And Honouring The Dead
I am writing this on 11th November, Armistice Day, the day on which
all the dead from two world wars are traditionally ‘honoured’.
At 11 o’clock on 11th November 1918,
an armistice was signed, and the First World War ended.
Millions had been sent to early
graves, butchered by the folly of human ‘conquest’ rooted in pride,
hatred, envy and arrogance.
To honour their memory, red paper
poppies flutter in the breeze, reminiscent of the poppy fields of
Flanders where thousands upon thousands of infantry- men fell slain
in the mud, loyally obeying the senseless orders of their commanding
officers. And to commemmorate their deaths, and the deaths of
millions of others killed in equally pointless conflicts, the
populace stands silent for two minutes in Remembrance Day’s
But why ‘honour’ the dead at all?
Why Honour The Dead?
That might sound like a caustic
question, lacking feeling. But it isn’t when you take a deeper look
at why society enacts these rituals.
You could ask similarly: Why have
funerals? What is the point of all this ceremony to ‘honour’ the
memory of the dead, especially those who died in war?
“Well, can’t you see?” you might
retort. “It’s so that future generations recall the horrors and
mistakes of the past, so they don’t repeat them.”
The trouble is, such ceremonies do
nothing to prevent further conflicts, because conflict is the
outcome of unresolved disagreements that are rooted in lust, greed,
envy, hatred, resentment, bitterness, pride and other vile
The cause of war is spiritual in
nature (Jas 4:1). Performing physical rituals without any spiritual
change in the human condition does nothing to resolve the problem.
So, it’s a lame excuse to claim that ‘remembering the dead’ helps
allay further troubles.
No, it goes deeper than that; much
When you go to the East, you see
cultures where people worship their ancestors. What they are
actually doing, without realising it, is worshipping the demons who
controlled their ancestors, and who now influence them in their
customs. Through ‘honouring the dead’, you are actually blindly
paying homage to the evil spirits that caused all the misery in
Think of all the demented glee these
spirits are gloating in when they see all these people religiously
standing to attention to honour what they achieved!
0People put on a sanctimonious,
religious facade, bow their heads in reverence before... whom?
Ostensibly it’s the dead, but those
dead people are not there. Bodies – or what remains of them – may be
in graves, but their spirit has departed into the spirit realm where
God resides (Eccl 12:7). It’s the spirit that gives life and
consciousness to the body and brain, so it’s the spirit that is the
real ‘you’. (Explained fully in Spirit Soul? and Body, The Near
Death Experience, and Life After Death.) Since the
spirits of dead soldiers have gone into a different realm – not the
physical realm, but one where they see the folly of what they
engaged in on earth – it is not them who are really being honoured.
It’s the evil spirits who fomented the destruction. They are the
ones receiving worship!
Realise what is taking place at such
functions. The dead are being honoured – the dead are being
worshipped! It’s blasphemy. It’s idolatry. It’s worship of man, not
worship of God.
But we know from truth the Bible
reveals, that it’s even more than that. Demonic beings who inspired
their carriers on earth to perpetrate acts of brutality and
savagery, rape, gratuitous violence, torture, and every imaginable
evil, are rejoicing in their rebellion against God and all the holy
angels. And if you go along with all these customs and ceremonies of
deception, you are paying them the homage they want.
Memorial Services & Funerals
A similar outrage occurs when
churches hold memorial services for dead people. The dead don’t need
our prayers. It’s too late for that. People need prayer when they
And then there’s the farcical funeral
service. Why have it at all, except to comfort the bereaved?
However, generally funerals do not comfort them; they also pay
homage to – worship – the dead person. And that is worshipping their
demons, because they lurk unseen at the graveside beside the body,
looking for new hosts.
So, my advice to you is, don’t get
dragged into the bondage of following such customs. Have a simple
graveside ceremony. Get the body buried without fuss. Don’t pay
homage to the person. Pay homage to God!
When a friend dies, people talk about
going to pay their last respects at the funeral. But it’s too late
for that. You need to show your respect to a person when he or she
When people show their faces at a
conventional funeral, all they are really doing is going along with
a custom they have never questioned, complying with it for social
acceptability. It is considered an insult NOT to attend. Why?
Because of what others would think. Most would think you were
dishonouring the dead. Doesn’t that tell you where we have got such
a relic from? Ancestor worship! The customs of the East!
Notice what Isaiah prophesied about
Come, O house of Jacob, let us
walk in the light of the Lord.
You have abandoned Your
people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from
the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and
clasp hands with pagans (Is 2:5,6, NIV).
A funeral should not be an elaborate
occasion. Any formalities and family social interaction need to
occur BEFORE the funeral.
Jacob conferred with his sons and
blessed them shortly before he died (Gen 49). Isaac prophesied to
and blessed his sons before he died (Gen 27). The family came
together to pay their respects to the aged father before he
died, not after. In those instances above, clearly God guided
them in what took place.
When I die, I don’t want much of a
funeral. There’s no need. Just put the body in the box, dig the
grave, and lower the box down. Thank God for being the giver and
taker of life, and then get on with your own lives, serving Him.
Don’t make a religious ceremony out of the occasion. Just be normal,
and treat the event as one of the inevitable things of life.
What is important is not the
physical, but the spiritual. The dead person is released; the ones
left behind are not. So don’t make more bondage for your lives than
is unavoidable, by complying with rites for the dead!
Remember that the death of the
righteous is not something to grieve over for long. Helena will
naturally find my departure more difficult to bear than will others.
Grieving is natural and right for those with close spiritual bonds,
but God helps us get over grief and trauma. He also shows us beyond
the physical appearance to the spiritual reality:
The righteous perish and no
one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no
one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared
from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find
rest as they lie in death (Is 57:1,2, NIV).
Don’t Let Funerals Kill You
A pastor in Africa wrote to me
several years ago requesting £500 so that he could bury his mother.
(Don’t ask us for money, you will only be disappointed.) At the
time, I was not familiar with the local customs, so I wondered why
he would think he would need so much. (That’s a lot of money in
Later I found out why. I saw a video
of a typical African funeral. (I think it was typical; this was
Nigeria.) The dead body was in
the coffin, but the lid was left open and all the people were filing
past, to take one last look at the cadaver. To me it was grotesque.
It was like the funeral of the pope. What homage!
There were presents, expensive
cloths, clothing etc. draped around the body. Here was a dead body,
lying in more grandeur in death than the person had experienced in
life! Not to mention all the poor people who filed past the coffin,
some of whom were not dressed so well.
Yet all this expense was not for the
living. It was just being buried in the ground, to benefit no one!
It reminded me of the superstitious
Egyptians who incarcerated their rulers at death in a stone
sarcophagus, surrounded by all that was dear to them in physical
life, as if they could carry on enjoying such things. And –
horrendously – they even buried their servants alongside their human
Is it any wonder God had to deliver
Israel from such a system controlled by demons! They were in real
bondage, physically AND spiritually!
Today, you and I live in spiritual
Babylon or Egypt, similarly
surrounded by superstitions and empty ritual. So, don’t let the
customs of the heathen society in which you live, hold you in
I hear reports of believers,
especially in Africa, held bondage to the
customs of their ancestors, being fleeced of huge amounts of money
through society’s demands upon them when a relative dies.
The living should make arrangements
while they are alive, in anticipation of their death, so that their
progeny are not burdened by crippling expenses and debt when the
time comes. If you are the one responsible, follow the examples of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who made such arrangements while they were
alive. It is irresponsible NOT to make provision, and to let your
death be a burden upon your children!
But that is just what funeral
expenses have become in many societies. And it all goes back to
Of course, where there are civil
requirements you have to comply with under state regulations, there
are some things you cannot avoid. But, if the responsibility rests
with you, do what you can while you are alive to ensure that your
death does not become a burden upon the living whom you will leave
The Only Memorial
There is one, and only one case for
honouring the death of a person. That person is Jesus. His death was
prefigured by the Passover (Ex 12). We are to honour His death,
because He was not a mere mortal. He was God in the flesh (1 Tim
The command is in all synoptic
gospels, and Paul repeated Jesus’ words:
right to honour and worship God, not man. Come out of the customs of
Babylon (Rev 18:4). And remember, God is not the God of the dead,
but of the living! (Matt 22:32.)
“This cup is the new covenant
in My blood; do this... in remembrance of Me.” For whenever you
eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death
until He comes (1 Cor 11:25.26, NIV).
B Heap, December 2005