For many people, burials can be lengthy and boring as various rituals are performed, depending on the religious alliance. When people die and their burial is hosted by a political party, the funeral stretching on for many hours. If the religion the diseased belongs to requires certain rites, the same would be true.
The difference in time between Ananias and Sapphira’s funeral was about 3 hours. This does not mean that his funeral lasted 3 hours. The corpse needed to be taken to a burial site and because the death was sudden, suitable preparations needed to be made to the corpse and tomb before the burial could take place.
1) The way Ananias died caused great fear through the community, especially that of the Early Church.
Ac 5:5 And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.
The word “fear” could mean many things, one of which is terror as in shaking or trembling because of the fright of witnessing the consequences for lying to the Holy Spirit, that is, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It was not only the people present who were struck with terror, everyone in Jerusalem who heard about Ananias’ sudden death, were affected. We who live some 2,000 years after this incident need to understand the seriousness of sin … especially that of blasphemy against the Spirit of God. Then in a general way we need to give serious thought to seeking God’s enabling to live more and more in holiness of life. Where sin will be a reality until death, we ought never-the-less to pursue holiness … God’s holiness and not our crafted holiness. It is easy to reduce sin by excluding our regular petty sins and class ourselves as better than others. The truth is all sin is sin and is sin against a holy God.
2) The purpose of this dramatic death. Why did God take out Ananias this way? Why did God take our Aaron’s son and Zerah’s sons this way as we saw yesterday? It was to alert the Church to holiness. God wants us to understand that He is serious about sin. Consider His sacrifice of His beloved Son Jesus for sin. His most precious possession was given to redeem our lost souls from eternal death. That is how serious God is about sin! He wants the Church to be holy. Put differently, He saves souls to be holy! Remember:
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Our election unto salvation, before creation was that we be holy and blameless … in God’s sight. Why … so that …
Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
God requires saved souls conform to the likeness of His Son. That is the creation ordinance for man!
Ge 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
3) Whether here on earth or in eternity, God will deal harshly with all who lie to the Holy Spirit … with all who blaspheme against His Spirit. You might feel so many get away with treating God, His Word and His Holy Church with disrespect and blasphemy … and they get away with it. No sir! They might appear to escape God but they will never escape God. Just as each sin is recorded, so are such sins! Three things we need to know about the God of the Gospel.
(1) God is omnipresent … By the Spirit He is in the Church. This is the reason God the Son returned to heaven. In the flesh He would only be in one place at a time … but by the Spirit He is able to be everywhere all the time. As comforting as this is … having God with us all the time, so it is scary because …
(2) God in omniscient … By the Spirit He sees into the Church. By this I mean, God sees everything, everywhere all the time. Nothing escapes His x-ray vision, His all seeing eyesight. This means that whenever there is sin in the Church God sees … and if He sees He hears. He is the all-knowing God!
(3) God is omnipotent … … By the Spirit He is the all-powerful Lord and King of Creation and the Church. We often forget God’s “almightiness”. He is the one who created everything that exists throughout all creation by His spoken word! He spoke and out of His mouth came, at the speed of light, everything that exists. There was nothing and from nothing He created everything that is. He alone is the all-powerful one.
4) Should great fear seize us in the Church? Yes and no! Yes to prevent us from willful sin and debauchery after salvation … and no … because as His children we have a personal, intimate relationship with the Triune God. For believers we fear God out of reference … yet for the unbeliever, he or she ought to fear God because as there is a real heaven with blessings, so there is a real hell with curses and punishments.
5) God wants a Church that is holy and blameless … just as He chose a people to be holy and blameless. Read the following passage to grasp how serious God is.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Love for the Church drove Jesus to sacrifice Himself for the Church … and look at the reason … to make the Church holy … so that the Church may be presented to Him holy and blameless. Remember the Church is the people and the people are chosen to be holy and blameless and as a collective they are the Church that will be presented to Jesus on that day when He ushers the saints into Glory and celebrates the wedding supper of the Lamb.
6) The sad, solemn burial without family and friends.
Ac 5:6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
There was no memorial service and no thanksgiving service, only burial, seemingly attended only by the young grave diggers.
Lord, by Your Spirit, direct our pathways on this earth so that we finish well, giving You honor and glory. Amen.