"My vas pokhoronim!" Nikita Khrushchev was speaking to some western foreign ministers in Poland when he said this. “We will bury you.” Did he mean this metaphorically or literally? The competition between the West and the Communist Bloc countries was fierce. The battles were not metaphorical. Remember Vietnam. Remember the Cuban missile crisis. Remember the Suez Canal crisis. Here is what Hosea said: “Even if you escape destruction from Assyria, you will be conquered by Egypt. Memphis will bury you.” (Hosea 9:6a) In a world of competition it is bury or be buried. Israel had no military options. She was hemmed in on four sides. Assyria was to the north; the sea was to the west; the desert was to the east; and Egypt was to the south. Israel was back in the same spot she was in when she was attempting to escape Egypt. Her back was against the wall. The Red Sea was on one side and the Egyptian army was on the other. The only way to avoid being buried in a watery grave or in the sands of Arabian desert was to be delivered by God.
We have an enemy who is bent on burying us. You could say it is the devil, but I am thinking of another enemy, death, and the grave. Paul says the last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26) I have done hundreds of funerals over the past fifty years. I have also talked with countless people about death. Sometimes the topic of burial versus cremation comes up. I find that people who are unafraid to die have a fear of either being buried or being burned up. If you think about either one you might be a little freaked out. My wife has given instructions that if I “die” while in Haiti they are not to embalm me. They are to send me back to the US as is. She fears that they could have made me into a zombie, appearing to be dead but still alive. I like her thinking on this because I cannot imagine waking up in a coffin in a Haitian cemetery, buried alive, and not knowing if Baron Samedi will come and rescue me in the night. People who are buried in avalanches or are drowning in the sea or are stuck in an abandoned well experience moments of sheer terror.
Think of the terror of an end-of-life experience where one knows that they go down into the grave with no hope of a glorious resurrection. Burial precedes resurrection. This is where New Testament theology gets interesting. Paul describes a burial in water in Romans 6, called baptism. From this watery grave one is raised to walk in newness of life which includes the hope of a future resurrection after one is buried in the ground (or whatever). Without this water burial and the newness of life that follows because of faith, the prospects of the “dirt” burial is daunting indeed. But if one goes down into the dirt burial with the hope of resurrection, there is nothing to fear. Here is what Paul says: “When this happens -when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die-then at last the Scriptures will come true: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us the victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
The Israelites had been baptized in the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). However, they turned to idols and foreign nations to save them. It was these very idols and nations that would eventually bury them. Because Israel rejected their first burial, they were facing a new and fatal burial. They really didn’t have to fear being buried by Memphis. It was God Himself who held the shovel in His hand. God will bury us either in water or in the dirt.