ATP: What Does The Bible Say About Cremation?

I would have to say that I am asked this question at least once a month, if not more.  

The Bible has many direct references to burial and bones.  There are however, many references to bones in respect to death.  For instance, Joseph made his kinsmen promise to take his bones back to Israel when they returned to the Promised Land (Genesis 50:25-26), and in Joshua 34:22 we are told that his bones were buried in Shechem in the parcel of land purchased by Jacob his father.  Again, God makes reference to Joseph's bones in the Faith chapter, Hebrews 11 verse 22 when He says, "By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones."  (NOTE: It is important to not lose focus on what it is that God is commending here.  It is not solely the preservation of Joseph's bones but the belief (faith) that the Israelites were going to exodus Egypt and return to their Land of Promise.)  When Joseph instructed his brethren to take his bones back to Israel, he was by faith saying, "I too shall inherit the promise of the LORD."  

Another passage that addresses the bones of the deceased is: 2 Samuel 21, where David takes the captured bones of King Saul and his son Jonathan, which were on display in an enemy's public square, and brings them back to the land of Benjamin, placing them in the "sepulcher of Kish, King Saul's father" (2 Samuel 21:13-14).  Another passage is 1 Kings 13:2, where a prophet of the LORD "…cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: "O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.' "  

Yet another very fascinating passage is found in 2 Kings 13:21 where "some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet."  

To me, however, the following three passages speak volumes on the subject of cremation.

1. In Ezekiel 37, the bones in "the valley of dry bones" put on flesh and come to life; this is a picture of Israel scattered amongst the nations, coming together once again to be its own nation.  (This took place in 1968.)  

2. Then in 2 Chronicles 34:5 Josiah took the bones of the heathen priests and "…burned the bones…on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem." 

Now, I must be honest with you, before I answered this question I did not have an opinion -- thoughts -- but no opinion.  However, the following verse was the final and deciding factor for me.  It weighs heavily in favor of my "no" vote for cremation.  

3. Amos 2:1 

This is what the LORD says:

Because Moab has committed three crimes, and now a fourth crime,I will not           change my plans. The Moabites have cremated Edom's king. 

Literally, the translation is, "because he burned, as if to lime, the bones of Edom's king," 

The Today's English Version words it this way:

The LORD says, "The people of Moab have sinned again and again, and for this I will certainly punish them. They dishonored (desecrated – NLT) the bones of the king of Edom by burning them to ashes. 

Conclusion:

I do realize that God can take ashes and restore them to bones should He so desire.  I also am aware that an urn containing ashes is a container of someone's bones.  However, in this instance, God is displeased with the people of Moab because they have shown disrespect for Edom's king and dishonored him by turning his bones into ashes.  In fact, it was the final straw; it was the transgression which made God say, "Enough!"  

Oh yes!  How can I forget?  Remember the prophecy about Jesus' bones?  

Psalm 34:20 

He protects all His bones, not one of them will be broken.

Then in John 19:36 

These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of His bones will be broken," 

When Jesus rose from the dead he visited over 500 people with a body that certainly appeared to have some type of structure, a structure strong enough to hold Him upright.  If you want to turn your bones into ashes that is between you and God, but as for me, I'm doing everything I can to keep mine intact until the day God puts a new body on them and says: "Rise!"  Could it be we have "glorified bones" in Glory?

Have a question for the pastor? Ask Here!