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

Hades, not hell

The word hell has more to do with pagan nordic European religions than with Christianity. Translators in 1611 translated the word “Hades” from the Greek into “hell” in English.
The meaning is different too. The hell of pagan religions has more from human imagination. The hades from the Bible is the reality that God taught His people, and that is mostly ignored today. Hades as it’s described in the Scriptures is a place where those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ will be for all eternity after death. They will be conscious, and tormented.

The beginning of a study on hell should be the Bible. God says a lot about it and He is the only one who can, because He created it and Jesus Christ is God incarnate. So, He would know best.

In the Old Testament the word for hell is “Sheol”. It appears for the first time in Gen. 37:35 when Jacob, the patriarch, is mourning for his son Joseph, who he supposed dead.

Satan’s looks

Probably, you have seen the drawings and cartoons of Satan’s representations. Red suit, horns, pitch fork, long tail, cape and hooves.  The problem with this image is that it’s not accurate. It is only an artist’s imagination because of the terrible reputation of this creature.

The description of Satan in the Bible is “as an angel of light”. Think about it. If Satan would be coming to you dressed up in his fiery garment, would you wait for him? Would you stand there and enjoy the encounter? I think not. More likely, you’ll run away as fast as your legs will allow.

That’s the main reason the horrible picture is not true. On the contrary, the Bible describes Satan as the deceiver, the liar, and the way he can deceive more easily is by “transforming himself into an angel of light.” Sooo… beware of angels, especially the “brighter” ones!

Who is Satan?

Satan is a spiritual being who is the enemy of God, and Christ. He was created in the beginning to fulfil God’s purpose of electing a people for Himself. Satan is real and the bible has a lot to say about him. He was introduced as the deceiver, in the Garden of Eden, talking to Eve. Unfortunately for the human race, Eve believed what Satan told her, “You shall be like God”. She made her husband believe too, and both fell and were thrown out of the presence of God.

Where is Hell?

The Bible speaks of Sheol and Hades as the abode of the dead. It is located in the “lowest part of the Earth” according to many quotes from the Scriptures. It is characterized as “the bottomless pit”.

In Numbers chapter 16, we read the sad story of Korah. He and other prominent men (250 princes in total) rebelled against Moses’ authority. They wanted to occupy the position God had given Moses and Aaron.

In the end, God punished Korah, the men with him, and their families by making them “go down alive into the pit”.

And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.   Num. 16:32-33

This is reiterated many times in the Scriptures. In Revelation we see the opening of the bottomless pit. So, it is safe to say that Hell or Hades is located in the center of the Earth, but this is a spiritual realm and as such, it can be located any place God puts it. The bottom line is that Hell is real, and all the wicked, who know not the Lord Jesus Christ will end up there (or down there).