Has Man Pre-eminence Over a Beast?
Most people will argue that man definitely has pre-eminence over beasts. When man dies, does his soul go to heaven whereas a beast has no soul at all and therefore does not die in the same way? Before making up our minds on this point let us turn to the Word of God.
“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 pre-eminence above a beast, for all is vanity. All go unto one place, all are of the dust and all turn to dust again” (Ecc 3:19,20).
Having stated the situation, Solomon now repeats a question which must have been asked in his day: “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” (Ecc 3:21). Solomon does not answer his question for he has already given the answer in verse 20: “ALL GO TO ONE PLACE.” We know that none of us has the power to retain the ‘breath of life’.
Photo: Bro F G Nkomelah
When God takes away the life-sustaining agency, man and beast die. Solomon put it this way: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecc 12:7). If the words “the spirit shall return unto God” mean that the soul goes to heaven, then since all living creatures have the same “breath of life” or “spirit”, the souls of all beasts and creeping things must go to heaven too, for it is written “ALL go to one place” and “Man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.”
However unpalatable this may be, it is at least in keeping with the curse put upon Adam. For he was told, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19). It is also in keeping with what Paul said “For as in Adam ALL DIE” (1 Cor 15:22). It also agrees with the following many verses from the Bible:
“For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave, who shall give the thanks?” (Psalm 6:5). “Let me not be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent IN THE GRAVE” (Psalm 31:17). “O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence and BE NO MORE” (Psalm 39:13). “What profit is there in my blood, when I GO DOWN TO THE PIT? Shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth?” (Psalm 30:9). “What man is there that liveth, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?” (Psalm 89:48). “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence” (Psalm 115:17). “While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praise unto my God while I have any being. 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” (Psalm 146:2-4). “For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten” (Ecc 9:5). “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest” (Ecc 9:10). “For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth” (Isa 38:18). “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Eze 18:4).
The foregoing are a few of the very many passages that could be quoted to show that when a man dies, he goes to OBLIVION in the grave and not to another form of life. Yet the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is still ingrained in people throughout the world: how perverse is mankind. However, there is hope for the believers of a restoration to life at the return of Jesus when he comes to resurrect the responsible dead.
Bro F G Nkomelah (Lilongwe, Malawi)