"A Sleeping Chamber"
C. D. Plum
Parkersburg, West Virginia
The song says, "For death is only a dream." The Bible says, "Death is a sleep." Jesus knew Lazarus was dead, but his disciples did not know it. Jesus told his disciples I that, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." Finally he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead" (Jno. 11:14). Jesus I speaking of Jairus' daughter said. "Weep not, she is not dead but sleepeth" (Luke 8:52). With Jesus, death was a light matter. Oh that all may so live that it will be a light matter with us all. Says the Holy Spirit through Paul of death: "We shall not all sleep (die) but we shall all be changed.... in the twinkling of an eye.... at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised" (1 Cor. 15:52-53).
In 1917 I successfully passed the Ohio state board at Toledo, Ohio and was licensed to embalm in the state of Ohio. Even at this early period some morticians had what they called a "slumber room." About every funeral home has one now, and here our loved ones lay until the time for the service. But why a slumber room? Because death is a sleep, from which some day we will awake.
Since our Lord's triumphant victory over death, the cemetery is not as hideous as it sounds. It actually breaks down like this: "CEME" is like "SEMI," and means onehalf. "TERY" means earth. So, CEMETERY means the earth half. God's creature, man, has an outward man and an inward man, a dual being. "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). As long as the Christian's inward man is nourished by the heavenly food, the word of God, we do not have to worry about the outward man perishing, and eventually taking a trip to the cemetery. "The dead know not anything" (Eccl. 9:5) was spoken of the outward man, the earth-half, the part that goes into the grave, where "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom" (Eccl. 9:10). But, the spirit, the soul of man, does not go into the grave. This inward man is alive and in paradise, in the presence of the Lord Jesus. This spiritual man knows, remembers, talks, is dressed up, and rests (Phil. 1:21-23; Rev. 6:9-11).
Scholars tell us more about this word cemetery. This English word cemetery comes from the Greek koimeterion, which means "A SLEEPING CHAMBER." Here this outward man sleeps without knowledge, work, or wisdom until the Lord's return when will also come the resurrection, and these sleeping bodies of the saints' with the living bodies of the saints (all changed, all glorified) will ascend to meet our Lord (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
Tears and sorrow over the separation of a loved one are excusable and understandable, even though the loved ones be prepared to go, but grief to the point of making us sick, and impairing our usefulness in the Lord's service is neither necessary nor justifiable. We must live f or the living, while God takes care of his own. And he will do a good job of that.
My wife and I look forward to the time when the "sleeping chambers" are all opened, and we shall be so glad to see our darling daughter again. With all the redeemed of all ages, we trust that we may have an unbroken family on the other shore. Compared to this, the slights, the thrusts, and the persecutions of this life will be as nothing. God help us all. For genuine Christians there is a day coming when there will be no sorrow, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Blessed God!
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 11, p. 1a August 1966