When the Tomb Becomes Womb
... Words Holding in Them the Power of the Resurrection
Acts 2:22-28 and Psalm 16:8-11
SOMETIMES THE HOLY SPIRIT draws us to a Scripture that's
beyond our full grasp of understanding and keeps us there. We wait before
it until it works something of its power and purpose into our lives. That's
the way it's been with Acts 2:14-36 where we find the first word
released upon the church after the Holy Spirit of promise came. Peter
delivered that powerful first message and drew upon four powerful texts
from the Old Testament--Joel 2:28-32; Psalm 16:8-11; II Samuel 7:12
and Psalm 110:1.
Think of it. Those were the Scriptures the Holy Spirit wanted first
brought to the attention of the newly Spirit-baptized believers.
The people in Jerusalem said the disciples were drunk after the Holy Spirit
came upon them, but Peter told what really was happening. He said the
prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 was being fulfilled.
Then, taking a further step in a new boldness that had come upon him,
Peter spoke regarding the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. In doing
this, he drew from Psalm 16. As we look at what he said, we are
going to find out why Jesus could not remain dead in the tomb. In finding
this, we will discover some amazing insight as to what will preserve us
in the time of trouble soon to come. It will even reach to where we are
now and bring within us a powerful release of resurrection life.
THE 16TH PSALM HAS CAPTURED MY ATTENTION. It contains words the
Lord Jesus took with Him into the tomb. Famous kings have been buried
with their jewels, but nothing of so much value has ever gone into any
kingly sepulcher as what went with Jesus into His. It broke the dominion
Into one ancient Egyptian pharaoh's tomb they also put some grain. When
men discovered it thousands of years later and planted it, it sprouted.
The death of the tomb could not overcome the germ of life in the grain.
But that was like a spark put against a nuclear bomb when compared with
the germ of eternal life that was in the tomb with Jesus.
Psalm 16 is a Psalm of David, the ancient King in Israel
with whom God made a Covenant regarding his Seed. This Psalm contains
the prayer and confession of that Seed, the lord Jesus, that would be
His upon entering the stronghold of death. Powerful and intensive, it
contains words so potent that even Hell itself could not withstand them.
The words of that Psalm reach beyond the Lord Jesus to alight upon us
who are joined with Him in the end of the age. They bring us through the
darkness of tribulation, even death itself, to stand with the Lord in
Not in some magical sense--like a fetish held in the bosom of a religious
devotee--but as they lodge in our minds and spirits, the words of the
Psalm will release life in us. They can find their place in us by the
Holy Spirit as we study them, meditate on them, and bring our thoughts
into line with them.
NOW, LET'S GO TO PENTECOST where Peter was declaring the
first word to the new Spirit-filled church. He began by speaking a rhéma
word: Hearken to my words (rhematá)--Acts
2:14. As he moved into this second part of his message, he spoke a
lógos word: . . hear these words (lógous)--Acts
2:22. In this passage, the meaning of lógos reaches
beyond the meaning of rhéma. Rhéma means a
spoken word. Lógos means a spoken word plus the idea
behind it. A lógos is like a seed containing a germ
of life ready to reproduce itself when planted. (Oh, what we could say
Peter's words became pregnant with resurrection life. They brought over
on the church that which, later, Paul would expound and explain in Ephesians
and Colossians. As we go into this powerful passage--Acts 2:22-28--we
will take it verse by verse, just opening its words, praying the Holy
Spirit will make them alive to us.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a
man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which
God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Approved is from the Greek apodedeigménon.
Too difficult to pronounce, it means "pointed out, displayed, held
He was Jesus of Nazareth, Nazareth being the lowly town where He
spent the early years of His humanity. Its name means "Branch." There
was nothing glorious or stately about His upbringing, yet He performed
more miracles and wonders and signs than any person who
had ever lived. He was the root out of dry ground, the tender
plant Who had no form nor comeliness and no beauty to
make Him desired--Isaiah 53:2. He threatened no one except the
proud who raised themselves above Him, but could perform none of His works.
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge
of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and
Although the wicked hands that killed Jesus moved out of the enmity
of wicked hearts, they were powerless to move beyond the determinate
counsel and foreknowledge of God.
Counsel is from the Greek boulé; a
word designating the will of God which cannot be broken. It is
the will arising out of His Godly determination and eternal design. Here,
it is backed by the purposes of His decree in Psalm 2:7-9
that gave the nations to His Son. Thus, the hands that took Jesus to death
moved only as God allowed them. They could not go beyond His determinate
Oh, what this says to us when we commit our way to the determinate
counsel of God--His perfect will--for our lives!
The wicked act of those who killed Jesus became sanctified. What a principle
of Kingdom life worked here! Jesus was so committed to the purposes of
God that nothing could take place with regard to Him--even a wicked thing--unless
it was made holy by God.
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death:
because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
God raised Him up. There are six distinct
words throughout the Greek New Testament translated raise up.
The one used in this verse, anístemi, means "to
cause to stand up" as one victorious over the enemy.
God raised up Jesus, having loosed the pains of death.
What a powerful row of words! What a revelation! Having
loosed is from lúsas, the Aorist Participle
form of the Greek Verb lúo. The Aorist form
gives this meaning: "having untied, unbound, unfastened." It tells of
a finished work accomplished the instant Jesus came alive.
The pains is from the Greek tas hodínas
which means "the throes that come upon a woman in the travail of birth."
What insight! Death became a womb when Jesus went there.
Death is from tou thanátou. Thanátou
alone means "death," but it has its Definite Article tou
with it here. This makes it "THE Death." Jesus did more than simply die,
He entered the realm of Death where its dominion was strong and broke
the power of its government.
It was not possible that Jesus should be holden of
death. Here again is a powerful string of words. This means there
was no power in all the realm of death enabling it to retain its government
over Jesus. The phrase was not possible is from the Greek
ouk dunatón. This means there was no dynamic force--no
energy, no strength, no power--sufficient in death to prevail against
NOW, WHY DID NOT DEATH HAVE POWER to hold Jesus? Peter gives an
amazing answer in the next verse.
25a For David speaketh concerning him...
Because of something David said, death could not hold its prey.
What power was given over to the words of that man! From what we know
of him, he was a weak sinner like the rest of us. How could it be that
his words held so much power?
Peter, under that anointing of Pentecost, said David was a Prophet--Acts
2:30. Prophets bring words from the heavens into the earth. Upon their
spoken release, they become a creative force to accomplish heaven's determinate
counsel. But David was more than a Prophet; he was the first King
in Israel chosen of God. He also was a man with whom God made a Covenant.
That Covenant held in it the powerful promise that God would establish
the throne of David's Seed forever--II Samuel 7:12,13.
If the Throne of David's Seed was to be established forever, that
Seed must gain the triumph over death. Therefore, more than all
the words of all the other Prophets, David's words carried a power and
an authority with them. Because of the Covenant, his words entered the
realm of death and laid hold on its power.
Now, what did David say that became so powerful in the tomb of Jesus?
THERE FOLLOW NOW IN PETER'S WORDS those powerful words from David's
Psalm that went with the Lord Jesus into the tomb. The power of eternal
life burst forth out of them, wrenching the government from death's hand.
This released new life and authority into God's Kingdom on earth.
25b I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on
my right hand, that I should not be moved.
This comes from Psalm 16:8 where we find it as I
have set the Lord always before me. We are dealing with two languages
here, the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament.
They are both different in their expressions, yet both fine and special
in their distinctions. They help us see two aspects of the same diamond
I have set the Lord... means "I have determined to have
Him always in my vision." I foresaw the Lord... means "I
held Him vividly present before me through every occasion." The Lord Jesus
knew this secret. He lived with His heavenly Father ever vivid to His
mind. He said, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth
the Father do--John 5:19.
Death itself could not turn Jesus from beholding His Father. Even in the
hour of His being forsaken, it was the Father Who turned from Him, not
He from the Father.
In so dark an hour, the word of Psalm 16:8 sustained Jesus. It
reached through death and separation from God and brought Him safely to
the Father's right hand. The Lord Jesus fought and won a fight no person
had ever fought and won. He reached a place no person before Him had ever
reached. In doing this, He opened the way for us who follow.
We turn our hearts now toward Him Who is our forerunner--Hebrews
6:20. We behold Him and see Him sustain us in whatever dark hour approaches
How do we behold Him? David begins giving us the answer in Psalm 40:1.
I waited patiently for the Lord: and He inclined unto
me... The heart that waits for Him beholds Him.
26 Therefore did my heart REJOICE, and my tongue was GLAD; moreover
also my flesh shall rest in HOPE: (Psalm 16:9)
Take note of the three words emphasized. They show what Jesus held on
to in the darkness and hopelessness of death. He never had to give up
His Joy, His Gladness, or His Hope. These three powerful
commodities of God's Kingdom came with Him through death--to be ours.
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt
thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)
This is a statement of ultimate faith. It reaches into the most hopeless
situation any person could face--death itself.
Leave is from a Greek word meaning "to abandon, to leave
behind, to forsake."
Soul is from the Greek psúche, that
ordinary word for "soul" used over a hundred times in the Greek New Testament
to name the ruling power of human life every living person shares. It
originated in God's gift to Adam, which gift he defiled before passing
it on to us. Jesus took to death this same power of life. In doing that,
He purified it for us.
Neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption might
be better rendered, "Neither will you give Your Holy One over to the stronghold
of corruption." Jesus entered the stronghold of death--both in soul
and in body--and broke its power for us in both these dimensions.
He released a new kind of life for His Kingdom people.
Corruption is from the Greek diaphthorán. It
means "the decay of death, the dissolution of the human body." Jesus did
not go through this. There was not enough power in Hades to
bring decay to His holy body. This is not the case with us. We have sinned
and carry the seed of corruption with us. But at the last day, we shall
receive a new body which, like His, will not undergo corruption. What
a hope is ours because of Him! Cannot this be the secret of our standing
in the last dark days?
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou
shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. (Psalm 16:11)
This verse is so full we can't cover it here. Jesus had it with Him in
the tomb. We can take it with us into the darkness and death of any situation.
Think of it! There is no end to the possibility it affords.
The ways of life lead through death. The Apostle
Paul knew this. It was the secret of his triumph in prison when he wrote
Ephesians and Colossians. His situation--hopeless and dark
as it was--became for him a birth canal into the life that Jesus had released
Because of Jesus, Paul's prison became a womb from which something living
burst forth that continues alive today. Indeed! It was no tomb to confine
the man of God!
Whatever we face, even if it tries to lock us into the stronghold of death,
can become a womb for our birthing into a greater place in God.
Again--what a hope is ours!
What is the secret of this hope? It's that we yield ourselves to the Lord
Jesus and the triumph He won for us.
Why, it's something like worshipping Him! It's like waiting patiently
for Him till we see His countenance. Oh! Oh! Oh! What
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Next in the Pentecost Series:
The Power of the Resurrection in the Kingdom of God
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