The book is by Gerald Wheeler and has 120 pages. [Photo Courtesy of the South American Division]

General Conference

Can we 'talk' to the dead? A personal story highlights Bible answers

The book The First Deception seeks answers emanating from the Bible on this topic.

Brazil | Pablo Ale

I felt the cold sting of death at 17, when I kissed the face of my father for the last time, as he lay in his coffin after perishing in an accident.

Sometimes death strikes us suddenly.

I felt the emptiness of death years later when my grandmother rested in the Lord after a long treatment for her ultimately terminal illness.

Sometimes we live death for months as we see a loved one slowly wear out.

Death is part of our reality, especially in 2020 where, battered by an atrocious pandemic, every day we inform ourselves of the number of deaths by countries almost as if we were looking at the medal count at the Olympic Games.

Humanity has tried to understand the subject of death for millennia: almost every known culture has put forward some theory of what happens to a person after they die. In addition to various deities, humans have sought help from the dead. After all, the dead had been part of the human family and could understand the problems that the living still faced.

Archaeological evidence repeatedly shows that popular religion included regular rituals for the benefit of the dead. Relatives and friends of the deceased gathered at gravesites to offer food and drink to the deceased. Some ancient tombs had wells that led into the ground, not only to allow offerings to reach the dead but also as a channel to communicate with them. The living considered the dead as still part of the family. They believed they were responsible for the care and feeding of their ancestors.

In Egypt, families financed shrines and priests to keep regular offerings for the dead. In addition, they could offer pottery with inscribed messages, requesting help for the birth of a child or for other needs.

Naturally, the powerful customs of caring for the dead and invoking their help attracted the interest of the Israelites. As a result, God had to forbid food offerings to the dead (Deut. 26:14; Ps. 106: 28). Deuteronomy 18: 9-14 prohibits a number of rituals that sought guidance from the supernatural, including divination, consulting ghosts or spirits, or attempting to obtain oracles from the deceased. In Exodus 22:18 the death penalty was established for sorceresses in the camps of Israel. Leviticus 19:26 and 31, and 20: 6 and 27, warn against mediums, sorcerers, and other practitioners of the occult. However, even King Saul succumbed to the deceptions of spiritualism (1 Sam. 28: 3-35), as millions around the world still do today.

Although the Bible has much to say on the subject of death, there are several conflicting views on the afterlife. What is really biblical? And what vision does science support?

That is why the book The First Deception (Biblical Truths About Death) seeks answers from the Bible on this topic and discovers that one of the first lies told to humanity has been taught as "the truth" for thousands of years. With remarkable skill, the author (Gerald Wheeler, who was the book editor at the Review and Herald Publishing Association for many years and has written numerous books) traverses the Word of God to set forth with absolute clarity this subject that, along with creation and the Bible Sabbath, is being questioned in order to dupe us.

Thus, this great first deception does not refer only to the Garden of Eden. The adversary is still alive today, more current than ever. Since Genesis 3, Satan has been lying to us on the subject of death.

There are not only movies full of spiritism, ghosts, life in the afterlife, and experiences that have been normalized. There are also very successful and famous animated films for children such as Coco or Frozen. Let's not leave our children on the pagan altar of Hollywood. Social networks, the media, Netflix series, and movies invade us all the time trying to install totally wrong concepts about death in our minds.

Therefore, this is a vital and indispensable book as Adventists continue to strengthen our biblical concept of death, the soul, the Second Coming of Jesus, and the resurrection.

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site