Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sheol to Hell

The gospel accounts tell us that Jesus died at 3 PM on Friday and that on Sunday morning the women found the empty tomb. What they don't say is when he rose or what happen during the approximately 40 hrs.  
 Scripture says repeatedly he was "raised from the dead". The phrase implies from among the dead, the dead being a group not a state. The oldest of our creeds say he "descended into hell". Hell here is not the post resurrection hell, the place of the damned, the evil.  We must remember that before  Christ's resurrection no human ever entered heaven. Heaven was God and Angels. The place of the dead, Sheol in Hebrew contained all the dead, good and bad. Imagine the soul of every dead person from Adam and Eve to the two thieves crucified with Jesus. 

After his death Jesus descends to Sheol and raises with him all souls worthy of a place in Heaven. He is the just judge. Much of the ancient art work depicts Jesus rising grasping people with each hand. Jesus opens the gates of heaven. 

He destroyed the power of “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham;” Heb 2:14-16

He changed the universe. Sheol could no longer hold prisoner people who die in a state of grace. Sheol became Hell.