Let's put your pursuit of The Truth to the test; challenge your religion. Are you really committed to coming as a little child (Mt 18:3), knowing nothing, giving up all you've learned from man (Gal. 1:11-12), allowing The Holy Spirit to teach you all things (Jn. 14:26).
Hell; Burn Forever?
God is a loving God, a kind God, a merciful God; and if you don't believe it, He will burn and torture you for billions, and billions, and billions, and billions, and billions, and billions, and billions of years without end.
What? Does that make sense? From the God who IS love.
That's what I was taught growing up, and it's likely that's what you were taught as well. Most Christians, and non-Christians, believe that that is what the scriptures tell us. Is that what you believe? If so, did you ever test it, as God tells us to do (1 Thes. 5:21)? Well, if not, let's do it. Let's find out what the original scriptures truly say on the matter. Let's see if this concept came from God, or pagan humans worship of the false god Molech.
Note: When interpreting scripture (See The Seven Principles for Proper Interpretation) one must determine not only the literal meaning, but the symbolic as well. Information is in the literal translation, but revelation (understanding) comes by determining, with the help of the Holy Spirit of Yeh, the symbolic meaning. That is what is referred to in the bible as the "meat" of the word (Hb. 5:12-14). It is impossible to understand scripture otherwise. God speaks to us in metaphors, similes and symbolically throughout both the old and new testaments. The natural is symbolic for the spiritual. Before you begin, please review and apply the "Seven Principles to Properly Interpret Scripture" and "The Prayer of Revelation".
1) What is "Hell"?
The first queery is, what IS hell? Is it a place of fire and torture, where doomed souls will be tormented, inequitably; some for a very, very long time, to some for only a short while? Is that just from a just God? Is this their end? But, what about the judgement day? Let's see what Ye' God's Word really says.
Notably, there is no mention of fire or torture associated with sheol; only great sorrow of facing spiritual death.
2Sam. 22:6; "The sorrows of sheol (metaphorically) surround me; the snares of death confronted me".
Ps. 116:3-4,8; "sorrows of death... agony of sheol... then I called on Yehvah's name... He delivered (saved) my soul... has delivered my soul from (spiritual) death".
The word hell is the English translated word for the Hebrew word "sheol", and translated as "hades" in Greek. The literal translation of the word sheol is a pit, hole, or commonly referred to as a grave. Sheol is mentioned only once in the Torah; The Law; the first five books of the bible; the only books that we were ever meant to receive; in Deuteronomy 32:22; "For a fire is kindled (started) in mine anger, and will burn to the lowest sheol and will consume the earth (not souls or sheol) as it increases". God is referring to sheol in the metaphoric sense indicating the depth of His anger; a deep pit or hole into the earth; not an element of sheol. You would think that for a concept that has been portrayed as such an important one, that Ye' God would have mentioned it more than once; symbolically representing it as this horrible, torturous place of unquenchable fire that sinners will be sent, and yet He doesn't mention it even once as such. Selah
In stead, it is described as the place, in the earth, where the souls (mind, heart) of the spiritually doomed (those that are the enemy's of God, sinners, the wicked, the unjust, the unrighteous, those that forgot and left God) will go to rest when they die in the flesh.
Ps. 37:20; "But the wicked will perish, and the enemies of God".
Ps. 9:17; "...the wicked will be turned to sheol and those that forgot God".
Is. 14:15; "Yet thou will be brought down to sheol, to the sides of the pit".
Ps. 86:13; "...delivered my soul from the deepest sheol".
Dan. 12:2; "...them that sleep in the dust of the earth".
Mt. 11:23; "...will be brought down to sheol".
Mt. 25:46; "...but the righteous into everlasting life".
1Pt. 4:18; "And if the righteous barely be saved, where do you think the ungodly and sinners will go".
They will reside there until the time of judgement.
Jn. 5:28-29; "...for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves (sheol) will hear His voice and will come forth; they that
have done good unto resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation (condemned)."
2Pt. 2:9; "...and to reserve the unjust until the day of judgement to be punished".
Jn. 12:48; "...the same will judge him in the last day".
And, they will reside there in peace, asleep until they are called on the last day to then receive their just reward. It would be only just and equitable that none were punished longer than others.
Deut. 31:16; "And Ye' said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; ..."
2 Sam. 7:12; "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers."
1 Cor. 15:51; "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, ..."; v52; " In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised (from their sleep)."
1 Ths. 4:14; "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. v15; "... that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep."
We see that David, and his son Solomon, slept with the fathers (the dead leaders that had preceeded them).
1 Kings 2:10; "So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.; v11:21; "...that David slept with his fathers..."
1 Kings 11:43; "And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father."
Acts 13:36; "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers ..."
And, had not ascended into heaven.
Acts 2:34; "For David has not ascended into the heavens ..."
In John, chapter 11:11-14, Jesus refers to Lazerous as asleep; confirming that he is dead, yet able to wake him.
"These things said he ...our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead."
Is "Gehenna" "sheol"?
Gehenna is a word that Ye'shua (Jesus) used that was falsely translated to "hell". It is the only time that hell is associated with fire. It is never so associated as such in the Old Testament, where the word and concept originates, it is important to note. Y'shua was not reffering to sheol. If he was , he would have said "sheol", but he didn't. The word Gehenna is Greek for the "Valley (the children) of Hinnom". It was a valley in Judah (Israel), west of Ye'rusalem, where pagans resided before the Jews. They used this valley for olympic type games, to worship and sacrifice to their many pagan gods; even the sacrifice of children by fire to Molech. The burning of children was a pagan concept; not of Ye'. When the Jews returned to Ye'rusalem after their captivity in Babylon, knowing what the site had been used for, they didn't want to have anything to do with the area, so they made it their garbage dump. To dispose of their waste, it was set on fire and was stoked and kept burning day and night. It was an everlasting fire.
2 Chron. 28:3, 33:6
Mt. 5:22; "...shall be in danger of hell (Gehenna) fire".; also, v29, 30; 10:28.
Mt. 18:9; "...to be cast into hell (Gehenna)"; also, 23:15,33.
Mk. 9:43, 45, 47; "... to go into hell (Gehenna), into the fire that is never quenched".
Mt. 10:28; "... but rather fear him (Lucifer) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).
Lk. 12:5; "...fear him (Lucifer) which after he has murdered, has the power (authority) to cast into hell (gehenna)".
Jms. 3:6; "... and it is set as fire of hell (Gehenna)".
Rev. 20: 13, 14; "... and death and hell (sheol) delivered up the dead... and death and hell (sheol) were cast into the lake of fire" (Gehenna).
CONCLUSION: Clearly, the truth of the scriptures are that all souls rest in a state of sleep when we die in the flesh; in a place called sheol (hell). We've seen that there is no fire in sheol nor torture for those souls there, but rest, asleep, until the day of judgement. When we sleep at night, our body rests, but it is because our thinking soul sleeps; it is in an unconcious state of being, still very much alive. That is how it will be when our bodies give out when our spirit life force leaves our bodies. Your soul will be asleep in the spirit realm where there is no meassure of time, just as when we sleep and awaken, having no knowledge or conciousness of time. It feels as if we may have been asleep for an instant. That is the way it will be when the voice of an archangel, and the trump of God sounds (1 Thes.4:16). We also see that "sheol" and the "lake of fire" are two completely different places. Gehenna litterally, was a con-caved area, much as a shallow, oval bowl the approximate size of a football field, that when viewed from above, refuse aflame, it appeared as a "lake of fire". This was what Jesus was metaphorically referring to. He was describing the "lake of fire", not "hell". The "Lake of Fire" is the final destination of everlasting punishment for those souls brought out from sheol on judgement day, which are to be condemned forever.
2) What IS the everlasting punishment?
The second question is, what is the "everlasting punishment"? Is the Lake of Fire a place where souls will be tortured and burned forever? A torturus end sounds great when we think of all those really bad people we've known or heard about, like murderers, rapists and so on. But I assure you, those are going to be the few, not the many that experience the Lake of Fire. There will be untold billions of, seemingly to you and I, good people that committed no horrific crimes against humanity, from some who lived well through out this life to those who struggled to make it through. Apparently by all outward, and unknown inwardly as well, appearance of being good people, world wide, who for one reason or another found themselves unable to recognize Ye' God, the creator of all things, seen and unseen, and sense their separation from Him through their own unrighteousness, nor receive His offer through the sacrifice Ye'shua to attone for their mistakes and become reunited with Him throughout eternity. What IS the punishment going to be from The God who IS love?
2 Thes. 1:8,9 says, "...inflaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and they that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with the everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power". Looking at this scripture, we see that when Jesus Christ returns, He will take vengeance, with "flaming fire", on all those that did not know (were intimate with; Mt. 7:23) , or obey Him. This vengeance is described as "destruction". When something is destroyed it ceases to exist. It does not continue on. Destruction is finite, as with the overwhelming preponderance of scriptures pertaining to the end time judgement. Study each for yourself, asking Ye' God revelation.
Job 21:30,32; "...the day of destruction". Jn. 3:15, 16; "... shall not perish".
Ps. 21:9; "...the fire shall devour them". Acts 3:23; "... will be destroyed".
Ps. 33:19; "...deliver their soul from death". Rom. 6:23; "...the wages of sin is death".
Ps. 37:20; "...shall perish,...consume away". 1Cor. 1:18; "...them that perish".
Ps. 37:38; "...shall be destroyed together". 1 Cor. 15:16-18; "... have perished".
Ps. 62:3; "...you shall be slain...". Phil. 1:28; "...of destruction".
Ps. 92:7; "...destroyed forever". Phil. 3:19; "...end is destruction"
Ps. 145:20; "...destroy them". 1Ths. 5:3; "...destruction".
Prov. 15:11; "Hell and destruction...". 2 Ths. 2:10; "...then that perish".
Ezek. 18:20; "The soul that sins, it shall die". Heb. 10:39; "...unto perdition (destruction)".
Mal. 4:1,2; "...burned up, ashes under foot". Jms. 1:15; "...sin... brings death"
Mt. 3:12; "...burned up". 2Pt. 2:12; "...destroyed...perish"
Mt. 7:13; "...that leads to destruction". 3:7; "... perdition"; 9; "perish".
3:16; "... destruction".
Jn. 10:27; "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me"; v28; " And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
And Finally: Rev. 20:14; "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
Rev. 21:8; "But the fearful, and unbelievers, the abominable, murders, whore-mongers, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars
will have their place in the lake of fire and brimstone; this is the second death".
Mt. 10:28; "... but rather fear him (Lucifer) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna - lake of fire).
All the scriptures we just read indicate a finite end. In Mt. 13:40 it says, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age"; and in Jn. 15:6, which says; "If a man (person) abide not in me, they will be cast into the fire and they are burned". The word burned here was translated from the Greek word kata-kaio, which means to consume wholly, completely, burned up, to ashes.
"The Punishment" Revealed
So we see that the souls of those cast into the lake of fire will be destroyed; ceasing to exist. The affects of which are everlasting; an everlasting punishment.
2Ths. 1:9; "...who shall be punished, with the everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (Yehvah), and from the glory of His power".
Lk. 13:28; "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth... when you see... the kingdom of Yeh, and you are cast out" (Mt. 7:23)
1Jn. 4:17-18; "... in the day of judgement, ... because fear involves (mental, spiritual) torment".
The Punishment is being removed, by way of destruction, from the presence and glory of Ye', forever. Unable to live throughout eternity in His kingdom.
Mt. 25:46; "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment (destruction; 2Ths. 1:9), but the righteous to everlasting life".
The opposit of everlasting life, is everlasting death. Rom. 6:23; "For the wages of sin is death"; Jn. 5:24; "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life".
Being tortured for billions of years without end is not death, but everlasting life; meaning all souls would live forever. But we have just read numerous scriptures that speak of death of the soul.
Ps. 38:19; "... deliver their soul from death".
Ezk. 18:20; "The soul that sins, it shall die".
Jms. 5:20; "... will save his soul from death".
Death Defined: HB. Muwth; Destroy, Perish; HB. Abad: The total and permanent cessation of all vital functions. If the soul is destroyed, dies, perishes; it ceases to exist.
Deut. 8:19-20; " ...if you forget Yehvah your God, and walk after (in the ways) other gods,... I testify against you this day, that you shall surely perish; just as the nations which Yehvah (allowed: Deut. 11:26-28) destroyed before your face; so shall you perish; because you would not be obedient unto the voice (word) of Yehvah your God".
This scripture is symbolic of the end time judgement to come on all those that die in their sin, who disobeyed God. No nation that was destroyed has ever existed again; other than Israel.
Is fire natural, or spiritual? Natural. We know that the "first death" is the death to the flesh, a natural death, and we've just learned that the "second death" is the death of the soul, and only the saved will be given new bodies after the resurrection. Therefore, those being judged are spirits, not flesh, they no longer have natural bodies after the "first death", therefore, there could be no literal affect on them from fire.
God uses the word fire metaphorically throughout the scriptures to represent both destruction and purification; or the destruction and elimination of things impure. I believe that it is being used the same concerning the lake of fire; symbolically representing the destruction of those impure, defiled, thereby the purification of the heavenly kingdom to come.
Rev. 21:27; "And, there shall in no way anything enter into it (the heavenly kingdom) that defiles it (unclean, impure), neither whoever works abominations, or makes a lie, but they only which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life".
Lazzarus and the Rich Man
The only time Jesus refers to fire in hell (sheol; grave, pit) is depicted in Luke 16: 19-31; the story of Lazzarus and the Rich Man. It is the only place where sheol is ever referred to as a place of torment by fire. Again, being a spirit, the fire would have to represent a mental, spiritual anguish, for at least some period of time before death. After inquiring of God for revelation, and diligently seeking and
interpreting entirety of scripture, I believe that this is a parable. It is a parable to symbolically emphasize several points. A parable is: a fictitious narrative; a simile to convey a symbolic, spiritual lesson. It is not a literal story. The hearer must seek to understand the analogy, if they are to be instructed. The moral of this story is that there are no second chances to receive and accept, and to walk in the truth, after the first death. It's in this life time, or never. It must be accepted by faith, by hearing alone, and not by sight.
Hb. 11:1; "Now faith is the substance of things expected, the evidence of things not seen".
Sounds Like Tortured Forever
Rev. 20: 10-15; "... the devil... was cast into the lake of fire... where the beast and the false profit are... and shall be tormented... forever and ever". This scripture only refers to Satan, the anti-Christ and the false profit. It is apparently different for those three.
In Isaias 14:19, 20 referring to Lucifer, "But you are cast out of your grave (sheol; hell)... Thou shall not be joined with them (those that are condemned) in burial...". Clearly they face a different fate. Again, Rev. 20: 14-15 says that, "...death and hell (sheol) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And, whosoever was not written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire".
A finite end.
Yehvah is a Loving God
We serve a loving, all be it a just God. We will never fully understand the magnitude of this punishment until we each stand before Yehvah, some to everlasting life and most to everlasting death, and witness for ourselves His awesome majesty and "the reward of the righteous". There will be weeping and grinding of teeth, a mental agony, by all those that realize that they will not be partakers of His glory, but be destroyed forever and ever.