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There is nothing in the Bible that says - in a literal sense - that we must cross a river after death to be with the Lord. Around the ancient world, there are many metaphors of having to cross a river upon death. In Greek myth they have the river Styx. The closest metaphor to crossing a river in order to arrive in the Promised Land is when the Israelites had to cross the Jordan River (Joshua 3). The biblical symbolism of water is as something of chaos. In Joshua 3 the Jordan River is at flood stage (Josh. 3:15) which would be impossible for the Israelites to cross. But in the face of impossibility, God provides a miracle for passage to occur. Death can be thought of as the ultimate "chaos" for a human being. Even though death appears to be a "raging river" we should not fear. In fact, Hebrews 2:14-15 addresses this matter. In Jesus taking on humanity and dying he has broken the power of death over us and we are to be set free from fear.
According to Solomon, the wisest man ever lived, the body turns to dust and the spirit goes back to God, who gave it. The spirit of every person who dies (saved or unsaved) returns to God at death (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The Bible says that we are all souls and all souls die – we are all mortal (Ezekiel 18:20; Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). There is no Bible text that I could find saying that upon death the disembodied souls are taken to heaven or hell. David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) upon death did not cross any barrier or river but rested in the grave (Acts 2:29, 34). Dead people don’t go anywhere, but they wait in their graves for the resurrection (John 5:28, 29; Daniel 12;2). Some believe that the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is a factual representation of the afterlife. In my opinion, the allegorical nature of the story makes it extremely doubtful that Jesus here is giving us a glimpse of the afterlife. If we insist that the parable is a true story, then using the Bible we should be able to explain where Abraham's bosom is located, why Lazarus and the Rich Man, although in spirit form, both brought body parts along. Are they in spirit form or have earthly bodies in hell/heaven? And if the departed bring their bodies along, what is left in the grave? Also, it's hard to imagine that God would allow the saved in Heaven to communicate with the lost in Hell - in Revelation 21:4 God promised us to wipe every tear and take away all our pain and mourning. Imagine having a loved one on the other side and hearing their sufferings day and night for eternity. Lastly, nowhere in the parable is being mentioned that Lazarus and the Rich Man upon death were immediately taken to their respective place of reward or punishment.
Jesus promised the repentant thief in Luke 23:40-43 that he would be with Him in Paradise that day, with no mention of any delay caused by a barrier that he would have to cross. In addition, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord," which likewise contains no mention of the type of barrier mentioned in the question, and a "plain sense' reading of which indicates an instantaneous transition with no obstacle of any type. Similarly, no barrier is mentioned by Paul in Philippians 1:23. The only type of barrier following death that comes to my mind would be the chasm mentioned by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), which represents the impediment that prohibited Lazarus (who was resting in Abraham's bosom in Paradise) from taking water to the rich man in Hades. Death is sometimes referred to as "crossing the Jordan", but this is a purely metaphorical term derived from the resemblance of the believer entering God's presence after death to the entry of Israel into the "Promised Land" of Canaan by crossing over the Jordan River (Joshua 3).
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