Heaven Thundered Hallelujah
Watching Easter with Angels
Article by Greg Morse, Staff Writer, desiringGod.org
My beloved Toviel…
He is risen. He is risen indeed! O nephew, is not eternity too short a time to praise him?
What we can give with worship is no match for what he deserves. For the honor due his name, I break my song to write you. I have just received word of the enemy’s movements against your young man. I must hasten to the point prematurely.
Lucifer, as cowardly and as crafty as he is, seeks to strip the world of our Master’s glorious resurrection. In his hands, the unparalleled spectacle, the divine detonation — indeed, the exclamation point of all history — would float in their minds as the vague add-on, some shining triviality, some beautiful irrelevance. He aims his arrows at the heart.
We need not wonder why: God broke his jaws with it. Our Master, his people’s sin, and death traveled into the tomb together — only our Lord returned. I can still recollect overhearing the strained shrieks and hisses when the light shone into that empty tomb on the third morning. The devil’s short-lived mockery turned to horror. His once-beautiful voice snarled directions about how they were to cover it up. As demons scrambled, heaven thundered: Hallelujah!
Hear the Empty Tomb
On that first Resurrection Sunday, he scurried to ever so pitifully pay the soldiers to lie that the disciples stole the body (Matthew 28:12–15). Today, however, his sleight of hand takes subtler forms. He busily attempts to distract even the redeemed from the great spectacle, dangling a bunny and some chocolate eggs before them.
It is your great duty and delight to bring your man to the empty tomb and show forth its commanding relevance. Three points to begin with.
1. Forgiveness Proven
Your man is often storm-tossed and robbed of holy cheerfulness because he does not consider the empty tomb with regards to his sin. O Toviel, show him again and again — and not just on Easter — the wonder of the great rise after the plunge!
Remind him that our Master didn’t just invade his own creation, making camp among them as a man, but he plunged to the bottom of that dark, dark, seemingly bottomless abyss of God’s righteous wrath to save him.
Every step of our Master’s breathtaking journey took him closer to this raging sea. We couldn’t believe it. When the time was right, he plunged in — alone — even as those who remained on land chanted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “He saved others; he cannot save himself” (Matthew 27:42). (But for his command to stand down, we would have charged through the gates and silenced them.)
Farther down he went.
Down, down, down, into depths of darkness unknown to men or angels. And at the bottom, where all is blackest, we could only hear him cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — a lament we have never heard the likes of before or since. When he gave his final gasp, all of heaven went silent.
For three long days, the waters stood still. Creation held its breath. His disciples wept.
But on the morning of the third day, ripples crept across the water. From the unseen bottoms, he rose. “It was not possible for him to be held by the pangs of death!” (Acts 2:24). Heaven erupted. Graves opened. He who condemned sin in the flesh was declared to be the Son of God in power! The Lamb who took away the sins of men — farther than the east is from the west — returned.
This means everything. If their Savior had remained swallowed in the grave, where would they look to know that it was finished? The resurrection is indispensable for proper confidence of forgiveness. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). But Christ has been raised — for their justification (Romans 4:25).
When Satan shames your man, pointing to his sin, point him to the empty tomb, asking, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for you” (Romans 8:34). Show every doubting Thomas the scars of Christ, preaching on forgiven sin!
2. Presence Ensured
What does that glorious Sunday morning mean for their lackluster and wearying Monday mornings? Everything. His rising from the dead means that he is with them.
The children of God too often forget that their elder brother lives. They see him active in their past, and by faith see him inhabiting their future, but strangely, their moment-by-moment is the one place he is not. They rarely see him, as the risen Lord emphasizes, not merely as the one who was and who will be — but as the one who is (Revelation 1:8). How? Because he is risen.
Your man too often worships at the filled tomb, memorializing a fallen hero. He lingers, as it were, in those gloomy days between that unforgettable Friday and this unrivaled Sunday morning. And when his Savior draws near to him, he too often mistakes him for the gardener (John 20:15).
The stone still blocks him from the living Christ. Roll it away! Show him the empty tomb and ask, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5–6). Move him past this endless memorial service and march him forth to join those ranks assaulting the gates of Hades — not because their Lord’s memory is with them, but because he is (Matthew 28:20).
The resurrection means that our Lord isn’t absent. Their Christ himself — not a sentiment, nor a memory, nor a wish upon a star — races like a meteor toward them. O Toviel, if they only had eyes of faith to see what we do! What boldness, what unsinkable joy, what matchless confidence would be theirs if they could see their living High Priest daily interceding for them.
3. Future Guaranteed
His resurrection quaked the wall separating this world from the next. The takeover has begun.
Eternity is invading, that his forces have already arrived on the shore. A new beginning has dawned: “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18). Ancient gates were flung open. The ladder touched down on earth. Heaven is stepping through. All to the decisive work of the Son.
He is the “firstborn from the dead” — with many to follow. Our Master’s resurrection guarantees his people’s resurrection (2 Corinthians 4:14). Death’s defenses lie shattered. The night is quickly passing. The dead begin to move. He is at the door. “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
In “the twinkling of an eye,” at the sound of the last trumpet, all will be made new. Perishable bodies of the saints — disease-ridden, decay-laden, crippled, weak — will be swallowed up by life. The earthly realm and the heavenly will mingle; the new creation will brim with God, angels, and men. The empty tomb signals the nearness of the divine takeover. The decisive domino has fallen.
This tidal wave of resurrection will wash over the graveyards and spill over all creation. The grass will sparkle green. The waters will run free. The oceans will pulse with life. Birds will sing new songs from the treetops. All creation “will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The knowledge of the glory of our Master will cover the world as water covers the seas.
Not a Blinding Afterthought
This day, this event, is not a blinding afterthought — it is everything. His resurrection is no plastic plant — giving no intoxicating smell, showing forth no real beauty, bearing no actual function. If Christ has not been raised, then their faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). If they have hope in this life only, they are the pity of the earth (1 Corinthians 15:19).
But he is risen! He is risen indeed!
Remind him that the resurrection means forgiveness proven, presence ensured, and a future guaranteed. Protect your man from the lie that it is the dazzling irrelevance. The resurrection decisively begins the process, as another of our Master’s men has said, “of clearing this world of all heartbreak” — finally and forever. He is the beginning.
Your delighted uncle,
In The Gabriel Letters, a senior angel (Gabriel) counsels a junior angel (Toviel) on how to assist a human against the temptations of demons and how to bring him home to heaven. This series is inspired by the classic work of C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.