Matthew 27:50-54 Zombie Apocalypse? Not!

Matthew 27:50-54 Zombie Apocalypse? Not! October 27, 2013

Matthew 27:50-54 Zombie Apocalypse? Not!

 

The events which occur during the death of Jesus parallel and foretell what will happen when Jesus returns:

  1. There will be an eclipse

  2. There will be an earthquake

  3. There will be a change in world power

  4. There will be a resurrection

These events parallel events which are foretold have been prophesied in both the Old and New Testament.

I personally think that the events that happened at the death of Jesus were a “movie preview” of events to come at His Second Coming. When one compares the events in Matthew 27, and then looks at the prophecies which we know will happen at His Second Coming, we see many similarities. So let’s look at these events in order:

Time of Darkness

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land.” (Matthew 27:45, HCSB)

During the crucifixion of Jesus, we see that the place was dark from noon until three in the afternoon. While many people believe this was a solar eclipse, I personally believe that an eclipse was not what happened. Because the Bible speaks about this in various places, I personally believe that what is spoken here is a “time of darkness.” This time of darkness was not just physical. This time of darkness was spiritual. Judas had earlier left the disciples to betray Jesus. John records that:

Since Judas kept the money-bag, some thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival,” or that he should give something to the poor. After receiving the piece of bread, he went out immediately. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” (John 13:29–31, HCSB)

This time of darkness was predicted. Joel speaks about it:

The earth quakes before them; the sky shakes. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars cease their shining.” (Joel 2:10, HCSB)

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the Lord comes.” (Joel 2:31, HCSB)

Jesus also spoke about this prophecy and quotes it in His address to His disciples about His Second Coming:

““Immediately after the tribulation of those days: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the celestial powers will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29, HCSB)

Jesus says that this event will happen after the tribulation and just before He returns. The writer of Revelation sees this as well:

Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood;” (Revelation 6:12, HCSB)

The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day was without light, and the night as well.” (Revelation 8:12, HCSB)

The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues because of their pain” (Revelation 16:10, HCSB)

So, this time of darkness (which may or may not come from an eclipse reflects the fact that spiritual power is shifting. While on the cross, the darkness represented the judgment of God as He turned away from the sin which was placed completely upon Jesus. This is why Jesus cried that His Father left His presence. In the future, this darkness will come to judge the false kingdom which has been set up to deceive the world. This darkness will be painful for those who fall under it.

Earthquake

Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:51, HCSB)

The Bible says that there was an earthquake when Jesus died. The body of Jesus died, but His spirit continued. Notice that the Bible that the earth quaked. The rocks were split because that is where the graves of many people were during this time. When people were buried, they did not bury them in cemeteries as you and I think of cemeteries. They were buried in caves outside the town. So when the earth quaked, the rocks were split and that led to the graves being opened.

Earthquakes were never predicted by Jesus. However, in both Joel and in Revelation, earthquakes are clearly part the events of the Second Coming.

You will flee by My mountain valley, for the valley of the mountains will extend to Azal. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with Him.” (Zechariah 14:5, HCSB)

you will be visited by the Lord of Hosts with thunder, earthquake, and loud noise, storm, tempest, and a flame of consuming fire.” (Isaiah 29:6, HCSB)

The earth quakes before them; the sky shakes. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars cease their shining.” (Joel 2:10, HCSB)

So while the prophecy in Joel speaks about earthquakes, Jesus never mentions it. Why? Because for His purpose in Matthew 24, Jesus is sharing with His disciples the timing of His return. There are a variety of earthquakes going on in Revelation and none of them have to do with timing of the return of Jesus.

This leads us to the third indicator of prophecy which we see when Jesus died on the cross:

Temple Change

I call this a temple change because the make-up, design, and layout of the temple has changed over time. Beginning with Moses, the temple was always the place to meet God. During the Exodus, the temple was a simple tent which was moved from place to place. During the time of King Solomon, a magnificent temple was built, which was later destroyed during civil war. Herod, a governor of the Jews installed in a puppet government by the Roman Empire constructed what is known as the Herodian Temple. This was much larger, but not nearly as ornate and glamorous as temple built during King Solomon’s day. Jesus addresses the question about the temple during his talk about the end of the world. As a matter of fact, the disciples ask about the temple and Jesus uses it as the starting point about the end of time.

As Jesus left and was going out of the temple complex, His disciples came up and called His attention to the temple buildings. Then He replied to them, “Don’t you see all these things? I assure you: Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!”” (Matthew 24:1–2, HCSB)

He says that the present temple willl soon be torn down. However, later, Jesus mentions that another person will defile the temple:

““So when you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (let the reader understand ),” (Matthew 24:15, HCSB)

Now Jesus is referring to a time when the temple will be defiled by a one world ruler who will forcibly expect the world to worship him. It is so horrible that Jesus quotes Daniel’s description of it: called the “Abomination that causes desolation.” He means that what the world ruler will do is make the temple a place to worship himself instead of God. It will cause everyone to leave that temple.

So Jesus says that there is now a temple, but it will be destroyed. There will be a future temple which will be contaminated and misused. Revelation speaks about this temple:

Then I was given a measuring reed like a rod, with these words: “Go and measure God’s sanctuary and the altar, and count those who worship there. But exclude the courtyard outside the sanctuary. Don’t measure it, because it is given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for 42 months.” (Revelation 11:1–2, HCSB)

So the writer of Revelation says that there will be temple. It will be smaller than the present temple. This is because the temple during this time (called the Tribulation by Jesus and the writer of Revelation) will have part of it occupied by Gentiles.

So if you watch the news and you hear about how they will divide Jerusalem, you might want to pay attention. Part of the place where the original temple sat will be given back to the Jews, but part of it will stay with the Palestinians, or will be controlled by a Gentile-ruled agency (possible the United Nations.) The writer of Revelation will say that Jerusalem will be under the control of the one world ruler for three and a half years.

The temple for the Christian is our body. The Holy Spirit resides in us. We know because of what happened when Jesus died. It says:

Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:51, HCSB)

The curtain which separated the high priest from everyone else as he came to give sacrifices for our sins was ripped from top to bottom. Early Jewish tradition states that the veil was as thick as a man’s hand. However, the miracle is not that a curtain as thick as a hand was torn, but that it was torn from top to bottom. This symbolized that people now had access to God through Jesus Christ. This is why I say that there was a temple change. There were and will be physical changes to the temple. However, more importantly, there was a change in access. One did not need to go to a temple to get to God. One did not need to rely on a priest to offer sacrifices to satisfy God. All a person had to do was come to Jesus Christ and accept His payment of their sin, and then follow Him.

This leads us to the most unusual part of the passage today. This leads us to a form of resurrection.

Resurrection

When you read what happened after Jesus died, you get the idea that the Bible is talking about zombies. Is it some form of “zombie apocalypse?” As we approach the time of Halloween, we are bombarded with images of ghosts, goblins, zombies, and other scary “dead” things. These images are all based on human ideas, and not what the Bible teaches. At first glance it would seem that this is one crazy event. Who was resurrected? How long did they stay? What did they look like? Were they resurrected or revived to die later again? These are all good questions and I will show you what I think is most likely going on here.

First, let’s look at a prophecy in Joel.

Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the Lord promised, among the survivors the Lord calls.” (Joel 2:32, HCSB)

Now I believe that this prophecy speaks about the death of Jesus on the cross as well as a future fulfillment. Again, I think these events when Jesus died give us a preview of what will happen in the future. So there are these people who were dead, who came out of their graves. I think that when the rocks were split, that opened the tombs where the graves lay. Then the graves were opened and these people walked out. Just like Lazarus walked out. Just like Jesus walked out. These people walked out. Now most graves were outside the city limits because it was considered unclean to be near dead people. Look carefully at what it says in Matthew 27:

The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:52–53, HCSB)

The tombs were opened and many of the saints who had died were raised. In the Bible, for a saint to be asleep was for them to be dead. They awoke and after Jesus was raised from the dead, they walked out and entered the city.

How many were there? Who were they? How long did they stay? Did they go to Heaven at the Ascension? These questions are not answered. We know that Lazarus was raised and then died again. So it very likely that this happened to these people. Who were they? They were probably not Moses and Elijah. However, they could have been local people – people who everyone knew. They could have been older Old Testament saints like Jeremiah or Isaiah. However, because they are not mentioned, I would think they were just local folks who followed Jesus and were raised to show proof to loved ones that Jesus was the Messiah. Paul talks about the resurrection of Jesus being the firstfruits. In essence, Jesus was the first One to be resurrected, and then everyone else will follow Him at His Second Coming.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, HCSB)

But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:23, HCSB)

He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:31, HCSB)

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.” (Revelation 20:5–6, HCSB)

Now, I know I have given you a lot of information. But I want you to see the transformation. There is a certainty of new life. People saw those signs when Jesus died. We trust Jesus to give that new life when we come to Him.

We are not going to end up being zombies. We are going to be resurrected to new life, in a new body, for a new age, to be priests reigning with Christ. This is nothing to be scared about. This is something to be excited about. Halloween should not a time of fear about death, ghosts, and zombies. Instead, it can be a time when we look with a reassurance at what the Bible teaches about our future as Christians. There is no Zombie Apocalypse coming. There is a King returning. His name is Jesus, and He is the One who has power over death. This is something to celebrate during Halloween.

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