It is in the human nature to worship someone or something. Every culture has their way of explaining creation and the hereafter (the afterlife). Even atheists have their god though they wouldn’t admit it. They call her mother nature, her plan for life is called evolution and her prophet is Charles Darwin. Many cultures practice ancestral worship. Even the so called “Christians” do find themselves in this practice without knowing.
Ancestors or the elders
It is difficult to loose someone you love by death, especially a family member who played a major role in the family. There is a constant recollection of what they did and how things would be different if he/she was still alive. There arise a strong desire and wishing that they would be brought back to the family or even to life. The devil saw this and began to use it to his advantage. He masquerades as a family member, asking for sacrifices or making threats.
The witch-doctors and sangomas are used by Satan just like a hand in the glove. They lie and deceive the people concerning the ancestors. They dare to claim that the dead are hungry or they feel cold and other sorts of pathetic stories. A woman I met in Copesville when I was doing door to door evangelism on Sunday the 11 December 2011, decided that she wants to serve God but she wouldn’t be able to leave her ancestors behind.
Ancestral worship have been highly successful in winning souls for the kingdom of darkness. It is very hard for them who are caught up in the vines of this practice to escape, unless they deny themselves and follow Jesus.
A Dead Hope
The Holy Scripture tells us that the living have no fellowship with the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:4-6 “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” And also, Psalms 115:17 “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.”
It is believed in many cultures that the ancestors are mediators between God Almighty and the living people. Some Shembe people believe that when you pray they can obstruct your prayers so that they won’t reach heaven, until you do what they tell you. How absurd does this sound. How can those who love you prevent you from gaining access to God? It doesn’t compute at all.
The ancestors are dead and they cannot present themselves before God Almighty until they are summoned to do so on the day of judgment (Revelation 20:11-13). They can’t praise God (Psalm 115:17), they give no hope in the matters pertaining to eternity because they have to deal with their own eternity issues. All those who trust in them are as dead as they are.
Jesus Christ the living Hope
Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” and Romans 14:9 ” For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Jesus Christ died and rose again, so that we who trust in Him would not remain dead but live as it is written, in Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Christ conquered death and so we have a better hope in Him than that which is in dead ancestors. Scripture also says, 1 Corinthians 15:26,55-57 “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death… O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The ancestors are bound by death and they that trust in them are under the rule of death and are slave to the fear of death, but we who are in Christ are free from death because when we die we live again. Isaiah said, in Isaiah 26:19 “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
They that are with the living have hope… Be with Christ the living Lord who overcame sin, death and the grave!