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Blue Helmets to Jerusalem - page 52 / 95





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The patriarch Jacob expected to go to sheol at death. (Genesis 37:35 Pocket Interlinear Old Testament) Jesus himself, during the interval between his death and the resurrection of his body, apparently also went to hades. He was not "abandoned in hades" (Acts 2:31 Zondervan's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament) but while there he preached "to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:19)

Very little was said about sheol or hades in Scripture, until Jesus gave his parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus:

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one

went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. - Luke 16:19-31 KJV

The parable shows the departed spirits of both the rich man and Lazarus ending up in hades—but on the opposite sides of a "great gulf" separating hades into two realms. The rich man is "tormented" in what he refers to as "this place of torment." In the other realm of hades the beggar finds himself in the company of the deceased patriarch Abraham, and he is "comforted" there. This, apparently, is the "paradise" Jesus promised to the repentant evildoer nailed up next to him at the crucifixion: "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43 KJV)

Jesus pointed forward to the time when "many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 8:11 KJV) By the time the letter to the Hebrews was written, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had apparently been taken to heaven, to the "city" God had prepared for them: "they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:16 NIV) What city? "heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God," home of "the spirits of righteous men made perfect." (Hebrews 12:22-23 NIV)

How did they get from sheol or hades to heavenly Jerusalem? Many interpret these verses as indicating that Christ did not leave hades alone but took with him Abraham and others: "'When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.' (What does 'he ascended' mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)" (Ephesians 4:8-10 NIV)

However, that passage is rather obscure and difficult to interpret dogmatically. In any case, by the time Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians, paradise and its inhabitants were no longer found in

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