Archives For Theology

Job was a married man who was neither a Christian nor a Jew. God testified on two occasions that he was the most righteous man of his day (Job 1:8; 2:3).

Job did not live in a Christian or Jewish country, and we have no evidence that Job lived under a theocracy. What Job therefore tells us should be the role of civil authorities is profoundly important for a biblical understanding of what civil governments should and should not do.

In Job 31:9-11, Job speaks of what he believed would be the case had he as a married man committed adultery with another woman:

Job 31:9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door;

 10 Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

 11 For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

12 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.

Job specified that his having relations with a woman other than his wife, including his neighbor’s wife, would have been a heinous crime. As a righteous man, Job believed and taught that adultery was a horrific crime.

Job also made known that he believed that adultery was an iniquity that was “to be punished by the judges,” which shows that Job believed that civil authorities would rightly punish any such adulterous relations that he would have had. Because Job did not live in a Jewish country and as far as we know, he did not live under a theocracy, his giving this teaching provides vital revelation for what righteous people are to believe that civil authorities in any nation should do with those who commit adultery.

Based on this revelation that preceded the giving of the Mosaic Law by many hundreds of years, we learn that the Bible teaches that adultery is a heinous crime that civil governments are to punish. The Bible does not teach that adultery is a sin but not a crime.

John the Baptist, Jesus, Ananias and Sapphira, and Stephen were all buried by other believers who ministered to them at the ends of their lives. This biblical evidence points to a vital facet of how believers are to minister to one another.

Christians today should not choose cremation instead of burial because they are concerned about or unable to pay the expenses of burial. Instead, based on the biblical record, other believers should step in to provide for the burials of their brethren, whenever it is needed.

Churches, in particular, should take it upon themselves to see to it that they minister to all their members concerning the burials of their own who go to be with the Lord. Churches should have funds specifically set aside to help people in their congregations with their burial expenses, as needed. Special offerings can also be taken, with wealthier believers giving generously to help meet the final expenses of their brethren.

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.

 

As an aged man, Daniel the prophet bravely faced the prospect of being thrown in a den of lions because he would not stop praying to God when a law had been passed that outlawed his doing so. When he was thrown into the den, God miraculously protected him all night long so that none of the lions harmed him in any way.

King Darius eagerly went to the den very early the next morning to see what had happened to Daniel. Daniel testified to the king that God had protected him from the lions:

Dan 6:21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

What Daniel testified to the king provides us with vital instruction that goes counter to what many believers today emphasize. Instead of emphasizing to a pagan king how gracious God had been to him to deliver him in spite of his continuing sinfulness as a believer, Daniel declared that God had spared him because Daniel was innocent of any wrongdoing before both God and the king.

Daniel thus gave what many believers today would regard as a shocking testimony that his own excellence in living a righteous life before God and man was the basis for why God spared him. We should learn from this shocking testimony of this exceedingly godly prophet that striving to live a blameless life before God and man is an essential matter for every believer, especially for those in public service.

We should also learn that it is a proper thing to testify to lost people that God has been good to us in part because we have striven to live righteously before Him. Giving such a testimony does not mean we are touting our own goodness in an ungodly way nor does it mean that we depend any less on the grace of God than do those believers who are always talking about the grace of God and constantly deprecating their own righteousness before God and man.

Of the 25 times that Scripture explicitly says that a person made or caused someone else to sin, 24 of them say that a king who was over a certain people was the one who did so:

Jeroboam

1Ki 14:16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.

1Ki 15:26 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.

30 Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.

34 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.

1Ki 16:26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.

1Ki 22:52 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin:

2Ki 3:3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

2Ki 10:29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.

31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

2Ki 13:2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

6 Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)

11 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein.

2Ki 14:24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

2Ki 15:9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

18 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

28 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

2Ki 17:21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin.

2Ki 23:15 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.

Baasha

1Ki 16:2 Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins;

13 For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.

Elah

1Ki 16:13 For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.

Ahab

1Ki 21:22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.

Manasseh

2Ki 21:11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:

16 Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.

This explicit scriptural data testifies to the fearful power of ungodly supreme civil leaders to corrupt other people by making them sin against God. We must not think that the character of such civil leaders is an unimportant matter because they have an immense power to cause whole nations to sin against God!

Hezekiah, Josiah, and Nehemiah were three of the greatest leaders ever over God’s people. Each was a prime mover on religious occasions of such a striking nature that those occasions featured God’s people recovering aspects of their worship that had been lost for many years.

Under Hezekiah, the Passover was observed in a manner that had not taken place since the time of Solomon:

2Ch 30:26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.

Under Josiah, an even more noteworthy Passover was celebrated that hearkened back to the even earlier days of Samuel:

2Ch 35:18 And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Under Nehemiah, the people observed the Feast of Booths in a manner that had not been done since the even earlier time yet of Joshua.

Neh 8:17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.

Nehemiah thus recovered something of great value that neither Hezekiah nor Josiah did, even though both Hezekiah and Josiah were great, godly kings.

Interestingly, each of these leaders successively recovered aspects of proper worship that went back to an earlier time than the time of the aspects of worship recovered by those who preceded him.

Let us learn from the examples of these three great Jewish leaders that there may be aspects of proper worship that we need to recover in our day, aspects that hearken back to periods long ago when God’s people rightly worshiped Him in those aspects. Let us also be alert for situations in which we can recover aspects of the true spirituality of God’s people in even greater ways than our predecessors have who similarly recovered aspects of worship that God’s people have not properly observed for many years.

In the entire Bible, there is only one woman who is explicitly called a virtuous woman—Ruth (Ruth 3:11). The glory of her being such a woman provides glorious encouragement for all people in the following way.

When we consider that she was not born into a family that was among the people of God, but was a Moabite (Ruth 1:4) who was born into a family of idolaters (Ruth 1:15), how glorious is it that she yet became a virtuous woman in spite of her heritage, background, upbringing, etc! Ruth is thus a wondrous testimony of what God can do with the life of someone who was not born into highly favorable circumstances but yet came to trust in the true and living God!

Regardless of who you are or what your circumstances in life have been, trust in God and let Him glorify Himself through your life however He sees fit.

Is the use of musical instruments in worship important? Several biblical lines of reasoning provide an answer to this crucial question.

Jewish Use of Musical Instruments in True Worship

Numerous passages of varying types reveal that the use of musical instruments in true worship of the Jews was divinely ordained (Ps. 33:1-3) and divinely accepted (2 Chron. 5:11-14). Such passages make clear that it was essential for God’s people to use musical instruments in worshiping Him.

Pagan Use of Musical Instruments in False Worship

Daniel 3 records a momentous instance of false worship that featured extensive use of musical instruments. In fact, no other passage of Scripture emphasizes the use of musical instruments in worship in quite the same manner as Daniel 3 does.

King Nebuchadnezzar forced people from all the nations that were under his dominion to respond to music as an impetus to false worship of the image that he had erected. No other passage of Scripture documents such an international occasion of false worship that employed what almost certainly was a vast number of musicians playing a vast number of musical instruments.

For reasons that we cannot know, King Nebuchadnezzar deemed it fitting that musical instruments be extensively used for his image to receive the worship that he desired for it to receive on this occasion. Scripture thus reveals to us that the paramount instance of false worship in human history to date involved the use of musical instruments on an unparalleled level in international affairs in human history.

The Divine Mandate for Worldwide Use of Musical Instruments in True Worship

Scripture reveals that God has commanded all peoples of the earth to worship Him using musical instruments:

Psa 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

 5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

 6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Note that these commands were not given only to the Jews nor were these commands an aspect of any of the covenants that God made specifically with them. These commands were not a part of the Law.

All the earth has never obeyed these commands of God. Scripture provides no basis for holding that these commands are no longer the will of God.

Heavenly Use of Musical Instruments in True Worship

Several passages in Revelation teach us that heavenly worship features the use of musical instruments as a prominent aspect of such worship (Rev. 5:8-14; 14:2-3; 15:2-4). We can be certain that such use of musical instruments was not in any way of human origin; the worship of God in heaven has always been and will always be exactly and only what God has ordained.

Because God has given us revelation about the use of musical instruments in heavenly worship, we know that the use of musical instruments in true worship is an essential element of such worship.

Conclusion

God commanded His chosen people, the Jews, to worship Him with the use of musical instruments. He has commanded all the earth to do so.

The paramount instance of idolatrous worship recorded in Scripture included the vast use of instrumental music— how much more must true worship of the living and true God include such use of musical instruments. Revelation about heavenly worship confirms this view about the necessity of using musical instruments in true worship by showing us that musical instruments are central to the worship of God in heaven.

Based on this biblical data, the lack of specific NT mention of or command for such use in worship does not provide any valid basis for holding that we do not need to use musical instruments in our worship today. We must use musical instruments in our corporate worship to give God the glory that is due His name!

In a NT passage that speaks directly about an actual service in a local church, Paul declares the following:

1Co 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

This text speaks of an unbeliever who comes into the midst of a whole church that has gathered together into one place and everyone prophesies with the result that the unbeliever comes under genuine conviction and is brought to worship God openly in their midst.

Because this divine revelation plainly speaks of God’s using the combined ministry of an assembled local church to bring an unbeliever to worship Him, we have biblical warrant for inviting people to come to church with us so that they are put in the position of having God work in their hearts in the manner spoken of in this passage.

Whether God chooses to work in such a manner in any given service is not our responsibility—our part is to put them in the position for Him to do so, should He see fit to do so.

Christians should invite unbelievers to come to church with them.

Two remarkable statements by God reveal the unparalleled excellence of Job among all the people who were alive on the earth in his day:

Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Job 2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

An analysis of these statements provides all believers with profound instruction.

Comparative Divine Assessment of Human Excellence

God twice informed Satan that Job was uniquely excellent in his day (Job 1:8; 2:3), a truth that Satan would never have been able to know otherwise. These statements show that God had assessed all people who were living at that time and deemed that Job was superior to all other human beings in the qualities that God valued the most.

As human beings, even redeemed ones, we are incapable of correctly making such an assessment. Nonetheless, we must not allow our inability to lead us into holding any false views about divine assessment of all human beings—God knows and cares about who in the world is uniquely excellent in His sight!

Based on this revelation, we learn that God makes comparative assessments of all human beings and that it is false to say that in the sight of God we are all deemed to be equals because whatever good qualities we have in us are solely due to the work of God in our lives and the fruit of His grace bestowed upon us. Being saved by grace alone does not mean that we are all equally excellent in the sight of God!

Divine Desire for Human Excellence

God inspired the writer of Job to record these profound statements for our benefit. We can be certain that through this revelation, God has made known that He desires that all human beings strive to be excellent before Him in all the same ways that Job was.

We must not allow the contemporary overemphasis on grace to detract us from our continually pressing on for such excellence. Knowing that God makes such assessment of human excellence and knowing that Job attained such excellence should impel us to strive to be as Job was before God!

Cosmic Significance of Human Excellence

Knowing that God informed Satan about the unique excellence of Job and challenged Satan to consider Job’s excellence teaches us about the profound cosmic significance of human excellence. We do not have any way of knowing what God through us desires to display to fallen spirits in heavenly places.

We must live our lives with the awareness that comparative divine assessments of human excellence matter to both God and other heavenly beings. Let us allow these lessons that we learn from the unique greatness of Job to challenge us to strive to be uniquely excellent on the earth for the glory of God!