a reply to: NoRegretsEver
I gave your thread a flag because it is a thought-provoking question. And a logical one, if you think about it. Where did the custom of burial of the
dead, and in caskets come from?
The idea that it was to protect us from disease does not make sense. As human burial, even in caskets dates back centuries, long before people knew
about the unsanitary conditions of having dead ones around. Of course, it did prevent the spread of disease.
In the Bible Abraham is shown as to have put great significance on his burial, and bought a plot of land in order to be buried with his family.
And later, Joseph, while in Egypt (the great-grandson of Abraham) asked to be returned to his homeland and buried with his forefathers in the plot of
land Abraham had purchased. Thus the Egyptians had to mummify him, in order for them to take the longer journey back (otherwise his corpse would have
Their burial was a representation of their faith of God's promise of a future time when everyone in the memorial tombs will be resurrected, brought
back to life on earth.
(Hebrews 11:13) 13 In faith all of these died, although they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises; but they saw them from a distance
and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land.
Job, when he was going through his trials and was depressed to the point of wishing death, asked to be concealed in Sheol, or the grave, and thus rest
peacefully in death until God would call him back to life:
(Job 14:13-15) . . .O that in the Grave you would conceal me, That you would hide me until your anger passes by, That you would set a time
limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, can he live again...You will call, and I will answer you. You will long for the work of your hands.
I believe there is no doubt that this is the origination of burial. Those who were deemed unfit for a resurrection were refused a burial, and many
times, in the Bible, their bodies were eaten by animals (such as the dogs that tore apart and ate Queen Jezebel's carcass).
Later on, there was a valley called Gehenna near Jerusalem where people went to burn their refuse. It's fire never went out, and people deemed
unworthy of a resurrection were thrown into Gehenna where their bodies were burned up.
In Jesus' times, people were buried in memorial tombs. One of those men was Lazarus. Now when Jesus went to resurrect Lazarus back to life from death
(giving us a glimpse of what he would do on a world-wide scale in the future when he rules over mankind), he told Lazarus' sisters that he was going
to live again. They knew he was going to be brought back to life, for they themselves said:
(John 11:23, 24) . . .Jesus said to her: “Your brother will rise.” 24 Martha said to him: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on
the last day.”
That was the true hope, and one Jesus did not deny. Although he did then resurrect Lazarus then and there, he made the promise that everyone putting
faith in him would be resurrected on "the last day":
(John 6:40) . . .For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who recognizes the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting
life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.”
Many Churches teach that when you die you either go to heaven or hell. But that teaching is never found in the Bible. In fact, it was written even to
the saints and holy ones of the first century, even the apostles of Jesus, that they would all fall asleep in death, until the return of Christ:
(1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14) . . .Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who are sleeping in death, so that you may
not sorrow as the rest do who have no hope. For if we have faith that Jesus died and rose again, so too God will bring with him those who have fallen
asleep in death through Jesus.
Death is a sleep-like state. In it you cannot feel, or think, or anything. It is like sleep in Jesus' eyes because he has power over death.
And it is all true. There is a time coming, when everyone who has ever died, who remains in God's memory, will be brought back to life in perfect
(John 5:28, 29) . . .Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come
out. . .
Certainly the practice of burial spread from servants of Jehovah (Noah and Shem) after the flood, to all the rest of humankind. And while their are
many false religions that teach false doctrines about death and the condition of the dead, there is no doubt, their traditions of burying the dead
came from faithful servants of Jehovah who had real faith in the future resurrection.