How would you define the word sleep? I heard someone say the other day, sleep is being unconscious. And yet the scriptures teach us God speaks to us when we sleep. You know me, I am a word person, words matter. So I looked up some of these words.
Unconscious is defined as – not conscious; having no mental perception; not knowing; no perception.
But when we sleep and dream we do have perception. Just think of some of the dreams you have had and ask yourself, did I perceive anything? Fear, love, joy, anything?
Conscience is defined as possessing the faculty or power of knowing one’s own thoughts, or mental operations. This could be a knowing from memory or a knowing of fact.
Consciousness – the knowledge of sensations and mental operations or of what passes in one’s own mind. Another words, you are aware of your own thoughts.
So what about sleep then? Are we conscious or unconscious? Sleep is defined as rest. Rest in the sense of suspending the voluntary exercise of the powers of the body and the mind. Notice then, that by definition, sleep affects the body and the mind. Another words, sleep affects the body and the soul but not the spirit.
Jesus often referred to people we would consider “dead” as those who “sleep”. When looking at the word sleep, it is defined as the state where the voluntary exercise of one’s mental powers are suspended and rests unconscious of what passes around him and is not affected by ordinary impressions or objects.
Notice the word voluntary? The voluntary exertion of one’s mental powers are suspended? You are aware your works and words you have spoken follow you, right? They follow you in to “the after life”?
But I am also considering how this state of sleep works when we go to bed at night and “sleep” in our bed.
So when we go to bed and sleep at night, are the voluntary exertions of your mind suspended? We know the mind is active when we sleep because we are awaken from dreams. We even watch animals twitch and make whimpers when they sleep. Sometimes we wake and remember vivid dreams.
So if sleep is a state of unconsciousness – we would have no mental capacity by definition of the word unconscious. And because when we sleep and dream, we do have mental capacity, our mind is active, we can not be unconscious technically.
The dictionary says – the mind is very often active in sleep; but its powers not being under the control of reason, its exercises are very irregular.
So notice what God says about sleep. The time comes for Moses to “die” in his body. And what does the Lord tell Moses? Deuteronomy 31:16 KJV
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.”
The Lord tells Moses he is going to sleep. In Daniel 12 Daniel is told those who “died in their body” sleep in the dust of the earth.
Daniel 12:1-4 KJV ” And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
Then in Matthew 9:18 a ruler comes to Jesus and tells Jesus his daughter is “dead” but come and lay your hand upon her and she will live. So Jesus followed him and in verses 23, 24 – Jesus tells the people there the girl “sleepeth”. Some mocked Jesus but the people are put out of the room and Jesus takes her hand and she arises.
Then don’t forget Lazarus in John 11 and Jesus told them first, Lazarus “sleepeth” and then he said Lazarus is “dead”. John 11:11-14 KJV “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”
And then there is Stephen in Acts 7. Stephen was stoned “to death” and scripture says “he fell asleep”. Acts 7:58-60 KJV “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him : and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God , and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Scripture clearly teaches when a person “dies” in their body – they are considered to be sleeping. That would mean by definition of the word sleep that everyone who physically dies in their body, their voluntary exertion of their mental powers is “suspended”. If something is suspended, at some point it has to resume.
When you consider your mental powers are dealing with your soul you understand that while you are alive in your body you have power over your soul. But once you die in your body, you no longer can alter or change what happens to your soul because that power, upon physical death, is suspended.
We aren’t told much about sleep or sleeping in the Old Testament or even in the gospels. It is not until Paul gets saved and Paul deals with believers who sleep, are dead.
So is sleeping in our bed similar to the suspension of our mind’s powers? Do you have any control over what you dream? When we sleep and dream often we are not aware it is a dream. Everything is so real. Usually it is not until we “wake up” that we realize, it was a dream. Interesting, isn’t it?
Until next time.