By NELLY FAVIS-VILLAFUERTE
Is there life after life? Is there continuity between life now and life to come? To bible-believing Christians there is an afterlife because a personal relationship with our loving Christ cannot be broken by physical death. Death to a Bible-believing Christian brings him to our Creator to share eternal life. Simply put, a Bible-believing Christian believes that since God is the creator of life, He can certainly restore life. In John 11:25, Jesus Christ said: ‘’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’’ This is the blessed promise of immortality. Our caring God who created us will not just discard us like a paper cup.
Let me share with you the Biblical account of the rich man and a beggar named Lazarus as found in Luke 16:19-31, to emphasize the Biblical stand that physical death is not the end:
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And beside all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us to us.’
“He answered ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets’ let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham, he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Early cultures and pagan religions had different concepts of afterlife. Take the case of the early Egyptians. They believe that those who die go to a place ruled by Osiris. To the early Egyptians, Osiris was the Egyptian god of the dead. The worship of Osiris was practiced even by the Egyptian kings called pharaohs. Osiris, according to Egyptian legend was murdered by Seth his evil brother who cut Osiris’ body into pieces. Later, as the legend goes, Isis, Osiris wife, searched for Osiris’ dismembered body and restored life to it. Horus, Osiris’ son, later killed Seth. This, in short, is the Osiris legend that narrates how life was restored to Osiris and eventually led to the Egyptian belief of immortality.
Some of the Egyptians pharaohs’ tombs contained symbols of Osiris, the god of the dead. An example is the tomb of Tutankhamen, the Egyptian pharaoh for nine years between 1366 and 1357 BC. Tutankhamen was called the “Boy King.” He died at the age of 18 under mysterious circumstances. Tutankhamen’s tomb discovered by archeologist Howard Carter in AD 192 was the first Egyptian tomb that was excavated intact, meaning his mummy was still in the tomb. Tombs of other pharaohs that have been excavated have been looted, unlike Tutankhamen’s solid gold mummy which was not pilfered. The early Egyptians went to the extent of worshipping their pharaohs as their gods and to insure the immortality of their Egyptian pharaohs, huge stone monuments known as the pyramids (built as the tomb of the pharaohs) were constructed.
For a thousand years, the Egyptian pharaohs were buried along the Nile near the city of Thebes. More than 30 pharaohs were buried in this place which was later known as the Valley of the Kings.The early Egyptians believed that to make the afterlife of a pharaoh pleasant, his tomb must be filled with great wealth. So much mystery and reverence surrounded the Valley of Kings… until greedy men, the professional tomb robbers, looted the place held sacred by the Egyptians. A story goes that in 1871, somebody from the Middle East discovered in Thebes a tomb filled with the treasures of the coffins of 40 of the mummies of pharaohs and their wives. For ten years, this man sold the treasures to tourists until his secret was finally discovered by the Egyptian government. Incidentally, the greatest excavation in the Valley of the King was the tomb of Tutankhamen. Even Tutankhamen’s chariot and throne were intact in his tomb.
Archeology has indeed revealed so much about the cultures of early peoples including their beliefs about death and beyond. Today, many people are still debating on this issue of life after death. May you find, my dear readers, comfort, in the Word of God, the Holy Bible. As Proverbs 14:32 says: “even in death, the righteous have a refuge.’’
This column continues to give out copies of the Holy Bible for free to those who cannot afford to buy their own copies. If interested, please send your letter-request to Ms. Nelly Favis Villafuerte, 5233 Fahrenheit St., Palanan, Makati City. Kindly mention if it is the Tagalog, English, Cebuano, or Ilocano Bible that is preferred.
Be joyful and forgiving!
(Comments may be sent to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)