Friday, July 7, 2017

Soul Sleep: An Unbiblical Doctrine [Pt. 3]

[Continued from Pts. 1 & 2]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ 2. Literal Sleep

In order to avoid circularity and arbitrariness when discussing literal sleep, we must examine the Scriptures’ various statements about sleep, about its affect on men, and how it stands in contrast to the state of not-sleeping. The need for doing so becomes evident in light of the fact that during literal sleep the phenomena of dreams in general, and lucid dreams in particular, reveal sleep to not be a state of absolute unconsciousness but limited consciousness. Specifically, the phenomena of dreams, and especially lucid dreams, indicates that in sleep, externally directed consciousness (EDC) is largely suspended while internally directed consciousness (IDC) persists. Modern studies on sleep, in fact, have found that it is not the case that “the mind…truly ceases activity during [literal] sleep.”[1]

A. Internally Directed Consciousness 
in The Old & New Testaments

Unsurprisingly, the infallible Scriptures present literal sleep in the same manner, viz. as being a state in which men lack EDC but not IDC. In the first recorded instance of sleep, for example, we learn that “the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.”[2] Adam is clearly depicted as lacking EDC. While in the second recorded instance of sleep, we learn that
…a deep sleep fell on Abram…Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.”[3]
Abram received direct revelation from God during his sleeping state, indicating that while he lacked EDC he did not lack IDC. The same is true of Abimelech, to whom “God came…in a dream,”[4] and with whom he discussed the penalty for daring to touch Abram’s wife.[5] Likewise, upon falling asleep, Abram’s descendant Jacob
…dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”[6]
Jacob was spoken to by God in his sleep, indicating again that his sleep was not a state of absolute unconsciousness but one in which IDC persisted, whereas EDC came to a halt. Additionally, the patriarch reveals in Gen 31:4-13 that his earlier actions in Gen 30:25-43 were acts of obedience to God, who had communicated to him in a dream. And as Abimelech had earlier been warned by God in a dream, so in Gen 31:22-29 Laban is warned by the Lord in a dream. And, finally, we later find that God communicated with Joseph,[7] the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker,[8] and the Pharaoh[9] as well in dreams. These individuals all retained the memory of what they had dreamed, indicating that they were conscious of what was occurring in their minds, although they were likely oblivious to their external conditions. The same is true of Joseph who, after seeing his brothers for the first time in many years, “remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them.”[10]

In fact, the Lord spoke through dreams very frequently in the OT, revealing that he communicates with his prophets via dreams in Numbers 12:6. This was common enough, it seems, that the Lord established a means of testing the authenticity of a prophetic utterance in the event that “a prophet or a dreamer of dreams [arose] among [the Israelites].”[11] This is later implied in 1st Samuel 28:6, where we learn that “when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him…by dreams.”[12] And it is explicitly shown in the Lord’s direct communication with king Solomon,[13] Jeremiah,[14] Daniel,[15] Joseph [Mary’s husband][16] and many in the early church.[17]