First of all, what is hell like? Is it just a big pit of burning fire? Well, that's not how the Bible describes it. Jesus gave us a clear view of hell in Luke 16 when he describes how a man in hell who was rich and happy on earth speaks to Abraham and another man named Lazarus who are both across the void between hell and what used to be paradise.
(On a side note, paradise was a holding tank before the cross for the souls of the righteous departed. When Jesus died on the cross, Ephesians 4:9 says He 'descended into the lower parts of the earth'. Then in John 20:17 and Hebrews 9:23-25, we see that the ressurrected Jesus ascended to the Father and led those who were captive in paradise to heaven)
But what do we learn about Hell from this story of Jesus's? We see the following:
- The man is hot and thristy
- He's not in a great deal of pain or he wouldn't be able to carry on a conversation with Abraham
- He could reason
- He had full memory of his life on earth
- He didn't want to be there.
So, hell appears to be a bad place. An unhappy place. Actually it's a place where God is not. And since God is love, joy, peace, friendship, loyalty, goodness, comfort... then none of those things are in hell. I would imagine there's also no good food or drink, no homes, beds, entertainment and no friendship--since everything good that we enjoy on earth that isn't sinful comes from God.
But hell is just a holding place. Just like Paradise was. It's very clear from Revelation 20 that after Jesus's millenial reign on earth, there will be a great judgement. ...death and hell gave up the dead in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hell were thrown into the lake of fire...Anyone whose name was not found in the book of the living was thrown into the lake of fire
So, hell is thrown into the lake. Hell is gone at this point. But what about all the people. Some are obviously thrown into the lake as well, but there are some scholars who believe that only the worst of the worst will suffer that eternal demise. Others believe that those people will cease to exist at that moment and will not have to suffer eternal torture. We don't really know. This is one of the mysteries God has not revealed.
Why do I mention it? Well, I know many people think God is cruel for sending people to be miserable forever and ever. I don't personally think that because God is just. He gives people what they ask for. If he wasn't a just God, He wouldn't be God. But, I'm bringing this hell issue up because for me, it made me realize that there is so much we don't understand or know about God or how He works or His plan for eternity. We may have a preconceived notion about how things are going to be in eternity, but we have NO IDEA. People who you thought were lost forever may end up being pulled from the fire at the last minute! We don't know.
And because of that, we must trust in the goodness of God. How Good is our God? And how important is it for you to believe that He is Good? Tune in next week....