INTO DEATH AND HELL
A HELL WE MAY NOT HAVE CONSIDERED
"...Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" (Acts 2:27). "While He yet spake...a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him" (Mat 17:5).
When we consider Jesus being transfigured, there is little wonder why God gave that commanding word -- "HEAR YE HIM" -- for it was upon that mountain where He symbolized the overthrow of the entire kingdom of Adam. It was from the top of that mountain that we see in a figure the end of a critical journey, a journey that began in death but ended in Life(1). His transfiguration signaled the destiny of His corporate Body. He had gone to the end of hell and back, and His resurrection declared His victory over it.
We see Jesus ascending from the lowest hell to the highest glory and swallowing every vestige of death in the process -- and from deep within we sense the approaching hour of the same victory. As the trumpet sounds, all the vessels of His choosing will likewise break forth in glistering transfiguration.
Yes indeed, "Hear ye Him," and this is for a good reason. There is no other avenue to the Transfiguring Life of the ages. Jesus Himself said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word...hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life....I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:24-25).
Please note, Jesus did not say that those who hear sermons will someday have everlasting life. He said, He that HEARS My WORD HAS LIFE. (Present tense in any language).
By and large, most Bible believing people don't know what "everlasting life" is. It is more than the concept of living next door to Jesus where there is no devil, strumming harps, and singing hymns forever. The average person has a hard time holding out through twenty minutes of such singing. It makes one wonder how they could do it for eternity, and think it to be heaven.
Everlasting (aionion) life is the life of the ages. It is the highest form of life to be found in all the ages. It is the enduring, inseparable Life of Christ Jesus in His people.
Moreover, it is common to confuse the letter that kills as being His Word. His Word, we must know, is not necessarily that which is printed with black or red ink upon the pages of the Bible.
In brief, His Word is the living, vibrant, substantial reality of Christ Himself. It is His Spirit and His Word coming together forming His Voice, a voice that conveys and manifests the personage of Himself. Such is His Word, not historical accounts of what He did and said. His Word is not the recordings we call the scriptures, although it can be heard in them when quickened by the Spirit. His Word is the substance of Himself, the very essence of His being. It is that which is heard by the Spirit, that which is seen by the Spirit, that which is felt by the Spirit, that which is taken within by the Spirit, that which is eaten by the Spirit, that which is consumed by the Spirit, that which raises the dead by the Spirit, and that which gives strength and hope to the despondent by the Spirit. This is what His Word is: GOD BEING MADE FLESH IN US -- BY THE SPIRIT!
You can't get Living substance from carefully prepared sermons of intellectual minds, or from systematically studying the scriptures. Those kinds of words bring only knowledge that puffs up the adamic mind with pride (1 Cor 8:1). His Word comes from upon high, from the Spirit of Christ that dwells within the heavens of one's own being. Man of his own will cannot do it, speak it, make it, contrive it, or any other it. This comes only from the Spirit, and it makes the doctoral minds of religion furious, for when this happens, they lose control. Pharisees don't like it at all, but all their unbelief and bitter hatred failed to stop the Word from finishing His course. And so it shall be today. Isaiah 55:11 always stands true: "So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Even so, why don't we see the results of an outward manifestation of His life, such as a transfiguration? And why is it taking so long? It is a process, brethren, wherein God is patient, and it cannot be hurried. We cannot rush it any more than the 120 could rush the appearing of Jesus coming like a mighty, rushing wind in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost -- and it took God 4000 years of building up to that one event. He was patient, and they had to wait for it, but when the hour came no one could stop it, and likewise it shall be with the appearing of the Sons of God to the groaning creation. The anointed words of our dear friend, Charles Roby, are so appropriate for this hour: "I hear that wonderful SPIRIT of CHRIST within me saying: 'All the unbelief in this world cannot stop the manifestation of the SONS of God -- these lively STONES that we are, are coming together to reveal HIM in all HIS GLORY -- to make all mankind and all creation free from the bondage that causes corruption and death.' Freedom from the curse is the promise to all mankind and to all creation. Let us who are the SONS of God, shout loud and clear the message of FREEDOM!"
Some may be saddened that we cannot speed it up; but let us rejoice that neither can we slow it down as our Forerunner works it so gloriously in us.
It is not understood by everyone that the overcoming life of Jesus was for more than Himself alone. And His marvelous exploits were not to serve the purpose of exiting our flesh. His journey was set as an example for our journey. He is the shining Light for us to follow. From His birth to the resurrection was a forecast of what is in store for those who are the called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). He was the pattern for many Sons, the sample, the prototype, the foretaste of heaven's delight unto creation.
If this is so, and it is, let us therefore take note of some of those things which light our path unto that high calling of God's purpose. Let us see what is in store for the molding of our own lives unto glory.
The Spirit of life that was found in Jesus from the moment of His conception is the same Spirit that is in you and me. It is not just a spirit that is similar to His Spirit -- it is His Spirit! It is the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead; and if it had the power then, it has the power today to quicken our mortal bodies and raise us from the dead (Rom 8:11). It can't and won't fail.
People can be convinced of this fairly easily when it is projected into the distant future of another age (after their graveyard experience), but it is not such an easy matter for them to grasp and believe for the present. With this being true, let us ask our Father to open the spirit of understanding to all who are called according to His purpose in this hour, to see beyond the heavy veil of carnal reasoning and lay hold of that glory that is found only in the Son of His love, Jesus.
In this article we will notice very briefly the journey of Jesus, all the way from His initial death to when it was swallowed up in Life. We will then see if His footsteps have marked His course in the soil of our own earth. If so, we can know that we have also been called to the same glory by which He overcame death and hell.
"Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS" (Eph 4:9-10). Into what extremes of death, Jesus was lowered when He was clothed upon with humanity's form? Most view His coming into the earth as the beginning of His life, not realizing it was the beginning of His death. He died the moment of His conception in the tomb of Mary. We say "tomb" in the sense that the glory He descended from with the Father before the world was can be likened to a tomb, the grave, even hell. Hell, as we recall, is the abode of death, and should not be mistaken as being the lake of fire(2).
Death itself is a state of being that is void of life, like the flame of a candle when it no longer burns. While the wick is aflame, it is clothed upon with the glory of life; but once it begins to diminish, it is said that the flame is dying, and when it goes completely out -- it is dead. There is no more light nor heat in it. There is no more glory. It is therefore dead.
Before Jesus came into the earth He was clothed upon with glory; but at the moment He was housed in clay that glory ceased (for a season). He spoke of this when He said, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (John 17:5).
His own words testified that He left the glory He had in His Father and was lowered into death and hell. He came to be in the same place wherein He spoke concerning the man who would follow Him, but only after he buried his father. Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead," indicating, of course, that once his father died, the ones who would be burying him were just as dead as the corpse they would put into the earth.
Hell, is translated from the Greek word, Hades and simply means an unseen, imperceptible realm. The womb of Mary was exactly that, an imperceptible place wherein all of humanity is ushered as they come into the world. It is a dark place which conceals the seed for a season. This is where Jesus was lowered, and from there He began His journey back to the Life and glory He had before with His Father.
Hell, as it is used in the Bible, is the place of the dead, but the meaning of the word does not always denote death or torment. For instance, a common term for burying potatoes in the side of a hill to preserve them through the winter is, "helling the potatoes," not roasting or tormenting them. In Ireland when roofers are putting shingles on the roof, the process is called "helling the house." The house is placed in hell; and incidentally, when this happens, not one flame of fire is applied to it. When a young man is ready to take his girlfriend into a secluded place of privacy we might hear him say, "Tonight, I'll be taking my sweetheart into hell." And upon returning from that imperceptible realm he would say with a smile upon his face, "I've been to hell and back with my sweet lass." And doubtless to say, he would not be implying that he had taken her into a place of torment.
The word hell in the Bible denotes a realm that we cannot see or perceive on this side of the veil, and torment can be a very real part of it, for it is common for the secluded, hidden realm of the carnal mind to be in torment. The darkened souls of most of humanity are in torment to one degree or another; but it is not necessarily so with everyone when it comes to its true meaning. For instance, some are totally void of Christ; but they are perfectly content in their dark place. The Pharisees seemed to be a good example of this point.
Nevertheless, knowing what death is, we can say that Jesus was lowered into hell at the moment of His conception within the confines of His mother’s womb. He entered an obscure, imperceptible realm of death. He was placed in an earthen tomb, the grave-clothes of death — the womb of the woman. His glory was no longer apparent. That which He had with His heavenly Father before the world vanished for a season. It was replaced with the heavy shroud of earth, the same flesh as with Adam. He started on the same grounds as the first Adam, but His Spirit, unlike the first Adam, was one that had the ability to overcome the passions of the flesh.
He was not from the earth, earthy, but from the heavens, heavenly. Simply stated, He died when he left His Father and was placed in a tomb at His conception in earth.
He was then birthed into another grave, the stable among the beasts of the field, and was wrapped in the swaddling clothes of death. (Swaddling clothes are grave-clothes.) He was laid in the manger, the feed-trough for the animals; and let us recall the words He spoke sometime later: "I am the Bread of Life...Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:48, 53-54).
What a beautiful foreshadow of humanity's destiny -- to eat no longer that which is from the earth and continue in death, but to eat of His substance and live. Thus the manger in which He was laid.
He had a physical form after His birth; but He was not perceived on a large scale as the Son of God, not until Pentecost. To the natural eye, He was still wrapped in death and confined to hell and was not truly seen until He escaped every vestige of Adam's grave some thirty-three years later. Prior to His glorification He was recognized for who He was on four occasions (by Simeon, Peter, a sinful woman of the city, and the demoniac in the Gadarenes), but to the masses He remained imperceptible. He remained in the unseen realm of hell as far as the world could see, and it is the same with the rest of His body
We are not seen as the sons of God. For in the same manner it was with the confinement of His own Spirit in the grave of His flesh, could it be that in one fashion, He is still in the same hell and grave today? I believe so; but it is in our flesh, His many membered body, which clothes Him.
For thirty-three years He was in hell, even as He has been in the confines of our bodies; but remember, He rose from the Jordan river and signified His victory over the grip of death and the house of hell. This was a declaration that He had led captivity captive, and He would continue on from there until it was complete in the resurrection. Furthermore, we can be assured He will do the same in us and not fail; for as it was with Him in His single body, so shall it be in His Body of many members. With confidence we can echo the words of the Psalmist: You will not leave ours souls in hell, neither will You suffer your anointed ones to see corruption (Psa 16:9-11).
To begin the proving of His victory over the oracles of death (the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life) He went into the wilderness for forty days of testing and triumphed over the lusts of His own flesh, and now in our own as He leads the captivity of death into the captivity of Life.
For the last three and half years of journey in the world, Jesus remained in hell. During this period He manifested that which His rising from the Jordan signified. And of course, He finally went into hell once more as He was laid in Joseph of Arimathaea's sepulcher for three days. From there He triumphed over death and hell completely, and again, leading captivity captive.
Coming into the world, He was concealed in the tomb of the dead. He, like all others having the form of Adam, fulfilled the letter that records, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the (3)judgment" (Heb 9:27). His appointment to death did not come only at the cross, but at the instant He was conceived in the hell of Mary's womb. The cross was only the culmination of that initial death. It was not its beginning.
He was swallowed up of death, and the remainder of His journey reflected the same. Every step He took was in the realm of death; but upon each of them He placed the imprint of Life, marking the beginning of its end forever. He was seen leading captivity captive from the beginning to the end, leaving nothing behind.
Everything that Adam brought death to, Jesus brought life, and continues to bring it. Adam may have walked to and fro throughout your earth, sowing death in every crack and crevice — but Jesus is now walking the same avenues and digging up every root and planting Life unto victory. He is now doing what He said He would do: "...Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Mat 15:13).
In a panoramic view of this triumph over man's primordial enemy, we see Jesus journeying back to the head of death itself. His journey began in the confines of the earthen tomb of Adam, down to Egypt, and on to the lower realm of death. We this being signified by His baptism in the Jordan river, which was near the mouth of the Dead Sea, at the dregs of death itself, at the end of all things that proceed from Adam.
After the proving of Jesus in the wilderness, He traveled on to(4)Galilee. Symbolically, humanity is found here before it passes on and is deposited as refuse into the Dead Sea. His steps then led to the top of Mount Hermon, the Mount of Transfiguration, the birth place of the Jordan river, the kingdom of man from whence all death comes.
From below sea level at the sea of death, across the belly of sea of Galilee to the tombs of Gadara, to the height of man's kingdom of death (the top of Mount Hermon) shall death be destroyed from His jewels. This victory is working in us. He has descended down to the very rudiments of our death, and is destroying it all, as He leads us captive by the glorious Life of Himself.
Once He has finished this inner work it will then be seen outwardly in all the earth. We, along with creation, will see it together, and shall know it, for He shall not remain unseen forever in the hell of our graves. He shall come forth after three days, and the prophetic words resounding down through the ages shall no longer be of promises to come, but will be a reality: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction...." "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption...Death is swallowed up in victory" (Hos 13:14 & 1 Cor 15:54). And then it can be said: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
Continued.....Elwin R. Roach
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1. Jesus began His mission of conquering death when He rose from the Jordan River near the mouth of the Dead Sea to where 6,000 years of dying humanity has been flowing down. He demonstrated His dominion over that death from its end to it beginning, at Mount Hermon where the river is birthed.
2. Hell is cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:140).
3. Judgment: Krisis,, from which we have the English, crisis, meaning a turning point, a change.
4. Galilee: Circuit of the Gentiles, Grk.