To this day I remember a painting that hung in our home when we lived in Korea. It was a graphic depiction of a lake of fire filled with people grotesquely suffering. It was an attention-getter which brought curious people into a conversation with my dad that for some led to salvation. I wish I had that painting today—I’d hang it in my office. Sure, it would offend people. But I would rather upset someone with the reality of God’s upcoming judgment than withhold information that could result in their eternal suffering.
Ancient Jews referred to a place that followed death as the pit (shachath). David wrote in Psalm 55:23, “God, You will bring them down to the Pit of destruction . . .”
According to Parson’s Bible Dictionary the word sheoloccurs 65 times in the Old Testament and signifies the underworld: a designation for the dead from which there is no return; a place without praise of God; a place where the wicked were sent to be punished; and, a place from which the righteous were rescued. Job 26:6 state, “Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering.” Abaddon was the name of the angel of destruction who guarded the bottomless pit, the abyss, a place mentioned nine times in Scripture.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes three words used in the New Testament to signify hell: Hades, Gehenna and Tartarus. Hades is synonymous with sheol. It is the name of the Greek god of the underworld and the underworld itself. It is described as a prison, with gates and bars and locks located below. (See Mat. 11:23, 16:18; 1 Peter 3:19, Revelation 1:18). Tartarus, (used only in 2 Pe. 2:4), describes where God sent angels that sinned. It is a dark, miserable, subterranean region the ancient Greeks regarded as a place where the most wicked spirits were sent to be punished. Gehenna is a valley outside Jerusalem where human sacrifice to the Ammonite god Molech was conducted. It was associated with evil and became a common word to connote future punishment.
Jesus said, “But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brotherwill be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire” (Mat.5:22).
Revelation 20:14,15--Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
The Bible is crystal clear that all people will one day be judged. “And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Isaiah quoted God’s warning against those who rebelled against Him—“As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against Me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind” (Isa.66:24). Revelation 20:11-15 teaches that a day will come when God will sit on His great white throne and cast judgment on all mankind. People ask how a loving God could sentence anyone to such a horrible fate. Billy Graham wrote, “God will never send anybody to hell. If man goes to hell, he goes by his own free choice. Hell was created for the devil and his angels, not for man. God never meant that man should go there.” Dante Alighieri wrote in the thirteenth century, “If you insist on having your own way, you will get it. Hell is the enjoyment of your own way forever.”
Why does God permit anyone to experience eternal torment in bubbling liquid? Only God the Creator can speak for God the Judge. We cannot be God’s defender, we are always His advocate. Jesus commands us to share the gospel and the value of the good news is heightened by the reality of the bad news! Our perfect Savior didn’t just talk about nice things. He warned people that the consequence of their evil was impending judgment. To fail to point out the cost of sin and rejecting Jesus Christ reveals a blatant lack of concern. Hell is hell! If we cannot see it for its consuming fury than perhaps we miss the gospel for its overriding love. Therefore not to speak of hell is a hellacious way to treat people.
Hell is the satisfaction of all sin.—Oswald Chambers inThe Philosophy of Sin
©2005Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)