What does the Bible say about CREMATION?
God does NOT like cremation. The Bible tells us 13 different times, directly or indirectly, that God does NOT like cremation.
#1. The one time God was in charge of a single funeral of a righteous man—the man Moses—God chose to BURY Moses and not to cremate him, as recorded in Deuteronomy 34:5-6.
“And Moses, the servant of the Lord, DIED there in
Moab, as the Lord had said. He BURIED him in
Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this
day no one knows where his grave is.”
(Deuteronomy 34:5-6 NIV)
#2. God got so angry at the Moabite leaders when they CREMATED Edom’s King that God cremated the Moabite ruler himself along with all the Moabite leaders, as recorded in Amos 2:2-3, where God says,
“For three sins of Moab, even for four, I will not relent. Because HE BURNED TO ASHES THE BONES of
Edom’s king, I will send fire on Moab that will consume
the fortresses of Kerioth. Moab will go down in great
tumult amid war cries and the blast of the trumpet. I will DESTROY HER RULER and KILL ALL HER OFFICIALS
with him.” (Amos 2:2-3 NIV)
So after only these two verses, we see that God’s overwhelming preference is for people to be BURIED, not CREMATED, and that God gets angry when people cremate the deceased.
But that’s not all.
#3 and #4. Two of God’s actual LAWS in the Old Testament speak of CREMATION as part of God’s justice for certain crimes, as recorded in Leviticus 20:14 and 21:9.
“If a man marries both a woman and her mother,
it is wicked. Both he and they must be BURNED IN
THE FIRE, so that no wickedness will be among you.” (Leviticus 20:14 NIV)
“If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a
prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be
BURNED IN THE FIRE.” (Leviticus 21:9 NIV)
Presumably, the expression “burned in the fired” means execution followed by cremation, rather than being burned alive at the stake (where the body would still end up being relatively cremated anyway).
In addition, there are seven cremation stories in the Bible where God himself uses cremation as a punishment for the wicked.
#5. The first cremation story is when God cremates two entire cities full of wicked people, Sodom and Gomorrah, as recorded in Genesis 18:24.
“Then the Lord RAINED DOWN BURNING SULFUR
on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the
heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the
entire plain, DESTROYING ALL THOSE LIVING IN
THE CITIES—and also the vegetation in the land.”
(Leviticus 19:24 NIV)
#6. The second cremation story describes God CREMATING two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, for daring to “offer unauthorized fire” before the Lord. Nadab and Abihu probably imagined that they could treat God like their own personal supernatural puppet by offering unauthorized fire at God’s altar, which they may have thought would pressure God into performing some supernatural feat that they two of them would find entertaining). This story is recorded in Leviticus 10 and implies that Nadab and Abihu were so arrogant that they imagined that God actually worked for the priests rather than the priests working for God.
“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers,
put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So FIRE CAME OUT FROM THE
PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND CONSUMED
THEM, and they died before the Lord.”
(Leviticus 10:1-2 NIV)
#7. The third cremation story is recorded in Numbers 16:35, when God CREMATES 250 men who attempted to steal the priesthood from Aaron.
“And FIRE came out from the Lord and CONSUMED
THE 250 MEN who were offering the incense.”
(Numbers 16:35 NIV)
#8 and #9. The fourth and fifth cremation stories are recorded in 2 Kings 1:10-11, where God CREMATES two different captains and their 50 men for their contempt for Jehovah, for mistakenly thinking that the God of Israel had no real power.
“Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God,
may fire come down from heaven and consume you
and your fifty men!” Then FIRE FELL FROM HEAVEN
and CONSUMED THE CAPTAIN AND HIS MEN.”
(2 Kings 1:10 NIV)
“If I am a man of God,” Elijah replied, “may fire come
down from heaven and consume you and your fifty
men!” Then the FIRE OF GOD fell from heaven and CONSUMED HIM AND HIS FIFTY MEN.”
(2 Kings 1:12 NIV)
#10. The sixth cremation story is when God CREMATES all the world’s wicked during the Battle of Armageddon to usher in the thousand-year reign of Christ. This event is recorded in four places: Joel 2:1-11; Isaiah 13:8; Zechariah 14:12 and Malachi 4:1.
“Before them FIRE DEVOURS, behind them a
FLAME BLAZES. Before them the land is like the
Garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them. They have the appearance
of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. With a noise
like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops,
like a CRACKLING FIRE CONSUMING STUBBLE,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.”
(Joel 2:3-5 NIV)
“And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD
will smite all the people that have fought against
Jerusalem; Their flesh shall CONSUME AWAY
while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes
shall CONSUME AWAY in their holes, and their
tongue shall CONSUME AWAY in their mouth.”
(Zechariah 14:12 KJV)
(In the above verse, the expression, “CONSUME AWAY”,
most likely means "BURN UP",
because according to Isaiah 13:6-8 (see below)
THE FACES OF THE WICKED ARE LITERALLY ON FIRE !!!!)
“Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will
come like destruction from the Almighty.
Because of this, all hands will go limp, every
heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them,
pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe
like a woman in labor. They will look aghast
at each other, THEIR FACES AFLAME.”
(Isaiah 13:6-8 NIV)
“Surely the day is coming; it will BURN LIKE
A FURNACE. All the arrogant and EVERY
EVILDOER WILL BE STUBBLE, and the day
that is coming will SET THEM ON FIRE,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will
be left to them. But for you who revere my name,
the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in
its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked;
THEY WILL BE ASHES under the soles of your
feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
(Malachi 4:1-3 NIV)
#11. The seventh cremation story tells of one additional mass cremation of the wicked, but this cremation occurs at the END of the millennial reign of Christ instead of the beginning, and is recorded in Revelation 20:7-10. This time God CREMATES all the wicked from all over the world who are surrounding Jerusalem to attack the righteous living in Jerusalem.
“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be
released from his prison and will go out to deceive
the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog
and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number
they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched
across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the
camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But
FIRE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND DEVOURED THEM. And THE DEVIL, WHO DECEIVED THEM, WAS THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF BURNING SULFUR,
where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.
They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7-10 NIV)
#12. The eighth and final cremation story is when God CREMATES Satan himself at the Final Judgment, and is recorded in Ezekiel 28:11b-19. After Satan’s cremation, his remains are then cast into the Lake of Fire as recorded above in Revelation 20:10.
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘You were the
seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious
stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the
day you were created they were prepared. You were
anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among
the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from
the day you were created till wickedness was found in
you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from
the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your
wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the
earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your
many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated
your sanctuaries. So I MADE A FIRE COME OUT FROM YOU, AND IT CONSUMED YOU, AND I REDUCED YOU
TO ASHES ON THE GROUND in the sight of all who
were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled
you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’ ” Ezekiel 28:11b-19 NIV)
#13. The 13th and final Biblical reference concerning cremation is in Jude, verse 9, where Michael and Lucifer appear to be arguing about the body of Moses. Although the Bible never explains exactly what they were arguing about, we can reasonably conclude that they were probably arguing about the disposition of Moses' body and whether cremation would have been preferable to burial—Satan probably advocating cremation and Michael naturally supporting God’s burial of Moses as recorded in Deuteronomy 34:5-6.
“But even the archangel MICHAEL, WHEN HE WAS DISPUTING WITH THE DEVIL ABOUT THE BODY
OF MOSES, did not himself dare to condemn him for
slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
(Jude, verse 9 NIV)
To summarize, as I see it, there are 13 references in the Bible that directly or indirectly deal with the issue of cremation.
God BURIED Moses.
God is angry when the Moabites cremate the King of Edom.
God’s punishment for a priest’s daughter for becoming a prostitute is death followed by cremation.
God’s punishment for a man who marries a woman and her daughter is that all three must be executed followed by cremation.
God cremated all the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.
God cremated Nadab and Abihu for offering “unauthorized fire” and treating God like a puppet.
God cremated 250 men who were trying to steal the priesthood from Aaron.
God cremated a captain and his 50 men for their contempt of Jehovah.
God cremated a second captain and a second squad of 50 men for their contempt of Jehovah.
God intends to cremate all the world’s wicked at the Battle of Armageddon and then BEGIN the thousand-year reign of Christ.
God intends to cremate all the world’s wicked again at the END of the thousand-year reign of Christ just before the Final Judgment.
God will cremate Satan's body at the Final Judgment and then have Satan's remains cast into the Lake of Fire.
Michael and Satan argue about the disposition of the body of Moses, presumably about whether Moses body should have been cremated or buried.
In conclusion, God clearly does NOT want people to cremate the remains of their loved ones.