The Untold Story
Should a Christian be Cremated?
What about the practice of cremation? Is it Biblical in origin?
Should a child of God allow themselves to be cremated when they
die? What is the true origin of this common custom? There is
far more to this story than you may imagine! You may be surprised
at the shocking, incredible truth about cremation!
William F. Dankenbring
A few years ago a special report on television revealed an ugly truth about cremations -- a scandal that would shake up and unnerve thousands of people who have had loved ones cremated when they died. According to the report, many crematoriums have been guilty of dealing fast and recklessly with the ashes of cremated individuals. They have tossed them into a common trash container, and whenever anyone came to get the remains of their beloved, the attendants would simply scoop a cupful of ashes from the garbage can, and bring them out to the relatives in a little urn. No one being the wiser.
The same shocking report showed that many crematoriums also cremate several bodies at a time. It is cheaper to do many bodies at once rather than one at a time, since the same amount of fuel is needed in any case. However, a serious problem arises. The ashes of the different bodies become mingled together!
With all the problems involved in cremation, the supposed remains of "Dear Old Joe" might not be his ashes at all, but those of several strangers intermingled!
Is Cremation a Biblical Practice?
But aside from the problems involved in cremation, what about the practice of cremation itself -- is it Biblical? Is cremation a sin? Should Christians cremate their dead loved ones? Should a Christian be cremated, in order to save money?
Many think it makes no difference. How one's body is disposed of is up to the individual's own wishes. They believe the Bible is silent on the matter, and God leaves the decision up to each one of us. But is this necessarily true?
Solomon wrote under inspiration of God's Spirit, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. ). What does the Word of God say
about the death, burial, or cremation of loved ones? The truth may shock you!
According to the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, "The proper interment of the dead was a matter of great importance to the peoples of the ancient Near East. It is attested by frequent references to burial in the Bible and other ancient writings and by the presence of thousands of tombs which modern archaeologists have excavated in Bible lands" (article "Burial," vol. 1, p. 474).
This same reference adds: "The antiquity of burial customs in Palestine is attested in the traditions concerning the cave of Machpelah, where Sarah was buried (Gen. 23:19) and also Abraham (25:9), Isaac, Rebekah, Leah (49:3 1), and Jacob (50:13)" (ibid.).
Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, "If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial, I say, that an untimely birth is better than he" (Eccl. 6:3).
According to the Scriptures, it is a curse for a
dead body not to be buried! Isaiah wrote
of the king of
Jezebel, one of the most wicked women who ever lived, who
stirred up her husband Ahab to perform incredible evil, was cursed of God. Part of the cursed prophesied by God's
prophet Elijah was that she should not be buried, but her body would be eaten
by dogs (I Kings 21:23-35). This
prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Jehu, the new king of
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible points out:
"Various places of
burial, in addition to natural caves, are mentioned in the Scriptures. Frequently only the name of the city or
region is mentioned; thus Aaron was buried at Moserah (Deut. 10:6; cf. Num. 33:38, where
For some inexplicable reason, the Interpreter's
Dictionary of the Bible says that Saul and Jonathan were
"cremated" by the Philistines.
However, this is certainly not true.
Rather, as the Biblical account clearly states, "when the
Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons
"And when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; all the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days" (I Samuel 31:8-13).
The Philistines did not cremate them. However, the men of Jabesh burned the bodies, and then buried the bones of Saul and his three sons.
The Origin of Cremation
notice! The custom in
Where, then, did the practice of cremation come from? Says the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, "Cremation was not practiced by Jews or early Christians, as it was on occasion by Greeks and Romans. When bodies were burned, it was a sign of vengeance (I Sam. 31:12), unrighteousness (Amos ), or punishment of criminals (Lev. ; 21: 9; John. ). The Mishna forbids cremation as idolatry (A.Z.I. 3)" (ibid.).
The World Book Encyclopedia tells us: "Burial is the most common method of disposal in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim countries. Human burial developed from the belief that the dead rise again. Like a seed, according to this belief, a body is planted in the earth to await rebirth.
"Cremation is customary in Buddhist and Hindu
nations and is increasing in the
Lack of proper burial was considered a curse, in the
Bible, When a prophet of God foolishly disobeyed the direct commandment of God,
he was told by an old prophet in Bethel, "Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch
as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment
which the Lord thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and hast eaten bread
and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no
bread, and drink no water; thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy
fathers" (I Kings 13:21-22).
Because of his disobedience, this prophet was killed by a lion (v. 24);
the old prophet from
Not to be buried properly is a sign of the displeasure of Almighty God, or an act of foolish ignorance and disobedience. When God curses a nation, and removes His blessing from them, He declares, "For thus saith the Lord, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the Lord, even lovingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them. . ." (Jeremiah 16:5).
States the New Bible Dictionary, "Cremation was not a Hebrew practice, but in difficult circumstances a corpse might be burnt and the remains buried pending proper burial in the ancestral tomb, as with Saul" ("Burial and Mourning," p. 171).
This same authority says, "Jewish practices in New Testament times differed little from those described in the Old Testament" (ibid.). The corpse was first washed (Acts ); then anointed (Mark 16: 1), wrapped in linen garments with spices enclosed (John ), and finally the limbs were bound and the face covered with-a napkin (John ), or turban.
This authority continues, "Cremation was NEVER a Jewish practice " (p. 172).
Even the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits,
"The Aztecs were the first to introduce the burning of corpses in
cremation also spread into
the lands of the
This authority also admits, "From Apostolic times
Christians followed the Semitic practice of burial and abstained from cremating
their dead, a practice common in
The Encyclopedia Americana adds: "During the
lst millennium B.C., both cremation and burial were practiced in most Italian
and Greek cities, and, due to the influence of the Greeks and Etruscans, cremation
was adopted by the Romans. It
became fashionable among aristocrats throughout the
Today, cremation is permitted among three fourths of the
world's inhabitants, Reasons often cited for its practice include hygiene,
scarcity of land, and overpopulation.
During the 1960s, says the Encyclopedia Americana, there were
more than 600,000 cremations annually in the
The Biblical Example and Practice
Regardless of the various customs of pagans around the world, in ancient times, what does the Word of God -- our only true test and authority -- have to say about the proper disposition of dead loved ones? God told the prophet Isaiah, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to THIS WORD, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah ). God said, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples" (verse 16).
What does the Word of God say? What does the Law of God tell us?
The first five books of the Old Testament are known as "the Pentateuch," or "The Law." In the book of Genesis we read that Abraham, "the father of the faithful" (Gal. 3:9), who set us an example of faithful obedience to God (Gen. 26:5), went to the
children of Heth, after the death of his wife Sarah, and said, "I am a stranger and sojourner with you: give me a possession of a Burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight" (Gen. 23:1-4).
Abraham bought a field, that he might bury Sarah there,
the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, and which contained a cave (Gen.
23: 8-17). When Abraham himself died,
his sons "Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the
When Isaac died, "his sons Esau and Jacob buried
him" (Gen. 35:29). When Jacob's
wife Rachel died in childbirth, she "was buried in the way to Ephrath,
Why does God give us all this detailed information in the very first book of the Bible as to the disposition of the dead? There must be a reason! Obviously this instruction is written down for OUR admonition, as a guide for us, today!
The apostle Paul explained, "For whatsoever things
were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through
patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (
Paul also told the Corinthians, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for OUR admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Cor. ).
Jesus Himself said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Paul summarized this truth succinctly when he wrote, "ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:16-17).
God's way for the disposition of the dead is BURIAL! The practice of cremation is pagan -- idolatrous -- heathenish -- and wrong! The practice of cremation was inspired by no less than Satan the devil and his host of demons, as a part of his diabolical counterfeit superstition involving the belief of reincarnation and the immortality of souls! According to the pagans, the "purifying fires" of cremation prepare the soul for its flight after death of the body. Leslie V. Grinsell, in his book Barrow, Pyramid and Tomb, tells the Story of the Ibn Fadlan who in A.D. 922 was an Arab emissary to Russia from the Khalif of Baghdad. As he witnessed the cremation of a Viking chief on the Volga, he was told, "we burn him . . . so that he enters paradise at once."
Why should pagans believe that burning their bodies is a holy and proper practice? Why do pagans believe the fire of cremation is "holy fire"? What is holy about mere fire? The Scriptures nowhere speak of such" fire" as being in any sense "holy"!
Why does Satan the devil deceive millions around the world into desiring that their bodies be burnt up and turned to ashes? There is a reason! This diabolical deception goes back to the very beginning!
But before explaining the amazing answer, let us notice what God's Law says about this subject, once and for all!
The Laws of God Regarding the Dead
In the book of Deuteronomy, God commanded His people Israel, "And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise BURY HIM that day" (for he that is hanged is accursed of God,) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance" (Deut. 21.-22-23).
Here is a direct command from God that the dead are to be BURIED! Not cremated! Not disposed of in some other fashion! This is a plain and direct "Thus saith the Lord!"
Even criminals who were judged guilty of the death penalty, were to be buried the same day they were hanged. How much more, then, should the righteous be buried!
Many examples of the burial of both wicked and righteous occur in the book of the Law of God. In the book of Numbers, for example, we read that the children of Israel who fell to lusting after flesh were smitten by a great plague from God (Num. 11:31-33). "And he called the name of that place Kirothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted" (verse 34).
Miriam, Moses' sister, died while the people abode in a place called Kadesh, "and was buried there" (Num. 20:1). When the children of Israel came to Mosera, "there Aaron died, and there he was buried" (Deut. 10:6).
Moses himself, a faithful servant of the Lord, was buried by the Lord himself in the land of Moab. We read in the last chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, "So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sephulchre unto this day" (Deut. 34:5-6). Here, God Himself buried His faithful servant!
Could there be any more powerful, direct example than that?
According to the inspired Word of God, the dead should be buried, to await the resurrection from the dead. They should not be cremated!
Does this mean that any who have been cremated cannot be resurrected? Does this mean that any who die by being cast over-board from a ship during a storm at sea, and who are eaten by sharks, have lost their chance for salvation?
Of course not! God has all power! He can resurrect anyone, no matter what happens to their body! However, those who desire to obey God, and to be found pleasing in His sight, will not choose to have their bodies cremated; they will choose BURIAL, according to the custom and example in the Word of God!
Old Testament Examples
All the mighty men of God of the Bible were buried when they died. We read of the patriarch Joshua, whom God used to command the sun and moon to stand still, "And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash" (Joshua 24:29-30).
And in this same chapter, we read, "And the bones of Joseph, which the children, of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
"And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim" (verses 32-33).
Gideon, the "mighty man of valor" whom God used to deliver his people from the hordes of Midianites, a mighty man of faith and belief in God, also "died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites" (Judges 8:32).
Another man God raised up to be judge of Israel, Tola, "died, and was buried in Shamir" (Judges 10:2). His successor, Jair, died, and was buried in Camon (verse 5). Jephthah was buried in one of the cities of Gilead (Judg. 12:7). Ibzan was buried at Bethlehem (verse 10). Elon was buried in Aijalon, in the country of Zebulun (verse 12). Abdon was buried in Piathon, in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites (v. 15).
The mightiest warrior and strongest man who ever lived, Samson, after he slew thousands of Philistines while blinded, by physically moving the pillars supporting the temple of their god during one of their religious festivals, was taken by his brethren and all the house of his father, and they "buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the burying place of Manoah his father" (Judg. 16:31).
Ruth, one of the righteous and holy women of God, told her mother-in-law Naomi, "Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried" (Ruth 1:17).
One of the greatest prophets of God who ever lived. Samuel, "died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah" (I Samuel 15: 1).
One of the servants of king David, the aged Barzilai, who was eighty years old, said to David, "Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother" (II Samuel 19:37).
King David himself, a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22), was buried when he died at Jerusalem. "So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David" (I Kings 2:10). The apostle Peter, in the first sermon delivered during the New Testament Church period, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was sent down from heaven (Acts 2:1-14), said, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day" (verse 29).
We could go on to give many more examples. It should be perfectly clear that God intends the dead to be buried in a proper buryingplace. Cremation is not of God. It is a sinister plot of the devil to deceive the world as to the true plan and purpose of God for human life!
The Hope of the Resurrection
God intended men and women to be buried when they die, as a symbol of awaiting the resurrection, when they will rise from their graves. The patriarch Job knew this. He exclaimed in living faith,
"If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time
will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call (at the time of the
resurrection of the dead!), and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a
desire to the work of thine hands" (Job 14:14-15).
Later, Job exclaimed, "for I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another" (Job 19:25-27).
David also looked forward to the resurrection from the grave. He wrote in the beautiful 16th Psalm, "I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in (Hebrew, sheol, or the "grave" or "place of burial); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption . . . Thou wilt shew me the path of life (everlasting life): in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psa. 16:8-11).
What a hope! What a destiny!
In this same chapter, David was giving a prophecy of the fact that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would rise from the grave; his body would not see corruption (see Acts 2:29-36). However, in type this also applies to David himself, who will be in the resurrection of the righteous, at the end time!
Jesus Christ said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).
Jesus explained to His disciples, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (or, Greek, judgment)" (John 5:25-29).
Satan, by foisting off on the world the deception of cremation, attempts to hide from making the TRUTH about the RESURRECTION from the dead!
But the Word of God is very clear!
The apostle Paul encouraged early Christians, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [that is, dead and buried], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [i.e., precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (II Thess. 4:13-17).
The whole plan of God revolves around the RESURRECTION from the dead! But Satan the devil has deluded the world, and blinded the minds of those who do not believe, so that they do not comprehend this wonderful, sublime, amazing truth! Satan has blinded them by false religion, and false religious practices such as cremation of the dead! Thus he has held the world in abject slavery, chained in darkness, ignorant of the true light and true knowledge of God!
It is time you understood the diabolical cleverness of Satan's counterfeit plan -- cremation -- and its true consequences and significance!
Paul put it beautifully when he wrote, "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be CHANGED, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the DEAD SHALL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, and we shall be changed.
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. 0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 15:50-57).
Did you notice?
Do We Have "Immortal Souls"?
Contrary to Satan's diabolical lie, we are NOT already "immortal." We do not have "immortal souls" which will be released at death. The word translated "soul" in the Old Testament is nephesh and Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines this word as "a breathing creature, animal vitality . . . beast, body, breath, creature, life . . ." It literally means "body, corpse."
In Genesis 2:7 we read that God created man, and "formed man of the dust of the ground, and he became a LIVING SOUL." Notice! He "became" a living nephesh or being -- not that he "has" a "soul"!
This same word is translated "body" in Numbers 6:6, 9:6-7, 10, 19:11, 13, 16, in connection with the word "dead" -- as "dead body." It does not refer to some extra-physical, "immortal" component of mankind, but just to his body and life in general, as a fleshly being which needs to breath air in order to live!
In Ezekiel 18:4, we read again of man, that he IS a soul, not that he "has" a "soul." Ezekiel writes, in plain language, "the soul that sinneth, it [the soul] shall DIE"! And again, in verse 20, "The soul that sinneth, it shall DIE."
As human beings, we are mere fleshly creatures, with no spiritual "soul" that lives on forever, conscious and sentient. Not at all! Solomon was inspired to write, "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 preeminence above a BEAST . . . ALL GO UNTO ONE PLACE; ALL ARE OF THE DUST, AND ALL TURN TO DUST AGAIN" (Eccl.3:19-20).
Solomon also wrote, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor devise, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the GRAVE, whither thou goest" (Eccl.9:10).
In other words, when we are dead, we are "dead all over." Just like "Rover" the dog, we are "dead all over." Mankind has no immortality; however, we are promised that if we obey God, and follow Christ, as our Saviour, and Messiah, that we can RECEIVE immortality as a GIFT from God! That is, we can become truly "immortal beings" -- but only by means of a resurrection from the dead, with a new, spiritual body fashioned by God Himself! Our physical, fleshly bodies will have to be CHANGED!
As Paul wrote to the Philippians, Jesus Christ "shall CHANGE our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his GLORIOUS BODY, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (Phil. 3:21).
The act of cremation does not release an "immortal soul" into nirvana, or paradise! It is a pagan deception, a Satanic illusion, a masquerade of the devil!
Contrary to the doctrines of Satan's religious institutions upon the earth, the human "soul" is NOT immortal, caged in a fleshly body. Rather, as the prophet Ezekiel declared, quoting the words of God Himself, "Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4) -- that is, the soul itself will DIE! This verse alone proves that souls are NOT immortal, immaterial, composed of spirit. As I mentioned before, the Hebrew word for soul is nephesh and can be translated "body, " "creature," "life," or even "carcass."
For this reason, the true hope of the Christian is that he will be in the resurrection of the righteous, at the return of Jesus Christ -- not he purification of some imaginary immortal soul!
As human beings, we are not yet immortal -- we will not become immortal beings until we receive our new spirit bodies from heaven, at the return of Jesus Christ! As the apostle Paul wrote, at this present time, in due time, Jesus Christ will reveal who is "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting" -- that is, God the Father! (I Timothy 6:16).
No, we are not yet "immortal." We have only a "spark" of immortality dwelling within us, IF we have God's Holy Spirit as a begettal (Eph.1:13-14; Rom.8:9-10), and Christ is living within us through the Holy Spirit (Gal.2:20). But at the resurrection, we shall become LIKE HIM -- immortal sons of God (I John 3:2) and "joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom.8:17), as literal born "sons of God" (Rom.8:16-21).
How marvelous is the truth of God!
New Testament Proof
Further examples that burial is the proper condition for the dead is found in the New Testament. We read in Acts, after the stoning to death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, that "devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him" (Acts 8:2).
Also, when Ananias, an early covert, lied to the apostle Peter, and was struck down dead by God, we find that "the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him" (Acts 5:6). When his wife Sapphira also lied about the price the property sold for, Peter declared to her, "how is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the
feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and carrying her forth, buried her by her husband" (vs. 9-10).
Jesus Christ, of course, is the Lord and Messiah, the Savior of the world. Peter says that we, as Christians are to follow His example: "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (I Pet. 2:21).
Although Jesus did not need to be baptized, He was baptized by John in order to set us an example to follow (Matt. 3:13-15). When Jesus died, what example did He set for us? Was He cremated to ashes, and were His ashes placed in an urn? Were His ashes scattered across the sea?
Not at all! Rather, when Jesus was dead on the stake, having died for our sins, a certain rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. "And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. and he rolled a great tone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed" (Matt. 27:59-60).
Jesus was buried in a grave -- in a tomb!
John tells us more about this event. "And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day, for the sepulchre was nigh at hand" (John 19:38-42).
Jesus set us an example, not only in His life, but also in His death! When he died, He was buried, according to the common custom of the Jews. He was not cremated! What better example can we follow than His own example?
Jesus anticipated His forthcoming burial when He said to His disciples about the woman who anointed His head and His feet with aromatic perfumes, after some of them accused her of wasting the precious ointment, "Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye hve not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to
anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her" (Mark 14:6-9).
Nowhere in all the Bible do we find holy men and women of God ever choosing to be cremated at death. Rather, they were consistently buried. What, then, is the real truth behind the practice of cremation? What does it really represent?
Does it have a hidden, undisclosed meaning?
Yes, it does!
Although the Bible nowhere shows the righteous being cremated, the Scriptures do speak very forcefully and plainly about CREMATION! Notice!
Cremation -- the Fate of the Wicked!
In the days of Joshua, when Achan, the son of Carmi, deliberately disobeyed a direct commandment of God, and stole accursed things at the city of Jericho, when God commanded the people to utterly destroy all that was in the city, his deed was discovered by the casting of lots.
When he was discovered, Achan told Joshua, "Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took the; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it" (Joshua 7:20-21).
Achan and his family, and all his possessions, were led to the valley of Achor. "And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones" (v. 25). After being stoned to earth, these wicked people, involved in the secret plot of Achan, were all burned with fire -- or, cremated!
The burning of a body with fire, according to the Word of God, is not a holy, purifying experience at all -- but rather a terrible divine PUNISHMENT!
According to the Law of God, we are told, "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be BURNT WITH FIRE, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you" (Lev. 20:14). Having sexual relations with a woman and her mother was considered a heinous crime by God, and not merely punishable by death, but also by burning with fire!
Notice also Leviticus 21:9. God says plainly, "And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire."
Death by burning with fire, and cremation, therefore, is considered by God a horrible punishment -- not at all something to be desired or sought after!
How completely Satan the devil has twisted, perverted, warped and even reversed the total plan and purpose of Almighty God! How masterfully he has altered by 180 degrees the whole purpose and design of God! That which God calls a horrible punishment, Satan calls a blessed sacrament! That which God says is severe judgment, Satan the devil calls a holy purifying act! And most of the modern world is completely mesmerized, and deceived!
Notice also an account of events that occurred during the times of the kings of Israel and Judah. Josiah, a good king of the nation of Judah, sought to purge the land from pagan, heathen influence and idolatry. He made a covenant with God to walk in all the ways of the Lord. We read, "And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant" (II Kings 23:3).
"And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.
"And he put down the idolatrous priests . . . And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people" (verses 4-6).
Continuing, we read, "Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words" (II Kings 23Z:15-16).
Here again, the bones of wicked, pagan idolaters were taken and burned by a righteous king of God -- they were cremated, or burned to ashes! What does this signify?
Notice what God says about the fate of wicked, evil men. David wrote in the Psalms, "But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away" (Psalm 37:20).
The prophet Malachi was even more explicit. He wrote under God's inspiration, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall BURN AS AN OVEN: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall BURN THEM UP, saith the Lord of hosts, that is shall leave them neither root nor branch. . .
"And ye shall TREAD DOWN THE WICKED; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 4:1-3).
Malachi was prophesying about the final fate of the incorrigible wicked -- the lake of fire and brimstone, or Gehenna fire, spoken of by Jesus Christ!
The great fire of Gehenna, which will consume the bodies of all the unrepentant wicked at the end of the age, is described by the apostle Peter. He wrote, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation [conduct] and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (11 Pet. 3:10-13).
Do you want to "melt with fervent heat"? Do you want to be "burned up"? Do you want to be "dissolved" into atoms, molecules, or even smaller "particles" as a none-existent entity for all eternity? That is what cremation symbolizes! The horrible fate of the wicked!
The apostle John describes this final fate of the wicked in the book of Revelation. He says, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the LAKE which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 20:8).
All the incorrigible wicked will be CREMATED and turned to ashes in this horrendous, blazing holocaust!
This mighty fire, this raging inferno, will CONSUME the wicked, until there is nothing of them left but smoke and ashes! It will appear to be a roaring sea of fire and leaping flames, and it will extinguish their life for all eternity. Their fate is called the "second death." And from it there will no resurrection!
Obviously, then, cremation is not something any Christian or Bible believing person would or should want to have anything to do with. The proper mode of disposal of the remains, or the corpses, of God's people, is burial in a grave, where they will await the coming of Christ and the resurrection from the dead. The act of cremation not only in effect denies the reality of this truth, but sanctions the belief of the immortality of the soul and the pagan beliefs of the heathen religions of this evil world under the guidance of Satan the devil.
Cremation is a completely pagan practice. And God commands in His Word, "Learn NOT the way of the heathen" (Jer.10:2).
Should God's people follow the customs of the pagans and their practices? The Word of God says: "Take heed to thyself that thou not be SNARED by following them . . . Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every ABOMINATION to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have BURNT IN THE FIRE [i.e,, CREMATED!] to their gods.
"What thing soever I command you [i.e., burial of the dead], observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deut.12:30-32).
Furthermore, God adds: "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, nor shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may KEEP the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you" (Deut.4:2).
This is the truth of God. What are you going to do about it?