Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Reincarnation-- Fact Or FABLE?
Millions today believe in rein- carnation and the transmigration of souls. Others scoff. Is there any REAL BASIS for this belief? What does the Bible say about it?
by HOIM Staff
A 17-year-old boy swallowed sleeping pills and committed suicide. In a note which was found, he asked, "What do I expect to achieve by this?" He answered his own question: "Ancient sages of India as well as some modern philosophers say the soul incarnates itself many times on its way to perfection.
"I am merely jumping one life in hopes of a better one."
The boy was despondent over the hot weather, the prospect of four more years of school and two or more years in the military. So he ended it all.
What Is Reincarnation?
Reincarnation is also called metempsychosis and transmigration of the soul -- the doctrine of the passing of the soul at death into another body or bodies, either animal or human, and sometimes vegetable.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines reincarnation as "rebirth in new bodies or forms of life;" "a belief that the souls of the dead successively return to earth in new forms or bodies."
Reincarnation is based on the belief of the immortality of the soul. The "body" dies, they say, but the "soul" is eternal and cannot die. Therefore, when the body dies the soul continues to exist. When one bodily existence ends, the "soul" seeks to enter (or automatically enters) another body -- human, animal, vegetable, or even divine. The kind of body the soul goes into depends on how the person lived previously. If he was good and virtuous, the Hindus feel he will advance up the rung of higher and higher transmigrations. If he was evil and despicable, he will be reincarnated as a lower form of life. The WORST reincarnation would be to be born a pariah -- one of the "Untouchables"!
Salvation, therefore, according to this belief, is to eventually escape the constant round of reincarnation -- to dwell in "Nirvana," an eternal realm beyond physical existence, fusing with the elements of all the Universe!
Six schools of Hindu philosophy which developed during the first centuries before and after the Messiah all sought freedom from bondage through deeds to rebirth. Escape for the soul was sought through knowledge and cessation of thought. Langer's Encyclopedia of World History states, "The doctrine of continuous rebirth (samsara), conditioned the inescapable results of former acts (karma),...was first expressed in the early Upanishads (c. 600-550). The Upanishads, too, teach that the soul may escape from the suffering inherent in individual existence only by the realization of its identity with an impersonal cosmic soul" (page 41).
Buddhism, founded by Siddhartha (possibly about 563-483 B.C.) taught that rebirth to the recurrent suffering of life was in accordance with fate (karma), and depends also on individual effort. Therefore the way to escape to Nirvana -- a state of peaceful release from rebirth -- was through withdrawal to meditation and personal religious experience combined with strict morality and altruism.
After Buddha's death, his disciples promulgated his teachings throughout the Orient. Thus, both Buddhism and Brahmanism incorporated the belief of reincarnation into their teachings!
From Ancient Pagans...
The ancient Druids seemed to have believed in some form of reincarnation, and the rebirth of individuals is related in ancient Irish traditions. Caesar said the Druids taught the soul, after death, passes from one body into another.
According to an ancient Irish legend, Tuan Mac Cairill came from Spain to Ireland 312 years after the Flood along with the first inhabitants of the land. Disease wiped all of them out but Tuan. When later inhabitants arrived, Tuan went into hiding; subsequently, he was changed into a stag. The traditions says he lived 100 years as a man, 80 as a stag, 20 as a boar, 100 as a vulture, and 20 as a fish before he was again reincarnated in human flesh!
Among the ancient Greeks, reincarnation was a common belief. Pherecydes, who was born about 600 B.C., is said to have been the first Greek teacher of the doctrine, passing it on to Pythagoras. In Greece, reincarnation was associated with the worship of Dionysius and the Orphic cults. The widespread prevalence of this ancient belief is attested to by inscriptions found on golden tablets located in southern Italy near Rome and in Crete. One of them refers to the mystical "Wheel of Fortune" which in its revolutions symbolizes the cycle of successive lives traversed by the harassed soul before its final release!
In a lost passage of his Annals, Ennius told how he had seen the Greek poet Homer in a dream, who assured him that the soul which had inhabited both of the poets had once belonged to a peacock!
Empedocles, another Greek teacher of the doctrine, claimed, "Ere now have I been a youth and a maiden, a bush, and a dumb fish in the sea." Many of the Greek believers in reincarnation were vegetarians as well, for they believed that in eating animal flesh they could be eating kindred blood -- the reincarnated body of some long lost relative!
The ancient Egyptians also believed in reincarnation. Herodotus, Plato, Theophrastus, Plutarch and others ascribed the belief to the Egyptians of their times. The ancient Egyptians are said to have practiced embalming to prevent or delay reincarnation.
...to Modern Times
Today, belief in reincarnation is found throughout the world, among both primitive and modern societies. The soul appears as a snake, weasel or a mouse in Germany, an insect in India, as a butterfly over Europe from Ireland to Lithuania, in China, Assam, Burma, Japan and the Pacific. The Bakongs of Borneo believe their dead are reincarnated in the bearcats which frequent their raised coffins. The Nagas and Lusheis in Assam regard wasps and hornets, among other insects, as souls.
In some beliefs, the soul goes into flowers; or goes into crops. In India and Sumatra, many have believed the soul goes into sharks; in parts of Africa, the natives believe the souls of departed ones go into alligators.
Today, modern theosophists and spiritualist teachers in the United States, Britain, and Europe have perpetuated the doctrine in our technological western world. But just because millions have believed this ancient theory doesn't make it true.
Christians accept the Bible as the revealed word of YEHOVAH God. What does the Bible say about this ancient belief?
The First Lie
What does the Bible say regarding reincarnation?
Notice! The origin of this doctrine goes all the way back to the very first lie Satan told the human race. He told Eve, "...Ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4). In other words, he said in effect, "Look, you have an immortal soul. It cannot die. It lives on forever!"
In one form or another, most of the human race still believes that original LIE. The belief in reincarnation is based on the doctrine that the soul is immortal and lives on after the death of the body.
If a person does have an immortal soul abiding in him, it might be possible for reincarnation to occur. Perhaps, then, a person could come back in life as a bird, a bee, an insect, a cow, or in some other human body. The doctrine of reincarnation is predicated on a belief in the immortality of the soul.
Therefore, to discover the truth about reincarnation, it would be relevant to ascertain what the Bible teaches about the soul.
Notice the Biblical account of the creation of the line of Adam: "And the LORD God formed man ['adam] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man BECAME a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).
Does that verse say man has an immortal soul abiding in him? Of course not. Read it carefully, slowly; it says man -- that is, the man himself -- BECAME a "soul." What kind of soul? Not an immortal soul, but a "LIVING soul"!
The Hebrew word for soul in this verse is nephesh. It has nothing whatever to do with immortality. Davidson's Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon defines this word variously as "breath, anything that breathes, an animal, person," etc. In Genesis 1:24 the word is translated as "creature." In other scriptures the word nephesh refers to (and is translated) "one dead, a dead body." It can also refer to "life, self, feelings, desire."
Clearly, the evidence proves nephesh does NOT refer to an immortal soul, but to the life of a living, breathing creature. Souls, then, can DIE. They are not immortal. For further proof, read Ezekiel 18:4. "Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the SOUL that sinneth, it [the soul, in other words] shall DIE."
What Is Death?
But what happens when you die? Is death merely the transition from one life to another?
In Psalm 46 we read, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts PERISH" (Vs. 3-4).
No thinking goes on beyond the grave. When a man dies, his thoughts PERISH!
In Ecclesiastes 9:l0 we read, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might for there is NO WORK, nor device, nor knowledge, or wisdom, IN THE GRAVE, whither thou goest."
Those who are dead, therefore, have no knowledge at all; no work; no wisdom. They are simply dead -- perished. They have NO CONSCIOUSNESS whatsoever!
Briefly, notice also Ecclesiastes 3:19-20. "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place: all are of the dust, and all turn to DUST again."
There it is. When a man dies, he dies and returns to the dust. He has no preeminence over animals in that regard. He has NO IMMORTAL SOUL!
When he dies, he dies like the dog Rover -- he dies all over. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is completely foreign to the Bible. The Scriptures prove this doctrine is false. Clearly, then, since you do not have an immortal soul, the theory of reincarnation collapses like a house of cards.
What Is the HOPE of the Dead?
Since the Bible nowhere teaches the immortality of the souls, or transmigration of souls, what DOES it teach? Is there no hope for the dead? Is our life simply finished -- over -- when we die?
No, not in the case of YEHOVAH's people Israel. Notice the words of the Apostle Paul. "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the RESURRECTION of the dead" (I Corinthians 15:19-21).
There is the TRUE HOPE of the Christian Israelite! The Bible teaches a resurrection from the dead for those of Israel -- not a cycle of misery and suffering in the wheel of reincarnation!
The apostle Paul wrote, in the same chapter, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead [of Israel] shall be raised incorruptible, and we [of Israel] shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortality must PUT ON immortality" (Verses 52-53).
Notice! If those of us of Israel already had immortality, why would we need to "put it on" at the resurrection? No, in this life we are still ''mortal." At the resurrection, we will receive immortality!
Yeshua himself said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead [of Israel] shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25).
"Marvel not at this," He added, "for the hour is coming, in the which all [of Israel] that are in the graves shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (''damnation" is a poor translation) (verses 28-29).
The resurrection is the true hope of Israel. Nowhere does the Bible teach reincarnation or living on in other bodies after death.
YEHOVAH God's Plan Unfolds
Why then do millions believe in reincarnation? The answer is simply this: Millions have not understood YEHOVAH God's plan.
Many have turned to the idea of reincarnation as a means of explaining WHY there is so much seemingly unjust suffering, heartache, and anguish in the world today.
When a baby dies in a car crash -- it seems so unjust, so unfair. "Why would God allow a baby to die?" people wonder. And in the labyrinths of the human imagination, cut off from YEHOVAH God, a false answer was invented: "Why of course, such people must be paying for sins and crimes they committed in a previous life!"
However, the Bible plainly proves this idea is a delusion foisted on the world by a cunning devil. The truth is, YEHOVAH God is keeping hands off this present age of man's misrule. He is allowing man to go his own carnal way that ends in suffering and death (Romans 8:7; Jeremiah 17:9). In this life, time and chance happen to all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). YEHOVAH God Himself permits it -- for a great, little-understood purpose!
The plan YEHOVAH God is working out here below is far greater than any have begun to imagine. He allows human suffering during this age to teach all mankind the supreme lesson of life -- that man's ways lead to death, even the death of others, including innocent babies and children.
But YEHOVAH God's way -- obeying His Commandments -- leads to LIFE, happiness, and joy running over -- for everybody of Israel, including children and aged men and women.
Sports, Games and Their Influence on the Christian Life
Of what if any value are sports and games to a genuine Christian? Are organized, competitive sports a proper form of entertainment, recreation, or livelihood? What about the "WINNING ATTITUDE" so much demanded by coaches? Is it really a "SINNING ATTITUDE? Where did spectator sports and games originate? What should a Christian do about them?
Why Did the Messiah Die Before the Two Robbers?
Have you ever wondered WHY the Messiah died BEFORE the two robbers who were crucified alongside him? Was our Savior LESS healthy, or NOT as physically fit as the other two? Was there some OTHER factor or agent in his death that we are unaware of? Did the spear wound in his side, or perhaps the scourging he received at the hands of the Romans, cause Yeshua to succumb? The Old Testament sacrifice of the Red Heifer PREFIGURED the death of our Passover Lamb and provides us with clues to his death -- showing that the Jewish (or Mosaic) penalty for BLASPHEMY was what PRIMARILY caused his death!
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