Does the Bible approve of ancestor worship?


By BibleAsk Team


Ancestor worship is a religious practice founded on the belief that deceased persons or family members continue to live on in another realm, and that the they will take care of the lives of their living loved ones and influence their destiny. The ancestors’ spirits are believed to act as mediators between man and God.

Ancestor Worship Around the World

Ancestor worship is found in different religions and countries around the world:

1-The Catholic Faith: Ancestral worship or veneration focuses on the dead saints. The living offer their prayers to the saints and seek their mediation before God.

2-The Hindu Religion: Sraddha is a ceremony observed in India for the deceased parents and grandparents to protect their spirits as they travel through the afterlife and to the final reincarnation.

3-The Vodun Religion (Voodoo): Vodun worshipers in Africa believe the souls of the dead walk among the living during a dance done by performers, who represent the “living ghosts.”

4-The Buddhist Religion: Worshipers in Cambodia celebrate the holiday of Pchum which is known as Ancestors Day or the Caring for the Dead.

5-Chinese Folk Religion: The shi is a ceremonial stand-in for the deceased ancestors.

6-Ancient Filipino Religion: Worshipers believe that the Anito are the spirits of the ancestors, which inhabit every part of the world and influence events in the lives of the living.

7-The Shinto Religion: The Shinto shrines in Japan focus on gods or spirits known as kami. The ancestors are often thought to be a type of kami.

There are also feasts and rituals that revolve around ancestor worship such as:

1-Día de Los Muertos (“Day of the Dead” festival): According to ancient Mexican and Spanish Catholic tradition, the living try to connect with dead ancestors and offer gifts to help them during their afterlife.

2-Celtic Samhain (Halloween): The Celts originally in Scotland believed that the spirits of ancestors during that feast could walk among the living and can influence their lives.

3-Megalithic Tombs in Europe are locations where worshipers created giant burial tombs for the dead as a way to venerate their ancestors.

Ancestor Worship Is Forbidden by God

The first and the second commandments forbid the worship and veneration of anything other than God the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The Lord commanded: “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20: 3-6).

The Lord forbade the practices of Mediums and Sorcerers, who claim to contact the spirits of the dead because they are directly contacting demons (Leviticus 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:10-11; Jeremiah 27:9-10). In fact, the Lord commanded that Mediums and Sorcerers should be destroyed for leading people astray (Exodus 22:18; 1 Samuel 28:3).

The Bible teaches that “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 also Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, 12:24). Only through Jesus, not through ancestor worship, can a sinner be reconciled to God (John 14:5–6; Romans 5:1–2). The Bible rules out the need of human mediators. Ancestor worship is forbidden in the Bible for it takes the place of the worship of true God – Creator, Redeemer and Mediator.

Are the Dead Alive?

The Bible tells us that when a person dies, he sleeps (John 11:11; Daniel 12:2; Psalm 13:3) in the grave until the great day of resurrection at the end of the world. In death, a person is totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind.

After death a person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) till the Resurrection (Revelation 22:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53) when he will be given his reward or punishment (Revelation 22:12).

Millions believe the soul possesses a natural immortality but not even one time in the Bible is the soul referred to as being immortal or undying. According to God’s Word, man is mortal (Job 4:17). All human beings are mortal and must submit to certain conditions if this life is to be maintained (1 Corinthians 15:54). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). The saints will be given immortality only at the second coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

For more on the State of the dead, check:

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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