We live at a time where rapists and murderers get rid of their victim’s bodies by placing the corpse in a shallow grave or dumping the body in a bush. Look at this taken from an online newspaper:
A tin opener was found next to the shallow grave that was pointed out to Wentworth police by a nineteen year old who claimed he had killed and buried a woman. (25 March 2021)
The son of a dentist who admitted he buried his father’s body in his garden in Houghton a few months ago sat in a camping chair drinking Coke as he watched his father’s body being exhumed on Saturday. (16 August 2010)
It’s shocking. It’s disgusting. It’s brutal … but it’s real! Both murderers buried their victims in the most undignified ways. The Jews considered that to be deprived of a burial was one of the greatest disgraces to be inflicted on a human being. Just picture the family of the dead experiencing the trauma of not been able to dispose of their loved one’s body reverently! The Bible speaks about this matter … for example, we read in the Psalms:
Ps 79:2 They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth.
Ps 141:7 They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”
Or in Ecclesiates:
Ecc 6:3 “A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.”
Or in Jeremiah:
Jer 36:30 “Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night.”
There are many more instances in the Bible speaking of the dishonorable treatment of the body of a dead person.
Ps 79:2 They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth
It is said of the ancient Magi that they exposed the bodies of their dead to birds of prey to be eaten. This to them was a religious principle … because, they believed, if a body was buried or disposed of in any other manner it would pollute one of the following … the earth, the water or the atmosphere (air–oxygen). To them, birds of prey eating the dead would prevent such pollution.
It is further told that another people group followed a similar pattern according to specifications, building a tower without doors and windows. At the top they would erect a steel grid that sloped inwards. By use of ladders, they would carry the deceased to the top of the tower and place it on the steel grid for vultures and crows to strip the body of all flesh.
Let’s revisit the disposal of the body of a Christian … not as to the type of burial or cremation or which is right or wrong … but what it means and what happens in the afterlife.
Firstly, for the Christian, the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. God created the human being, and after creating everything that exists we read:
Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
This includes the human being … the body. The Psalmist explains his being (and ours too):
Ps 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
We ought never to forget that the pinnacle of creation is man … so much so that God breathed spiritual life into the human making him different to all the other animals.
Gen 2:7 The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Further, we are told to:
Mar 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Because God has such a high view of the human being He created and made this being into a living being (that is, with a spiritual dimension), He requires that the shape of our love for Him must be with all of the body … heart (emotions), soul (spiritual), mind (academic) and strength (body). This shows that God views the whole body as very important. Through the fall of Adam as our representative head, our bodies are also fallen … meaning that we are depraved from birth … not as wicked as we could be but every aspect of our being is affected by sin. The spiritual dimension is dead at birth … but for all who are made alive in Christ, this spiritual dimension is revived and made alive.
Eph 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
This being made alive in Christ is another way of saying “born again” or “the new birth”. Once this happens … look what God does because we live in this corrupt world in our human body:
2 Cor 5:4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
God not only dwells with us (our human body):
1 Cor 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
So surely, apart from murder damaging the image of God in man, it destroys human life and the human body that God so carefully designed and created to be what it is … and created for fellowship with Him. Even though the earthly body will be destroyed through burial and raised a spiritual body:
1 Cor 15:44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
The body that God created so perfectly and recreated in Christ so wonderfully needs to be treated with respect and reverence when it dies. Murder and a shallow grave or the dumping of a body or feeding the body to birds of prey to be eaten up are not compatible with God’s high view of the human body!
Dear Glorious, Creative Lord, Your design for the human body is beyond our human understanding in all its intricacies and wonder. Thank You that we are so special to You as we are in body, mind, heart and soul. Help us to dispose of our deceased reverently in honour of the value You place on the human body. How we long for Heaven and the spiritual bodies You have prepared for us. Help us to prepare properly for when we are with You in glory. For Jesus’ sake, amen.