“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Revelation 19:20)
HELL — the place of eternal punishment for the unrighteous. However, Hollywood has succeeded in desensitizing hell. Movies make such references to it as; “See you in hell.” Send me a postcard.” But for some, hell is all too real because they went there and back. Kenneth Hagin was one of those people as was Mary K. Baxter. Both wrote a book about their experience which I highly recommend if you have not read them. Kenneth’s is a small book entitled “I Went To Hell.” Mary K.’s is entitled “A Divine Revelation of Hell.” TBN did two movies on the subject, one which was hosted by former Pastor John Osteen, founder of Lakewood Church. In “To Hell and Back” (not to be confused with the Audie Murphy movie of the same title), people give their testimony of having gone to hell during a “near death” experience and being sent back to earth and their life.
Mention of hell is not limited to Psalms and Revelation. Hell is mentioned in the Bible as early as Deuteronomy 32:22. To put it context, we will look at verses 20-22:
20 “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. 21They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. 22For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”
Mention of hell is made in 2 Samuel 22:6, Job 11:8, Job 26:6,
Psalm 9:17, Psalm 16:10,
Psalm 18:5, Psalm 55:15, Psalm 86:13, Ps 116:3, Psalm 139:8, Proverbs 5:5, Proverbs 7:27, Proverbs 9:18, Proverbs 15:11, Proverbs 15:24, Proverbs 23:14, Proverbs 27:20, Isaiah 5:14, Isaiah 14:9, Isaiah 14:15, Isaiah 28:15, Isaiah 28:18, Isaiah 57:9, Ezekiel 31:16, Ezekiel 31:17, Ezekiel 32:21, Amos 9:2, Jonah 2:2, Habakkuk 2:5, Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 11:23, Matthew 16:18, Matthew 18:9, Matthew 23:15, Matthew 23:33, Mark 9:43, 45, 47, Luke 10:15, Luke 12:5, Luke 16:23, Acts 2:27, 31, James 3:6, 2 Peter 2:4, Revelation 1:18, Revelation 6:8, Revelation 20:13-14. And these are only the Scriptures that mention hell by the name “hell!” Hell is also known by other names, as we will see in this passage from Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary:
HELL — the place of eternal punishment for the unrighteous. The NKJV and KJV use this word to translate Sheol and Hades, the Old and New Testament words, respectively, for the abode of the dead.
Hell also translates Gehenna, the Greek form of the Hebrew phrase that means “the vale of Hinnom”—a valley west and south of Jerusalem. In this valley the Canaanites worshiped Baal and the god Molech by sacrificing their children in a fire that burned continuously. Even Ahaz and Manasseh, kings of Judah, were guilty of this terrible, idolatrous practice (2 Chr. 28:3; 33:6).
The prophet Jeremiah predicted that God would visit such destruction upon Jerusalem that this valley would be known as the “Valley of Slaughter” (Jer. 7:31–34; 19:2, 6). In his religious reforms, King Josiah put an end to this worship. He defiled the valley in order to make it unfit even for pagan worship (2 Kin. 23:10).
In the time of Jesus the Valley of Hinnom was used as the garbage dump of Jerusalem. Into it were thrown all the filth and garbage of the city, including the dead bodies of animals and executed criminals. To consume all this, fires burned constantly. When the wind blew from that direction over the city, its awfulness was quite evident. At night wild dogs howled as they fought over the garbage.
Jesus used this awful scene as a symbol of hell. In effect he said, “Do you want to know what hell is like? Look at Gehenna.” So hell may be described as God’s “cosmic garbage dump.” All that is unfit for heaven will be thrown into hell.
The word Gehenna occurs 12 times in the New Testament. Each time it is translated as “hell.”
With the exception of James 3:6, it is used only by Jesus (Matt. 5:22, 29–30; 10:28; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5). In Matthew 5:22; 18:9; and Mark 9:47, it is used with “fire” as “hell fire.” So the word “hell” (Gehenna) as a place of punishment is used in the New Testament by Him who is the essence of infinite love.
In Mark 9:46 and 48, hell is described as a place where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” Repeatedly Jesus spoke of outer darkness and a furnace of fire, where there will be wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). Obviously this picture is drawn from Gehenna.
The Book of Revelation describes hell as “a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14–15; 21:8). Into hell will be thrown the beast and the false prophet (Rev. 19:20). At the end of the age the devil himself will be thrown into it, along with death and Hades and all whose names are not in the Book of Life. “And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10b).
Because of the symbolic nature of the language, some people question whether hell consists of actual fire. Such reasoning should bring no comfort to the lost. The reality is greater than the symbol. The Bible exhausts human language in describing heaven and hell. The former is more glorious, and the latter more terrible, than language can express.
(to be continued)
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