The Biblical Importance of a Proper Burial

September 15, 2017 — 2 Comments

Scripture speaks of burial in at least 140 verses. An analysis of these verses reveals the profound importance of a proper burial.

The following listing is not in the order of the importance of each point.

Divine Commands for Burial

Deu 21:23 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.

God commanded that a criminal who was hanged had to be buried. He did not authorize cremation of the criminal’s body—the criminal had to be buried.

Mat 8:22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Luk 9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Jesus commanded that the people of whom He spoke about in this statement must bury their dead.

Divine Example of Burial

Deu 34:6 And he [God] buried him [Moses] in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

God did not bury the body of Moses to fulfill the cultural expectations that were prevalent at that time. God could have dematerialized Moses’ body in an instant, but He chose to bury him instead in a sepulcher.

Divine Favor of Burial

1Ki 14:13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.

Of all of Jeroboam’s children, only one would be buried because God judged him to be someone in whom there was found some good thing toward God. No one else of Jeroboam would be favored with the privilege of being buried.

Divine Judgment of Being Denied Burial

2Ki 9:10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.

As part of God’s fierce judgment on Jezebel, dogs would eat her and no one would bury her.

Jer 14:16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

God’s judgment on these wicked people would resulting in their being denied a burial.

Burial as the Proper Ending of Life

Ecc 6:3 If a man beget an 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.

Without a life of goodness that fills one’s soul and is consummated with a burial as the proper ending of a long life where one has begotten many children, it would be better to be miscarried than to ever have been born and lived.

Renown Bestowed on Providers of Burial

Eze 39:13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. 14 And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. 15 And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog.

God specified that His people who would bury the vast hordes that He would slay would do so to their renown in the day that He would be glorified.

Divine Commendation of One Who Prepared Jesus’ Body for His Burial

Mat 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Jesus promised that Mary would be commended all over the world for what she did in preparing His body for burial.

Divinely Commissioned Proclamation of Burial as A Part of the Gospel Message

1Co 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

The burial of Jesus Christ is a divinely ordained part of the gospel message that we are commanded to proclaim to the whole world. We must be faithful to proclaim the gospel that God has commissioned us to preach and testify.

Divine Instruction about Burial

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

When we are baptized, we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Those who have been buried with Him are the ones whom the Father raises to walk in newness of life.

In keeping with the spiritual realities of what God does when He saves us, we should be buried at the end of our physical lives in entrusting ourselves to be raised from the dead by our Father who judges righteously, even as Christ did.

Conclusion

As these many biblical considerations show, a proper burial is a profoundly important teaching of Scripture. Christians should not have anything to do with the pagan practice of cremation. As much as it is possible, they should honor God by being buried and by burying their own.

 

Rajesh

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Copyright © 2011-2017 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

2 responses to The Biblical Importance of a Proper Burial

  1. While I appreciate your heart, I think you are over-doing it on mixing culture with what God is really requiring of us. The reality is – of course – is that it does not matter. You are going to return to dust when your body decomposes – cremations simply hastens the process.

    That being said – I am not planning to be cremated but buried – in a pine box – in good ol’ fashioned western way of doing things here in the US…. maybe because I saw too many westerns as a kid…:-) (or, maybe that is how God wants me to be buried….).

    • Of the 9 considerations that I treat in this article, 8 of them are explicitly concerning divine actions or speech. All 9 show the biblical importance of burial and show that it does matter what is done with a dead human body.

      Because we are all going to return to dust ultimately does not vitiate all the explicit biblical revelation that teaches the importance of a proper burial. If you have something concrete from Scripture to offer in response to show how I am mixing culture with what God really requires of us, I am glad to discuss that with you further.

      I am glad that you are planning on being buried.

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