Mandela: No point talking to the dead

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LAST Friday the world woke up to the news of the death of South Africa’s first black President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Messages of condolences poured in from all corners of the earth. Mandela was an iconic figure and one of the greatest sons of the continent. Very few if any will doubt the significance of the role the man played towards realizing an apartheid-free South Africa.
However, what struck me most was the nature of the condolence messages which characterized social networks and newspapers. The nature of the messages serves to confirm how deeply rooted the belief in the spirit of the dead is among people in general. One writer on a popular website wrote a lengthy, ‘Letter to Madiba’ saluting him for all the good he had done. Many earnestly begged the spirit of Mandela to watch over Africa. The hero received an avalanche of letters that he probably would never have been able to finish reading if he could.
But as I read all the letters and messages to Mandela I was taken back to some incident of years gone by. I once worked at a very large hospital. The head of the Mortuary Department, a nice old man, once cured my curiosity by taking me on a tour of the cold rooms. Not far had we gone with the tour that I began regretting my move. I saw horrific scenes: fresh accident corpses, headless corpses and decomposing corpses of all ages. The mortuary head, however, seemed at ease and could even afford a grin while I struggled to maintain my composure at the totally unfamiliar surroundings. On our way, some bodies lay strewn on the floor and one section had an unsightly burnt corpse in a tray. It took me all the courage I could master to finish the tour.
As we went back to his office I seemed to have gained a bit of composure. He told me of a chilling yet funny incident which took place in the mortuary a few years back. There was a time when the country experienced minor tremors (earthquake) which also affected parts of Mozambique. The old man recounted how eight mortuary workers in attendance flew in different directions when the tremor hit the ground at midnight fearing the worst. Most had been busy wiping the floor and preparing bodies when the unusual tremor sounds hit the ground. He told me that he left his office and cautiously stepped into the mortuary to check if the unusual had happened. He told me that about three of the attendants never returned only to turn up the next day.Advertisement

I asked my old friend how he had mastered such courage under the circumstances. His reply left an indelible mark on my mind: “The safest places in the world” he begun “are the mortuary and the cemetery. I have worked here for close to forty years and I can assure you that the dead know nothing. They can’t harm anyone hence I could master the courage to walk in the cold rooms alone after everyone had fled. The people you ought to fear are those walking outside” he said with a chuckle.
I was to discover that his words squarely rhymed with the Bible’s position on the state of the dead. The old man had started working in the mortuary twelve years before I was born and he could confidently tell me that the dead know nothing. How about the ghosts seen at night? How about the soul or spirit which is said to go on after death? How about purgatory” All these questions raced through my mind.
The Bible, my dear friends, puts the record straight and quashes all the mystery concerning the dead: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.(Ecclesistes 9:5) What clear words! Even more, the Bible actually confirms that the living are to be feared than the dead, “…for a living dog is better than a dead lion”(Ecc 9 :4) We cannot inquire from the dead concerning the living. It was the Bible which shifted my entire perspective for in the past I had mastered the topmost idea of the motivation industry that the human soul is indestructible and survives death (‘The Power of Positive Thinking’) by Vincent Peale. This popular theory of the indestructibility of the soul is the devil’s trusted trick at the pinnacle of most religions particularly the New Age industry today.
My dear brothers, the Bible is clear: the dead cannot influence events on earth. They can’t see let alone hear anyone. In fact, it’s the living who determine where to bury the dead; the dead cannot determine events. A human being is made up of two components, “And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7) So a simple equation is: dust of the ground + the breath of life = human being.  When these two elements are separated then a human being ceases to exist. Note that a human being is not one of the two but a combination of both.
Remember the story in Genesis: wasn’t it GOD who said to Adam, “…if you eat of this fruit you will surely die?”(Gen 3:3) and wasn’t it Lucifer, in opposition who said to Adam, “…you will not surely die” (Gen 3: 4). Purported communication to or from the dead is unbiblical; its proponent being Lucifer who continues to instill the doctrine that humans do not surely die. Satan continues to labour to preserve the lie he started in the Garden of Eden. It is astonishing to see purported Christians reinforcing this satanic idea of ‘speaking’ to the dead. Nonetheless, there is absolutely no problem remembering the good deeds of the dead but it is a confirmation of necromancy to speak or attempt to speak to the dead.
It is impractical, my friends, to explore all facets of an issue as complicated as the state of the dead in a single piece. As usual, questions are very welcome. Take heed that no one deceives you. You can e-mail Learnmore at