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What Do the Dead Know of Earth 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 14, In the year of our Lord, 2014


  1. Last week as I discussed the issue of talking to the dead, 
    1. I made reference to the dead being somewhat aware of life on Earth.
    2. I was asked to address that further.
  2. Do the dead have any awareness of activity on Earth? 
    1. I am not asking whether they influence the activities of Earth.
    2. Do they have any memory of life on Earth, and
      1. do they have any awareness of things going on now?


  1. Ecclesiastes 9.5 – “The Dead Know Nothing”

    5 For the living know that they will die;
    But the dead know nothing,
    And they have no more reward,
    For the memory of them is forgotten.
    (Ecc 9.5)

    1. Does this have any bearing on our topic?
    2. Consider the context.
      1. In verse 3, Solomon had said,

        3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecc 9.3).

        1. We live lives full of madness,
        2. then we die.
      2. However, the king went on to say,

        4 But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion (Ecc 9.4).

        1. In some sense, it is better to be alive than dead.
        2. What do the living have that the dead do not?
          1. The living have hope.
          2. Thus, even as a living dog is better than a dead lion,
            1. so, you may not be as great as someone who once lived, yet,
            2. there is still hope for you to better yourself.
      3. Solomon continued,

        5 For the living know that they will die;
        But the dead know nothing,
        And they have no more reward,
        For the memory of them is forgotten.
        6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished;
        Nevermore will they have a share
        In anything done under the sun.
        (Ecc 9.5–6)

        1. The dead cannot benefit by anything done on the Earth.
        2. Nor can they do anything on Earth.
          1. They cannot receive rewards anymore.
          2. Whatever good or bad they have done has now passed.
        3. Their part under the sun has ceased.
    3. Therefore, the second line in verse 5
      1. refers to what the dead can or
      2. cannot do on the Earth.
  2. The Dead Can Know of Earth’s Activities 
    1. First Samuel 28 shows that Samuel was aware of Saul’s activities,

      15 Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.” 16 Then Samuel said: “So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy? 17 And the Lord has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines” (1Sa 28.15–19).

      1. What did Samuel know of life on Earth?
        1. He knew that Saul had disturbed him.
        2. He knew that the Lord had departed from Saul and become his enemy.
        3. He knew that the kingdom no longer belonged to Saul, but to David.
        4. He remembered that Saul had not obeyed the Lord.
        5. He also knew what was about to happen:
          1. The Lord would deliver Saul and Israel to the Philistines.
          2. Saul and his sons would die the next day.
      2. This might be an exception, for
      3. clearly the Lord worked in the situation to rebuke Saul.
        1. Yet, it still shows Samuel’s awareness of what
          1. had taken place,
          2. was taking place, and
          3. what would take place.
        2. However, Samuel also seemed bothered by Saul’s disturbing him.
    2. Luke 16 reveals
      1. that Abraham knew of the life the rich man and Lazarus had lived,

        24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, 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’” (Luke 16.24–26).

        1. What did Abraham say that showed his awareness of life on Earth?
          1. He knew of the rich man’s manner of life.
          2. He knew of Lazarus’s manner of life.
        2. Abraham also knew
          1. that the way the rich man had lived on Earth
          2. determined his eternal destiny.
      2. The rich man remembered his brothers back on Earth,

        27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead’” (Luke 16.27–31).
      3. The rich man
        1. remembered his brothers back on Earth at his father’s house,
        2. knew how they would think, and
        3. knew that they were in spiritual danger.
      4. However, he could not do anything about it.
        1. Nor would Abraham or anyone in the afterlife
        2. do anything to help those living on Earth.
          1. It is God’s prerogative to deal with life on Earth.
          2. However, we evidently carry some of our experiences with us
            1. that we had on Earth
            2. into Hades, and perhaps heaven and hell.
    3. Revelation 6 shows certain souls who had been murdered,
      1. questioning the Lord on when He would avenge their blood,

        9 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. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6.9–10).
      2. This shows
        1. that they were aware of the fact
        2. that the Lord had not avenged their blood yet.
          1. Later, they would know when this had happened.
          2. Otherwise, the answer would have been that it was not for them to know.
      3. Notice that while they knew of the activities of Earth,
        1. they could not do anything about life on Earth, but
        2. they knew the Lord could and would do something about it.
    4. Luke 9 records the transfiguration of Jesus.
      1. When Jesus was transfigured and
      2. the three disciples could see His glory,
        1. Luke says that two other men appeared with Jesus, and
        2. that the three of them spoke with one another,

          30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah,  31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9.30–31).

          1. Moses and Elijah knew of the ministry of Jesus on the Earth.
          2. They knew of His impending death.
  3. What then can we conclude about what the dead know of life on Earth? 
    1. They remember the past.
    2. They know of current things.
    3. They know of things coming.
      1. In each of these areas, their knowledge may be limited.
      2. Also, they cannot in anyway manipulate life on Earth.
        1. That is why we should not attempt to contact them.
        2. We have to remember who is Lord of the Earth.