At the beginning of the New Year, you are hopefully prepared to live, and also ready to die.
The rest of your life lies before you, but so does the realm of the afterlife in which departed souls enter into eternity with their names written either in the Book of Life or in the Book of the Dead.
The Book of the Dead, existing in Egyptian, Buddhist and Tibetan versions, has gained increasing attraction among many who have no interest in the Book of Life which is spoken of in the Book of Revelations 20:12.
The Book of the Dead is a collection of spells and incantations designed to help a deceased person transition smoothly from this life into the next life without being blocked or devoured by demons.
Today the West is fascinated with communication with the dead, and for that reason the ideas couched in the Book of the Dead are drawing more curious hearts.
The increased interest in this book in the West is a problem of societies having departed from the Bible-based foundations of their fathers and mothers. But on finding that there is no alternative to eternal life in Christ they have taken refuge in occultic ways of dealing with death.
How has the enlightened scientific and technological West found itself in such a place, and towing the rest of the world along? To see where the Book of the Dead comes in, before we see what it offers, let us explain the Postmodern and New Age crisis of knowledge before which humankind stands today.
For the sake of understanding, this discussion needs a very basic approach.
Firstly, people worldwide are disappointed with established religion, politics and government, and lately science and technology. Life has not been fulfilled and the dreams of generations have splashed into gloomy waters.
In their frustration, generations have followed those people who have pursued mystery, the occult and fantasy and swallowed previously unheard of explanations which seem to offer some meaning to living and dying.
Postmodern people have been raised and taught to see family and society, marriage and parenthood, law and order, private and public morality, and God and religion as oppressive and irrelevant. From the 1950s, popular music themes about freedom have spoken about release from society’s values and boundaries—musicians who have sung for emancipation from colonial rule or government corruption have been fewer than those who have pressed for liberation from responsibility and good citizenship.
This is the ground on which the seed of deception readily finds acceptance, whether that seed is packaged in religious or political language.
In Postmodernist and New Age thinking, it is taught that you cannot know anything for certain. Whatever was once been known to be truth, even in science and technology, is today in a state of flux and there is therefore no absolute truth.
Confidence in human reason has been lost in the West, and the only intellectuals who have any belief that science and technology give knowledge are scientists themselves. That much is argued by James W Sire in his 2009 book The Universe Next Door.
In Postmodernism, God does not exist, He died long ago. All viewpoints, meanings and values people have of the world and the standard of life are therefore correct. There is no universal standard for democracy or justice—individuals and communities can define themselves.
Postmodernism has no standard for justice: We create truth as we develop language that serves our purposes; and the truth about reality is forever hidden from us.
According to New Age belief, the only reality there is, is self. If you ask a New Age adherent how we can tell right from wrong, you will be told that there is no value at all in the universe; ethics are not possible.
New Age says your ability to live meaningfully is a matter of how your consciousness of self and the cosmos develops because at some level a person is defined by his cosmic consciousness (awareness) and space, time and morality eventually disappear.
This belief is drawn from Asian and Chinese religious thought.
But if every citizen is free to do and to be whatever he wishes since nothing makes sense at all; you have a state of anarchy. The freedom offered in the boundary-less Bill of Rights which is the brainchild of the atheist Postmodern West is actually freedom from law and order.
Judges 21:25 said this about Israel when there was no king: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
This is precisely the state of sin that Jesus Christ came to deal with, as outlined in Isaiah 53:6. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.”
Postmodern and New Age liberty allows everyone to have and to go his own way, doing what is right in his own eyes.
But because the reality of death is inescapable, the same society turns to the Book of the Dead for solace.
If you do not come to terms with the need to enter your name into the Book of Life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, by which you can be translated out of the realm of sin and darkness into His unspeakable realm of righteousness and light, you will have to deal with many world isms which in different ways will herd you towards endless deceptions about death.
Picture this scene in our Bible reference, Revelations 20:12: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God and books were opened.
And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
Scripture proceeds after this to say the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Revelations 20:15 states:
“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The universal reality of death and judgment has produced many religions which aim to simplify the finality and irreversibility of death.
Some religions and beliefs, such as Monist Pantheism and New Age, maintain that the human soul does not die and cannot die, and at death the soul merely joins the over-soul of the cosmos. Then there are teachings about reincarnation, or cycles of reincarnation before one enters the Nirvana, the highest state of being.
Research shows that the Book of the Dead was used in Egyptian funerals from 1550 BC to 50 BC.
It was a funerary text titled Book of Coming Forth by Day or Book of Emerging Forth Into the Light, written by many priests over a 1000-year period to help a person journey through the underworld into the afterlife.
It included Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts which were written on tomb walls or shrouds for the head, or pinned onto objects and buried in the coffin or burial chamber with the deceased.
The basic idea was to ‘equip’ the deceased with names of gods or demons which would try to hinder or attack the traveler who would pass many levels, thus empowering the deceased with spells to subdue them. The living arranged for their copy of the book, selecting spells they considered would be vital on their way to the afterlife.
Written in a hieroglyphic style, the Pyramid Texts depicted incomplete or mutilated animals or humans, hindering them from harming the deceased. In the earlier stages, pharaohs, queens, governors and other eminent persons used these texts but in time the use later spread. Those words, or hieroglyphs, contained great spell-casting power.
The name of the deceased would be written in many places in the Book of the Dead, enabling the deceased to remember his name.
The dead were taken into the presence of the god Osiris who dwelt underground. It is stated that there are seven gates and 21 mysterious portals to the House of Osiris. When Freemasons and other rank occultists speak to the dead at body-viewing, they will often tell the dead to greet named persons at specific gates.
Note that the 21 mysterious gates represent the 21 points of light of the Illuminati.
The dead would live in world of plenty where labourers would work for them—these labourers are tiny statues they were buried with, along with a spell for that purpose. The deceased then joins his parents among the gods. The path to the afterlife is filled with human figures with heads of all kinds of creatures which either kill the unrighteous on behalf of Osiris, or are subdued with the use of powerful spells one was buried with.
A judgment takes place where the heart of the deceased is weighed on the scale of goddess Maat against the ostrich ‘feather of truth’ by the jackal-headed Anubis.
If the heart weighs as much as the feather, one passes into the afterlife. If not, there is a devouring creature Ammit which devours the person, which beast combines in itself the lion, crocodile and hippo.
Beyond the use of the Book of Dead for purposes of passing through different realms to enter the afterlife, the same is used by different groups of people for communicating with the dead. Witches (in the West) also have their Witches’ Book of the Dead which teaches skills in necromancy, communicating with the dead, which the Bible clearly prohibits.
As a means of finding solitude or peace among the dead, a trend has emerged where cafes are being opened in graveyards in European cities. These are Café Strauss in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin and ones that host music performances and art exhibitions, like Café Fritz in Hamburg.
Another is the Atrium Café in Bristol in western England. And near Vienna’s famous Zentralfriedhof cemetery, the Schloss Concordia café serves Schnitzels in an ambience every bit as solemn as its immediate surroundings.
This information was reported by Hiltrud Bontrup who also said there were plans for two more cafés at cemeteries in Berlin, including at the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof, a famous graveyard in central Berlin where the writer Heinrich Mann and the playwright Bertolt Brecht are buried.
The trend shows a drift towards hope in the realm of the dead.
The only individual who is able to speak authoritatively about living, dying and rising from the dead is Jesus Christ. He went through all processes and everything is on record, be it in biblical or extra-biblical records.
This means that He is the only voice to listen to on matters of death because whether we like it or not, no matter whatever teachings or procedures give people a sense of connecting with the dead, death is way beyond man’s comprehension or ability to handle.
Ecclesiastes 3:2 speaks of a time to be born (or give birth) and to die. In Ecclesiastes 9:5 and 6 we find these words: “For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.”
Jesus told the religious leaders in John 8:21, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” The Book of the Dead offers to take the deceased persons to Heaven, which is not the case, going by the creatures one meets including Osiris who is based underground (of all places). Jesus Himself is The Way, The Truth and The Life (John 14:8).
Jesus said in John 8:23, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.”
This warrants our utmost attention because the ideas of mingling with the dead and acquiring spells to use against demons when in death are Satan’s deception.
Jesus also said in John 8:24, “For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
This is the crux of the matter. Humankind dies because of that disconnection from the Most High, caused by rebellion against Him and rejection of His rule in life. ‘Sin’ is rebellion and disobedience, following natural or carnal desires and living for them regardless of what God has revealed to us in His word.
Added to that, ‘sin’ is ‘knowledge’ or ‘experience’ of both good and evil in their purest forms, which is what Adam and Eve encountered in the Garden of Eden. That is what brought humankind into death. Then Jesus Christ comes and says in John 8:51, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My words he will never see death.”
The choice is a basic one: What words will you believe and keep? What words will you place your whole life under?
There are ancient words (teachings) about the realms of the dead and how you can find solitude or peace among the dead, and these have been repackaged and modernized. They are fascinating many in the West. But every African knows that the realm of the dead is no playground; only witches and witch-hunters venture there.
Demons roam cemeteries because of their loss of a human shelter when one dies, and the need to find another. This is one of the reasons the Bible prohibits communication with the dead (Leviticus 19:28) and also prohibits communication with spirits (Leviticus 20:27).
There is no way to Heaven or the afterlife by dealing with such mystic powers for they have no paradise to offer. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we learn that Satan presents himself as an angel of light.
The Book of the Living was referred to by David in Psalm 69:28; and the Book of Life by Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:3 and in Revelations 13:8, 17:8 and 20:12-15.
Your name can be entered there if you speak to Jesus Christ now, and ask Him to forgive you all your sins, and to come into your heart as your one and only Saviour and Master.
Outside that, the final Book of the Dead that lists everyone who is hell-bound is no placed to be listed. Seek salvation in Christ without further delay.
For all the amazing things that can be taught about whatever stages of death, there is no solace among the dead, and Jesus Christ is not there. The angels (Luke 24:5 and 6) asked the women that came to apply spices on the dead body of Jesus Christ the day after His crucifixion and burial: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.”