Holy Week; Spy Wednesday; Four Last Things – hell.

I know the Four Last Things tend to be said in the order, Death, Judgement, Heaven and then hell, but on the day Judas sells Jesus out for the price of a slave, Heaven is not the subject is it?

Judas seems to me to be the very embodiment of the mystery of iniquity. He turns against the very person who truly loves him more than anyone who has ever lived. Judas turns away from this love, and sells Christ out for the price of a slave. Judas who had seen the healings, the feeding of the 5000 and heard the teaching, being right there, and still, he rejects it all for a bag of silver coins.

Judas shows us hell on earth. He is a good Christian as far as anyone externally could tell. He followed Christ, was one of the chosen twelve and was destined, so it seemed, to be a bishop, and great leader for the fledgling Church. But then he gets bitten with pride and envy, and instead of going to his Lord for healing, help and forgiveness, he nurses his resentments, and especially his envy of what he perceives Jesus to have, and finally, in pride, heads off to do the unthinkable.

There is something very disturbing when we look at that moment when Judas asks, “What will you give me?” of the priests of the Temple.

From the very beginning the Liar and Murderer attacked the priesthood. He entered the first temple, the Garden, and targeted the bride to force the priestly bridegroom to act. The Tree of Life was ignored as the first high priest caved to sin.

But God allowed the priesthood to remain. Cain made even worse use of his priestly role, first through his refusal to sacrifice anything of worth and then when he sacrificed the very best in mockery of God, by murdering the good priest Abel.

Nevertheless the priesthood remained, embodied in the holy Melchizedek (meaning king of righteousness) who made the sacrifice of bread and wine.

But we do not see the temple in any structural form again until Moses is instructed to build the tabernacle and ark in the desert. The priesthood of the first born is still preserved among the children of Israel even in their time in Egypt. But in the desert, where God tests them, it is broken.

The priesthood is so badly compromised before the tabernacle that God is about to destroy the lot of them. Moses, who is standing with God in the mountain acts as the bride and holds back the arm of justice.

However when he returns to the people and sees the golden calf, he is so angry he breaks the tablets of the Law. The apostate priests are executed and the priesthood is handed only to the children of Levi, the tribe Moses, Aaron and Miriam, belong to.

There is no sign of the return of the priesthood of Melchizedek until the time of David and Solomon. As a special dispensation Samuel anoints David as priest so he can make the sacrifice. (You may remember that Saul would have received the honour if only he had waited on God’s time).  Then Solomon is anointed as priest-king after David, and, as his father sang in the psalm “You are a priest forever, a priest of the order of Melchizedek.” Remember prophecies tend to have a now and then fulfilment. Solomon is a type of Christ, the priest king who builds the great Temple. But in his apostacy he became a type of anti-Christ, betraying his oath, his anointing and his God.

After the exile and rebuilding of the Temple and more war, came the Temple Jesus knew. Herod built this magnificent and holy facade, not for the glory of God, but for his own aggrandisement with the Jews. He had built a temple or two for the Roman gods for the same political reason.

Into this temple came the priesthood of Levi to worship God. It is still a holy place even though Herod built it. But as Jesus grows in His hidden life, so the priesthood becomes more corrupt and worldly. There is even some view that Caiaphas manages to hold onto the seat of Moses for so many years, against the tradition, because pagan Rome has put him there.

John the Baptist is a priest, the son of the man who was High Priest in the year he was conceived. At the age of 30 he takes on his priestly role and begins his mission in the desert. Then when Jesus reaches the age of 30 He goes to the priest John to be baptised and receive His own priesthood; the priesthood of the son of David, of Melchizedek of old.

Jesus then calls twelve men to take on the new priesthood of the New Covenant and Judas is among the chosen.

The corrupt priesthood of the Temple needs to end, just like the corrupt priesthood in the desert ended. Moses shouted, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” And they chose.

So too Judas chose. Not service or sacrifice, but power and wealth. In selling Christ for the price of a slave, Judas becomes the slave. Then “it would have been better had he never been born.” (Matt 26:24)

If you really want to understand the horror, fire and darkness of hell, imagine standing before Jesus Christ the just judge and hear those words from His mouth, “It would have been better for [this one] had they never been born.”

[footnote: I think I should say here that the Church has never declared who is in hell. Not even Judas. While some private revelations have hinted that he is in hell, the Church has chosen not to speak on this.]

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