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Her Soul Was Departing

Genesis 35:17-18 (ESV) — When she was in severe labor the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.” It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

As a pastor, I have been in the room as several people took their last few breaths and passed into eternity. The first time I ever experienced it was surreal to me. Most people only experience people dying through fictional portrayals on television and movies. Being there in real life is a different experience. 

The Bible tells us that the body of this individual doesn’t just cease to live, but that the soul departs to Heaven. Our conscious experience continues as our soul goes before our Maker. 

In our passage today, we read about Rachel giving birth. The midwife informed her that she had had another son, Benjamin. Her first son was Joseph. But notice what the passage says happens as she delivers him. It reads, “It came about as her soul was departing (for she died).” The key phrase to focus in on is “her soul was departing.” 

The Bible teaches that we as humans have a body and a soul. We are both body and soul. But as our bodies die, our soul departs from this world and enters into the next. This is an amazing insight the Scriptures give us about what happens at death. There are many take-aways we can glean from this passage, and the truth it reveals, but I’ll outline only a few. First, we see that death is not the end of our existence. The soul lives forever somewhere. That place is either Heaven or Hell, and that is determined by whether we have put our faith in Christ. Second, we must deal with God now in this life before we die, because once we die our soul departs to where it is going. There is no time for making choices at that moment. The state of our soul needs to be dealt with now while we’ve been given life to live. 

Reflection & Journal:

- Why is it important to realize that we are both body and soul? Why do both matter?

- What things stand out to you about this passage, particularly the departing of the soul after death?

- How would you explain to people how to make sure their soul is right before God?

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