We continue now with our examination as to what precisely the scriptures teach in regards to the doctrine of Hell as a place of fire and eternal torment. We were examining some texts commonly misapplied in support of this teaching taken from the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
“The last part of the “harvest” of this gospel age is also similar to that of the “harvest” of the Jewish age, as there was a baptism of FIRE in the end of the Jewish age upon the chaff of that nation, so there will be, in the end of this age, upon the tare class of Christendom.
As there was a “time of trouble” which brought about the destruction of both the religious and the social order of the Jewish nation, at the end of the Jewish age, so too, both nominal Christendom and the social and political elements comprising (Babylon) shall be destroyed in the FIRE at the close of this age, in “The Great Time of Trouble” (Dan12: 1; Matt 24:21;Jer 25:29,31-33) a destructive season of lawlessness that will destroy the “elements”, the present order of things, The FIRE will extend to the social structure. During these events Professed Christians (nominal Christians) will be shown in their true light. The true and the false will be completely manifested. (This will most likely be revealed when the nominal or tare element turns on their more faithful brethren the “wheat” class even as it was in the days of old.) The social, political, financial and ecclesiastical systems together, which make up our present order, shall be dissolved in the heat of that day. 2 Pet 3:10, 11
“Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the FIRE (Wrath) of my jealousy.”
Note that this is not literal fire, as proven by the next sentence, which indicates surviving people.
“For then will I turn to the people a pure language (the truth), that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” Zep 3:8, 9
This will take place after the destruction of the kingdoms and the present social order in the time of trouble. As a consequence of the preceding terrible judgments upon the nations, men shall have been humbled and made ready to hear and heed his counsel. Note that it is evident from the preceding scripture that the people who remain and who are blessed are not the saints, this is evident from the fact that those who remain are then “turned” to serve the Lord, whereas the saints are turned (converted) already.
This “Great time of Trouble” is to come “as labor pains upon a pregnant woman” 1 Thess 5:3, that is in “spasms” of trouble, with shortening intervals between each spasm, each future spasm will be more severe than the one before climaxing eventually into the “sudden destruction” (or great time of trouble) of all earthly (man-made), institutions, both social and ecclesiastical. (Heb 12:26, 27; 2 Pet 3:7). Mankind shall endure this trouble (FIRE) to its fullest extent, until they are fully humbled. However the true followers of the Lord, the saints, shall be spared this trouble or wrath to come (1 Thess 1:10), for this trouble cannot “fully” break forth until the last of the True Church shall have passed beyond the Vail, and entered into their reward.
As we have seen this great trouble coming upon the world is not intended to destroy the world (mankind), although it is sure that many deaths shall occur during this trouble, “The benevolent object of its divine permission is the overthrow of the entire present order, preparatory to the permanent establishment of the Kingdom of God under Christ, the Prince of Peace.”
“In that day of terror and darkness men shall come to learn their need of a strong arm to deliver them. Their pride and self-sufficiency will be humbled into the dust. But out of that awful trouble mankind will come forth chastened and broken, and will be ready to be led out of the ruin and defeat of their own schemes and hopes, out of the darkness and chaos, of which they precipitated upon themselves, out of the power of evil angels (messengers), into the light and blessing and deliverance then brought to them by the establishment of the kingdom of God’s dear Son, long promised for the blessing of all the families of the earth.”
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE, prepared for the devil and his angels” Matt 25:41, (the Lord had just finished speaking to those on “His right hand” the side of favor, the sheep class, and now was addressing those on the left hand, the goat class.)
This scripture is in reference to one of the three great periods of separation revealed in God’s Word, the chaff from wheat at the end of the “Jewish age” (Matt 3:12), the tares from wheat (Matt 13:37,43) at the end of the “Gospel age”, and the sheep from the goats,(Matt 25:31) at the end of the “Millennial age”. It is very important when embarking on any efficient study of the Bible to be able to “rightly divide the word” this has meaning not only in rightly dividing between what is right (truth) and what is wrong (false) but it also has to do more importantly with time displacement (rightly dividing the times and the seasons).
One example of a text which is applicable only during a specific period of time is John 12:47. In it the Lord states that anyone not believing him would not be subject to judgment that his judgment would be for a later age. This verse applies only to the Gospel age. A comparison with Acts 3:20-23 readily shows that the conditions of judgment will change in the “Millennial age” during Christ reign of 1,000 years. At that time the rule will be that “every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed form among the people.” These two texts would be at odds with each other without a time-frame reference for each, thus the necessity in “rightly dividing the word”
As to the subject of our scripture, the explanation of the “EVERLASTING FIRE”, an everlasting fire is one not quenched, one, which burns until it, has accomplished its purpose of complete destruction. We must infer that the fire here is as symbolic as are the goats, which go into it. Thus “everlasting fire” here represents everlasting destruction, all those who are of the goat class “shall be destroyed from among the people” everlastingly, thus a lasting or perpetual destruction, extinction. As the reward for those who had done “good” is to be everlasting life, so to the “punishment of those who did evil is to be everlasting death.
“… these shall go away into EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matt 25:46
This “Everlasting death”, is a death that will last through all eternity. Everlasting, because there will be no further provisions made for the redemption or resurrection of any who go into the second death. Matter is indestructible, but man is more than a body. The intelligent will, thought, constitutes a human soul, and the soul can be destroyed.
In this next scripture, Jesus who fully understood the perfection of God’s law was defining how fully it would be enforced in the next age the “Millennial age”.
“The word Everlasting is from the Greek: “aionion”; not limited, i.e. upon which destruction no limit has been placed. Only the willingly obdurate shall be lost, and their loss will be the loss of LIFE. “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) Not life or preservation in any sense, anywhere, not in torment or otherwise. The willfully wicked will perish, will be “cut off”, “blotted out”, “and Destroyed from amongst the people.” (Acts 3:23) They shall, “Be as though they had not been.” (Job 10:19)
“But I say to you that whoever is angry (in the heart, unexpressed) with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca (Blockhead, Strong’s # 4469, empty one, thou worthless) shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, you fool (a moral degenerate) shall be in danger of hell fire.”
HELL FIRE: By the aid of brimstone, the bodies of especially detestable criminals were burned with the other refuse of Jerusalem in the valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna, adjoining the city. However a living thing was never cast into Gehenna. The Jews were forbidden to torture any creature; thus Gehenna typified the Second Death.
Only dead bodies were cast into this valley with the filth of the city, for, in their estimation, they had no hope of a resurrection–a tomb being to them an emblem of a resurrection. The destruction of the body in Gehenna after death, figuratively, implied the loss of the hope of future life by a resurrection. The object of this burning in Gehenna was to make the crime and the criminal detestable in the eyes of the people, and signified that the culprit was a hopeless case. This typified the antitypical Gehenna outside the New Jerusalem for the offal and trash of humanity who will refuse all of God’s favors, and thus go into the Second Death.
“Wherefore if thy hand (Any comfort, pleasure or taste as dear as a hand.) or thy foot (The offending foot would represent the going into forbidden paths of sin or self-gratification.) offend thee (cause you to stumble), cut them off, and cast them from thee (If we do not put away such practices we cannot enter the Kingdom.): it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into EVERLASTING FIRE (Equally symbolical with the other parts of the figure.). And if thy eye (Anything in your make-up as dear as an eye.) offend thee, pluck it out (Cut off that tendency, no matter what it costs.), and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into HELL FIRE (Greek, Gehenna fire, everlasting destruction, second death.).” Matt 18: 8, 9
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh are set forth for as AN EXAMPLE (Of both his vengeance and of his mercy, and as an example to those who afterward would live ungodly 2 Pet. 2:6), suffering THE VENGEANCE OF ETERNAL FIRE (Utter destruction, not eternal torment).” Jude 7
Sodom and Gomorrah were set forth as EXAMPLES, we are not to suppose that they have been eternally destroyed, they were simply a picture, and they too shall be brought back in the resurrection that they too might have part in the “restitution of all things” Acts 3:19-21. Each one is accountable to the light to which they are given and so the Lord states in Matt 11:23, 24
“And thou, Capernaum (Who thought themselves quite respectable, church-going people, Capernaum was favored above all other cities of Palestine because there our Lord did most of his miracles and preaching.), which art exalted unto heaven (Highly lifted up in privileges of knowledge, opportunity and divine favor and blessing.), shall be brought down to hell (Greek: Hades, the grave, because they received not the message) For if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for thee.
The Sodomites were not as great sinners as were the Jews who had more knowledge, and so it shall be more TOLERABLE thus less severe, less of an ordeal, as their sins had been sins of ignorance, as the punishment of that age will be in proportion to past guilt. The people of Capernaum were evidently harder-hearted than the people of Sodom and, from the Lord’s standpoint, were more blameworthy.
Question: In what way could it be more TOLERABLE for one group of people than that of another group if they are all supposed to be in the “Lake of Fire and Brim Stone” suffering eternal torment?
Thank God for understanding and for Truth on this subject that has held men in fear throughout these many centuries.
The eternal fate of the Sodomites is not sealed: “Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate.” (Ezek. 16:55) Our Lord guarantees them a full opportunity. Showing conclusively that all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth–to be judged and tried. The death of the Sodomites, therefore, was merely the Adamic death hastened for their benefit so that they should not go so far as to be un-recoverable; they did not suffer the Second Death nor are they suffering eternal torment as some suggest.
“To the Law and the Testimony, if they speak not according to this word, there is no truth in them.” (Isa 8:20)
The Truth shall set you free.