“And they say, ‘The All-merciful has taken unto himself a son. You have indeed advanced something hideous! The heavens are well-nigh rent of it and the Earth split asunder, and the mountains well-nigh fall down crashing for that they have attributed to the All-merciful a son.’”
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.”
John 3:35 Holy Bible (NIV)
Golgotha, Jerusalem, A.D. 33
Vayu respected the peril of the hour and held firm. It was not in her nature to be quiet and still, but the grisly events of the day required it. The stagnant air clung damp and heavy, and the man on the hill understood Vayu’s feigned serenity. He had created the wind to roam the Earth and keep it fresh and alive, and He assured her that when the sun reached its zenith, she would stir to life again.
Nailed to the cross three hours before, the man silently endured the scorn and derision of those who hated Him and wished Him dead. Many of the haters left when their spiteful mouths ran dry, but some remained to watch him suffer. Scattered among the haters were those who loved Him and wept at His condition.
They did not yet understand the purpose of this day, and could only watch Him die.
Directly beneath Him, Lucifer, Death, and Hades stood quiet and grim. Invisible to the surrounding people, these three, and a multitude of Lucifer’s fallen angels and demons, stood ready to finish Jesus if He did not die at the hands of His beloved humans. Lucifer’s plan to destroy the Son was nearly complete, and Jesus could feel his eagerness.
Lucifer had tried to kill Jesus once before, at a time prior to Adam and Eve when His creation of the First Earth was in its infancy. Lucifer was called Helel then, when he was God’s first and most beloved creation. In those early days, God had given Helel the rule over the entire Earth as king. But Helel had turned against God, and was cast out of heaven.
Jesus was in His glorified form in His first battle with Helel and had, of course, survived the encounter. This time, He had given up His heavenly station and was born a flesh-and-blood man, and it was this weakness that Lucifer hoped to leverage. When his pride corrupted his spirit, Lucifer’s wisdom was also corrupted. It was a type of insanity that would not allow him to repent for his sins. He still believed he could destroy God and ascend to heaven and become God.
Jesus had known this would happen long before He created the universe, but He had allowed it because of His law of free will. He intervened when necessary to direct the world as He wished, but He did not compromise His own law. Lucifer, like all of God’s created higher beings, had the freedom to obey or disobey God, and had chosen rebellion.
Lucifer had corrupted Death and Hades long ago, and now they stood before Him as an unholy alliance.
Jesus looked on the three standing beneath Him and knew their thoughts: Lucifer eager to see the Trinity broken and weakened by His death so he could begin his attack on heaven; Death the Reaper, eager to take Jesus’ soul of life and greedily consume it; Hades the Keeper, come from Sheol to personally escort His spirit to Paradise. Of all the mighty spirits Hades kept there, His spirit would be his greatest trophy.
The three were unaware that the Son of Man was exactly where He chose to be.
He didn’t look like a king of any kind now: beaten, tortured, and nailed to a cross, and with the bloody crown of thorns on His head. But a king He was, and from a lineage of kings. His distant human ancestor, King David, had predicted this day in Psalm 22, roughly one thousand years before Jesus was born.
Lucifer should have known this, but he mostly scorned the Scriptures. Lucifer was missing the point of the Son’s crucifixion, just like the Sanhedrin Jews he had corrupted and sent to kill Jesus.
He would learn his error.
A criminal had been crucified on each side of Jesus, one who rejected Him, and another who believed in Him. They would soon learn the significance of the Son’s death, too.
This day was Passover, a holy remembrance of the Jews’ salvation from the final plague in Egypt when God instructed them to slaughter a young lamb or goat and put its blood on the door posts and lintels of their houses before night fell. It was a remembrance of Israel’s 430 years of slavery and their deliverance from Pharaoh’s captivity by Almighty God.
The temple priests would begin to slaughter the lambs for the evening’s feast in three hours. Jesus knew He would die while the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. It was His purpose to be the final Passover lamb, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.
Before His death, however, He would have to endure the wrath of His Father in heaven.
It was now noon, the sixth hour by the Jewish measure of time, and the sky began to darken. Jesus looked on the faces of those who loved Him, and He silently blessed them. It was time to fulfill His purpose on Earth. The first three hours He had endured hate and scorn for doing the will of God. The next three He would suffer for man’s sins. Man could not have salvation with God the Father without a perfect sacrifice, and there was only one sacrifice God would accept. As it is written in the Scriptures, “The life of the flesh is in the blood,” and the life of Christ was also in His blood. By shedding it He would give eternal life to those who believed in Him.
Vayu came to life as the sky grew darker. The still air began to spin and clouds formed overhead. There was no rain, but it felt like a storm as darkness enveloped the land. The people covered their faces from the swirling dust, and then the Father’s presence was over them.
Lucifer and his minions fled in that instant. They were not yet ready to battle with the Father, and He would surely be furious at the death of His Son.
As the day turned to night, God the Father placed all the blame for the sins of the world on the Son and poured out His wrath on Him. Jesus, now forsaken by God, endured His Father’s judgment on His spirit until the three hours passed and the darkness lifted.
In utter agony in both body and spirit, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” With this final reference to Psalm 22, He said, “It is finished,” and then He died and gave up His spirit.
God the Father lingered for a moment, and then returned to heaven.
As the darkness lifted, Lucifer and his army returned. Death greedily collected Jesus’ life soul. As His spirit left His body, Hades escorted Him to the depths of the Earth to Sheol, the place of the dead. And Lucifer reveled in his victory. The mighty Red Dragon spread his massive wings and roared with elation. At last the Son was dead. At last he had won a victory over God.
The two thieves crucified with Jesus were still alive, and being in a hurry to end the crucifixions before the upcoming Sabbath, the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two men so they would quickly suffocate and die. Seeing that Jesus was already dead, they did not break his legs but instead pierced his side with a spear. Then they removed His body from the cross and laid it on the rocks and dust nearby.
Lucifer stepped forward and craned his massive neck down to sniff at his Creator’s mangled body. He’d stood thus long ago, looking down at the body of the Son, impaled with one of his massive talons. Lucifer was King of the Earth then, the mightiest of all creation, but a small trickle of regret had surfaced within him. There was no such trickle now. This time it was, as the Son proclaimed, finished.
With a final glance at the remains of the Son of God, Lucifer took his Fallen and demons and vanished. Soon the two thieves died on their crosses, and Death harvested their life souls and he, too, vanished. As the spirits of the two thieves left their bodies, two heavenly angels escorted them to Sheol.
The angels were solemn as they escorted the spirits to Sheol, for the death of the Son tore at their hearts. He was their Creator, and He called them all Sons of God. They had no idea what the future held without Him, for He had been present ever since He’d created them long ago.
The angels were also solemn because one of the spirits they were escorting was bound for Hell. They left the thief who accepted Jesus at the Paradise side of Sheol, and the one who rejected Jesus was taken to the Hell, or Hades, side.
Hades accepted the spirits of the two men from the angels and placed them accordingly. He had released Jesus and stayed behind when He entered Paradise, as he could enter neither Paradise nor Hell, since they are only for the spirits of Man.
Hades chafed at this limitation of his power, but Lucifer and Death were barred from Paradise and Hell also.
The Son had created the Paradise side of Sheol for those to be redeemed, and the Hell side, also called Hades, for the unredeemable. The vast chasm referred to as the Pit separated Paradise from Hell and was the place of demons. The Underworld was Hades’ full domain, except for Tartarus Prison. The Son had placed it deep in the bowels of the Pit and had given Uriel charge of it long ago. After Uriel fell to save the humans, Helel commandeered Tartarus and gave control of it to one of his Corrupted. It was finally under Helel’s control, and Hades resented it being given to another. The entire Underworld should be his to rule; that was the deal he had struck with Helel.
While only the torment side of Sheol was named after him, it was Hades’ task to guard Sheol and ensure that the spirits went to their proper places and did not escape. Some had left in the past at God’s command, but none had ever escaped. Hades was more powerful now than at his creation, and he believed he could keep Jesus imprisoned here.
* * *
There was great turmoil among the good folk who dwelt there when Jesus entered Paradise. He’d never come to them this way before, as a passive spirit fresh from a dead, human body. They assumed the worst until He reassured them.
“Do not be afraid, for I am here by the will of the Father. I have come to fulfill the Scriptures, that you may have peace and eternal life with God.”
The spirits rejoiced, for they were the faithful ones who’d passed on long ago, from Adam and Eve to the spirit of the thief who had just arrived with Jesus. Many of the spirits knew Him from old as the Angel of Yahweh, the physical and visible essence of God. And now He was here to tell them that He was the Messiah, and by fulfilling the scriptures He had given them eternal life. He was the final sacrifice, their Passover Lamb, and He spent Passover with them and there was great joy in Paradise.
When it was time for Him to complete His journey, Jesus told the spirits in Paradise that they must wait a little while before joining Him. Then He left them, and at the entrance of Paradise, Hades barred his way.
“Stand aside, Hades, for my time has come to return to the living.”
“You no longer command me, Son of Man, you are only a human spirit in this place, and have no power here. You shall remain in Sheol, and no longer interfere with our plans.”
“Lucifer’s corruption has withered your judgment, Hades. Have you forgotten that it was I, as God, who created you? Have you forgotten that it was I who commanded you to release the spirits of Samuel and Lazarus? Are you truly so corrupted as to oppose the Son of God and think that the Father and Holy Spirit are not with me?”
Hades relented for a moment, but with a curse he brought all his power to bear and engaged in a fight with Jesus. He quickly discovered that his power to lay hold of departed spirits was useless against Jesus. Hades attacked Him viciously but could not touch Jesus. Lucifer had promised Hades that once dead, the spirit of the human Jesus would be like all others, but this was clearly a lie. Hades couldn’t capture Jesus any more than he could hold moonlight, and fear crept in as he realized he had no control over the Son of Man. His eyes bulged in terror when Jesus grabbed him firmly by the throat and slammed him to ground.
“You serve my purpose for now, Hades, but know the day will come that I will see to your utter destruction. For now, you shall continue the task for which you were appointed, or my wrath shall be on you.”
Jesus then went deep into the Pit to Tartarus Prison to speak to the Fallen angels imprisoned there.
The two hundred mighty angels who had defied God, chained in darkness since the days of Noah, groaned in agony at the presence of the Lord.
Lucifer had coerced them long before the Flood to leave their heavenly stations and take the forms of men to corrupt the human bloodline so that the One who would destroy Lucifer could not be born. They had children with human women and created the Nephilim, who were an abomination to God. They also led other men and women to great wickedness until God cleansed the entire Earth of them.
God destroyed the Earth with a flood, but He’d saved a remnant with Noah and his family. Jesus was born from the lineage of Noah’s son, Shem. And now He stood before the 200 Fallen, to declare His victory over them and Satan.
“Know that I take no pleasure in your demise, for I remember well the day I created you and entrusted you with all that I hold dear. My love for you is no less, but I cannot forgive the evil you’ve done. Your master bruised my heel with my crucifixion and death, but I declare you will join him when I crush his head in utter ruin.”
The two hundred angels cursed him in their hearts and declared their loyalty to Satan. Not one repented of his sins, and not one regretted his rebellion against God. They’d asked Enoch to petition God for mercy when their sins were fresh, but God refused them, and Satan’s prolonged influence over them had instilled a bitter hatred of God.
Jesus’ heart grieved for the choices they’d made, and the punishment they must endure. Once among the highest of creation, they were now as the lowest of demons. They suffered in their imprisonment here, but their true suffering was still to come. Jesus departed Tartarus, leaving the angels in their chains of darkness to await their final judgment.
When Jesus’ spirit entered the sealed tomb where His body lay, He found it wrapped in linen and resting on a slab of stone. For a moment He remembered the pain and suffering He’d endured in that body, and the human weakness He had embraced for those He created and loved so dearly. It was because of His great love for mankind that He’d offered up His life to save them, and now victory was close at hand.
His task wasn’t finished, though, for those He loved hadn’t been redeemed. With a focused resolve, He summoned the creature known as Death. When the inky blackness of Death assembled itself, Jesus addressed the Reaper of Souls.
“You will return my soul of life and show your obedience to God.”
“What I’ve taken is mine to keep, and the dead can demand nothing from me. You’ve escaped Hades, but you shall not escape Death. I care not that your spirit roams free like the demons without a body, but you shall not return to the living. You chose to embrace Death, and with Death you shall remain.”
“It is not for you to hold me, or to keep what you’ve taken. The day will come when everything you’ve taken will return to the Father, and you shall meet your end. You are joined with Satan, and you will share in his demise.”
The tomb was intensely quiet as Death and Jesus stood their ground. Death wouldn’t relent without a fight, for his corruption ran deep in his loyalty to Satan, and Jesus had to defeat Death to live again.
A distant cry from heaven shattered the quiet of the tomb. "Who is worthy to open the book, and to break its seals?"
“They call for you, Son of Man,” Death said. “But you’re not worthy to open the scroll. Only one who’s died and then defeated Death is worthy. According to His own law, even the Father cannot open the scroll. And since none are worthy, the scroll will not be opened, and the End of Days shall not come. There will be no heavenly resurrection for those who love you, and no Lake of Fire for those who oppose you. As long as life exists, Death will feast, and I intend to feast for a very long time.”
Death was a loathsome creature, but he spoke true. Until Jesus defeated Death, He couldn’t open the scroll’s seals. As a result, Satan’s dominion over Earth would never end, and Christ’s people would never be redeemed. Defeating Death was only part of His task, however, since Death was given his power by Satan himself. It was Satan Jesus ultimately had to defeat, so He took Death by the throat and shook him viciously until Satan arrived.
“It was not enough for you to die, Little Lamb? You also wish that I give you another beating? Is that not gluttony, this desire you have for pain and torture?”
The Devil’s barbs found no purchase on Jesus, and His reply was clear. “This is the day of your defeat, Helel, for Death will no longer have power over those who come to me. I gave you chance on chance in our battle long ago to repent your sins, but you chose rebellion. My heart grieved for you then, but no more. I am Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts and King of Kings. I fought with you in the same way I wrestled with my beloved Jacob: for your own edification as a loving Creator desiring your prosperity. But you chose exile, and it’s time you learned your place.”
Jesus cast Death aside and summoned his strength. Lucifer met Him halfway as they closed on each other in the small tomb to engage in a battle over the future of the world.
The Earth shook outside the tomb from the fury of their contest. The darkness of the cave was suddenly lit by a flash of light as the stone blocking its entrance rolled away. The early light of dawn forced back the dusty gloom to reveal that Helel, also known as Satan, the Devil, and Lucifer, lay defeated beneath Jesus’ feet.
Unable to further resist the strength of the Son, the Devil commanded Death to give up the soul of life he had taken from Jesus.
Jesus saw His soul of life return to His body, and then He joined His spirit with it and His resurrection was complete. He left his burial cloth behind and exited the small tomb. He breathed fresh air into His resurrected body and climbed a small hill to witness the breaking of a new dawn and His return as the Morning Star.
A short time later He met Mary Magdalene, weeping because she could not find His body. When she saw Him, she was overjoyed and came near to embrace Him, but He told her she could not touch Him until He ascended to the Father.
He presented Himself as a lamb fresh from the slaughter, His wounds still bloody and unhealed when he stood before the throne of God. Reverently, He approached the Father and waited to be accepted as the First Fruits sacrifice of Men. The Father nodded silently in acceptance, and then Jesus stepped forward and took from His hand the scroll with the seven seals.
All who stood before Jesus knelt and worshipped Him as He opened the first seal that released the Holy Spirit, symbolized by a rider on a white horse, to spread the Gospel everywhere on Earth. Together they would go forth to conquer evil and save mankind.
He opened the second seal, symbolized by a rider on a red horse for the machine of war, for Satan would fight against the Holy Spirit and any spread of the Gospel.
He opened the third seal, symbolized by a rider on a black horse, for famine, which would follow in the wake of war.
He opened the fourth seal, symbolized by a rider on a pale horse for pestilence and death, for Death and Hades would feast in the ravages of war.
* * *
God waited two millennia while the four horsemen raced across the face of the Earth. When the appointed hour arrived to bring in the End of Days, Jesus opened the fifth seal, and the martyred saints beneath the altar of Heaven cried out for justice. He told them justice would come, but they had to wait a while longer.
Jesus then sent the Archangel Gabriel to tell Satan that it was time to retrieve the first demon to possess the Antichrist. The seven-year Tribulation would soon begin, and Satan would make his last attempt to take over heaven and reign as God.