Reactions To Death


“It is appointed unto man once to die (Hebrews 9:27).”  Ever since God willed it in the beginning man has met that inevitability.  The manner in which religions, societies, and cultures handle death is fascinating.

Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2011, says: “For nearly a century before the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. Jews, especially in the Jerusalem area, would inter the bones of their deceased in stone boxes, or ossuaries, about 2 feet long and a foot high.  The ossuary had to be long enough to accommodate the longest bone in the body, usually the femur.  Children’s were shorter.  Many were inscribed or decorated.  Hundreds of them have been recovered.”

Since only the bones were interred, it took about one year for the flesh to be desiccated and fall off the skeleton.  This was accomplished by placing the deceased in a loculus, a six-foot long hole or cavity carved into the wall of a burial cave.  There it reposed until it was ready for the ossuary.

During the Chalcolithic period (4500-3500 B.C.), ossuaries were larger, looking something like small houses and painted with dark stripes.

Excarnation (opposite of incarnation) is the technical archaeological term for the process by which a body was deprived of its human form.  “Sky burial” is the term for using birds of prey to consume the flesh of the exposed corpse.  “Vultures can consume a corpse in as little as an hour and a half.  There is no need to wait a full year (Ibid.).”

The prophet Ezekiel predicted that a third world war is going to take place. Communistic and Democratic nations will clash over the invasion of Russia and her allies against tiny Israel.  “I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured (Ezekiel 39:4).”  The valley of Hamon-gog will be the official cemetery.  Such a great number will die it will take seven months to bury them all.  People will be employed to search for corpses and upon finding one they will place a sign so it can be carried to Hamon-gog.  (Ezekiel 39:11, 14, 15)

Some have utilized tombs or caves as Abraham, Sarah, and Jesus.  Many died at sea (more than 1100 sailors’ casket is the U.S.S. Arizona laying on the ocean’s floor in Hawaii), but in the resurrection the sea will give up her dead to stand before the judgment throne.

The way we presently accommodate the dead is by placing them in an earthen grave.  Jews do not embalm so they bury the same day of death.  The proper use of chemicals, as inEgypt’s day, can preserve a body for long periods.

Regardless of how the dead or treated, the most important thing is whether or not that person had made peace with the Maker.  If so, death has no sting, the grave is temporary, for ‘the trump of God” will sound and “the dead in Christ shall rise; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:16, 17).”

What a blessed expectation!

Rev.Raymond Parnell is Pastor Emeritus of Christ Memorial Temple in Lafayette, Indiana.

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