#2 The Hostages, the Ransom & the Redeemer

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It was God himself who first prophesied concerning the redeemer, the one who would ransom mankind from the world’s first hostage-holding terrorist—Satan, and from the terrible consequences of sin.

 

This chapter deals primarily with the redeemer who, the scriptures tell us, all Biblical Prophecy revolves around (Revelation 19:10).

 

An understanding of these things is essential to understanding Biblical Prophecy, and gives us tremendous power to be faithful in our walk with God, even when we don’t feel very spiritual or close to him.

 

 

Soul Sleep?

In Genesis 2:16-17, God said, “of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shat not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

 

God’s enemy, Satan, wasted no time in beginning his work of deception by telling the woman that God had lied to her. He said, “You shall not surely die (Genesis 3:4-5).”

 

Eve chose to believe the serpent’s lie and ate of the forbidden fruit. Unfortunately for all mankind, Adam followed suit, and that very day Adam died (God never lies), and the death sentence was passed upon his body, which immediately began to age, and eventually it died as well. You see we are much more than just a body. We live in our bodies, but they are not the real us (Genesis 3:6, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 2 Corinthians 5:1-8).

 

The moment Adam sinned, he (and all of his future off-spring) became the hostages of God’s enemy—Satan, and would have remained so forever had not God moved immediately on mankind’s behalf in covering Adam and Eve’s sin and in promising a redeemer who would pay a ransom to buy them back (Acts 20:28, Mark 10:45).

 

The dictionary defines “redeemer” as one who buys back [or redeems] by paying a ransom.

 

Since Adam’s physical life did not end on the first day he sinned, we know that God’s definition of death transcends ours. So how exactly is death defined in scripture? What does it mean to die? And why is death such a terrible thing that God would give up his only and beloved son to one of the cruelest deaths ever conceived in order to buy us back from the clutches of Satan?

 

Some say death is being in an unconscious state or that we simply cease to exist. The Bible does say, in Ecclesiastes 9:5 that, “The dead know not anything.” Is this verse saying that when the body dies, the consciousness of a person also ceases?

 

No it is not.

 

This verse is referring only to the body, which is in the grave. The state of the body, in death, is often referred to in scripture as sleeping until it is redeemed at the resurrection. From scriptures such as Ecclesiastes 9:5, some have propagated the erroneous doctrine of soul sleep. But the scriptures never even hint at such a thing. It is only the body that sleeps while awaiting the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51, Daniel 12:2).

 

The soul never loses consciousness. The Bible says Abraham saw Jesus’ day and was glad. How could that be if he ceased to exist, or if his soul fell asleep, when his body died?

 

And while Christ’s body lay in the grave he (Christ) was preaching to the spirits who were in prison—the disobedient ones from the days of Noah (John 8:56, 1 Peter 3:18-20).

 

 

Did Jesus Suffer In Hell?

These same scriptures also contradict the false doctrine that Jesus suffered in hell during the 3 days his body laid in the grave. His redemptive work was completed before he was ever taken down from the cross. His suffering was over the moment he gave up the ghost. He said so himself when he cried out, “It is finishedpaid (John 19:30)!”

 

Body Soul and Spirit

Ecclesiastes 3:20-21 and 12:7 reveals that upon the death of the body, the spirit (righteous and unrighteous alike) goes upward and returns to God who gave it. The spirit and soul are not at all the same. But only the two-edged sword, which is the Word of God, is able to divide the two. This happens literally to some when their bodies die.

 

Our soul is the part of us that thinks, feels, makes decisions and communicates with God. It is the part of us that participates in both the physical and the spiritual. It is the real us. That is why it is our souls that need to be saved. Our bodies will only be saved (redeemed) at the resurrection if our souls are saved before the body dies (James 1:21, 1 Peter 1:9, Romans 8:16-23).

 

Our soul (the real us) does not lose consciousness or cease to exist upon the death of the body—Abraham’s didn’t, Christ’s didn’t, Lazarus’ didn’t, and ours won’t either (Philippians 1:23-24, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

 

Before the resurrection of Christ, upon the death of the body, the souls of the righteous dead went a place called Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom. The souls of the unrighteous dead went directly to hell and were tormented (Luke 16:19, 23:43, Luke 16:22-24).

 

The only reason the righteous dead did not go directly to hell (a place created not for man but for the devil and his angels [Matthew 25:41]) was because God moved immediately on mankind’s behalf, after Adam’s sin, by promising a Redeemer and by sacrificing an innocent animal to cover Adam and Eve’s sin. God himself performed the first animal sacrifice (Genesis 3:15, 21).

 

It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. It was necessary that blood be shed immediately to cover Adam and Eve’s sin. The Lord himself performed the first animal sacrifice, and then used the skins of the sacrificed animals to clothe (cover) the naked couple. Then he prophesied of the redeemer who would provide the final, sacrificial, atonement (covering), by shedding his own blood, for the remission of our sins (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22, Genesis 3:21).

 

We read in Revelation 19:10 that, “The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy.” That means that all Bible Prophecy revolves around the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ—nothing else.

 

In eating the forbidden fruit, Adam gave the serpent power over him and all of his descendents (that includes you and me). God promised to send a man, the seed of woman, to strip the serpent of his power over mankind and completely crush him (Genesis 3:15).

 

The phrase, bruise thy head, in Genesis 3:15, means to strip of power or to crush (the head representing rank or authority).

 

But until such time as the serpent would be stripped of his power, the righteous dead were held captive, for their protection, in a place called Abraham’s Bosom located somewhere in the heart of the earth. This place was beautiful enough to be called paradise, but it was not Heaven (Luke 16:22-25, Ezekiel 31:16, Job 14:13). 

 

When Jesus ascended to Heaven after his resurrection he took these captive souls with him, but first he had to descend into the “lower parts of the earth” to get them (Ephesians 4:8-10).

 

This is yet another proof that Jesus never suffered in hell. How could he have suffered in hell for 3 days when he told the thief, who was crucified with him, that they would be together in Paradise on the very day they both died? Remember, according to his own words, the price was completely paid while he was still hanging on the cross.

 

We see from scripture that Jesus was quite busy during the time his body lay in the tomb, and he didn’t spend any of that time burning in hell fire (Luke 23:43, 1 Peter 3:19-20). 

 

Had Christ failed in his mission and refused to die on the cross during that long ago Passover, possession of those captive souls, in Abraham’s Bosom/Paradise, would have defaulted to Satan and been doomed—forever—along with him. Not only would they have all been without hope, but you and I would be without hope as well.

 

 

God’s Definition of Death

Death is scripturally defined as separation from the presence of God and his power, both now, in this life, and throughout eternity (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Isaiah 59:1-2, Ephesians 2:1, 5).

 

The word, destruction, in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, does not connote annihilation or cessation of existence. The ungodly in this verse are being destroyed from something. They are being destroyed from the presence of God and from his power.

 

God is not a liar. Adam and Eve did indeed die the very day they ate the forbidden fruit (because, like us, they were more than just a body). They experienced God’s definition of death—true death—the very day God banished them from his presence (not just spiritual death (as we mortals like to call it). Spiritual death is not subordinate to, or less devastating than, physical death. It is quite the opposite (Genesis 3:24, Matthew 10:28).

 

Spiritual death is true death, and physical death is merely a subordinate by-product. Those who belong to Jesus Christ never experience true death and physical death, for them, will only be temporary (John 11:25-26).

 

 

Was The Tree Just An Unfair Test?

Why was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ever in the garden to begin with? Was God just trying to trip up the first couple? It really seems unfair doesn’t it?

 

No, The tree wasn’t a trick or even a test. The tree was there to protect the man and woman. It was a warning. But how could this tree possibly protect them? How did this tree warn them? Why didn’t God simply tell them plainly, from the start, exactly who the serpent was and arm them with life-saving knowledge?

 

He did arm them with life-saving knowledge.

 

Protection from evil comes only through obedience to God. The woman and the man did not need to understand anything about the evil in order to be protected from it. In fact, any knowledge—at all—of evil was detrimental to the couple. All they needed to do, in order to remain completely safe—forever… was to obey.

The scriptures reveal that, in the cosmic plan of things, Satan had, and still has, access to this planet. But his influence on the people of this planet was, and still is, severely restricted. Satan’s plan was to cause the couple to disobey God, because he knew the moment they did so, their perfect, sinless, protected, existence would be gone forever, and more importantly, he knew that dominion over this planet would revert from mankind back to him.

 

By placing the tree in the garden along with only one, “Thou shalt not,” God, in his wisdom, successfully restricted Satan’s access to the innocent couple. The number of points of contact available to Satan, before the fall, was restricted to just one.

 

To have first hand knowledge of both good and evil is a grievous thing. Parents do not be seduced into thinking you must expose your children to the bad as well as to the good in order for them to be properly trained. That is not God’s way. His way is for his children to flee from all that is sinful and to pursue the good.

 

If mature adults are warned to flee from all evil, how can we possibly expect any good to come from deliberately allowing our children to be exposed to it in order to “educate them?” According to the Word of God, we cannot shelter our children too much in regards to sin.

 

The only way the first couple could acquire first-hand knowledge of sin, was through first hand experience. God told them about sin when he warned them against eating from the tree, but they had to actually experience sin in order to have first hand knowledge of it—and to be harmed by it.

Which experience they gained the moment they stretched forth their hands in rebellion against God.

 

The tree was not there to trick or to trap them. It was there to protect them. Had the tree not been there, the serpent would have still been there. He would have still been carrying out his agenda, but the couple would have been sitting ducks with no defense whatsoever.

 

God did not warn them against the serpent—at that point in mankind’s existence, knowledge of the serpent (evil) was not necessary. But He did provide them with a safe guard. And if they had only obeyed the one restrictive commandment given to them, all would have been well.

 

But they did not. And because of that, they lost the privilege of constant access to the presence and power of God—who alone imparts and indeed, is, life (Genesis 3:22-24).

 

Because of this, Adam and all of his descendents were in desperate need of a Redeemer—someone to pay the ransom and save them from the terrible destruction meant only for Satan and his angels (Mathew 25:41).

 

Jesus came in order to give us life both now and in the age to come. Jesus himself said there was no other way to have life except through him (John 10:10, 3:16, John 14:6, Acts 4:10-12).

 

The scriptures say we need only to believe in Jesus Christ, and to call on God to save us through faith in his resurrected son, and we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

 

When we believe that Jesus is our redeemer, and call on God to save us through faith in his risen son, we can have assurance right now that we possess life, which is scripturally defined as having constant access to the presence and power of God both now and in the age to come (2 Thessalonians 1:9, Hebrews 4:15-16, 1 John 5:12-13, John 1:12).

 

Why wait another moment to have that assurance? If you do not have it, talk to God about it right now. Tell him you understand your soul is tainted and doomed by Adam’s sin. Tell him you want forgiveness and eternal life through faith in the shed blood of his risen son, Christ Jesus. He promises he will hear your prayer and forgive you when you come to him on those terms (Romans 10:9-10,13).

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