“Cremation, Good or Bad?”
“¶ And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, 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.”
A) Cremation has a heathen origin
- Heathen means… (According to Webster’s Dictionary) anyone that is not a Jew or Christian; a person that is uncivilized, or non-religious.
- Why do the Hindus and other heathen religions cremate? They believe that the dead are not raised again.
- The bible says in Acts 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”
- They also believe that the dead will be reincarnated. (Reincarnation; after you die your soul will enter into another body.) So, if you destroy the body you will release the spirit of the deceased.
- The heathens also believe that if you destroy the body by cremation then that will not allow that persons spirit to stay in the area and haunt (visit) the loved ones.
B) There is nothing Christian about cremation
- Christian means… Christ-like. This means that after we accept Christ as our personal Savior we try to follow Christ’s example as close as humanly possible.
- Jesus Christ our Savior was buried. John 19:38… “ ¶ And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, 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. 39) 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. 40) 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. 41) 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. 42) There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
- The Jews are God’s chosen people, “The hidden treasure” the bible says here that their manner (custom) was to bury. It should be that of a Christian!
I. God’s People Have Always Practiced Burial
A) Some examples of burials
- Abraham (Genesis 25:8-10), Sarah (Genesis 23:1-4), Rachel (Genesis 35:19,20), Isaac (Genesis 35:29), Jacob (Genesis 49:33; 50:1-13) Joseph (Genesis 50:26), Joshua (Joshua 24:29,30), Eleazar (Joshua 24:33), Samuel (I Samuel 25:1), David (I Kings 2:10), John the Baptist (Matthew 14:10-12), Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5-10), Stephen (Acts 8:2)
B) What if burial was difficult?
- Let’s look at Joseph’s burial. Genesis 50:24,25… “24) And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25) And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26) So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
- Note he was embalmed and then put in a coffin.
- Exodus 13:19… “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.”
- Moses was also seeing that the wishes of Joseph were carried out nomatter the difficulty.
- Joshua 24:32… “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.”
- Finally the bones of Joseph get buried after a period of time of over 400 years.
- It would have been much easier for them to have Joseph cremated and then they would only have to carry a container.
- From this important example, we learn that even if cremation is less expensive or easier than burial, it is still to be rejected, as Israelites rejected the economical and simpler way to transport Joseph’s body.
- There are times… When it is too difficult for a body to be buried. Such as in the sinking of a ship, a plane crash, a fire, or murders where the bodies are dismembered and then scattered, etc. But still, when at all possible, we believe in burial.
II. Burial Looks Forward to the Resurrection
A) We believe in a bodily resurrection
- Romans 8:23,24…” And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”
- I Corinthians 15:20… “ ¶ But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
- Just as Christ was resurrected from the dead… So shall we be.
B) “The Seed”
- The physical body is called “the seed” for the resurrection body.
- When a plant seed is planted… it decomposes (rots), and the new plant comes forth.
- The Bible uses this illustration in I Corinthians 15:35… “ ¶ But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36) Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37) And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38) But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39) All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40) There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41) There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43) It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44) It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”
- Here the apostle Paul is answering the people at Corinth who were asking how God could raise a decomposed body.
- The terminology used by the Holy Spirit, here is husbandry, planting seed.
- A farmer does not destroy his seed; he plants it, then from the decaying seed comes forth new life.
- Such is burial and the resurrection.
- When we bury a Christian loved one we are planting the seed for a resurretion body!
C) Why the heathens cremate?
- Because they have no such knowledge. They know not what the bible says.
- They have no hope for the future with God. Without God, without Jesus Christ in their heart they have nothing to live for or look forward to.
III. Cremation is a Sign of God’s Curse
A) A sign of Divine Wrath
- The Lord used it in judgment against the wicked…Exodus 32:20 … “ ¶ And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 2) And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”
- God’s wrath on those who worship idols… Deuteronomy 7:25… “ The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God. 26) Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.”
- God’s final wrath on those who are not saved…Revelation 20:15… “ And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
B) God plainly calls cremation, wickedness
- Amos 2:1… “¶ Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions (Step over a line that God has drawn) of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; (WHY?) because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:”
- Have mercy on those that cremate the body that belongs to God.
C) Non-burial was considered a dishonor
- In the Bible we see some examples of this.
- In this verse we see God saw to it that Jezabel did not receive a proper burial… I Kings 21:23,24… “And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. 24) Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.”
- Here in Psalms 83:9,10 … “ ¶ Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: 10) Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.” David here is referring to the army of Midianites that were scattered across the earth by Gideon’s 300 men and never buried.
IV. To Bury is Following Him
A) Jesus was buried
- As we said back in our text… John 19: 40 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.”
B) To be absent from the Body
- Paul said in… II Corinthians 5:8… “ We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
- Philippians 1:21… “ ¶ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22) But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23) For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:”
- Notice two things here that Paul and every child of God should believe…1) That for us to die is gain, it is something we long for. Why? 2) because when we are absent from this body, dead to this world… we are going to be with Christ which is far better!
C) The Body without the Spirit
- The body without the spirit is dead. James 2:26… “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
- The dead body sleeps in the grave, while the redeemed soul awaits in glory for the resurrection day to be reunited with the same but changed and glorified body such as was Christs.
V. Cremation will not send a person to hell
A) If you are saved, a child of God
- Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
- Just as a canned tomato is sealed in a jar until it is opened… we are sealed until Christ opens the windows of heaven to us.