In the early 1800s, it was not uncommon to see an ad in the newspaper for metal, vacuum-sealed coffins. Most Christian Americans believed that Jesus would need their physical body intact so that He might easier raise their bodies from the dead on the Day of Resurrection. Americans at the time felt a great urgency to preserve their bodies for Christ’s return. That is why they were buying and selling metal vacuum sealed coffins. However, according to Drew Gilpin Faust in her book This Republic of Suffering, the importance placed on preservation of mortal bodies drastically changed during the Civil War. Due to powerful artillery on the battlefield many families had to bury mutilated bodies of their fathers, brothers, and husbands. The bodies of some soldiers were so destroyed that no actual body was ever recovered. With these traumatic events taking place and no bodies to preserve, American Christians had to return to the scriptures and discover the truth about the Day of Resurrection and the return of Christ.
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. (1 Cor. 15:35-38)
Paul had to handle the same question with the Corinthians in the first century. People were concerned with exactly how the dead were going to be raised up and what type of body they would have. Paul intensely explains that the death and corruption of our mortal bodies would have no effect on our new spiritual body given to us on the day of resurrection. He makes the logical argument that for there to be a resurrection there first must be a death. God knows what happens to our bodies when they are buried, and He will have no trouble raising us from the dead even if our bodies are nothing but dust. Does the God of Heaven and Earth need our help to preserve our bodies? Does the Almighty need our help to fulfill His promises? The answer to both these questions is no. God does what He pleases, and He always keeps His promises. He has promised us that He will raise us from the dead (1 Cor. 15:50-52).
When it comes to priorities for the resurrection, Jesus puts the urgency on our eternal home not our eternal body.
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
The Lord has the power to make our eternal home Heaven or Hell. However, He has made it possible for us to choose where we go. Let’s choose to believe in God. Let’s choose to follow Him every day, so that we get to spend an eternity with Him in His home. That is where our priorities should be. The urgency to choose a heavenly home with God is greater than any urgency to protect our worldly bodies.
— Andrew Smith