Monday, March 31, 2008


The Plundering of Sheol

"The Plundering of Sheol"
(Please click to see the faces of the people!)

By Ramone - March 31, 2008

"I will ransom them from the power of Sheol;
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O Sheol, is your destruction?"

- Hosea 13:14 NIV (margin)

You have ascended on high,
You have led captivity captive.

- Psalm 68:18
It's the moment when Jesus died, when His Spirit descended to Hades (Sheol) to release its captives (and preach to the gospel to the disobedient spirits in tartarus/the abyss). The people are seen joyfully receiving Him. The veil of the temple and the rocks of the tombs broke at the same time, and that's the first two layers here. The next layer (3rd, on top) is the Law. I believe it represents the law of sin & death that kept us from being with Him. The law is shown "broken" because He fulfilled it. In fulfilling the law and by His blood, the power of sin was broken over us all, making the way for Jesus to take the captives of Sheol to heaven, and freeing us all from death!
"O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?"

The sting of death is sin,
and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

- 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NKJV
This event also seems to be like a mini-picture of the last day, of Jesus' coming, doesn't it! While making this picture, I couldn't escape feeling that the rocks of the tombs accidentally ended up looking like clouds, too! And I feel like "their" story (the ones taken to heaven from Sheol when Jesus died and rose from the grave) is also our story. I guess this picture is of Jesus breaking through every layer of 'death' --- body (rocks), spiritual (veil), and soul (law).

By the way, I didn't mean to make it look like Jesus' hands were on the Law; they were supposed to be above it -- it's broken and He's going between the pieces. (Now hey, doesn't that sound like that flaming torch Abraham saw going between the pieces of the sacrifices in Genesis! Was that "sunset" event in Genesis 15 a picture of God's passionate, jealous-for-us Holy and unquenchable Spirit fulfilling His Promise by going through the broken body of Christ? God made a way to "get through" to us in our state of death through His Son's sacrifice!)

One thing that you may not notice is Jesus' orange feet. They are His glowing feet of burnished bronze (see Revelation 1-2). It's His judgment. Most traditional pictures of "The Harrowing of Hell" (that is, "The Plundering/Sacking of Hades") show tartarus/the abyss beneath and cowering condemned spirits & people, but in this picture I didn't see that, even though I tried to. All I saw was His orange feet. It's difficult to picture His judgment -- I think this is Him telling me (and maybe others) not to try to picture it, but to focus on Him. Because all righteousness and righteous judgment is in Him. It's only by sitting at His feet and staring into His love that we will ever begin to see and understand His judgment, which comes from His jealous agape love for us.

I saved the most beautiful part for last to tell about -- the red layer, the frame. Inside we see the rocks broken, the veil rent, the Law's power and barrier broken, and Jesus' body broken. The red layer is Father's broken heart, which made all of this possible. It was because of His broken heart that all of this happened, and that we are all set free.

When Christ died, He broke every layer of every thing that hindered us from being with Him, whether we are dead or alive. And as He descended into Sheol and brought its captives out, so too He brings us out of all captivity today. He is the God who would stop at nothing to be with us--even at the rending of His own heart.


You can read some of the story behind making this picture and comments that led up to it here on the FAF forum.

If you want to read more about the Biblical teaching behind this event (which the church has believed throughout most of its nearly 2,000-year history), see this post by my spiritual mum Hazel Holland, along with another view of this event from His heart: "The Lion of Judah Has Triumphed!" She and I are both heavily indebted to a wonderful study we both read independently by our friend Dr. Cherry Brandstater (which can be read here: "Spirit") that helped open our eyes to the wonderful, wonderful thing Jesus did when He died and was "in the grave".

HOLY COW THIS IS GOOD!!!!!!!! Ramone!! Whoa!! God is speaking something powerful here.

Is Christ nailed to the 10 commandments? Not that it looks like that necessarily but it could be symbolic of people nailing him not on a cross but on the tablets... I dunno.. just wondering.

But it also looks like he's defeating each layer that you painted..

It looks GOOOOOOD!

Very powerful symbol! Thanks for sharing that powerful message.

I was there in that muck of condemnation, and through His victory He pulled me out.

Jesus' hands reminded me of Habakkuk 3:4:

His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power.

Many blessings.
Thank you, Ramone, for sharing this powerful message of God going to the uttermost depths of the earth to release us from captivity by the power of His sacrificial love... His finished work for us is truly amazing and glorious!

I love the way you depicted in layers what happened when Christ died on the cross for us!

Just as the Scriptures say, "... the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14).

I'm forever grateful!
I laughed out loud a few nights ago when I realized that when Hazel and I got two different pictures of this same event around the same time, I got the view "from behind" and she got the view "from the front"! Haha, God is awesome!

Tonight, however, I look at this picture and I'm reminded of how singers will "stage-dive" into a crowd at a concert, riding on top of the hands of the happy fans. And it seems like Jesus is taking a great "stage-dive" into Sheol here, and I can just imagine all the happy people of Abraham's Bosom (upper Sheol) like the overjoyed crowd watching Him in concert, doing His thing, all too happy to just be touching Him and have Him come to them!

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