“Why Did the Clock Stop When Grandpa Died?”
By “Awake!” correspondent in Sweden
“I HAVE never believed in the supernatural. But three years ago in this very room something very mysterious happened. You see the old clock over there on the wall. It was grandpa’s. He bought it while he was overseas as a young sailor. He was always so proud of it and liked to tell everybody how reliable it was. As you can see it is stopped now. Grandpa died in the hospital a few miles from here, and at the same instant the clock stopped after having ticked for seventy years! Grandpa himself must have stopped it, mustn’t he?”
A farmer in Sweden told this experience to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many people have had similar mysterious experiences in connection with the death of a close relative or friend. They often ask: Why? What force is responsible? Isn’t this proof of human immortality?
When discussing such questions it is good to refer to God’s Word, the Bible. It is the only reliable source of information regarding what happens to man when he dies, what forces are active in the invisible world, and what natural circumstances may lie behind such experiences. Would you like to know what the Bible teaches about the question raised by the stopping of grandpa’s clock?
Did Grandpa Stop It?
According to the Bible it could not have been grandpa himself who stopped it. Do you recall what the Bible says happens when people die? God told Adam and Eve what death would mean for them: “You will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” God said nothing about their continuing to live in a spirit world.—Genesis 3:19; 2:17.
Furthermore, God’s Word says about the dead: “As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Can they plan and carry out mysterious things like the stopping of clocks? The Bible answers: “There is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [Hebrew word for the grave, the place to which the dead go].” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Confirming this, the Bible also says that man “goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”—Psalm 146:4; 115:17.
Consequently the Bible often likens death to a state of sleep. Acts 13:36 says that when King David died he “fell asleep.” First Thessalonians 4:13, 14 refers to Christians who had died as “those who are sleeping.” Jesus spoke of his friend Lazarus as sleeping when He went to resurrect him from death, saying: “I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.”—John 11:11-14; see also Daniel 12:13.
Thus, God’s Word shows that the dead are incapable of communicating with the living. They are inactive until the great awakening of them when they are resurrected into God’s future new order. (John 5:28, 29) Therefore the Bible’s answer is clear: It was not grandpa who stopped the clock. Then what or who else could have done it?
Is There a Spirit World?
Yes, the Bible definitely shows that a spirit world exists. Who inhabit it? Besides the Almighty Spirit, Jehovah God, with his Son, Jesus Christ, and his faithful angels, there are God’s adversary, Satan, and his host of unfaithful angels, also called demons.
Did God, his Son, or any of his angels stop grandpa’s clock? If so, the question arises: Why? For what purpose? To give a sign that could help that farmer believe in God? Hardly, because if God wanted to promote belief in his existence by means of mysterious supernatural signs, why does he not give such signs to everyone? Why do signs of that kind occur so seldom? Why are they often subtle and frightening? No. The Creator has more exact and comprehensive means for helping people to believe in him.
Could anyone else from the spirit world have stopped grandpa’s clock? Could God’s adversary and his demons? What does the Bible say?
“Wicked Spirit Forces” Suspected
The Bible clearly shows that there are “wicked spirit forces” who deceive and frighten man. In Ephesians 6:12 the apostle Paul describes them as “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places,” against whom man has to shield himself. Such powerful wicked angels can easily perform tricky things, or even masquerade as the dead. Satan tried to deceive the first human pair about death, saying that they would not die. This masquerade is a clever way for him to support his false teaching of man’s immortality.—Genesis 3:4; John 8:44.
It is evident that these “wicked spirit forces” sometimes use the time of a person’s death to upset and frighten relatives with unpleasant experiences. A lady in Stockholm, Sweden, says: “After my husband’s death I was repeatedly awakened at night by sharp bangs on the floor of my bedroom. It was as if somebody were throwing steel balls. You can see the round splintered dents there on the parquet flooring. The TV-set was also bombarded in the same way. One night I was awakened by some loud cracks in the air above my bed. I was extremely frightened.”
Others have had pleasant experiences, however. For example, a woman described how her recently deceased husband appeared to her at night and talked to her. She said he looked very nice and wore beautiful clothes.
A similar experience was told by another woman: “Soon after my husband’s death he appeared in front of me in a room. One half of the room was dark and the other half was bright. Seeing him there in the bright half of the room playing the guitar convinced me that he was now living in a bright and pleasant place.”
A man told this experience: “I lived alone with my mother for many years. She used to take care of the home and the cooking. One day after her death when I was resting on a sofa, I heard her call from the kitchen: “Come and eat! The meal is ready!” First I thought I had dreamed, but there was a warm, well-prepared meal right on the table.”
The question arises: Can wicked agents of Satan engage in such pleasant activities? God inspired the apostle Paul to give a very simple answer, saying: “There is nothing surprising about that; Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is therefore a simple thing for his agents to masquerade as agents of good.” (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15, New English Bible) To deceive and mislead people, the demons often appear to be nice and helpful.—1 Timothy 4:1.
Freedom From ‘Wicked Forces’
Anyone with similar experiences who wants to be free from the influence of ‘wicked forces’ should turn to Jehovah God for help. Jesus Christ taught his followers to pray to God: “Deliver us from the wicked one.” (Matthew 6:13) God hears prayers that come from a pure heart. “The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication.”—1 Peter 3:12; Proverbs 15:29.
Knowledge from God’s Word, the Bible, also helps. A careful study of it reveals the true condition of the dead. It establishes firm hope in the future resurrection of the dead. It also reveals the identity of the ‘wicked forces’ in the spirit realm and shows how to avoid being deceived and harassed by them.
A lady who knew what the Bible teaches about these matters reported: “Shortly after my husband’s death I saw the back of a man who was sitting in front of the stove ready to light a fire. He acted exactly as my husband used to do in that situation. Immediately, out loud I asked Jehovah God for help. I then commanded the person: ‘I know who you are, get out of here!’ In that very moment he faded away. I have never seen him since.”
Not every experience of the kind discussed here has supernatural explanations. A balanced investigation of what actually has taken place can often lead to a simple, natural explanation.
Some mysterious experiences can be explained by what the Bible calls “time and unforeseen occurrence.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Timewise, things may coincide almost unbelievably. For instance, millions of clocks throughout the world do not stop when their owners die. However, the laws of probability testify that somewhere, some time, a clock will stop for mechanical reasons at the exact time of its owner’s death. Similarly, other unforeseen occurrences may coincide with someone’s death.
Also, strange visual or audible occurrences after someone’s death may have natural explanations. A long life together with a person may have left such a deep impression in the mind of the surviving partner that moments may suddenly occur when this one seemingly experiences the presence of the deceased one.
Interestingly, scientists have found that some persons possess what is called an eidetic imagery, that is, the ability to see mental images as if they are suspended outside the head. The Encyclopædia Britannica says under “eidetic image”: “An eidetic person not only can imagine an absent object but behaves as if he really can see it.”
So whatever or whoever is behind a mysterious occurrence in connection with someone’s death, it is not the dead person himself in any form or shape. It was not dead grandpa who stopped his clock.