Have you ever wondered why Jesus descended into hell after his crucifixion? What about what happened to the great men and women of the Old Testament?
From time to time those questions have come to mind but I never had a way to find the answers for them. Honestly, I just figured that was a mystery faith had to cover since here wasn’t anything specifically in the Bible that addressed that.
I remember as a child learning the Apostles Creed stating the fundamentals of the Christian faith and not understanding that line about Jesus descending to hell:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places
For the past few weeks, our pastor has been doing a series on Lucifer and covered the beginning through the end of his existence. Pulling scripture apart we can know that he was created to serve the Lord and was the highest created angel who is able to be in the presence of God. And he will end up in Hell for eternity after all these years of wreaking havoc on this earth and deceiving the nations. It was fascinating to see all that scripture had to say about him and the information that was there to be gleaned.
But the takeaway I walked away with was this: there was a very specific reason Jesus descended into hell during the 3 days after his crucifixion.
There are actually 2 different places of hell. One is the lake of fire or eternal torment. The other is what is written as Sheol or Hades. Sheol and Hades is the place of the dead and is where Old Testament people went and non-believers go upon death. As we see from the parable of the rich and poor man, it is actually divided into two totally separate parts: Abraham’s Bosom and Hell. Old Testament believers went to Abraham’s Bosom and non believers went to Hell.
Since in Old Testament times, sin hadn’t been atoned for so even the righteous could not enter the presence of God. So the righteous waited for their atonement in Abraham’s Bosom in comfort.
And guess what. When Christ died and made that final perfect atonement, he went down to Sheol and escorted the Old Testament believers to Heaven since their sin had been fully paid for with the blood of Jesus. He went to the place of he dead like everyone else but left victorious over death and took the believers up to heaven! And from that point forward, believers go straight to Heaven at death.
I walked away from that final sermon floored with questions answered that I didn’t think could be answered. Thank you, Lord!!