Andy Tran

University Seventh-day
Adventist Church

Revelation’s Lake of Fire


Revelation’s Lake of Fire

Apr 13, 2016Unlock Revelation

Have you ever asked some people why they left Christianity? Most people leave because they were taught that God will burn bad people forever and ever. Today’s lecture, building on our previous topic (which you can read here) looked at what the Bible says about people burning forever. As we do with all of our recaps, we will summarize the high points here:

First, we re-established that God is love (1 John 4:8). Whatever we read in the Bible about Hell needs to reflect God’s character of love. No, we are not going to apply a sugar coat to make the topic palatable (if it needs to be). As we encourage you to do, we will look at what the Bible says.

Matthew 10:28 reveals that we should fear Him who can destroy the body/soul in Hell. The word for Hell here is pneuma, where we get pneumonia from. A pneumatic drill is driven by compressed air. Jesus believed that Hell is where the body and breath goes, like a grave. In fact, most of the time the word Hell is used it is referring to the grave. In the Old Testament, the word sheol is used for Hell, which means the grave. In the New Testament the word used is Hades, which also means the grave. While you may think of Hell as a hot place, the Bible mostly describes it as the grave, a final resting place if you will.

Earlier we discussed the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13 (you can read it here). The harvest separating the wheat from the weeds (good from evil) happens at the end of the age (Matthew 13:39). And the weeds are gathered together and burned in a fire. Now have we reached the end of Earth’s history? Not yet. If the separating and burning happen at the end of the world, then there is no hell right now. The Bible states there is a hell, but no one can be there right now! 2 Peter 2:9 reveals that the wicked are reserved for the day of judgment. This is why having a correct understanding of death is important (read it here). You cannot go to hell right after death because hell does not happen until the end of this world’s history. No one is burning now, and no one has been burning for thousands of years. The fires will come at the harvest time, at the end of history as we know it.

You may say, “Ok, so the Bible says that there is no Hellfire right now, but where is Hell?
Good question. 2 Peter 3:7 says, “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” In Revelation 20:9 we see that fire comes down and destroys the wicked, who are “on the breadth of the Earth.” So we see that Hell is going to occur on this Earth. You are reading this on the future site of Hell. Why would God choose this place to destroy the wicked? Think about it, this world has been marred by sin, death, evil, greed, and corruption. God already cleansed this Earth with water, and He will cleanse it with fire. Why would God cleanse the heavens from 2 Peter? The Bible refers to three places as heaven: where God lives is heaven, where the stars and galaxies are is heaven, and where the birds fly is considered “heaven.” God is going to clean up the atmosphere before creating a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). This is the good news about Hell, it will eliminate sin and those who hold on to it, it will restore Earth to its original glory, and the perils of this life will be but a distant memory!

Now that we have established that Hell happens on Earth, at the end of time, how long will there be a Hell?
This is a valid concern, and the popular opinion is that it happens forever and ever. People will burn forever, and that does not seem fair. The atrocities that Hitler and Stalin committed during their time on Earth pale in comparison to this idea. It is this thinking that causes some to become agnostic or even atheist. What kind of a God would let people burn forever? How would you enjoy heaven if you knew that somewhere people you knew were being tormented? What does this say about the character of God?

First, let’s understand that it is impossible for Hell to burn forever. We have discovered that Hell is taking place on this Earth, and we see that Jesus is recreating the Earth in Revelation 21 and 22.

Second, burning forever implies immortality. 1 Timothy 6:16 says that only God is immortal. The righteous will become immortal when they are with Jesus again (John 3 :16 – eternal life). 1 John 5:12 says that whoever has the Son has life! The wicked do not have Jesus, therefore they cannot have life. Look at the following:
Ezekiel 18:4 – The soul who sins shall die
Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death (not eternal life in hell)
Revelation 20:14 – The lake of fire (hellfire) is the second death, not the second life.
Psalm 37 – The wicked will not be, they shall perish in smoke
Psalm 68:2 – The wicked perish
Revelation 20:9 – The wicked are consumed.
Even the devil will not burn forever. Ezekiel 28:18 says that the devil will be turned in to ashes. Malachi 4:1 says that the wicked will become ashes. They will be completely consumed. There is no forever of burning. It goes against the Biblical understanding of life, death, heaven, earth, sin, and eternal life. Nahum 1:9 reveals that affliction will not rise again.

Hell will completely eliminate sin and everything it has affected.

Now this may seem even more morbid than what you are used to hearing. However, there is not going to be a party when this happens. God will have to wipe away tears from our eyes (Revelation 21:4) and Ezekiel 18:32 says that God does not take pleasure in the death of those who die. Isaiah 28:21 calls this an unusual act for God. This is going to be a solemn time friends, but in God’s mercy the sin will be reduced to ashes and be gone.

But wait, the Bible does say in Revelation 20:10 that the devil will be tormented day and night forever and ever. This is proof that people burn in Hell forever. Explain that!
In the Bible “forever” does not always mean “time without ending.” In Revelation 20:9 we see that the fire devours the wicked. When you devour something you participate in that act until what is devoured is gone. So why would verse 10 say that the devouring would happen forever? In 1 Samuel 1:22 we see that Hannah is going to leave her son with the Lord forever. Is Samuel still there? No the Bible records his death! 1 Samuel 1:28 clarifies that Samuel would be lent to the Lord as long as he lives. Exodus 21 reveals that the Hebrew slave would serve his master forever. He will until he dies. Mark 9:43-46 says it is better to go to heaven with missing parts instead of hell with a full body  where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. He is talking about hell here, not like hades as the grave, but gehenna. It references a place outside of Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnom where Hebrew kings would offer child sacrifices. But the valley is not burning today. However, we learn that hell is reserved for those who make the ultimate choice against Jesus. Jude 7 reveals that Hell will be similar to Sodom and Gomorrah. The two cities were given a chance to repent, but chose not to and were consumed by fire. Hell is not going to burn forever.

What about the rich man and Lazarus?
This is a parable found in Luke 16:19-31. Some take this to show that Jesus says people burn in hell and can communicate with people in heaven. But if Jesus is speaking of a new truth, then Abraham’s bosom would have to be large! Furthermore, if the rich man is burning hell he would not be asking for a drop of water to cool his tongue, that does not make sense! We see the point of this story at the end, your association to a family is not going to save you, it is a knowledge and acceptance of the truth (which is Jesus – John 14:6). The rich man calls out to Father Abraham, but that is not going to help him now. You cannot be saved based on what church you are affiliated with. But Jesus is not promoting something new here. And if He was, it would be mentioned multiple times – as the Bible uses repetition to emphasize a specific point.

Hell is not exactly the most exciting subject to learn about, no matter what the Bible says. It will be a solemn time in history to see the end of those who choose the devil’s side. But we can take comfort in the fact that sin will no longer plague our lives, that this judgment and punishment will be swift and not eternal, and that we have the choice today to choose Jesus. This will be a sad but necessary step that will lead to a restoration and recreation of this planet with no taint of sin and suffering.

The choice is yours, will you choose to be apart of the first resurrection?





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