The Cosmic Conspiracy, Part 14
We left off in the last post with the intriguing thought that Jesus spent 40 hours “dead” before the great and glorious resurrection. Everything that God does is vitally important and relevant to an eternally established plan. The biblical significance of the number 40 (and multiples thereof) is an unmistakable and undeniable fixture in God’s unfolding revelation of the redemption of humanity. Therefore, a full investigation of what happened between “it is finished” and “He is alive!” paints a very grim picture for the advancement of Satan’s Cosmic Conspiracy, and the glorious picture of the advancement of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus came to firmly establish on the earth.
The confusion and chaos that proceeded Jesus’ death literally rocked Jerusalem to its core. Shock waves were reverberating through Earth and the cosmos, as The Father was grieving the grotesque crucifixion of His only Begotten Son. It was as if a black hole had opened above the cross and all hope was being sucked out of the earth to leave it formless and void, as it was in the beginning. It was as if the words of the great prophet Isaiah were being mocked by all the forces of darkness: "For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you,” (Isa. 60:2). The glory of the Lord was not rising, it had just set - it was snuffed out. Darkness had prevailed - so it seemed.
The cacophony of the crucifixion soon morphed into an eerie sullenness - a great calm after a great storm - as Jesus’ lifeless body was being lovingly lowered into the arms of His mother and few faithful followers. Among them was a rich Jewish leader who graciously offered his personal tomb for Jesus to be laid to rest. The entire process had to be rushed along as the sun was setting and the Sabbath would be starting. There was no time for a proper burial. His followers would need to come back after the Sabbath and properly anoint Jesus’ body, as was customary. The tiny, grief-stricken group slowly slipped away after the tomb was sealed with a huge stone. It was finished.
Meanwhile, Satan and his demons must have been drunk with perverted glee as they seemingly had succeeded in devouring the life blood of Jesus. Intoxicated by the belief that Heaven’s throne now lay in their sights, they savored this putrid victory unaware of the magnitude of what they had just unleashed into the universe. Something totally unexpected and unbelievable was happening. The black hole that had sucked hope out of the earth was being transformed into a portal of Divine Glory as laser beams of light were streaking from God’s throne and headed straight into the deep darkness that was hovering over the earth. God was again shouting, “Let there be light!”
There is still much theological and scholarly debate about exactly what was happening in those 40, universe-transforming hours. In the end, we will know the full revelation of truth when we, too, are transported into the realm of God’s Heavenly Kingdom. I would like to present three events that I believe took place during these hours that are keys to understanding the universal power of the redeeming blood of Jesus to transform death into life. The scriptures state that Christ must fill up all things with His fullness (see Colossians 1). Redemption must extend even into the realms of darkness to shine light for any who want to see. The words of one of our most beloved Christmas anthems, Joy To The World, sum up the vast reach of this light, …”Far as the curse is found”...
The first event: while the lifeless physical body of Jesus is lying in cold darkness, the pre-resurrected Jesus makes His first stop at a place where those who died in hope and faith, believing God and keeping His Covenant sacred, were waiting for their liberation to fully enter the glory they longed for. Where, and what this place was is still a mystery. The book of Hebrews shed some light on this in a few places.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city. [Heb 11:13-16 ESV, emphasis added]
You have come to the assembly of God's firstborn children, whose names are written in Heaven. You have come to God Himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in Heaven who have now been made perfect. [Heb 12:23 NLT, emphasis added]
Try to imagine a place where throngs of people are waiting in hopeful anticipation for the doors of a venue to open where a great performance is about to begin for which they are holding reservations. As the doors open, the reservations are validated by the blood of Jesus, and stamped, “paid in full.” These faithful ones are now able to fully receive the promise that they have been eagerly waiting for - eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven! Satan, and the power of death had succeeded in killing these faithful ones physically, but Jesus’ death now has given them new spiritual life as they enter into their promised inheritance.
The second event: what about all the souls of the people who perished before the incarnation of Jesus? What about all those people who originally rejected God and His Word without having had the opportunity to actually see the Living Word of God? Peter gives us insight into this realm:
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, in which he also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison (1 Pe 3:18-19 CSB, emphasis added).
That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead--so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.
[1 Pe 4:6 NLT]
Now, use your imagination. Here is the picture of the pre-resurrected Jesus going to wherever this “prison” was and preaching to the souls there just like He did to those who saw Him alive. His mission was to give them the same opportunity to accept or reject the offer of salvation and the promise of eternal life. All of this dynamically powerful liberation work was going on in the unseen spirit dimension while on the surface, some people were mourning, some were celebrating, and some had no clue about what had just happened. In the kingdom of darkness, there was quite a commotion erupting!
Reports must have gotten to Satan that the gates of Heaven were now open and vast multitudes were streaming into God’s majestic city. The death of Jesus was supposed to shut tight the entrance to Heaven in the face of humanity. What was happening? The demon guards of the hellish prison camp had identified a divine being with fire in His eyes heading straight for them with what looked like myriads and myriads of angelic warriors. They were under siege! Satan and all of his forces rushed to the battle lines to guard the entrance to the prison where a vast sea of POWs were being held like cattle awaiting their slaughter to be the main course of Satan’s victory banquet.
The ranks of Heaven stood stalwart and true as Jesus, in all of His blazing glory, stepped forward and confronted Satan face to face. Stunned and staggering, Satan is undone in the presence of pure goodness. Never had Satan experienced the power of the all-consuming, overwhelming, self-sacrificing Love of God. Jesus only addressed Satan to say, “hand over the keys of death and of hell.” The now limp and helpless prince of darkness relinquished his keys as a whimpering mass of cowardice, and in doing so lost the authority over death. Jesus majestically marched past the howling demon dogs, flung open the dungeon doors, stepped into the sea of damned humanity, and began to preach the redemptive plan of God that had just overcome, for all eternity, the power of sin. We will only know in eternity how many souls marched out of the dregs of death with the Son of Life straight into Heaven’s welcoming arms of amazing grace.
With two missions accomplished, there was still one more vital spoil of victory to claim. This event would set up the Kingdom of God on the earth with its sole purpose and mission to go into all the world, and preach and demonstrate the gospel of the Kingdom, and finish destroying all the works of the devil. Jesus had completed His part of this magnificent plan of redemption. He would soon be leaving the realms of Earth and return to His throne in Heaven to oversee the completion of the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness.
The next phase of the redemption plan was going to rest on the shoulders of the feeble-hearted band of deserting disciples. Why would Jesus, after all that He suffered for the sake of humanity to liberate us from the domain of death and darkness, make such a seeming deleterious decision to leave this vital mission in the hands of people who could not get it right, even when Jesus was physically with them? Wasn’t this the problem in the first place? Didn’t God already try to have humanity take dominion over the earth? Was God setting Himself up for more heart-wrenching disappointment?
If Satan was stunned by the display of God’s wisdom in sending His only Begotten Son to die in order to bring life, God’s next move to use humanity again was incomprehensible. Satan had succeeded for millennia to dominate the earth. Indeed, he still held the vast majority of humanity in his oppressive claws. What threat could a handful of hapless, broken-hearted followers of Jesus possible pose? Here is how the Apostle Paul presented this phase of God’s plan:
No, we declare God's wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. [1Co 2:7-8 NIV]
Paul states that none of the rulers of this age understood God’s plan. This statement is not only referring to human rulers, but also to the spiritual powers of wickedness that were using their human puppets to perpetrate their heinous acts of rebellion against God. Satan was watching his masterfully orchestrated Cosmic Conspiracy vaporize before His eyes. Heaven was open. Humanity had been emancipated. The prison doors were obliterated. His prized keys of death were confiscated. His entire empire was imploding and the crushing shame of failure was engulfing him.
Here is the commentary from the Apostle Paul:
He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Col 2:14-15 NLT)
What was meant for eternal death had transformed into eternal life. Jesus had turned the tomb into a womb. In the 40 hours of gestation a miraculous birth was rushing through the dark birth canal. The anguish of Jesus’ followers were like labor pains. The earth was about to deliver her King, resurrected, glorious, and ready to exercise His right to reign. Death had been denied. Jesus burst forth from the grave, and one would expect the choirs of Heaven to be singing the Hallelujah Chorus loud enough for all Judea to hear! But, there was not a soul around (except for some stupefied Roman guards - more on that later) to witness the greatest event in the history of humanity. This all seems so anticlimactic. What was the Father thinking?
This was all part of an amazing plan that the unfathomable wisdom of God was methodically unfolding. Satan was dazed and dumbfounded, but still bent on destruction. I can imagine Satan slinking around in the shadows to see just what Jesus was up to. How would the domain of the Kingdom of Heaven totally displace his kingdom of darkness? Would Jesus call on angel armies to finish the job? Would Satan be dragged before the throne of God and thrown into the fiery pit of hell?
There is still one more event that took place during this 40 hours that we need to examine. For this event unveils the details of how Jesus is going to rule on planet earth. When Satan saw where Jesus was headed after His resurrection, he probably could not believe what he was seeing. This was almost too good to be true!
Curious? Tune in next time...
by Pastor Jim Anan