Dreams of Life and Death

I read a passage from the Old Testament and it made think about the different understanding God’s people had about life after death in the Old Testament versus the New Testament. Below is a fictional story inspired by an Old Testament scripture. Try to determine which Old Testament event inspired this story. Think about the differences and similarities in both life and life after death presented by each of the dreams.

First Dream

The night before last, I had a dream. At first, it was a good dream, because I was a king. I was a godly king who ruled well; so I expected my reward to be a long, prosperous, and peaceful reign, but things went wrong.

In my dream, I became sick one morning. The illness grew continually worse. Then my friend, the prophet of God, brought me a word from the Lord. The Lord said set my house in order, because I was going to die.

My heart sank. At mid-life, the fabric of my life would be cut off. What I had hoped to enjoy would not be. I was in agony in body and spirit, as though a lion had crushed all my bones. I moaned and wept bitterly. In death I would be quieted, no longer be able to celebrate God with my family and walk with the Lord. I would no longer be able to worship God in his holy temple. I would not be able to praise the Lord in death. I would be a shade and rest with the silent of the earth. I prayed to the Lord and reminded him of all the good I had done and how I walked with him whole heartedly. I deserved to live.

My friend, the prophet, returned. The Lord heard my prayer, granted me recovery, and fifteen more years of life. He remembered my sins no more. I promised to lead my people in singing the praises of the Lord. I will never forget the bitterness and anguish of my illness. I determined to walked with the Lord in humility daily.

Second Dream

Last night, I dreamed another dream. I woke in the morning and was sick. I became more and more ill. I was not a king, but I wore a royal robe. The doctors told me there was nothing they could do, and I would die soon. I had expected to see my children grow up and one day enjoy grandchildren, but the Lord had another plan for me. My bones ached; pain wracked my body, even medication did not help.

I gathered my family around and gave them the bad news. We cried and prayed, and asked God for a miracle. We prayed not on the basis of the good I had done, instead we prayed in the name of the one who died to pay for all our sins. I was sad for all I would miss, but I understood my praise of the Lord would not be silenced.

My friend read from the word of God,

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV)

Those words comforted us. I would continue living this life until it was time to join that joyful assembly.

This first dream was inspired by the writing of King Hezekiah recorded in Isaiah 38:9-20. I remembered reading about God granting him fifteen more years, but I had forgotten about the psalm Hezekiah wrote describing this experience. It is very touching and it reveals the thinking at that time about life after death. I encourage you to read Isaiah 39.

In the second dream, I attempted to depict the perspective of a Christian. We have been given more information about life after death than the people in the Old Testament.

God’s people under the Law of Moses understood life and life after death differently than Christians should. How would you describe the differences and similarities?

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