The Reality of Eternal Punishment and
The Lake of Fire
The Eternal “Abode” of the Damned
By Pastor F. M. Riley
Revised August 23, 2010
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire,” Revelation 20:15.
Hell is not a joke! The fires of Hell are not a laughing matter!
The Bible study you are about to read was given to me many years ago as I studied God’s Word and the Holy Spirit graciously enlightened me. I have preached this message many times over the years. The Lord has impressed me to put these truths into printed form so that more souls might be warned to “flee from the wrath to come.” I have been obedient to that impression. The result is the Bible study you now hold in your hand.
In writing out this study, I have been gripped by the reality of eternal torment upon the incorrigible wicked as never before. I have literally wept as I wrote. More than once I was constrained to turn from my writing and seek the face of God, and plead for more power to witness to the lost. Yes, and to plead God’s forgiveness for my own negligence in not warning lost souls with more fervency. My prayer as I write this introduction is that every true believer will be gripped with the same agony of soul that I have felt as I wrote this study. May the Lord impress upon every reader the urgency of the hour, the shortness of time, the certainty of judgment, and the reality of eternal punishment upon unrepentant sinners. May God give His people [those truly saved] souls for Jesus’ sake.
If, by the grace of God, this study comes into the hands of some lost soul, I would count it a blessing to counsel and pray with you concerning the salvation of your soul. My earnest desire is to meet every reader at the feet of Jesus when He comes in glory. May God bless every reader with an abundance of grace is my prayer.
The Big Question
Is Hell real?
Is there really a place of literal fire in which the souls of the incorrigible wicked shall be eternally tormented? Or as some claim, is Hell just a state of mind; a figure of speech? Is it possible that Hell is just a figment of Jewish superstition invented to frighten people into maintaining some reasonable order in society? Or…..even if Hell exists, perhaps it is a place of annihilation where the souls of the incorrigible wicked will be burned out of existence in a matter of seconds? Or…..is every reference to Hell in God’s Word just allegorical and symbolic, as some “professing Christians” claim?
These are samples of questions that arise and the confusion that exists today, on the subject of “eternal punishment.” In our generation many self-proclaimed “Bible teachers” have stepped forward to deny the reality of a literal hell, and to spread confusion among the churches. Of course their denials are often eagerly received by those who would like to extinguish the fires of a literal hell in order to escape the consequences of their own wickedness. To most people living today, Hell is just a curse word falling from profane lips, or an imaginary place to be mocked by some filthy joke.
But in spite of the general spirit of unbelief in a literal hell, the small nagging fear still persists in the hearts and minds of men, “What if Hell really does exist?” Yes! What if it really does…..?
The Testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Lord Jesus believed Hell to be real! The greatest hell-fire and brimstone preacher that has ever appeared on the stage of human history was none other than the tender Lamb of God, the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Christ had more to say about Hell than any other person in the entire Bible. When the Lord spoke about Hell, He spoke in the soberest of terms, as if He was speaking of a real place. He spoke with emphasis as if He fervently desired that men would be warned, and would make such spiritual preparation that would guarantee that they would never go to that place. Listen to the Lord Himself as He warns men of the eternal wrath of an offended God…..
“And I say unto you My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him,” Luke 12:4-5.
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” Matthew 10:28.
“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” Mark 9:43-48.
Our readers should notice that the passage in Luke warns men to avoid Hell. The passage in Matthew points out that Hell is a place where both body and soul will be destroyed. The Greek word translated as “destroy” in Matthew 10:28 is the word “apollumi.” This Greek word literally means, “to bring to ruin or [eternal] loss.” This word never means “to annihilate.” See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, pages 64-65, Strong’s No. 622.
The passage in Mark makes it clear that Hell is eternal; a place where the “worm” [soul…Job 25:6] of those who go there will never die and the fires of that place will never cease to burn.
The Greek word translated as “hell” in all three of these passages is the word, “gehenna.” The Lord, in using this particular word, is referring to the final abode of the incorrigible wicked; the lake of fire and brimstone, Revelation 20:15.
The Lord Jesus did not want men to go to Hell, for He well knew the reality of its existence. Hell is a real place! A careful study of the Scriptures will reveal just how terrifyingly real it is…..
The Origin of Hell Fire
The Word of God makes it clear that Hell has not always existed. Almighty God is very reluctant to proceed from mercy to damnation [Ezekiel 33:11], therefore no place
of fiery torment for the incorrigible wicked was created in the beginning.
In Matthew 25:41 we are told that the fires of Hell were “prepared for the devil and his angels.” The Greek word translated as “prepared” is the word, “hetoimazo.” This word literally means, “to make ready.” It is the same Greek word used by our Lord in John 14:2-3, where He told His disciples that He was going to “prepare” a place for them. The word actually means to take what is already in existence and “prepare” [make] something new with it. Hell was “prepared” following the creation of the heavens and the earth, specifically for “the devil and his angels.” Hell was brought into existence after the “anointed cherub” of Ezekiel 28 became the one we know today as Satan. Up until his rebellion against God, there was no need for such a place.
In the Old Testament the word translated as “hell” comes from the Hebrew word, “sheol.” This Hebrew word literally means, “the place of departed spirits; place of the dead; the underworld.” It was the place where the souls of the deceased went preceding the coming of Christ into the world. “Sheol” was already in existence during the life of Abraham [Genesis 25:8] and Jacob, Genesis 37:35. The first time the word actually occurs in the Old Testament is in Genesis 37:35, where it is incorrectlytranslated as “grave.” The word “sheol” never means the grave, even though it is incorrectly translated that way 31 times in the King James Version Old Testament. “Sheol” always refers to the place where the souls of the deceased went when their bodies died.
There are never any references to “sheol” being a place of fire, UNTILthe exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. It was during the exodus that the Word of God first mentioned fire in connection with “sheol.” This is found in Numbers 16.
Numbers 16 records the rebellion of Korah and those who followed him, against God’s appointed leader, Moses. Study this entire chapter carefully.
In Numbers 16:30 we read, “But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick [alive]into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.”
Then in verses 32-33 we are told, “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.”
Then in verse 35 we read, “And there came out a firefrom the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.”
In verse 30 Moses stated that the Lord was going to “make a new thing.” The word translated as “make” in this verse is the Hebrew word “bara.” This is the same word that is translated as “create” elsewhere in the Old Testament. The basic meaning of the word is, “to create.” Moses plainly stated that God was going to “create” something that He had not previously created. This is verified by the words, “new thing.” These two words are translated from one Hebrew word, “beriah.” This word literally means, “a creation; a created thing.” The meaning of these words makes it clear that on this occasion the Lord was performing a creative act in bringing forth some “new thing.” But what was it that the Lord created at that specific time? Let’s see…..
Notice the word “pit” in verse 30 and again in verse 33. This word is translated from the Hebrew word, “sheol.” “Sheol” is translated as “pit” only three times in the Old Testament, with two of those occurrences being in Numbers 16. This means that the Lord on this occasion created some “new thing” connected with “sheol,” the underworld; the place of departed spirits. What was it then that the Lord created at this
In verse 35 the Scripture states, “…there came out a fire from the Lord…” This is the first time in God’s Word where fire is connected with “sheol.” On this occasion the Lord literally created fire in the bowels of the earth, where previously there had been no fire. The fire “came out” and devoured the men who were offering incense. The Lord then used this fire to “prepare” a fiery hell for the devil and his angels.
Does this sound far fetched to our readers? Well let’s see if it can be verified by God’s Word…..
In Deuteronomy 32, in rehearsing Israel’s forty year history, Moses was given an inspired song. In his song the Lord pointed out how the children of Israelhad angered Him, and would yet anger Him even more. In 32:22 [written in the present tense] the Lord said, “For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell [sheol], and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”
On this occasion, Moses, speaking by Divine inspiration and in the present tense, states that the Lord had kindled a fire that would “burn unto the lowest hell [sheol]. This fire would “consume the earth with her increase,” and would “set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” It is obvious that this is speaking of literal fire, and this fire would burn in the interior of the earth. As it burned it would consume the interior of the earth and ultimately burn right down into the lowest level of “sheol,” thereby bringing into existence a burning fiery “hell” in the place of departed spirits. Notice the reference to setting “on fire the foundations of the mountains.” This is speaking in Biblical language of volcanic activity. This means that in the fires of volcanic eruptions, Almighty God is giving mankind evidence that His Word is true and that a literal burning hell is real. Oh, that mankind would heed the warning and flee from eternal wrath!
Science or Scripture?
I digress momentarily to make a point that is of utmost importance to God’s people. So-called “modern science” claims that hundreds of millions of years in the past, the earth was a burning star. Supposedly, through eons of time it slowly cooled off until it can now support life on its crust [surface]. Folks, this so-called “scientific theory” is unadulterated “hogwash.”
God’s Word tells us exactly the opposite. Genesis 1:2, 1:6-7, and Genesis 7 tell us that in the recent past [little more than 6000 years] the earth was covered with water, and the interior of the earth [the abyss; the deep] was filled with water. Study the passages for yourself.
The passages in Numbers 16 and Deuteronomy 32 point out that the Lord “kindled” a fire in the interior of the earth. Rather than the earth cooling off, it is heating up due to the fire that now burns within it.
The inspired Word of God warns God’s people [those truly saved] to avoid “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called,” 1 Timothy 6:20. Now choose whether you want to follow the vain ever changing theories of so-called “modern science,” or the never changing revelation of God’s infallible Word. As for me, I choose to anchor my soul on the unshakeable “Rock” of God’s eternal Word.
The Expansion of Hell
We have noticed the origin of hell-fire. Now let’s look at what has happened since the
Lord “kindled” that fire in the bowels of the earth.
Moses tells us that the fire the Lord kindled would increase as it consumed the interior of the earth. This means that Hell [sheol] would gradually become larger in size.
In Psalm 9:17 we read, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”
In Proverbs 27:20 the Scripture says, “Hell and destruction are never full…..”
In Habakkuk 2:5 it is recorded, “…..who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people.”
These Scriptures emphasize the need for Hell to be a large place, due to the millions of people who are going to end up spending eternity there. The Lord said that both “body and soul” will be cast into Hell. It could be argued that souls do not require space, but bodies certainly do. Hell must ultimately be a huge place in order to have room for the bodies of the incorrigible wicked that will be cast into it following the “great white throne” judgment, Revelation 20:11-15.
In Isaiah 5:11-13 we read about the wickedness of Israel. These verses describe drunkenness, wild living, and willful ignorance of God’s Word and the work of the Lord. What was true of ancient Israel is no less true of the Gentile nations of the earth. Sin, wickedness, and rebellion against Almighty God are at an all time high today. Then in Isaiah 5:14 we read, “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.”
This statement sets forth literaltruth. The fires presently burning in the bowels of the earth are causing Hell [sheol] to become larger and larger as the interior is consumed by the intense flames and heat. As Hell expands it is gradually burning towards the surface of the earth. This truth is again verified by the Word of God.
Isaiah 14 records a prophecyabout an end-time “king of Babylon,” 14:4. I urge our readers to carefully study this entire chapter. Most of God’s people assign this chapter to ages past, identifying “Lucifer” as Satan. But the wording and context of the chapter clearly indicates that Isaiah 14 is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled, whether the “traditionalists” like it or not. “Lucifer” is the coming anti-christ, Satan’s man [14:16], who will indeed be the “king of Babylon,” the ancient city in Iraq which is being restored even as I write.
Now notice verse 9, “Hell [sheol; hades] from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee…..”
In Isaiah 5:14 God’s Word says that Hell is enlarging. In Isaiah 14:9 the Scripture says that Hell is moving. Specifically, Hell is moving towards the surface of the earth as its flames consume the interior of the earth. At some point during the rise and reign of the anti-christ, the fires of Hell are going to burn through the surface of the earth at some specific location on the earth’s surface. When this occurs, there will come into existence a literal “lake of fire.”
This truth is clearly prophesied in Isaiah 30:33, “For Tophet isordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; He hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.”
The Hebrew word translated as “Tophet” in this verse is the equivalent of the Greek word, “gehenna.” Both words refer to the future “lake of fire.” This Scripture tells us that the Lord “ordained” the “lake of fire” from ancient times, “…for the king it is prepared…” In studying the context of this chapter, it becomes obvious that this is a prophecy that speaks of the future punishment of the anti-christ. He is “the king” that is under consideration in this verse. Notice also that the Lord, having “ordained” Tophet, then “prepared” it. This statement perfectly harmonizes with Matthew 25:41. Since the
“lake of fire” has to be a huge place in order to accommodate the bodies and souls of millions of lost people, we are told in this verse that it is “deep and large,” and that “the breath of the Lord…..doth kindle it.” Isn’t this exact verification of what we have already studied?
The passages that we have studied also point out when the “lake of fire” will be brought into existence. There is no lake of fire in existence today. Hell [sheol] is presently located in the underworld somewhere beneath the surface of the earth. But it is burning constantly, and enlarging as it burns. The Scriptures specifically state that it will meet the anti-christ at his coming. Therefore it is obvious that the fires of Hell will burn through, [or break through] the surface of the earth sometime during the rise and reign of the anti-christ.
In Revelation 19:20 the Scripture says, “And the beast [Antichrist] 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.”
This makes it obvious that the “lake of fire” must be in existence before the end of the Tribulation in order for the anti-christ to be cast into it. This is exactly what the Scriptures presented point out. The “lake of fire” will come into existence during the Tribulation period, due to the fires of Hell burning through the surface of the earth.
That the “lake of fire” will be in existence at that time is further verified by Matthew 13:49-50. In this passage the Lord states that the angels of God will come forth at the end of the age, and cast the wicked into “the furnace of fire.” Also study the context in which Matthew 25:41 occurs. It also gives us insight into the time period involved.
Where will the fires of Hell break through the surface of the earth, bringing into existence a literal “lake of fire”? It is obvious that there will be a certain location on the surface of the earth. Further, according to God’s Word it will be visible to all who look in that direction. The smoke alone from such a conflagration will be visible for a great distance as it rises into the heavens from the surface of the fiery lake. Does God’s Word shed any light on this subject? Indeed it does!
In Revelation 14:9-11 we are told what will happen to those who, during the coming Tribulation, worship the beast [anti-christ], or his image, or receive his mark. They will “be tormented with fire and brimstone.” In verse 11 the Scripture states, “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever…”
This statement makes it clear that smoke from the “lake of fire” will be eternally visible to all who survive the Tribulation. Humanity entering the Millennial Kingdomand the eternal age which follows the Millennium, will have a visible witness of what it means to “fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews 10:31. Oh, that men would consider their latter end, and flee from “the wrath to come” while there is still time.
But from what part of the earth will this smoke arise? Where will the fiery lake of eternal torment for the wicked actually be located? Does the Word of God tell us? Let’s see what the Word has to say…..
I urge our readers to carefully study Isaiah 34; the whole chapter. Lay aside all of the pre-conceived opinions you may have picked up in some commentary, or heard from
some preacher, and just allow the Word of God to speak to your heart. Receive and accept what the Word actually and literally says at face value. I reproduce here the first ten verses of Isaiah 34.
“Come near, ye nations, to hear: and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.
For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and His fury upon all their armies: He hath utterly destroyed them, He hath delivered them to the slaughter.
Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
For My sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea [Edom], and upon the people of My curse, to judgment.
The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea [Edom].
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land [Edom] shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.
And the streams thereof [Edom] shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof [Edom] shall become burning pitch.
It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.”
Notice that this is a message addressed to all the nations and peoples of the earth, 34:1. In this portion of Scripture the Lord has something to say that is so important that He wants all humanity to hear it.
In verse 2 the Lord begins His message by warning all humanity that He is angry with “all nations,” so much so that He has already determined the total defeat and utter destruction of “all their armies.” He has already “delivered them to the slaughter.” In Romans 4:17 it is explicitly stated that the Lord “…calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Mankind today still struggles with war, and with all of the destruction and heartache and death that it brings. But the Lord has already decreed the end of all war and the “slaughter” of “all men of war,” Ezekiel 39:20. Glory to God!
In these Scriptures we are told exactly wherethis decreed slaughter is going to take place. It will take place in the Biblical land of “Idumea” [Edom]. “Idumea” is the Greek form of the word that is commonly translated as “Edom” in the Old Testament. The King James translators should have uniformly translated this word as “Edom.” I have no idea why they picked up the Greek form of the word from the New Testament and placed it here in an Old Testament passage. But the correct translation is “Edom.”
This terrible slaughter of the armies of the nations will then take place in the land formerly occupied by ancient “Edom.” The inhabitants of this land were the descendants of Esau, Genesis 25:30. “Bozrah” [verse 6] was the northern capitol of ancient Edom. It is in the vicinity of ancient “Bozrah” that this slaughter will begin, and from there will proceed northward along the east side of the Dead Sea. Compare Ezekiel 39:1-21, Isaiah 63:1-6, Habakkuk 3:3, Deuteronomy 33:2, and Judges 5:4-5. The landof Edom was located southeast of the Dead Sea. Today this area is the southwest portion of the nation
of Jordan on the east side of the Great Rift Valley.
The Lord then tells the nations what will become of the land of Edom during the time of the “slaughter” of the world’s armies. The Lord will cause “the streams” of that land to pour forth “pitch” [verse 9]. “Pitch” is the thick oily material from which asphalt is produced, and it is highly combustible. The “dust” [soil] of the land will be covered or replaced by “brimstone” [sulphur]. Volcanoes will be erupting, spewing forth fire and deadly gases and great amounts of “brimstone,” literally covering the entire land of Edom. When sulphur is set afire it is extremely difficult to extinguish, and as it burns it gives off a dense black smoke that will suffocate any living thing that is unfortunate enough to breathe it. Fire will break forth from Hell [sheol] beneath, setting the “pitch” and “brimstone” on fire, causing the entire land of Edomto become a land of “burning pitch.” The land will indeed become a literal, visible, “lake of fire.”
This will obviously involve tremendous geological activity; the whole earth being in upheaval, with the surface of the land breaking apart, and volcanoes erupting. Study Isaiah 2:19-21, 13:13-14, 24:1, 24:5-6, 24:17-20, and many other similar Scriptures in the prophetic portions of the Old Testament. All of this activity will be going on as the Lord Jesus Christ returns in glory to bring an end to the Tribulation and establish His own glorious kingdom. Glory!
In this passage the Lord also gives us the duration of the fires that break forth in the land of Edom. Isaiah 34:10 explicitly states, “It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.”
Beloved reader, do you hear it? Are you listening to God’s Word? Compare this passage with Revelation 14:9-11. The Lord tells us that the land of Edom will be a land of fire and burning pitch “for ever and ever.” The fires there will never be quenched! The terrible sulfurous smoke will never cease to rise from the surface of that burning “lake of fire.” That land will be so dreadful that no living soul will ever dare attempt to pass through it. Verses 11-17 tell us that only a few unclean birds and animals will nest and den in the brimstone covered rocks around the edges of that terrible “lake of fire.” Edom will indeed be a land cursed by Almighty God “for ever and ever.”
Jeremiah 49:7-22 is another portion of Scripture that deals with the land of Edom. In verse 13 we read, “For I have sworn by Myself, saith the Lord, that Bozrah [ancient Edom’s northern capitol] shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.”
Again, in Ezekiel 20:45-48 we find another prophecy against “the south field.” Edomwas located south and east of Israel. Verses 47-48 tell us, “And say to the forest of the south, Hear the Word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.”
Study also Ezekiel 25:13-14 and Obadiah 18. Both passages are prophecies about the land of Edom.
In Malachi 1:1-5 we find another portion of Scripture dealing with the land of Edom. In verse 4 we read, “Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.”
Jeremiah 49:13 says that Edomis to be “a curse…..and…..perpetual [ceaseless] wastes.” Malachi 1:4 says that the landof Edom shall be referred to as “The border of wickedness,” and that the Lord will have “indignation” against the people of Edom“for ever.” This statement, “the border of wickedness,” is interesting. Let’s examine it a little closer…..
Eternity and the New Earth
In Revelation 22:14-15 we find a statement about those who will enter “new Jerusalem” and those who will be shut out. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
For without [outside; shut out] are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and
murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
The word translated as “without” is the Greek word, “exo.” This word literally means, “outside.” The verse actually says that “outside” the walls of “new Jerusalem” will be wicked souls that have rejected Christ as their Savior. This verse does not tell us where “outside” these wicked souls will be located. But it does make it clear that such wicked souls will be “outside” the city even during the eternal age. Where will they be?
No! They will not be running loose on the “new earth.” The answer should be obvious! They will be in the “lake of fire” located in the land once possessed by ancient Edom. Study the passages in Isaiah 34 and Malachi 1 again, and compare them with Revelation 14:9-11. When the Lord said, “for ever and ever,” that is exactly what He meant. The land once occupied by ancient Edom [now occupied by Jordan] will “for ever” be a “lake of fire” where the wicked will “for ever” be confined and tormented. The smoke of their torment will “for ever” rise from the surface of that terrible lake as a testimony and witness of what it means to rebel against God and reject the love of God; His own precious Son and Savior, and thereby come under the wrath of God. The “lake of fire” will give visible witness of God’s power and ability to put down rebellion in His kingdom, and to justly punish rebellious, unrepentant, incorrigible sinners.
Again, does this sound far-fetched to our readers? Then let’s see if it is verified by the Word of God…..
In Isaiah 66:22-24 we find the very passage from which our Lord quoted in Mark 9:42-48. It reads, “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.
And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord.
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm [soul…Job 25:6] shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”
This passage is plainly speaking of the future eternal age that follows the Millennial Kingdom. The Lord says that redeemed humanity will come before Him to worship at set appointed times. After worshipping, they will then go forth and “look upon the carcasses [bodies] of the men that…..transgressed” against the Lord. Redeemed humanity in that future time will “abhor” [hate and despise] those transgressors. Now where would such an event even be possible in the “new earth”?
Isn’t the answer obvious? Malachi 4:1 tells us that the border of ancient Edom will be called “the border of wickedness.” Redeemed humanity will go out from worshipping the Lord, and go towards the ancient border of Edom. There they will look down into and out across the surface of that burning “lake of fire,” and see in it the bodies of the incorrigible wicked, writhing in the flames and screaming out the miseries
of their eternal damnation.
Folks, Satan has spent at least 6000 years bringing every kind of fiendish and diabolical wickedness upon the human race in his mad attempt to overthrow Almighty God and seize God’s throne for himself. Satan has not hesitated to deceive millions, causing them to commit spiritual suicide. He has brought about the death of millions more by war, oppression, hunger, crime, disease, and poverty. He has dragged humanity through the fires of suffering and death in pursuit of his mad goal.
As the end of this age approached, Satan fathered, in the name of “scientific progress,”[Sic!]the most diabolical weapon for the mass destruction of mankind by firethat has ever been invented; the nuclear bomb. The prophetic Scriptures indicate that before Satan is finally subdued millions will be burned alive by this terrible weapon, and other millions will die from the side effects and after effects of nuclear radiation.
Is it then unreasonable that Almighty God will deal with Satan exactly as Satan has dealt with mankind? Not at all! Galatians 6:7-8 is still in the Bible. So is Revelation 22:12. What is true of men is also true of angelic spirits. See Ezekiel 28:18-19. The Lord is perfectly just to allow Satan and all who choose to follow him to suffer the fires of eternal torment “for ever and ever.” Read again Revelation 19:1-3, 20:7-10, and 20:15.
Dear reader, the “lake of fire” is real! Hell is right now being enlarged to receive the multitude of souls who are choosing to follow Satan in wicked rebellion against God, rather than acknowledging their own lost and sinful condition and turning to Christ for mercy and salvation. Very soon now the fires of Hell will break through the surface of the earth, giving mankind visible evidence of the reality of eternal punishment. But if you wait until that time comes to seek the Lord, you will have waited too long. You will have lost your soul for time and eternity. You will have missed your opportunity for salvation.
The inspired Word of God says, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Corinthians 6:2.
“…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…,” Acts 16:31.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36.
The choice is up to you. Will you choose Christ and be saved? Or, will you choose to follow Satan in rebellion and defiance of Almighty God?
May God grant His grace to every true seeker of righteousness is my earnest prayer.
Glossary of Terms
Sheol-Hades…..Sheol is the Old Testament Hebrew word and Hades is the New Testament Greek word that denotes the underworld; the place where the spirits [souls] of the deceased went preceding the resurrection of Christ, and where the souls of the incorrigible wicked still go today when their bodies die. Sheol and Hades are the exact same place. The Scriptures teach that just as there are three heavens above the surface of this earth, 2 Corinthians 12:2, so in like manner, there are three levels to the underworld,
Deuteronomy 32:22; Psalm 63:9; 86:13; 88:6; 139:15; Isaiah 44:23. In Old Testament times one of those levels was “paradise,” another was “torments,” and a third level appearsto be “tartaros,” the place of confinement for the fallen angels, 2 Peter 2:4.
Since the resurrection and ascension of Christ only the souls of lost unbelievers descend into Sheol-Hades when their bodies die. The souls of true believers now ascend up to Heaven to be with the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:1-8.
Abyss…..The abyss is the Greek word translated as “bottomless pit” in the New Testament. In the Old Testament there are many references to “the pit” that are translated from several different Hebrew words. Yet they all refer to a deep place located in the lower parts of the earth. See such passages as Numbers 16:30-33, Job 17:16, Ezekiel 26:20, 32:17-32, and many similar passages throughout the Old Testament. The abyss is a part of Sheol-Hades.
In Luke 16:26 there is a “great gulf” that separated “torments” from “Abraham’s bosom” [Paradise]. The word translated as “gulf” literally means, “a gaping opening; a chasm; a gulf; a great interval.” In other words, a chasm, rent, or split in the earth so deep that it is bottomless and impassable. It then appears that the “great gulf” in Luke 16:26 and the “bottomless pit” [abyss] are one and the same.
Topheth-Gehenna…..Topheth is the Old Testament Hebrew word and Gehenna is the New Testament Greek word denoting the “lake of fire.” This will be the final prison where all who have rebelled against God and who have rejected the only way of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ [John 14:6; Acts 4:12], will dwell throughout the endless ages of eternity. They will have to share that terrible place of eternal “torment” with “the beast,” “the false prophet,” and “the devil and his angels,” Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10; 20:15.
And where will YOU spend eternity?
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All comments, questions, or correspondence should be addressed to: Pastor F. M. Riley, 184 County Road 108, Harrisburg, Missouri 65256.