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What and Where is Hell Anyway?

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message 1: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Melisaratos | 6 comments When most people think of hell, they think of Satan in that red suit with two horns and a pitchfork somewhere in the depths of the Earth where souls are tormented day and night on some kind of giant char broiler. Do something wrong in life and you're condemned to eternal fire and damnation. None of this could be further from the truth.

Don't get me wrong, there are repercussions for sin and there is a need for repentance. Hell is not "the happiest place on Earth". It's a place of torment and anguish for those that do not over come, but it's not a fiery pit somewhere deep in the Earth and the day will come when it will no longer exist. God is righteous and just and will deal with the unsaved at judgment. A good view of the torment of hell can be seen in the Apocrypha, Second Book of Esdras, verse 76.

The English word hell comes from the Anglo-Saxon hel, or in the genitive case helle, which means a "hidden place", from the Anglo-Saxon word helan, meaning "to hide". The word for hell in the Old Testament is the Strong's Concordance word #7585 sheol in Hebrew, which simply means "grave." In the New Testament it's the Strong's word #1067 geenna, or gehenna, in Greek, which was the name of a valley outside of Jerusalem where the city trash was burned. The word was meant to portray a state of degradation and death. In eleven other locations of the New Testament it is the Strong's word #86 hades in Greek, meaning "unseen place" or "grave". Whether it's the word sheol in the Old Testament, or gehenna or hades in the New Testament, they all mean either the unseen grave or state of death.


So where is hell? If we refer to the scriptures we know that the soul leaves the body immediately after death and returns to God in Heaven to await the consummation of this age and then judgment. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God Who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8). Remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:20? We are shown all the dead waiting in heaven with a gulf that divides them that have overcome in life from those that have not? It is said of the rich man in Luke, "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom" (Luke 16:23). The rich man asked for Lazarus to come to him but was told he couldn't because of the gulf that separates them. Hell is within sight of, but away from those who overcame and are now present with the Lord. This is the true meaning and location of hell: dieing and waking up in heaven separated by a gulf from those that overcame, in anguish shame, and torment until the day of judgment.


There is a lake of fire however, in the book of Revelation 20:10: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Don't let this verse confuse you into thinking God really does torment these individuals, or anyone else for that matter, forever in a fiery hell. A better description of this is in Revelation 14:11: "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever:" It's the smoke from their extinguishing that rises for ever. The smoke is compared to a lamb on a spit in Psalm 37:20: "But the wicked shall be as the fat of lambs: They shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away." The description of this "consuming away" as it happens to Satan at judgment is given in Ezekiel 28:18, "...therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee." No eternal fire, complete incineration.


We see the difference between the lake of fire and hell spelled out starting in Revelation chapter 20:

13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


Notice that if hell were the traditional burning dungeon of God, how could it be cast into a lake of fire? The lake of fire is a one-time situation that exists after the Millennium and should not be confused with hell. The lake of fire exists for the sole purpose of the termination of death, hell, and all souls not passing judgment.


Why would a loving God have His children burn forever in torment with us knowing that this is happening to our family members or loved ones that did not pass the mustard? He wouldn't. Once you and hell enter the lake of fire, it's over. If you don't pass judgment, your soul will be extinguished and that's the end of you. That, you should fear. God is more loving and has better things to do with His children than eternal torture. You're going to heaven one way or another when you die. What side of heaven you're on will be determined by your actions in the flesh. Get it right now so that you don't end up like the rich man in torment and anguish knowing that you blew it when you had the chance.


Jerry Melisaratos
Author of Five W's of God - The who, what, where, when, and why of God and His plan for creation
www.fivewsofgod.com


message 2: by Jay (new)

Jay Franklin (jayd808) | 2 comments "If you don't pass judgment, your soul will be extinguished and that's the end of you. That, you should fear. God is more loving and has better things to do with His children than eternal torture. You're going to heaven one way or another when you die. What side of heaven you're on will be determined by your actions in the flesh. Get it right now so that you don't end up like the rich man in torment and anguish knowing that you blew it when you had the chance."

You seem to suggest failing judgement and the end; next it's a vision of going to heaven one way or another with hell being one "side" of heaven. Previously you have culled a collection of heaven/hell related scriptures but haven't seemed to have put together a particularly consistent narrative. Am I being too harsh? If I am, I apologize but I don't see a very good apologetic here.

I get my notions of heaven and hell from Dante whose work The Divine Comedy is an exquisite demonstration of the Christian logic. Saves you from having to reinvent the wheel.

Regards,

dj





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