234 – THE DOORS OF HELL
The first thing to do is to define hell. In the Hebrew, the word SHEOL applies to or translates three concepts: DEATH, SEPULCHER and PLACE OF TORMENT. The Hebrew translators know what is the correct translation by the meaning of the sentence. When someone was condemned for a crime and was stoned to death, the word Sheol could be translated “death”, or “hell,” that is torment after death.
In the New Testament Jesus declared to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). What is Jesus revealing? He is saying that the only place in this world we live in into which hell does not have an entrance is his Church, which was going to be edified. Before Jesus, the gates of hell prevailed over everything and over all, one hundred per cent. Paul, the apostle, tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The doors of hell in this world are wide open, and all have entered through them.
And more: Hell, death also, is the empire and the kingdom of Satan, because we read in the letter to the Hebrews, “Since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
Let us examine what the Scriptures say about the issue:
1. Jehovah formed a Garden of delights for himself, named Garden of Eden, towards the East. Jehovah made the earth produce all kinds of trees that were pleasant to the eyes and good for food. It is obvious that he placed fragrant trees, flowers of all kinds, there. And he planted the tree of life right in the middle of the garden, and also the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:8-9). “Then Jehovah God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). And Jehovah came in the evenings to a walk around his walled garden. The serpent had the key and got there earlier. It seduced Eve, and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the science of good and evil, which Jehovah had forbidden her to eat. Eve gave the fruit to Adam, and he also ate with her (Gen. 3:1-6). When Jehovah arrived at the garden to walk around in it, the damage had already been made. Offended by the disobedience, Jehovah cast a curse upon the serpent, a curse upon the inexperienced Eve, another one upon Adam for his disobedience, and finally cursed the earth to produce thorns and weeds forever (Gen. 3:8-19). Very angry, Jehovah sent them away from the Garden and locked the gates tight. He set cherubim and a flaming sword to keep the way to the tree of life. What a disaster! The serpent destroyed the Garden of Eden. Men were condemned to death, and the doors of hell prevailed against the plans of Jehovah (Rom. 5:12). The project of Jehovah is in Mal. 2:15.
2. Two thousand years later Jehovah took the seed of Abraham, his friend (Is. 41:8), that was captive to Pharaoh for 400 years, and delivered them by the hand of Moses (Ex. 3:7-8). With great upheaval and with great plagues he took the people from Egypt and led them to the foot of Mount Sinai. From the top of the mount, which was covered with darkness, storms and lightning, he gave the Ten Commandments and made a covenant with the people. Moses, who had gone up the Mount, stayed there for 40 days. The people, at the foot, demanded in the meanwhile that Aaron made them a calf of gold, similar to the Apis bull, worshipped in Egypt. They made a great feast, and a great hubbub. Jehovah’s fury was such, that Moses had a lot of work to prevent him from destroying the people, the descendants of Abraham, whom Jehovah had promised to multiply and bless (Gen. 22:16-18; Ex. 32:1-14). The covenant was broken before it was even in force, for Moses broke the tablets of stone of the covenant of Jehovah with his chosen people.
3. Jehovah, counseled by Moses, and very upset continued his project to establish his kingdom here on the earth, for he had said, “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples […] and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5-6). It was a theocratic kingdom. Jehovah proclaims the end of his kingdom to Samuel when the people asked for another king, more human and less complicated. Jehovah said,“Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not respected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (1 Sam. 8:4-7). There the disgrace of the kingdom began. The greatest of their kings, Solomon, was the worst, for he was a tyrant over his people (1 Kings 12:4-11). The kingdom of Israel should be a light to this world, for Jehovah said, “You are My witnesses” (Is. 43:10-12; 44:8). The doors of hell prevailed, though, against the kingdom of Jehovah, who declared, “When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name” (Ezek. 36:20; Is. 52:5). Jehovah, who calls himself the king of Israel (Is. 43:15), not able to lead them in his ways, had the unlucky idea of dividing the kingdom (1 Kings 11:11-12; 35-36). The two kingdoms, now, deteriorated even more (Ezek. 23:1-11). The gates of hell prevailed to such extent, that the Assyrians destroyed the kingdom of the north (2 Kings 17:20-23). The kingdom of the south, that is, Judah, the Chaldeans likewise destroyed (2 Kings 23:27; Lam. 5:1-16).
4. Hell prevailed against the priesthood established by Jehovah, for he declares, “For both prophet and priest are profane; yes, in my house have I found their wickedness, says Yahweh. Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein; for I will bring evil on them, even the year of their visitation, says Yahweh. I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied by Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that none does return from his wickedness: they are all of them become to me as Sodom, and its inhabitants as Gomorrah” (Jer. 23:11-14).
5. Jehovah said, “thus says God Jehovah, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it” (Is. 42:5). And the psalmist further says, “Tremble before Him, all the earth; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; and let them say among the nations, ‘Jehovah reigns.’” (1 Chr. 16:30-31). The prophet Isaiah declared, “For Jehovah of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Is. 14:27). “I act and who can reverse it?” (Is. 43:13). The apostle Paul speaks of another power, stronger than that of Jehovah, whose power subdued creation: “For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Rom. 819-22). Jehovah assured that whatever he determines cannot be changed, for he is all-powerful; and does Satan subdue all creation? The gates of hell prevailed against the creation of Jehovah in such a way that Peter said, “But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7). Nothing will remain from this creation of Jehovah, over which he rules (Is. 42:5).
The gates of hell will prevail everywhere, except over the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord (Matt. 16:18).Jesus established a new world in his Church (Rev. 13:8). The kingdom of God the Father is within the gates of the Church (Luke 17:20-21). Those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, were born again are part of this glorious kingdom (John 3:3-6). No man or woman that is born of the carnal intercourse is a child of God the Father, but only those who are born of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12-13). Those born-again persons are workmanship of Jesus, and a new creation, as Paul said; they are created in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24; 2 Cor. 5:17).
By PASTOR OLAVO SILVEIRA PEREIRA