Were There Zombies in the Bible?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2014 14 Mar
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].
What do you think?
A reader in India.
Were there zombies in the Bible? Was Jesus a zombie? In this age of "anything goes," many are considering the possibility. According to some, His resurrection and most powerful call to discipleship certainly align themselves with zombie characteristics.
George Romero's 1968 movie, "Night of the Living Dead," popularized the idea of zombies. "The Dawn of the Dead," and "The Walking Dead" are just a few of the movies and television shows which have infiltrated the American-cultural consciousness.
Zombism is really about a virus or disease that infiltrates someone's body which kills him/her. The person is then reanimated as a zombie. Other humans are then infected by a bite or a virus which then turns that person into a zombie, thus perpetrating the cycle. According to Ask.com, a zombie is “a dead person’s body, reanimated but continuing the process of decay. A zombie is considered “undead” rather than fully alive.
Think of Frankenstein and Dracula. Usually, zombies are portrayed as creatures which are out to eat human flesh and/or drink human blood.
Please don't fall into the temptation of thinking that zombies are all bad and evil. Some certainly are. But, in my opinion, the vast majority of zombie stories, paraphernalia and participations are harmless. My youngest daughter and her husband are "hooked" on television zombie shows. These bore me to tears. Of course, my children have little use for my military movies, which I suppose bore them to tears.
Zombie games top the list of available apps. Deep Space brings the Apocalypse into our homes. Warm Bodies is a zombie love story.
And of course, there are “zombie walks” with hundreds of teenager and young adult participants shuffle along in gore make up. These walks often have charitable dimensions, often raising money to combat brain disease.
Belief in Zombies is nothing new. The first recorded mention of flesh-eating dead is in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Witch doctors and voodoo practitioners in Haiti and throughout the Caribbean have utilized zombies in pagan worship for hundreds of years. Witch doctors are said to exercise complete control over these sad creatures no longer human.
More than a few Biblical passages seem to talk about Zombies. Let me share several examples:
"The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended" (Revelation 20:5)
"This is what the Sovereign Lordsays to these bones: I will make breathenter you, and you will come to life" (Ezekiel 37:5).
"Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2).
"And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths" (Zechariah 14:12).
Jesus declared in John 6:53-57:“Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
When zombie enthusiasts read these words from the lips of Jesus it's no wonder that they wonder if Jesus was a zombie.
Jesus instituted the new covenant of love sealed in his flesh and blood: "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:19-20).
As Christians we must certainly affirm that Jesus drank the cup ate the flesh and was a dead corpse who came back to life by a bodily resurrection. However, the difference between biblical truth and fanaticized zombies is the difference between reanimation and resurrection.
Zombies are reanimated and are in the process of putrefaction. Jesus was resurrected fully back to life with a fully functioning body. Those resurrected in the biblical record lived to complete their natural lives in the exact same body they lived with (1 Kings 17:12-24; Matthew 9:18-26; John 11:38-44; and Acts 20:9-12 just to share a few examples). They did not wander around attacking people wanting human blood and brain matter.
Zombie reanimation has nothing to compare itself to the Christian belief about Jesus’ resurrection! The Biblical resurrection presents not a reanimation but a true return to life.
Jesus was crucified on a cross and confirmed dead by a soldier who pierced His side with a spear. Three days later, Jesus was resurrected by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. (John 20 and 21). The resurrection proved that Jesus' work on the cross was accepted as perfect work. If Jesus' work were not perfect, the Father and Spirit would have left Him in the tomb.
Jesus lives today in His resurrection body, which does not decay, has no appearance of death, and is forever immune from death, injury, and sickness. In no sense is Jesus still dead. Jesus declared, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever!” (Revelation 1:18).
Jesus’ resurrection body will be perfect for all eternity, and those who receive Jesus as their Savior will be granted perfect resurrection bodies as well. “We shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).
So, no, Jesus is not a zombie. Jesus was resurrected, not just reanimated. After His resurrection, He conversed with His disciples, performed miracles, and proved Himself to be, in every way, fully alive.
Jesus did not return as a decomposing corpse; He was and is fully alive. This is not fiction. This is not Night of the Living Dead. This is truth from God's Word.
As I researched about zombies I came across an article at 412teens.org that put a perspective on zombies and morals that I had never considered. It is written tongue in cheek, with insights worth considering:
Some people have the tragic notion that as soon as the first zombie takes the very first juicy bite out of someone's leg, then all morals go out the window, and we no longer have to follow any of the laws of Christ. But we are assured that, in all time, no circumstance can ever erode the sacred commandments of God, and in every situation, even a zombie apocalypse, God's word still applies.
The belief to the contrary, that natural morals are not a fixed thing, which is called relativism, is a completely un-Christian belief. No matter how many zombies there are and how ready for dinner they are, we can never simply abandon our God given morals. Yes, killstreaks and headshots are important, but in defending our family and friends, we just can't forget God's love and mercy.
Finally, may I reiterate that I am not against zombies and walking dead just as I am not against the story of Frankenstein. For most of us, Zombism is a literary genre focusing on fascinating, imaginative and scary stories. If we will take the time to look just under the surface we will see that most zombie stories are allegories regarding our present-day values, society, culture, and politics.
To you, India, I hope my answer is encouraging and helpful.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.