Voices From Beyond The Veil
(Ezekiel 32:21) The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword. In this chapter, Ezekiel prophesies against Egypt and Pharaoh concerning the imminent overthrow of their magnificence by the Babylonians (EZE 32:11-12). The wicked who have already been slain and made their descent into hell “...shall speak to him out of the midst of hell.” It is as if they comprised a sort of a droll welcoming committee as hell “...opened her mouth...” (ISA 5:14) to receive them. The king of Babylon would in time be similarly greeted: “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon.....Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming....All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?” (ISA 14:4-10). This kind of dialogue takes place on the other side of the curtain which separates this life from the afterlife. Another example of other-worldly speech is in the account of the rich man who died, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me...” (LUK 16:23-24). That dialogue takes place in the netherworld after death is one thing; for the living to pretend to converse with the dead is another. Necromancy (the pretended art of revealing future events, etc., by means of communication with the dead) and consultation with familiar spirits were flatly condemned by God in DEU 18:9-12. The witch at Endor who had a familiar spirit was very shocked when God actually allowed Samuel to exceptionally appear from the dead and speak to King Saul (1SAM 28:7-14). Satan has many deceptions by which he leads his dupes in this world. Isaiah weighed in on this theme also: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead” (ISA 8:19)? It bodes not well for a culture when it would rather solicit hell than heaven. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (PSA 9:17). It may be said that Satan speaks out of the midst of hell and his voice is heard in this world. This happens not directly, but indirectly, when men “...depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy...” (1TI 4:1-2). False apostles, false teachers and false prophets are Satan's voice in this life. “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2CO 11:13-15). One should not assume that only dark, morbid, grotesquely antiChrist utterances are the stuff of Satan speaking in the world. His speech is more effective when it is smooth (ISA 30:10), light (JER 23:32; ZEP 3:4), good words and fair speeches (ROM 16:18), great swelling words that promise liberty (2PE 2:18-19) or promises of peace when there is no peace (JER 6:14). Smart wolves wear sheep's clothing (MAT 7:15); they don't snarl---they bleat like hell. And for lack of good sense, people will be mesmerized by their words and make them their pastors or public officials. In a sense, Jonah spoke out of the midst of hell (JON 2:1-6). Entombed in darkness in the fish's belly, plunged down deeply in a submarine burial, he experienced the stuff of hell: punishment for sin, separation from God, soul-oppression and corruption. Yet, “...out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice” (JON 2:2). Although Jonah did not actually die so that his soul was plunged down to be greeted by hell's denizens, he died in figure and rose again as a pre-Christ sign to the Ninevites (LUK 11:30) of resurrection power which urges repentance. He spoke from his figurative death. There is another form of “speaking” from the other world that should captivate a believer's attention and stir him positively. When an exemplary man of faith leaves to this world a profound testimony, it is as if he speaks from beyond the grave. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (HEB 11:4). Abel's act of faith which God recorded in the Scripture to this day speaks a message of hope: “...he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he [Christ] is righteous” (1JO 3:7), and “...in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (ACT 10:35). Abel's faith and obedience were great tokens (not the means) of his salvation, as they are with believers today: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified (i.e., shown to be just), and not by faith only” (JAM 2:24). The best message from beyond excels that of Abel's. Believers who now approach God in service come unto “...Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (HEB 12:24). Abel had another posthumous speech besides his testimony of faith. After his murder, God told Cain, “...the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground” (GEN 4:10). Abel's innocent blood spoke basically the same message as is voiced by the martyrs in glory: a need for vengeance, “...How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood...” (REV 6:10)? But whereas Abel's blood cried from earth for judgment upon his slayer, Christ's blood speaks from heaven a different message for believers who slew Him (for it was for our sakes He was crucified). His blood speaks, “Mercy” and “...mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (JAM 2:13)----a better message indeed which comes not from a dead sinner but from the Living Savior: “...we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe” (1TI 4:10).