Read Zechariah 9:11-12
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.” (1 Peter 3:19-20 NLT)
When we read the Gospels, we get a sense that Jesus saw himself as a savior of his people. We can see how he he lived, how he taught, and how he ultimately took on the role of God’s suffering servant. We see that he claimed not only to be a teacher or a prophet, but that he was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What’s more, Jesus claimed to be one with, and the same as, God Almighty, the great I AM.
His disciples not only believed, but were transformed by their relationship with Jesus and, in turn they helped tranform the world. Jesus’ views were not only his own, but ones steeped in his Jewish beliefs and his understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Each day this week, let us look at the prophetic connection between Jesus and the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.
The Great Sabbath. The Great Sabbath, also known as Holy Saturday, is the day following Jesus’ death. While some may wonder why it was called “the Great Sabbath” when Jesus was dead, it is obvious that death is the “final rest”, and Sabbath is the day of rest set apart by God. Thus, even on the surface, it makes sense that Holy Saturday would be considered the Great Rest.
Yet, we can take it one step further. It is also the day that the disciples and Jesus’ family all stayed in hiding for fear that they would be captured and crucified. The times were tense and, while I am sure that Holy Saturday was stressful (not “restful”), they weren’t out and about doing things on that day. What’s more, though they did not realize it at the time, they were lying in wait for what would take place early the next morning.
Still, while the above reasons are all insightful in some way or another, they are not ultimately what makes Holy Saturday “The Great Sabbath”. Saturday, in Judaism (sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening), is Sabbath and/or the day of rest. It was also Passover, which made this particular Sabbath even more special. When we look at the accounts of Jesus in the Gospels, we will notice that while Jesus took God’s call to observe Sabbath seriously, he did not do so legalistically. Yes, he would rest when and where he could. Yes, he would go up onto a mountaintop to pray; however, he would do God’s work on the Sabbath, which often landed him in trouble with the Pharisees.
On this particular Sabbath, while Jesus’ physical body was resting in the stone cold, dark, cavernous tomb, Jesus’s spirit was in Sheol, the place of the dead, preaching the good news to them and showing them the way to salvation (1 Peter 3:19-20). Thus, in God’s great mercy, those who came before Christ and had died in their sin, Christ came and gave them a way out of their sin.
This fulfilled the words of Zechariah “Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon” (Zechariah 9:11 NLT). The “dungeon” or “pit” is, in this context, is referring to both the grave and Sheol. This passage indicates that God’s plan was to uphold the covenant made with God’s people. This, by the earliest Christians, was seen to be fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ on The Great Sabbath.
While this was certainly awesome news back then, it is awesome news even to this day. While we were not literally dead, or literally in the place of the dead (aka the pit), we were once lost, and now we have been found. We were once blind, but now we see. We were once dead, but in Christ we have found TRUE and EVERLASTING LIFE! Hallelujah! Praise the LORD our God, for in Christ we conquer death (in all its aspects) and gain TRUE LIFE.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Hell hath no power at all.” — Demon Hunter, “Storm the Gates of Hell”
Lord, thank you so much for what you have done for me. In your name, help me to storm the gates of hell and preach the good news to all who need it. Amen.