Sheol

The first time Sheol is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 37:35. There we read,

“For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning”

These words came from the mouth of Jacob, who was lamenting the (he thought) death of his son, Joseph. In this context, the word “grave” is actually Sheol.

There are many descriptions of Sheol, but the best one is in Luke 16. Christ told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. They both died and both went to Hades. The rich man lifted his eyes and saw Lazarus who was with Abraham. They could not come closer because there was a “gulf” between them; but they were able to see and hear each other. Both were conscious; Lazarus was comforted, but the rich man was being tormented and was able to remember his family.

That was the work that Christ accomplished by dying on the cross and resurrecting. He delivered His saints out of Sheol and brought them to Paradise, to be with Him forever.

Jesus Vs. Satan

Jesus, the Son of God, defeated Satan, the deceiver, at the cross. The devil was not expecting Jesus to be alive again. He did not know what Christ came to accomplished, until he saw the glorious Christ rising   alive out of Hades.

Christ died on the cross and his body was put in a tomb. In his soul He went to Hades to take His saints out of the dominion of Satan. That’s the reason why He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”.

Before the death of Christ, there was no Heaven. All the saints of the Old Covenant went to Hades after death. Christ did that work: He prepared a place for His people: Paradise or Heaven; He took them out of Hades and placed them in Paradise; finally, He resurrected on the third day. Christ came alive, victorious, from Hades. Now, Christ has the key of death and Hades, and Satan can do nothing about it.

The Temptation of Christ

Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-12 narrate the temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan tried to entice Jesus to obey and worship him, but Jesus defeated him with “the Sword of the Spirit” – God’s Word.

Satan was taking advantage of Christ vulnerability (he was hungry after forty days of fasting) to lure him into making the stones bread, but the Lord said,

It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Then, using the Scriptures (Psalm 91), the devil took Him to the pinnacle of the temple to make Him demonstrate how Christ’s angels would prevent Him from falling to the ground if He jumped down from there. Christ said,

It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Finally, Satan took Jesus to a high mountain to show Him the riches of the world, offering to give them to Christ if only He would prostrate and worship the devil. And again Christ answered with the Sword of His Mouth,

It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

At this point, Satan left Him alone for some time.

 

 

Christ, Victorious over Satan

In the beginning, mankind sinned against God by giving heed to the Serpent, and abandoning God’s way to follow their own way. The result was the curse that transferred us from the kingdom of light, into the kingdom of darkness and the dominion of Satan.

Christ came to redeemed us from the power of the devil, and took His people from the reign of darkness into the Kingdom of light, again. Christ restored the communion that His people had with God in the beginning. In addition, He destroyed the power of Satan over God’s people, and the devil has but a very short time until the end of this age.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Hebrews 2: 14-15

The kingdom, and the power, and the glory belongs to Christ, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, forever, amen!

Christ, the Seed of the Woman

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”.     Galatians 4:4-5

Christ was the One that at the appointed time was going to crush the head of the serpent. He was born of Mary, the virgin, in Bethlehem, as the prophet had said, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ was born to destroy the deeds and the kingdom of the Devil. We read in Rev. 12,

“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

The dragon, the old serpent, called the Devil and Satan was cast out by Christ and now the believers overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of God.

The Head of the Serpent

The prophecy in Genesis 3:15 says that One would come to destroy the head of the Serpent. In Revelation 13:3 we find that one of the heads of the Beast was wounded to death, but his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast.

Here God is giving a description of how Christ defeated Satan at the cross. Since His birth, Satan’s purpose was to destroy Christ. Satan didn’t know, and much less expected that Christ was going to live again. He thought that Christ was terminated at the cross.

But, Christ went to Hades, took his people from the dominion of Satan and rose again victorious. Now, Christ has the key of death and Hades, and Satan has no power against God’s people. Still, he has a kingdom for the present time. He still continue deceiving the nations.

Satan is deadly wounded, and cannot do anything against God’s people; but he will continue deceiving the world until Christ comes again.

The Seed of the Woman

We find an amazing illustration of the meaning of “the seed of the woman” in Revelation 12. There we read,

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun,

and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”.

This is all symbolic language. Christ is the sun. The woman is the body of believers clothed with Christ. The moon represents the believers (they reflect the light of God) worshiping God, and the twelve stars (the light) represent the kingdom of God, because the believers are kings and priests in God’s kingdom.

The dragon then appears to destroy the seed of the woman, her child, who is Christ, but he did not prevail. Christ overcame him on the cross, and cast him out. Satan is a defeated enemy, but he still has a “short time” and continues making war with the remnant of her seed, who are the ones who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

So the seed of the woman refers to Christ, first, and then to the body of believers, who are the temple of God, the true church of Christ.

The Serpent in the Garden

The first time Satan is mentioned in the Bible occurs in the book of Genesis, chapter 3. The serpent is described as a very subtle beast. This beast enticed the woman to eat of the forbidden fruit. The woman made the man eat, too. The Serpent used an appealing lie to make the woman fall: “You shall be like God”. This expectation and the vision of power was enough to make her disobey God.

As the narration continues, we’ll find the promise of the birth of One who “would bruise the head of the Serpent”. This promise was fulfilled when Christ came to die on the cross and to resurrect on the third day. Christ descended into Hades and rescued His people from the dominion of Satan. Satan, the old serpent, has no more power over death, or Hades, or the children of God. He is a defeated enemy, whose only weapon is, and has always been, deception.

Only those who do not belong in God’s kingdom, are under the dominion of Satan. They are all deceiving and being deceived.

Hades, the Abode of the Dead

One of Satan’s big lies has always been to make people believe that the Bible is difficult to understand, and that we need theologians to explain its meanings. It is true that the Bible is difficult, but not because its meaning is obscure. It is difficult because it is a spiritual book that deals with the spiritual part of man and his stand before a Spiritual God. Also, we all are spiritually dead. God has to give us life to enable us to know Him and His Word, and Christians should know it well.

Before going into the matter of Hades, we should keep in mind that as God is revealed in the Scriptures as the Triune God, and He created man triune, too: spirit, soul, and body (1 The. 5:23; Heb. 4:12) It is the soul of man that separates from the body at the time of death, and this soul goes to one of two places: to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, or to Hades.

The word for Hades in the Old Covenant (Testament) is “Sheol” (H7585). The KJV translates ‘Sheol’ as ‘grave’, also as ‘hell’ and ‘the pit’, but if we see the Hebrew, the word used in all these instances is ‘Sheol’. There is actually a different word for ‘grave’ in the Hebrew language (H6900).

Before the cross, there was one place where all souls of men went after death. Saints and reprobates went down to Sheol. The Lord Jesus Christ explained that this place was separated by a great ‘gulf’ (Luke 16)and no one could pass from one place to the other, but Sheol was within closed iron gates, and Satan had the keys. (Heb. 2:14)

As we continue reading in the OC, we will find that there was never mention of heaven or paradise. The saints who died were all knowledgeable that their souls were going down to Sheol. This word appears sixty-five times in the OC and every time refers to the place where all souls went after death. A place down below inside the Earth.

The first time we encounter the word ‘Sheol’ is in Gen. 37:35 where we read of Jacob mourning for his son Joseph who, he believed, was dead. He said, “I will go down to Sheol unto my son mourning”. Jacob was one of God’s elect, why did he say that he was going down to Sheol to be with Joseph who was also elect? The fact is that all the saints knew that everyone was going to be in Sheol after death.

Of the sixty-five times ‘Sheol’ appears in the OC, the meaning is always a place down below, in the “nether parts of the Earth”. The sad story of Numbers 16, the rebellion of Core, shows how all these wicked men descended into Sheol alive, including their little children. Also, in 1 Samuel 28:13 when Saul uses the woman from Endor to call Samuel from the dead, she said, “I saw gods ascending out of the Earth”. This word ‘gods’ is Elohim, and it should have been translated ‘judge’ because it refers to Samuel, a saint, in this case. So, the saints went to Sheol together with the reprobates.

There was never mention of the saints in the OC going to be with the Lord after death. There are though, many references to Christ going to Sheol or Hades. In the Psalms, which all prophesy of the Messiah, we read, “For you will not leave my soul in Sheol” (Ps. 16:10; 18:5; 49:15; 86:13; 116:3 among many more).

In the New Covenant (Testament) we find that Hades was the Greek word that replaced the Hebrew ‘Sheol’. When Christ was asked for a sign of His Messianic authority, He gave the sign of the prophet Jonas saying, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mat.12:40). What was Christ talking about?

Also, when Christ told Peter, “…upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mat.18:16) What was Christ talking about? He is the only One who can tell us.

We need to step back for a moment. Going to the beginning of creation, we learn that God is a Covenant God. This was the everlasting Covenant that God made with Himself, within the Godhead. God, the Father was going to create a people for Himself; God, the Son was going to redeem these people and God, the Holy Spirit was going to indwell them forever.

That was going to be the work of the Messiah, to redeem a people and to give them the promise of eternal life. That was the Covenant of Promise. That was the Promise that all the saints in the Old Covenant hoped for. They were waiting for the redemption of God’s people.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit was also something strange to the saints in the OC. They, only the Jews, were able to know God, because God dwelled in the midst of them in the tabernacle and later in the temple. Only a few special people like priests, prophets and some kings were indwelled by the Holy Spirit. That was not given to everyone. That’s why David cries “do not take your Holy Spirit from me” after he had sinned in Psalm 51. The Holy Spirit was that promise that the saints received at Pentecost. (John 7:37-39)

Also, we learn in the beginning that the sin of Adam brought death and damnation to the human race. Man died after he sinned, and death is the most terrible thing that could have happened to him and us. Now, we all die. Our bodies are destined for corruption and once death comes, judgment will follow. That was the condition of man after the fall. When man rejected God in the Garden of Eden, Satan became the prince of this world. He enslaved man and acquired dominion of the world, Sheol and death. (Heb. 2:14-15) (Luke 4:5-6)

Now, Christ had to come to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8). He died on the cross and went to Hades (Eph. 4:9) to wound the head of the Serpent (Rev. 13:3) as was prophesied in Gen. 3:15. That is the battle that is described in Rev. 12, Michael (Christ) and His angels fought against the dragon and cast him out. That was the sign of the prophet Jonas and that’s why Christ was three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth.  After that, the Devil didn’t accuse the saints anymore (Job 1), and Christ took His saints from Hades, the dominion of Satan, and translated them to Paradise.

That’s why we read in Mat. 27:53 that many saints rose again after His resurrection. That was the first resurrection told of in Rev.20:5. Also, Christ repeats many times in Rev. 1-3 that He has the keys of death and Hades. Christ overcame Satan at the cross. Satan has no more power over Christ’s people to take them to Hades after death. He still has the liberty to go and deceive the nations as he has always done, but he can never deceive the elect of God, because the gates of Hades shall never prevail against  the saints, the true church of Christ.

(One of the oldest documents recorded mention Christ going to hell: The Apostles Creed. All forgotten today.)

 

 

 

Not hell, but Hades

So, according to the Bible, Hades is the abode of the dead. Every person who died before Christ suffered the cross, went to Hades, including His people, the saints of the Old Testament.
After the cross, the saints go to Paradise to be with the Lord. That was the work that Christ accomplished with His death. Jesus descended into hades and brought out His people who were waiting for this deliverance. Read Heb. 2:14-15