COLUMN: When hell had a revival – the flipside of Easter
By Bruce Walker
In Jerusalem, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, tens of thousands were gathered from all over the Roman Empire, each would be a witness of what happened that weekend and carry the news back to their towns and villages. The High Priest decreed that only a coin “blessed” by him could be used to pay the temple tax,( Ex 30:13) All Jewish people must come to the temple in Jerusalem and pay their temple tax with the prescribed coin. Preparing for His death, Jesus prayed all night in the garden, as his followers slept, (Mt. 26:40). He was preparing to follow the will of His Father (1 Peter 4:5-6). Several weeks earlier, Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem as the adoring crowds heralded Him waving palm branches and shouting “Hosana to the King.” Jesus, riding a donkey, came to a fork on the Via Dolorosa, a road, (still exists): Right, would take him to the seat of political power of the Roman government; his followers expected this: Just like their beloved King David!!(MT 21:1-9-KJV), a warrior king to overthrow the hated Roman government. Instead, Jesus turned left to the center of Jewish culture and religion.
(MT 21 10-12-KJV)
When He arrived at Herod’s Temple all manner of merchandise was being sold. The priests were doing a brisk business collecting their fees from the merchants, and overseeing the conversion of various coins currencies into the approved temple tax coin. Jesus walked up the steps of the portico, He confronted the priests and merchants, overturned the merchandise tables, plaid a whip, and ran off the ones making merchandise of the House of God (Mark 11:15). This gathering was intended to be a Holy Celebration commemorating God’s love for His people. The Passover celebration (Pesach)was to remind the Children of Israel of God delivering them from 400 years of slavery under the Egyptians. When the Death angels saw the sacrificial lamb blood markings on the two door posts and the lintel above, they would “Passover” them, sparing their first born. The Passover commemoration had devolved into a holiday, far removed from its original purpose of thanking God for His deliverance.
The Jewish zealots wanted an armed revolution to overthrow the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, instead Jesus admonished them: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar and unto God that which is God’s”-Matthew 12:17) The Temple priests and religious leaders wanted to get rid of the one that challenged their authority, the priests lead the chant, “Crucify him”, “Crucify him”. The crowd picked it up, if Jesus was not going to free them from the Romans, then, “Crucify Him”.
(In this next section, I am taking poetic license to describe Hell, Satan, and Jesus’s victory, but well within context of the Bible)
Before long, the thud of a heavy wooden cross was heard dropping into the ground on Golgotha’s hill. Down in Satan’s grotto, a few stalagmites were dislodged from the ceiling and fell on Satan’s throne room floor. “Ol Slewfoot sent a minion up to get a firsthand report of the proceedings on Golgotha’s Hill. The little demon reported back what Jesus cried out, “Father Why Have You Forsaken Me?”(Mt 27:46), and then, “It is Finished”(John 19:30), Satan laughed, for now his nemesis, since their days when both were in Heaven, (Is. 14:12-27) Jesus destruction was in his grasp(he thought), God would not intervene, Satan would get his revenge on Jesus, Heaven and perhaps even God Himself! From the cross, Jesus looked down on a 10-15 acre field that would accommodate five thousand crucifixion, 150 yards from the tomb in which His body would be laid.
As Jesus was dying on the cross, the thick veil separating the outer court from the Holy of Holies in Herod’s Temple, (the 3rd hour, 9:00AM CDT) (Mark 15:25) supernaturally torn top to bottom by God Himself (Mt. 27:51), revealing the Holy of Holies was empty! A fraud perpetrated on the Jewish people by the their religious leaders for six hundred year was exposed for all to see. The Babylonians looted Solomon’s Temple,(587 BC), and removed the Ark of the Covenant, Gold Candle Stick(Menorah), Aaron’s Staff and a jar containing Manna. God commanded Moses 1400 years before to have these Holy Implements designed and crafted by chosen artisans to be used for the atonement of sins. After nearly six hundred years the fraud was exposed, and the very foundation of Jewish religion cracked. The Priests had hidden the removals so they could continue their rituals and reap the benefits from the Jewish people.
What happened to all the artifacts in Solomon’s temple? No, it is not in a government storage facility. (Sorry Indiana Jones) or in the basement of a church in Africa locked behind a 500-ton stone. I believe our sovereign God swept all of those items into the heavenlies so no man could profit by them or become idols of worship. Jesus came to give us a New Testament. “Now God dwells in temples not made with hands”-Acts 17:24, Acts 7:48
Meanwhile, down in hell, (poetic license)
“Let’s have a party,” Satan howled, the demons thought Jesus was dying and hell was having a ball. He gave a roll call of his demons: Lying Spirit are you here?-“Noooo I’m Not Here”-the lying demon said. Adultery Spirit are you here? “You know my spouse just doesn’t understand me, a little kiss won’t hurt a thing”—oh, oh –Yes, I’m here- said the adultery demon. Thieving demon are you here? “No, I didn’t take it, I’m being framed” …errrr, yes I’m here! Name a sin and there is a little minion in charge of it. (Eph 6:12).
Demons were readying for the arrival of Jesus, they knew the path Jesus would take and they could not wait to mock, torture and destroy him. In the middle of Satan’s party- a knock was heard on the gates of hell. There had never been a knock on the door of death!!! Everyone who had arrived at death’s door before, paupers to princes, arrived with anguished cries and tears of fear. The party grew silent, the demons ran to the entrance and standing in front of them: The LION of JUDAH- Hair white as wool, eyes of fire and feet as burnished brass!! (Rev. 1:12-16) The demons shrank back, life had never entered their sepulcher before- and now Jesus was swallowing up the whole place. The Lamb of God walked to within inches of Satan’s face and said, “Remember me?, “You tried to overthrow The Kingdom”, ( Satan is neither all-knowing nor is he everywhere at once-Rev. 12:9(Satan is cast to a specific place by God). “I am the Alpha and Omega, (Rev. 1:8) the beginning and YOUR end, I am He who was dead but now I am alive forevermore!” Jesus entered death in the flesh, and at His resurrection, in the flesh, defeated death. “He is the first born among many brethren”, ( Rom 8:29) We have nothing to fear-Jesus blazed the path for us. In hell he confronted Satan and took the keys of Death, Hell, and the Grave. (Rev. 1:18) When Hell had a Revival the greatest prize of all was taken from Satan: Fear of Death. We no longer live in fear of what is on the other side.
The Bible states that many died in faith not knowing what their end would be.(Heb.11:13) They were held in a holding pattern until Jesus made a pathway for all of us. The Bible states “Many got up out of their graves and went into Jerusalem after Jesus resurrection. (Mt. 27-51-53). At Christ’s death the pathway was opened for us. Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corth. 15:54) as Christians we go from Life to Life, not death! This is why we celebrate the crucifixion and the resurrection!!
In addition to writing a weekly syndicated column, Bruce speaks regularly to a wide variety of groups. You may contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.BruceStoryteller.com