Sunday, April 4, 2010

Victory Over Death

"And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and of Hades." Revelation 1:17-18

{keys κλείς kleis} {of death θάνατος thanatos} {and of Hades ᾅδης hadēs}

What are the keys of Death and Hades? How would the people of the Greco-Roman world understood what this verse said? I believe they would have taken this very literally and assumed that Jesus did in fact descend to the underworld as they knew it. I believe they would have had understanding of what this meant from a spiritual warfare point of view. I believe they would have assumed this verse meant that Jesus actually fought and won the keys in the underworld. The Greco-Roman world had an acute understanding of "who" held power in the underworld. I want to share with you a few of the principle characters, namely Thanatos, Hecate, Hades and Persephone.

I believe the people of that time would have been keenly aware of what Jesus had accomplished by stating that he had "the keys of Death and Hades". What a wonderful testimony of the power of the cross, resurrection and life everlasting. What hope for people to know then and now that Jesus holds their lives in the justice of the cross and no longer in the curse and injustice of these gods{the Devil}. That no man will enter the realm of Hades without going through Jesus first. He now decides in grace and perfect justice.

Thanatos is the Greek word for death. But in Greek mythology Thanatos was an actual god that was the personification of death. He was usually depicted with wings and a sacrificial sword{see picture above} and was the priest of Hades. Looks a little familiar doesn't he? The angel of Death, that is the Devil. The picture is from a relief that was in the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

The temple of Artemis also had a special area dedicated to the goddess Hecate. Hecate was the Greek goddess of ghosts, spirits and the crossroads. She was usually depicted as threefold or as three women{see the picture}. Each held a torch in one hand, and a snake, rope and key in the other. So this would have been one of the keys to the underworld since she was at the crossroads of the physical world and the spirit world. One of her titles was Klêidouchos (holding the keys). It is thought that Hecate comes from one of the Greek words for "the will" and was most often associated with dogs.

Hades god of the underworld had a three-headed guard dog name Cerubus that is thought to be Hecate herself. Hades means "unseen one" and most ancient Greeks were afraid to even speak his name. Hades was a god and a realm. It was known of Hades that no alive person could enter through the gates and no dead person could leave. That is until the cross!

"Zeus Khthonios (of the Underworld) [Haides], thy sacred ear incline, and pleased accept these sacred rites divine. Earth’s keys to thee, illustrious king, belong, its secret gates unlocking, deep and strong. ‘Tis thine abundant annual fruits to bear, for needy mortals are thy constant care. To thee, great king, all sovereign earth assigned, the seat of gods and basis of mankind." Orphic Hymn 18

One of the most famous stories of Hades is his abduction of Persephone. The innocent daughter of the fertility goddess Demeter. Hades captured her, took her to the underworld and raped her; making the world barren {human & creation}. Thus she became queen of the underworld. Demeter fought for the release of her daughter. Since Zeus could no longer stand the barren earth he agreed to release her only if she hadn't eaten any food in the underworld. Unfortunately Persephone had eaten; pomegranate seeds {a known abortive agent of ancient times.} Maybe because of the rape? So Zeus decreed that she would have to spend four months of the year in Hades, hence the barren months of the earth.

One of the most widespread festivals of the Greco-Roman world was called Thesmophoria. This fertility festival was in honor of Demeter and Persephone. Two of the main rites of this "fertility" festival was for woman to abstain from sex and only eat pomegranate seeds to identify with the barrenness of Persephone. So with all that said let's read the verse again.

"And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and of Hades." Revelation 1:17-18

Now why am I telling you all this mythology stuff on Easter Sunday? Because I want you to get a spiritual warfare understanding of what the cross and resurrection accomplished! Mythology is an excellent reference to see the strategy of the enemy. Imagine being an ancient Greek person and hearing the above verse. They would have known immediately what that meant on a spiritual level. This wasn't an "Oh good now I get to go to heaven" this was an understanding of the battle that had been fought and won by this man Jesus over the powers of darkness. This meant no more fear of death, no more fear of unjust judgment at death, no more fear of barrenness, no more fear of fate, no more fear of fear!  It is important to see that what Jesus accomplished on the cross was a spiritual victory over the powers that be.  Not a battle against flesh and blood.  To the Gentile world this would have had an even greater affect since it was the "powers that be" that they feared.

Jesus walked into the realm of Hades ALIVE, Thanatos{Death} could not hold him. He left Hades ALIVE and stripped of it's power over death and eternal life. Jesus holds the keys of the crossroads, Jesus holds the keys to justice, Jesus holds the keys to eternal LIFE. Jesus is God above all and Victor overall. The battle still rages but the VICTORY is won. So now that you know who you are battling...FIGHT. There is a spiritual power in the blood of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. Use it and be VICTORIOUS while we are still here.  Use it to bring freedom to those still suffering.

1 comment:

  1. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!! Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to recieve glory, honor, strength and power for ever and ever!!!!


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