the Are the Dead Really Dead? Bible study, or read the Can Dead People Talk? GLOW tract or The Mystery of Death book, or watch the documentary Death Unraveled.
This article was written by Lizwe Ncube and edited by Diane Lewis and Omari Norman.