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   The death of a loved one is never easy and one doesn’t always know what problems may arise once a passing occurs. A question arose recently as to which form, that is, cremation or burial, is recommended once a loved one takes his or her final breath. Though we know there is a resurrection, and the person will be given breath again, one still needs to make arrangements for the funeral and give consideration to other family members as to what will be done.
   Certainly, cremation is a much more economical and efficient way of handling the deceased. Just a basic burial can cost over $5000 here in the United States. Unless one plans ahead this cost can be prohibitive for some relatives left behind to make arrangements. What is one to do faced with such a decision? Looking to Yahweh’s Word will help.
   Though, there is no direct commandment to actually bury a loved one, whether in the faith or not, Scripture does give us some insight into what was done, both for those who were good and for those who were bad.

Good Gone Bad
   Israel’s first king was given Yahweh’s Spirit initially, changing him into a new man, and allowing him to prophesy. And the Spirit of Yahweh will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man, 1 Samuel 10:6.
   With Yahweh’s help Saul started out with good character. He respected and gave glory to Yahweh, even when he had a chance to destroy those who opposed him. Notice this account in 1 Samuel 11:12-13, And the people said unto Samuel, “Who [is] he that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ bring the men, that we may put them to death.” And Saul said, “There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day Yahweh hath wrought salvation in Israel.”
   Saul changed from good to bad, though. For instead of giving glory to Yahweh, he started taking it to himself. He even took credit for his son’s actions. We read in 1 Samual 13:3-4, And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that [was] in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” And all Israel heard say [that] Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and [that] Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
   It came about soon after that Saul disobeyed Samuel, and therefore Yahweh (1 Sam. 10:8, 13:13) by offering a burnt offering (1 Sam. 13:8-9). Saul was impatient and offered excuses rather than accepting responsibility when he had been confronted:
   And Samuel said, “What hast thou done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and [that] thou camest not within the days appointed, and [that] the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; therefore said I, ‘The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto Yahweh:’ I forced myself (quenched the Spirit?) therefore, and offered a burnt offering,” 1 Samuel 13:11-12.
   Saul had a downhill ride after this. He was told that his kingdom would be taken away and he lost Yahweh’s Spirit which had initially been put upon him. An evil spirit had now been given to him instead (1 Sam. 16:16). Saul acted out his sick mind by chasing David who was destined to be king, chosen because he was a man after Yahweh’s own heart. Saul, on the opposite spectrum, had become a man stricken with bad character. Even when he died, he died as a coward in battle with the Philistines, as he killed himself. And the battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and pierce me through and make sport of me.” But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it, 1 Samuel 31:3-4 (NASB).
   A bit of investigation shows that Saul may have actually been scared, and not “badly wounded.” “The LXX (Greek Septuagint) asserts that Saul was ‘wounded in the belly,’ but the MT (Hebrew Masoretic Text) states only that ‘he writhed with fear of the archers’” – Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary.
In verse 4 the “make sport of me” is somewhat watered down. It would be better stated as “humiliate,” in which the NLT has it translated. The actual original Hebrew word is Strong’s #1627 alal, meaning, “to make a fool of” or “insult.” Saul had a problem with pride at the end of his life, in fact, it could be said, “Pride had killed him.”
   This gets us down to how he and others like him were burned:
   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, 1 Sam 31:12-13.
   The efficiency and heat of incinerators today do not leave whole bones to be buried, as fires would have in ancient times.

Wicked Were Burned
   There are many instances of the wicked being burned in the Bible though some, of course, were buried (1 Kings 11:15; Eccl. 8:10).
   From prostitutes of priests (Lev. 21:9) to bad kings (1 Kings 16:18-19); whole families, including sons and daughters, were burned (Josh. 7:15, 24-25).
   It was literally a purging of evil from among the people when Yahweh, and those who submitted to Him, were involved. Even the wicked idols were to be burned:
   And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their elohims, and destroy the names of them out of that place, Deuteronomy 12:3.
   Moses, David, Asa, and Josiah burned those detestable things that had been set up to be worshiped (Exod. 32:20; 1 Chron. 14:12; 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 23:6).
   Only Yahweh was to be worshipped, nothing else. Fire will consume those who stand up against Yahweh, His people (Rev. 20:9), and those things put up in place to be worshipped.
   Doesn’t Scripture say that Yahweh is a consuming fire? Indeed, as Hebrews 12:29 says, For our Elohim is a consuming fire. So, “What kind of people ought we to be?” (2 Pet. 3:11).
   Notice, in context, the consuming fire on the day of Yahweh (a day of wrath, Rom 2:5) Peter mentions:
   But the day of Yahweh 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 and righteousness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of Elohim, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 2 Peter 3:10-12.

Joseph’s Request
   In this progressive, modern pagan society we live in today, it is common to hear that a loved one was cremated and now is in ashes sitting quietly, in an urn, above the fireplace. Simple enough, but this was not the custom of ancient Israel, nor believers in the New Testament.
   Joseph, who himself was in an Egyptian society, specifically requested that he be buried outside of Egypt. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but Elohim will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “Elohim will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt, Genesis 50:24-26 (NASB).
   Though, Joseph was embalmed, a common Egyptian practice, he was eventually taken and buried outside of Egypt, as he had requested:
   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, Joshua 24:32.

Others Buried
   Besides Joseph there are many others who were buried. John was beheaded on Herod’s birthday, Matt 14:6-8. Afterwards his body was sought and taken to be buried:
   And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Yahshua, Matthew 14:12.
   Some, like John, would have been taken somewhere and buried. Burials could happen right on the area that the death occurred, as it would have been sanitary and convenient in some cases. And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office in his stead, Deuteronomy 10:6.
   Other Scriptural records of burials are as follows:
   And he (Yahweh) buried him (Moses) in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day, Deuteronomy 34:6.
   And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Yahweh, 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 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, Joshua 24:33.
   And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year, 2 Kings 13:20.
   And devout men carried Stephen [to his burial], and made great lamentation over him, Acts 8:2.

All Resurrected
   Scripture makes it clear that all will be resurrected. There are at least two resurrections mentioned in Scripture (Rev 20:5-6, 12-13). In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians chapter 15 addresses the first resurrection – what was sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reigh with Him a thousand years, Revelation 20:6.
   Will Ananias and Sapphira be in the 1st or the 2nd resurrection? They were given Yahweh’s Spirit; they were believers in Messiah; they were on the right track. However, they decided to conspire and deceive about some money they were going to give. Were they derailed from entering into the Kingdom as spirit beings?
   And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the spirit: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried [him] out, and buried [him]. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?” And she said, “Yea, for so much.” Then Peter said unto her, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of Yahweh? 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 spirit: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying [her] forth, buried [her] by her husband. And great fear came upon all the assembly, and upon as many as heard these things, Acts 5:5-11.
   The lesson was clear for the brethren that witnessed this, as it is for us, “Don’t tempt Yahweh!”
   It is difficult to say whether or not they will be in the first or second resurrection, and certainly, such judgment is not ours to make. We can only judge (discern) in the sense of when we see a brother or sister in sin, then we are to take the proper steps to help them (Matt 18:15-17).
   Most importantly, with Yahweh’s help, we judge and correct ourselves, so that we walk on the right path that leads to eternal life. We are also to make sure we’ve taken the log out of our own eye – first, along the way – before trying to help another brother or sister who may be struggling (Matt 7:4-5).

Remembered No More?
   Isaiah 26:13-14 is a Scripture pointed to, to show there are some who won’t be in any resurrection, but will go straight to the frying pan, so to speak. It reads as follows:
   O Yahweh our Elohim, [other] masters beside Thee have had dominion over us: [but] by Thee only will we make mention of Thy Name. [They] are dead, they shall not live; [they] are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast Thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish, Isaiah 26:13-14.
   These verses are part of a song that is to be sung in the future Kingdom. The verses do not indicate anything more than pagan idols, as the “other masters.” And, as we’ve already seen, they were burned and destroyed. Notice, there is NO wording showing that the “masters” were ever actually alive in the first place! Ultimately, in the future Kingdom to come, they will be utterly forgotten.
   As we know, Scripture confirms Scripture. If one verse is in question, as is Isaiah 26:13-14, others need to be brought in to help clarify.
   For example, in John 5:28-29, Yahshua the Messiah clearly states, 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.
   Acts 24:14-16 confirms the above statement from our Savior. The Apostle Paul speaking in his defense says, But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the Elohim of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in Elohim, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before Elohim and before men, Acts 24:14-16 (NASB).
   Therefore, Isaiah 26:13-14 is not talking about men nor even the beast and the false prophet as has been suggested by some. No, the “other masters” are simply idols that were once considered worthy of servitude and worship.

Resurrection From Ashes?
   It could be questioned, if one is burned (cremated), will one actually be able to be resurrected at all? From the above Scriptures, however, we know that “all that are in the graves” will be resurrected, but what about those who are not in any grave at all?
   What of those loved ones that were burned in a building fire? How about martyrs of old who were burned at the stake for their belief in the Messiah? What about those who never had an opportunity to accept Yahshua? Thousands upon thousands are cremated each year, and many others die in natural fires and explosions all around the world.
   Remember how Ananias and Sapphira’s spirit left them. They effectively “yielded up the spirit” and fell asleep (a common Hebrew term for death).
   It is impossible for us to destroy spirit in a fire, or any other way for that matter, atomic, nuclear, or otherwise, but it is not impossible for Yahweh. And, that is the point. Yahshua said, “with Elohim, all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). All powerful, all knowing. Yes, that is The One we serve!
   Even from ashes He can resurrect an individual. Actually, besides the spirit (breath), which gives us life, our bodies are constituted of 60% water and 40% consolidated dust and ash (carbon material).
   And Abraham answered and said, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to Yahweh, although I am but dust and ashes,” Genesis 18:27 (NASB).
   Abraham was not unaware of Yahweh’s power over death and knew Yahweh could give life back to his son Isaac. He was aware of Yahweh’s ability, even if his son was burned in a fire.
   And Abraham said unto his young men, “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together, Genesis 22:5-6.

   There is a story of a man who was offered a glass of goat’s milk once at a fellowship meal. Brethren were all sitting around and when first offered the goat’s milk, the brother refused it initially, but then he was told goat’s milk is in the Bible. “Well then,” he said, “If it’s in the Bible then that’s good enough for me!” And he took a glass of goat’s milk and drank it.
   The moral of this true story is that we need to be in the right attitude and live as closely in line with Yahweh’s truth, as much as it is possible for us to do. This doesn’t mean that we really absolutely need to drink goat’s milk, but it sure couldn’t hurt. We do, however, need to be willing to look at what Yahweh says and make sure we’re doing the best we can.
   In looking at cremation versus burial, the Bible shows us clearly that burial (entombment or underground) was what was done by those who served Yahweh.
However, it would not be right to say, “If you don’t have a proper burial, then you’re not going to be in the first resurrection,” and so on. That would be untrue.    Note, though, we do perform a type of water burial, called baptism (immersion). It is an outward sign that we are burying the old man (old sinful ways) at baptism. And, it is indeed required by all who confess Yahshua as their Savior (Acts 2:38).
   One who rejects proper baptism into Yahshua’s name is being rebellious to a simple instruction found in the Bible, and therefore Yahweh.
   If it is a decision between cremation or burial — and not baptism — the choice one makes will need to be one of individual conviction and for conscience sake.

-Elder David Brett

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