Honoring and offering gifts to the spirits of one’s ancestors in the afterlife is a religious practice known as ancestor worship. This tradition is observed in various cultures and continents, where both the living and the deceased are revered in diverse ways. Some believe that the souls of their ancestors continue to exist in the surroundings and have an impact on the living.
Hence, they pay homage to their ancestors and provide them with offerings. In certain cultures, it is believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors can serve as a connection between the living and the divine.
Honoring ancestors was not solely based on their deaths, but also required them to have been well-respected individuals. Many believe that their ancestors hold divine power to impact their lives with blessings or curses, so people often offer prayers, gifts, and sacrifices to please them. Ancestors were honored as early as the seventh century BC in sites like Jericho, and similar practices were found in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, as well as Chinese and African faiths.
The Japanese Shinto and Native American religions also practice ancestor worship. While some religions believe in the afterlife, the Bible states that a person’s spirit goes to either heaven or hell after death and does not support the idea of post-death influence on the living.
It is important to note that the Bible does not suggest that the deceased are intermediaries between the living and God. Instead, Christians believe that Jesus Christ fulfills this role. Jesus is the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Spirit and lived a blameless life. He died on the cross for humanity’s sins, was buried, rose from the dead, appeared to many witnesses, ascended into heaven, and now intercedes on behalf of believers at the right hand of the Father.
Jesus is the only one who can represent God to individuals in one-on-one conversations. Scripture states that only God’s Son can fulfill this role (1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, 12:24). Therefore, Jesus is the sole mediator between God and humanity.
The Lord God alone is worthy of worship, as instructed by the Bible in Exodus 20:3-6. Furthermore, God made it abundantly clear that individuals who claimed to be able to speak with the dead through diviners or sorcerers were not to be accepted (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:32, 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:10-11; 1 Samuel 28:3; Jeremiah 27:9-10).
Satan’s purpose from the beginning was to replace God in his own heart and thoughts. He tells lies that some people worship other gods and even their ancestors in an attempt to divert attention away from God. Worship of ancestors is morally unacceptable because it rejects God’s clear prohibitions against it and attempts to usurp the position of Christ as Divine Mediator between God and humanity.