The dying spouse turns to the loved one and says, “Don’t worry. I will always be with you, watching over you.” Do our deceased loved ones really watch over us?
About ten years ago my brother called and told me Dad had died. My wife and I loaded the car and made the cross country trip to my parents’ home. That first night I went to his shop and saw his tools on the workbench just as he had left them only two days prior. The radio was still on the Christian station he listened to. He wouldn’t be back to pick up his tools again. I had never felt pain like that. The pain was the finality of his separation from us. I couldn’t reach him anymore. I went outside to the bench just under the window of his shop, sat down and cried. I had things I wanted to tell him, in the darkness I started talking to him as if he was on the edge of heaven but right there with me. Did he hear me? No, I don’t believe he did. Here is why.
There is an instance of the dead talking with the living recorded in the Bible. It is found in 1Samuel chapter 28. King Saul had been rejected by God for his gross insubordination and he was now facing a mighty enemy army. The old prophet he had relied on for communication with God was dead but there was a way, he believed, to contact the dead prophet. He disguised himself and went to a medium and asked her to get the Prophet Samuel for him. In summary, Samuel came to Saul, rebuked him and told him the battle would be lost and he and his sons would die the next day. Saul went to the wrong source for help. God told his people to have nothing to do with witches, charmers or those who consulted spirits. (See Deuteronomy 18:9–14) What Saul did broke God’s specific command. God makes it clear in Deu. 18:15-22 that He alone is the go to source for reaching beyond the physical limitations He placed us under.
The logical question is where are those who are dead? While the body returns to dust (Genesis 3:14) the spirit/soul is immortal and goes to one of two places, hell (Luke 25:30; Luke 16:19-31:etc) or heaven (Luke 23:43; 2Corinthians 5:1-10; etc.). There is no indication or teaching in the Bible that the dead know what we are doing.
So did Dad hear me that night? No, and that is for the best for us both. It is best for him because he would be nothing but a helpless witness of what is happening here. It is best for me because I would be trying to continue what was only temporary.
In God’s prohibition of consulting mediums He was keeping the people focused and dependent on Himself. In the passage from 2 Corinthians what is the hope and comfort of the one who has repented of their sin and turned to Christ for salvation from the judgment of God? It is to be with Christ their eternal love and Lord.
One final thought. You may be familiar with the phrase from Genesis, “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” My mother misses my dad but she constantly talks about Jesus being her husband. She knows that the most intimate connection one human can have to another; marriage was not intended to be eternal. Jesus told us that in heaven there won’t be any marrying and giving in marriage because we will be like the angels in heaven. No more marriage or children. The marital relationship will be over and our perfect love will be for God and we will love our neighbor perfectly even if that neighbor, such as my Dad, was related to me here as my Dad.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38–39 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16–18 (ESV)