Friday, July 14, 2017

Soul Sleep: An Unbiblical Doctrine [Pt. 4]

[Continued from Pts. 1, 2, & 3]
by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ 2. Literal Sleep [Continued]

C. The Lack of Externally Directed Consciousness During Literal Sleep in The Old and New Testaments

As the example of Adam clearly demonstrates, those who have literally fallen asleep lack externally directed consciousness. Thus, in keeping with this universal trait of man’s sleeping state the writer of Judges reports that
Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand…went softly to [Sisera] and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness.[1]
Sisera, in his sleep state, lacked EDC. Consequently, he was vulnerable to attack. Later in the book of Judges, we encounter a similar situation in which Samson fell asleep and, while he slept, suffered the loss of God’s power and presence. The writer informs us that while Samson slept
[Delilah] began to torment [i.e. began to wake him up with verbal and physical taunts] him [as he slept], and his strength left him…He awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.[2]
As Adam slept and was unaware of his rib being extracted and formed into a helpmeet, and as Sisera slept and was unaware the hammer and peg traveling through the air and into his temple, even so Samson slept and was unaware of Delilah cutting off his hair. Later in Israel’s history, the same testimony about sleepers lacking EDC is given when it is revealed that
David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul's head, [and] no man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.”[3]
The deep sleep from the Lord made these men lack EDC, depriving them of knowledge of what was occurring while they slept.

1st Kings 3:16-28 testifies to the lack of EDC during sleep as well. In this text, we are given the story of two prostitutes denying one another’s maternity as regards a living child and a dead child.

The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. And we were alone. There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house. And this woman's son died in the night, because she lay on him. And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.”[4]
The mother did not know what happened while she slept, seeing as she lacked EDC. As she explains to the king:
…“When I rose in the morning to nurse my child…he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.”[5]
Since she was asleep, the first woman did not know that the other woman had switched the dead son for the living son. The first woman lacked EDC and, therefore, had to infer from her present circumstances that the dead child in her possession was not her own. Later, the writer of 1st Kings also presents Elijah as another witness to the lack of EDC in sleepers. Mocking the prophets of Baal for their god’s unresponsiveness, Elijah declares:
“Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”[6]
Baal’s unresponsiveness to his prophets’ antics, in other words, was sarcastically attributed to the possibility that Baal was sleeping and, therefore, unaware of his prophets’ behavior.

The depiction of a sleeping deity during times of conflict was not unknown among Israel’s neighbors at this time,[7] and is employed rhetorically, not literally, by the despairing psalmist who asks:
Why are you sleeping, O Lord?[8]
The Lord does not sleep, of course, but his seeming unawareness of the psalmist’s troubles inspired the psalmist’s question. God, for the psalmist, is like an individual who, although present in the midst of trouble, lacks externally directed consciousness of that trouble (as in the case of Jonah and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom we will treat briefly below). Thus, when God acts in judgment against idolatrous Israel, the psalmist Asaph says:
…the Lord awoke as from sleep,like a strong man shouting because of wine.And he put his adversaries to rout;he put them to everlasting shame.[9]
This is also why the psalmist encourages the people of God to trust in Yahweh’s omniscient care for his people by promising them that:
He will not let your foot be moved;he who keeps you will not slumber.Behold, he who keeps Israelwill neither slumber nor sleep.[10]
The assertion “God does not sleep” communicates the idea that God is never unaware of what is happening to his people. He is not dreaming; he does not lack consciousness of those over whom he has promised to watch. Elsewhere, therefore, the psalmist confidently asserts that he will “lie down and sleep” for the Lord makes him dwell in safety.[11] Because God does not sleep, his people need not fear what may happen as they sleep. Their lack of externally directed consciousness does not need to be a hindrance to their resting.

Understanding this, king Solomon explains that
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he [i.e. the Lord] gives to his beloved sleep.[12]
Solomon’s words come in the context of God’s building a man’s “house,” and diligently watching over the city. Perhaps Solomon was partially inspired to write the above words by the lesson his father David learned when he sought to build a house for the Lord. For David enthusiastically declared:
“I will not enter my houseor get into my bed,I will not give sleep to my eyesor slumber to my eyelids,until I find a place for the Lord,a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”[13]
And David’s intention was to remain ever vigilant in his construction of God’s house. Yet in keeping with the words of Solomon above the Lord God responded to David by saying:
…the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down [i.e. sleep] with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.[14]
David would die and rest in the grave (euphemistically, fall asleep), but his being dead would not hinder God’s fulfillment of his promise. God neither slumbers nor sleeps; he would, by his Sovereign and Omnipotent power, build David a house.

Solomon’s understanding of sleep as a state in which one lacks EDC is reiterated throughout the book of Proverbs. Repeatedly, the reader is informed that those who sleep do so because they are either trusting in Yahweh’s protection of them at their most vulnerable time[15] or are unconcerned with the consequences of their inattention to the state of their souls or their material goods.[16] Inversely, then, the constant attention of men to their pursued objects of happiness is signified by their sleeplessness.[17]

The contrast could not be clearer, and it continues to appear throughout the canon. Those who trust in Yahweh, as well as those who do not care about what will happen to them if they fail to attend to their spiritual and material needs, sleep. For example, in Jonah 1:4-6, we read:
…the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. 
But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.  So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”[18]
Jonah, who preferred death to seeing the people of Nineveh being granted mercy by God,[19] was unconcerned with what was occurring externally. He was able to sleep, whereas the sailors were riddled with fear of what would happen to them.

Jonah slept, but the discipline of God did not. The Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps; he is ever aware of that which is occurring among the sons of men. As we have mentioned above already, when God’s disposition toward men is fatherly his non-slumbering and non-sleeping serves to provide comfort to God’s people. However, in the case of discipline and judgment the non-slumbering and non-sleeping of God is a fearful reminder that we cannot escape the hand of the Lord. Thus, the Lord, through Isaiah, states that Israel’s foes will neither slumber nor sleep, signifying their constant attention to their divinely appointed task.[20]

King Nebuchadnezzar, like the sailors of Jonah 1, was unable to sleep. More specifically, “his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him.”[21] This is an interesting case, for the king’s being awake is due to his IDC, while his inability to sleep is due to his implicit recognition that sleepers lack EDC. Unaware of what his dream signified, although likely aware that it foretold some oncoming trouble, Nebuchadnezzar could not rest. Daniel’s interpretation of the dream shows Nebuchadnezzar that the events in the dream will be fulfilled over a long period of time,[22] likely quelling the king’s fear of a very immediate “threat to the security of his reign.”[23] This same anxiety over what is going to happen occurs again in Daniel 6:18-20, where the prophet reports that
…the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.[24] Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
King Darius’ concern over what would happen to Daniel overnight kept him from sleeping, just as King Nebuchadnezzar’s fear of oncoming trouble kept him from sleeping.

As we move into the New Testament, the same understanding of sleep as a state in which the sleeper lacks EDC is repeated throughout. For instance, upon returning from prayer to find his disciples sleeping the Lord Jesus reprimands them, saying:
“So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”[25]
By stating that the disciples could not “watch” with him one hour, because they had fallen asleep, the Lord Jesus is implying that sleep is a state in which the sleeper lacks EDC. If the disciples were awake, they could watch; however, if they were asleep they could not watch. This contrast between the lack of EDC in sleep and the presence of EDC in the waking state is made clear on the mount of transfiguration again, where we read:
Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.[26]
Peter and the others did not see/perceive Elijah and Moses until they, Peter and the others, were fully awake, implying that while sleeping they lacked EDC.

Peter’s later experience with EDC and IDC, recorded in Acts 12:6-9, simultaneously confirms that during sleep men have IDC, while during their waking state men have EDC as well. We read:
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.[27]
Peter’s account shows us that the reality of IDC during sleep can cause the confused person who has just woken up to mistake EDC for it. Peter was awake and exhibiting externally directed consciousness, but as he was confused he mistook it for the very real phenomenon of internally directed consciousness. Peter’s experience stands in contrast to that of Eutychus who, having fallen asleep and thereby having lost EDC, fell out of a window to his death.[28]

Lastly, Paul, who raised the sleeper Eutychus from the dead, speaks of the sleeplessness resulting from his commitment to the Corinthians. Paul:
We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights…[29]
This is repeated by him later, where he contrasts his commitment to the Corinthians with that of the “superapostles.” Paul, unlike the “superapostles,” served the Corinthians “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night [...].”[30] Paul was willing to forgo sleep in order to serve the Corinthians, whereas the false apostles were completely self-serving. Here again we see that sleeplessness entails the presence of ongoing EDC, implying that being-asleep entails the absence of EDC.
[Part 5]
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[1] Jdgs 4:21.
[2] Jdgs 16:19-20.
[3] 1st Sam 16:12.
[4] vv.17-21.
[5] 1st Kgs 3:21. (emphasis added)
[6] 1st Kgs 18:26-27.
[7] McAlpine writes:
The other class of non-cyclical sleep is the divine 'sleep' during human calamity. This is, to anticipate, the sort of sleep closest to the Old Testament usage, and discussion may start with the Sumerian congregational lament 'O Angry Sea', edited by Kutscher (1975)(Sleep, Divine & Human, 189.)
[8] Ps 44:23.
[9] Ps 78:65-66. (emphasis added)
[10] Ps 121:3-4. (emphasis added)
[11] Ps 4:8.
[12] Ps 127:2.
[13] Ps 132:3-5.
[14] 2nd Sam 7:11-12.
[15] Prov 3:24.
[16] Prov 6:9-10; 10:5; 19:15; 20:13; 24:33-34.
[17] Prov 4:16. cf. Ecc 8:16-17.
[18] Emphasis added.
[19] cf. Jon 4:3, 8, & 9.
[20] Isa 5:27.
[21] Dan 2:1.
[22] Dan 2:36-45.
[23] Newsom, Carol A. Daniel: A Commentary, (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014), 67.
[24] Emphasis added.
[25] Matt 26:40-41. cf. Mark 14:37; Luke 22:45-46.
[26] Luke 9:28-32.
[27] Emphasis added.
[28] Acts 20:7-12.
[29] 2nd Cor 6:3-5.
[30] 2nd Cor 11:27ff.

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