Where do we go when we die? What is the truth about death? There’s much confusion about the subject of death, many Christians believing that we, as a separate ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ either go straight to Heaven or Hell once we die. Let’s see what the Word of God says what happens when we die..... The Truth about death.
What Happens When We Die?
Part of the confusion is to do with the two words 'Spirit' and 'Soul'. But look at the original Hebrew and Greek meanings for these words.... The majority use of 'Spirit' simply means wind; breath; air (ie the breath of God in us). Also the majority use of 'Soul' simply means to breathe; a breathing creature; life (ie. a living being). So it seems that 'Spirit' and 'Soul' basically means breath, a living creature, not a separate entity that lives on when we die.
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.' ..... note in this verse, God doesn't give Adam a soul, Adam BECOMES a living soul (a living creature) by receiving the breath of God.
Genesis 3:19 'In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return.' ......we are as dust without the breath of God (spirit) in us. When we die, when God retracts His breath from us, we return to dust.
Genesis 4:10 'And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground." ....... Cain has killed Abel. Notice God doesn't say that Abel's 'Spirit' or 'Soul' is crying out to Him in Heaven, but from the GROUND!! And it's symbolic wording, Abel's blood doesn't have a voice, God knows that Cain has killed Abel. God is pointing out that Abel is now in the earth, not in Heaven.
Joshua 1:2 'Moses my servant is dead.' ......God speaks to Joshua and tells him that Moses is dead. God doesn't say that Moses 'Spirit' is with Him in Heaven, God says Moses is DEAD!
Job 12:10 'In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?' ......Notice 'breath' of all mankind, if you look at the Hebrew for breath, it is the same word as for spirit, the Hebrew word is 'ruwach'. The breath of all mankind is in God's hand, he gives, controls and takes away the breath of man. So basically, the life of everything is in God's hands.
Job 14:10-12 'But man dieth, and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea and the flood decayeth and drieth up; so man lieth down, and riseth not, till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.' ......man gives up the ghost; the Hebrew word for ghost means 'to breathe out'; i.e. to give up the breath of God, nothing to do with a separate spirit. Also, this verse says that when man dies, he 'sleeps' the same way that Jesus described death in the New Testament...and man does not rise again until the heavens have passed away, which is when?....only when Jesus returns at the second coming!
So, what happens to our 'soul' when we die? We know that while we live, we are classed as a 'living soul', a 'living being', so when we die, our 'soul' 'sleeps' because we are no longer living, knowing nothing until the resurrection day at Jesus second coming.
Job 21:30-32 ….' That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath. Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done? Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.'….. The wicked are reserved until the day of destruction, which will be the second coming. Where are they reserved? In the tomb!
Job 27:3 'All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;' ......So, if we have a separate spirit that lives within us, it dwells in our nostrils?? No, this spirit is basically the air/breath of God, not a separate spirit that lives forever. Again 'spirit' in this verse, in the original Hebrew, means breath; wind; air which is breathed through our nostrils.
Job 34:14-15 'If He set His heart upon man, if he gather unto Himself his spirit and His breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.' ......It is God's spirit/breath that gives us life, we don't have our own spirit, God didn't give us our own spirit, He gave us HIS breath to enable us to live, and if He withdrew His breath, then all mankind would die (return to dust), as this verse states.
NOTE: In none of these or other verses does it suggest that we, whether good or evil, have our own spiritual being that continues to live on once we die.
Psalm 104:29-30 'Thou hides thy face, they are troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth.' ......Again, this word breath is the same Hebrew word as spirit, and when God takes away our breath, we die, we return to what we are...dust!!! And when God sends His spirit/breath, things are created and live.
Psalm 115:17 'The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence.' ......If we had our own soul that lived on after death, surely we would be able to praise God! But no, when we die, we cannot praise God, because we do not have our own soul that lives on as this verse suggests.
Psalm 150:6 'Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.' ......This breath is the same Hebrew word as spirit. Only those with breath/spirit, i.e. living beings, can praise God. If you die, you cannot praise God.
NOTE: The Old Testament mentions the words; hell, sheol, pit. These all seem to mean the ground beneath us where we return after we die. The Hebrew word Sheol means; hades, the world of the dead. We know that we return to dust when we die, so that's the world of the dead, the ground/earth.
Ecclesiastes 9:2 'ALL THINGS COME ALIKE TO ALL; ONE EVENT HAPPENS TO THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED.' ......What one event for both righteous and wicked? DEATH !!
Ecclesiastes 9:5 'For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing.'
Ecclesiastes 9:10 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or device, or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.' ......As these two verses clearly state, we have no knowledge or wisdom after we die. If we had a soul that lived on once we died, then surely we would know what was happening and be aware of things, but as these verses say, we know nothing after we die, because we do not have our own soul that lives on.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 'Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.' (NKJV) ......The word spirit in this verse means, breath;wind;air. So it is the breath of God that returns to Him when we die, and we return to dust. NOTE: This verse describes what happens to all mankind...so how can the so-called eternal 'spirit' of a wicked man go up to God in Heaven when he dies? Isn't he supposed to go down to hell? This verse clearly shows that our spirit is basically the breath of God.
SO FROM THIS LAST VERSE WE HAVE LEARNED THAT THE SPIRIT (BREATH) OF ALL MANKIND, WHETHER GOOD OR EVIL RETURNS TO GOD WHEN WE DIE.
Isaiah 26:19 'But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy.' ......This verse seems to be concerned with the second coming; the joy that awaits us when Jesus our Lord and Savior comes to take us home. Where do we dwell until Jesus returns? IN THE DUST ! This verse says 'wake up', so our state when we die is sleeping, the same as Jesus described the state of death Himself in the New Testament. REFERENCE THIS VERSE WITH DANIEL 12:2.
Isaiah 38:18-19 'For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. The living, the living - they praise you, as I am doing today.' ......So this verse is saying that those who die, cannot praise God, ONLY the living can praise God. Surely, if we had a separate 'soul' that lived on, we would still be able to praise God? This verse shows that after death (until Jesus returns) there is no praising God, because we have returned to dust and are not aware of anything.
Habakkuk 2:19 'Woe to him who says to wood 'awake', to silent stone 'arise', it shall teach! Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet it in there is no breath at all.'......The idols do not live because there is no 'breath' in them. This word breath is the same Hebrew word as 'spirit' (ruwach), which again, means breath;wind;air, from God.
Daniel 12:2 'And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.' ......This end time prophecy verse is concerned with the second coming of Jesus. Where does it say we come from? It doesn't say our living soul will descend from Heaven down to earth, it says that we will be awaken from our sleep. We will be sleeping in the dust, whether righteous or wicked, and will be raised from our sleep in the dust when Jesus comes.
So the Old Testament, I believe, teaches that our 'spirit' is basically the breath of God which makes us a 'living soul', and not a separate spirit or soul that lives on when we die. God's spirit lives on forever, because He is eternal, but when we die, we return to the dust. The breath that was in us keeping us alive returns to God, and we sleep in the dust awaiting the arrival of our Lord, Savior and King, JESUS!
Matthew 9:24 'He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." ......As seen in the study above, the Old Testament describes death as 'sleep'. He doesn't mention anything about her 'soul' or 'spirit', but simply she is sleeping. Also Jesus was about to bring her back to life, so she was literally dead a very short time, which could also prompt the word sleeping. The next verse will enlighten this.
John 11:1-16 (Snippets) 'Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." .......Jesus said, "our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up," Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead." (NKJV)........Again, Jesus speaks about death as 'sleeping', and He plainly connects the two - death and sleep. But also, this event wasn't normal death where a person remains dead until the second coming, because the death and raising of Lazarus was for the glory of God, and to enable Jesus to be glorified through the miracle. Notice in verses 23-24, 'Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' This shows there was no teaching whatsoever that we would go to heaven as soon as we die!
So this theme of 'sleeping' after we have died has carried on over from the old testament teaching to the new testament.
Note: If the so called 'soul' of Lazarus and this young girl went to heaven or hell after they had died, why don't we get any reports from them about this amazing event, after Jesus brought them back to life? There's not a word about their experience, which tells us that they were just as the Word of God teaches....Sleeping, not knowing anything!
Matthew 27:52 'and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.'.......God gave gifts to some men and raised them from the dead. Again, those saints who had previously died, were here referred to as being asleep.
Acts 7:59-60 'And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin", and when he had said this, he fell asleep.'......A verse with two key words. The first one is 'Spirit', Stephen cries out "Lord Jesus receive my spirit". The original Greek word for spirit is 'pneuma', which means breath;air;wind. So Stephen is basically asking God to receive his breath, as he knew he was about to die. And then the verse tells us that he does die and describes it as falling 'asleep', the other key word.
There are a few other verses that describe death as sleeping:
Acts13:36; 1 Corinthians 15:6,20; 1 Thessalonians 4:13
1 Corinthains 15:20-23 ….' But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.' ……. According to this verse, the dead in Christ will remain in their graves awaiting the order of resurrection. What is that order? Jesus is the "firstfruits of them that slept" And then those that are believers in Jesus will "be made alive". But when will they be made alive? According to the Bible, they will have to be made alive in the order that the Lord set up. Jesus, the "firstfruits" and then those that are His followers, "at His coming." You see, we don't live on after we die, we wait in our graves until the end time at "His coming."
1 Corinthians 15:42-45 (Snippets) 'So also is the resurrection of the dead........It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body........and so it is written; the first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.' ......As this verse says; we have a 'natural' body now on this earth, and then it is RAISED a 'spiritual body' AFTER we are resurrected.....It's at the resurrection that we are given spiritual bodies, we don't have a spirit now that lives on after we die. Again, Adam BECAME a living soul, i.e. A breathing creature. He wasn't given a 'soul' that lives forever.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 'Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.'......Again, sleep is connected here to death. When is it that we are changed into a spiritual body? At the last trumpet, which is when Jesus returns at His second coming...and not before!
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 'But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him, those who sleep in Jesus.'......Why would we be sorrowful, if we had a 'soul' that lived on when we died? People needed comforting, because they were afraid of death. Why would they be afraid of death if they had a 'soul' that lived on? But they are being comforted with the good news of the resurrection...at the end time on 'the last day.'
In None of these verses does it say, don't worry, you will live on in your 'spirit' after you die. But no, the scripture comforts us by telling us that through Christ's death and resurrection, we will be resurrected into a 'spiritual' immortal body WHEN Jesus returns at His second coming, NOT BEFORE.
NOTE: The New Testament also uses the word 'perish' for the wicked who do not believe in, or follow Jesus. Now the original Greek word for perish means 'to destroy FULLY'. See below:
John 3:15 'That whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.'......The word 'perish' is used as an opposite to 'eternal life'. We know we don't perish at death in this life, we sleep, as God's Word teaches. We know we receive our reward of eternal life when Jesus returns, at our resurrection, so this must be when the wicked perish, after they too have been resurrected and then thrown in the lake of fire. Which means, if the wicked are destroyed FULLY (perish), then they don't have a 'soul' that lives forever either.
2 Peter 3:9 'The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.' ......God doesn't want anyone to perish, be totally destroyed, He wants everyone to be saved and enjoy eternal life with Him. At the resurrection, there is life (eternal life) and there is death (eternal death), two outcomes!
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 'in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction.'......Will the wicked, through their own 'soul', live on forever in hell? No, They will be 'punished with EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION.' They will be totally destroyed.
Please click on Truth about Hell for fruther Bible study on the topic of hell.
When do we receive our reward for what we've done in this life? If this doctrine is right in it's teaching of our soul going to Heaven or Hell as soon as we die, then we receive our reward when we die. What does God's Word say?
Matthew 16:27 'For the Son of man will come in the glory of His Father with His Angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.'......This verse says we get our reward, AT THE SECOND COMING.
John 5:28-29 'Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming, in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.'......AT THE SECOND COMING, those who are in the graves, those who have died, WILL HEAR HIS VOICE. This doesn't sound like they already went to Heaven when they died.
2 Timothy 4:8 'Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.'......When are we all rewarded? On that day of His appearing...THE SECOND COMING. The words 'loved His appearing' means to long for it. As it says in James 5:7 'Therefore, be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord.' ......Why should we long for the second coming? Because it's the next time we will see Jesus. The church teaches we will see Him when we die. This goes against God's Word.
2 Peter 2:9 ...' The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.' ….. Churches teach that the wicked go straight to 'Hell' when they die, but here we see clearly that God reserves them UNTIL the day of Judgment. When is the day of Judgment? When Jesus returns. THEN they will be punished.
Luke 14:14 ….' And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.'
Revelation 22:12 'And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.'......It seems clear that we get our reward ONLY at the end time when Jesus returns at His second coming to resurrect us.
Matthew 13:37-43 ...'He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.' ….. When are the wicked burned? 'AT THE END OF THE WORLD'…. NOT BEFORE!! From verse 30 of this chapter we read that both the seed (righteous) and the tares (wicked) are left together UNTIL the end of the world. Jesus made it so clear. The wicked are not burning after they die the first death, they only get thrown into the fire AT THE END, when Jesus returns. It's at the harvest that the separation takes place, not before. ALL the dead now (saved and lost) are in the same state....in the grave/sheol. When Jesus returns, THEN AND ONLY THEN, will the separation take place.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 ….' For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.' ….. Paul is looking to the end times at the 'last day', the second coming, which is when we will be rewarded….NOT at death.
Acts 2:29.....'Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.' .....This is a plain statement about King David. They don't say that he is now with God in Heaven, they say....'he is dead and buried'. How can this be taken any other way?? Also, read a few verses on in verse 34, it says....' For David is NOT ascended into the heavens.' ..... Wow! How clear is that?
John 14:1-3 'Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also.'.......What a beautiful promise! This is THE promise! That Jesus will return one day to receive us unto Himself. When is He going to receive us? Not when we die, but when HE RETURNS, at the SECOND COMING, that where He is, 'there you may be also'
Most churches/denominations teach that we all have our own soul and when we die, whether good or evil, we live on as this 'soul' and if saved, go to be with God, and if lost, go to 'hell'. Let's have a look at some of the scriptures that they get this teaching from:
The first thing that this teaching is based on is the fact that God's Word uses the two words 'spirit' and 'soul'. But as already explained, those two words in the original Hebrew and Greek means breath; wind; air; to breathe; a living creature etc...Not an actual immortal soul.
2 Corinthians 5 …(Snippets)…. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life……….'We are confident, yes, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.' .....Take a look at Chapter 4 vs 14 ……'Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.'…….Paul is thinking about the Resurrection here, he knows that we will be raised at the second coming. Now, Paul would have had Enoch and Elijah in his mind and going on to the other verses above in Chapter 5, he speaks of an even better way than waiting for the resurrection, and that would be to go straight to Heaven, into a glorified immortal body, and be with Jesus. Notice, Paul speaks of 3 states of being…He speaks of 2 houses, our earthly mortal house (body), and the heavenly immortal house(body), and the third state he speaks of is being unclothed…..which must be the state of the dead, waiting in their graves for the resurrection. Their earthly house has died, and they are waiting in an unclothed state for their heavenly house (body).
Philippians 1:21-23 (Snippets) 'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.......having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.' (KJV) ...... Paul is thinking of Enoch and Elijah, wanting to depart the way they did and be with Jesus without seeing death. Paul especially thought that to die is gain, because he would be free from all the persecuting he received. Also, what is the next thing that a dead person will know, what is the next thing that will happen? The Resurrection, Christ returning to take us home, so obviously to die is gain, because the next thing you'll know, you'll be with Jesus.
Luke 23:43 'And Jesus said to him "Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."......In the original text, there were no punctuation marks, and I believe the comma has been put in the wrong place. Put the comma after the word today and the whole meaning changes. How could the thief be with Jesus in Paradise that day, when Jesus wasn't raised till three days later. We know for certain that Jesus didn't go up to Heaven when He died, because of this verse: John 20:17 'Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father, but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God."......This verse proves that Jesus had not yet ascended to Heaven, so how could the thief be with Him in Paradise on the Friday? It didn't happen, and this shows that the comma is in the wrong place. When was Jesus going to ascend to Heaven? AFTER HE WAS RESURRECTED, AND NOT BEFORE!! THE SAME AS WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO US.
Rich man and Lazarus: Luke 16:19-31 (Snippets) 'There was a certain rich man......but there was a certain beggar called Lazarus.....the beggar died and was carried by the Angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.......between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us'...... This is a parable. We can tell this isn't an actual event, because the rich man asks for a drop of water on his tongue!! ....how does this disembodied 'soul' have a tongue? also how is a drop of water going to cool him, if he is burning in agony? ............ It says Lazarus is carried to Abraham's bosom...do we really believe that saved 'soul's are literally going to be in Abraham's bosom? ........ Is it literal that people will be able to communicate between heaven and hell?...how horrendous that would be if the saved could see the lost burning in hell. This is all symbolic language.
What does the parable mean? Once you've died, there's no turning back, your judgement is set, you cannot pass from being lost to being saved. Also, it says if a person refuses to be guided by scripture, then nothing else will help him.
What else could the parable mean? .... The rich man represents the Jewish nation at that time (he represents the church now) feasting on the bread of life, thinking they are rich and in need of nothing, while around them the gentiles were starving for crumbs of truth that fell from the tables. And yet it was the attitude of the church then that..'we are God's chosen people, we have the truth and on their way to church they would pass by this poor beggar, who would have been satisfied with a little crumb of truth. But then there's this great reversal. The jews who thought they were saved are lost, because they refused to obey the truth of the very scriptures that they had, and this beggar who longed for the truth is comforted.
Notice the rich man says 'father' Abraham ... he's a symbol of the jewish nation.
Also, towards the end of the parable, the rich man is asking Abraham to send the beggar to his brothers to persuade them of the truth. But Abraham says that they have Moses and the Prophets (ie. the Word of God), if they are not persuaded through them, then one being raised from the dead would do nothing. See, this is also symbolically telling us that the only way to find the truth is through studying the scriptures, and coming to know God through them. If we don't listen to the scriptures, then nothing else will help us. How many times did Jesus say 'him who has an ear, listen.'
Revelation 6:9-10 'When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held, and they cried with a loud voice.......' (NKJV) ......If we go to be with God straight away after we die as a spirit/soul, it would be a joyous occasion. The souls in this verse don't seem to be full of much joy, they are crying out and don't seem very happy at all. So that contradicts with going to Heaven to be with God being a joy! When we go to heaven, God's Word teaches us that there is no more sorrow or pain, yet these souls seem to be full of sorrow. Again, the word soul in the original language means, breath;wind;air, not a literal 'soul'. Also, Revelation is a prophetic book which is full of symbolic scripture, and I believe this verse is symbolic, and not literal. Remember what God said about Cain? that his blood cried out to Him from the ground? this is the same symbolic meaning, that the blood of the saints cry out to God from the ground. Notice it says 'under the alter.' The altar is in Heaven, and the earth is below, so under the alter can mean on the earth.
I believe that God's Word is clear on this issue of what happens when we die, that when we die, we sleep, until the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we will be resurrected and rewarded for what we've done. Is this an important issue? Well, I believe that satan could, and maybe is using this (false) teaching to make out that people are able to make contact with loved ones that have passed on. 'Spiritualism' is a very fast growing form of religion and is dangerous to say the least. The Catholic Church teaches to pray to the dead saints for their help, because they believe that all the saints who have passed on are alive and kicking up in Heaven. But the Bible clearly teaches to pray only to God. Also, we can reject the apparitions of Mary, because we know she is still in her grave awaiting the resurrection.
Satan is going to use some very clever tactics during the end time, and we need to be rooted in the Bible truth of God's Word to get us through it safely.
How did God create everything and give life to everything?
Psalm 33:6 'By the Word of the Lord the Heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.'