Everlasting burnings

"Stay Another Season" by Jeffrey 'brainware3000' 2005 (CC by 2.0) - flickr.com

“Who.. shall dwell with the devouring fire? who… shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Is that what hell is?

We have been digging deep in our Bibles, comparing scripture with scripture, in a quest to answer those mysterious questions: What is death? and What is hell?

In the last post, we looked specifically at the “who” and “what” of hell. Let’s see if we can briefly cover the remaining questions today: when – where – how – and why – is hell.

When is hell?

I can assure you right off that hell is not now. That was made quite clear in our study “What is death?” Go back and take a look if you need to. The wise man and the fool alike have a common destination at death: the grave.

Hell will not be until the end of this world. Look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:

The field is the world… the tares are the children of the wicked one;
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world….
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
(Matthew 13:38-40)

Where is hell?

In 2 Peter 3, the Bible gives us a huge clue to answer the question “Where is hell?” The clue is this: the same world that was destroyed by a flood in Noah’s day is soon to be destroyed by fire. This will be the final day of judgment of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:5-7)

So here is the question: what world was destroyed by a flood in Noah’s day? Of course! This world was–the earth was.

And we will see in a moment that just as those mighty waters did their work and then receded, so the final judgment by fire will do its work and then be done.

Everlasting burnings? Yes, hang on–we’ll get there!

Why is hell?

The last two questions are intricately inter-woven, but we will answer this one first: Why is hell?

Here is the short answer:

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:12)

Life is in Jesus. Accept Him, believe in Him, and you will have life. Reject Him and you will not.

For the sake of any reader who may have never heard how to be saved, I will lay it out here in very simple terms.

Jesus is the way to life

When you feel a sense of your unworthiness, a burden of past sin (wrong that you have done; good that you have neglected) in your life, you long to be set free. The Spirit of God is calling to you.

You could never earn God’s love, but you don’t have to! He already loves you.

You could never pay for all of your sin, but you don’t have to! Jesus already paid the price for your sin when He died on the cross at Calvary. He lived a sinless life, then died the sinner’s death.

His life is a free gift to you. Don’t try to pay for it–you can’t. It is priceless. But accept it. It is yours.

Just ask Him into your life. You don’t need to pray some specific words, but since some people find it helpful to have a few words to get them started, I will offer an example.

You might pray: “Dear Father, I want to be your child. I have sinned [tell Him anything specific that comes to your mind]. Please forgive me. I accept the free gift that You offer through Your Son Jesus. Help me to live for You. Teach me to do Your will. Give me the desire to please You in all things. Thank You for loving me. I love You, too. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Then, ask the Lord what He would have you to do next. He will give you power. He will work through you. His name will be glorified through you. Prayerfully study your Bible every day and you are sure to find out step by step just what that means. 🙂

How is hell?

Okay. One last question. I told you this one is closely linked to the last one. Check this out!

We are going to move pretty quickly, but please, ask questions if you have them. (You can ask here or catch me on Twitter or Facebook, whatever you prefer.)

This is where the everlasting burnings come in.

Listen to these descriptions of God.

Clouds and darkness are round about him…. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. (Psalm 97:2,3)

Darkness is about him, yet…

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

Here’s the key:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness. (Isaiah 5:20)

If we reject God’s light, it becomes darkness to us. Sin essentially cuts us off from God’s goodness, deprives us of His life. Of course, there is a remedy to that, which we discussed above.

But at some point, our decisions are sealed. Our destiny is decided.

But if thine eye [your focus] be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:23)

God is just. Sin cannot long exist in the presence of a holy God. Either we let Him in now to consume the sin in us, or we will finally be consumed with the sin.

[I]n the day of the LORD’S wrath… the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land. (Zepheniah 1:18)

Hell is not some long, drawn out–or even eternal–process. Hell does have eternal results: a final cleansing of the earth from sin. Forever. Done.

What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.(Nahum 1:9)

We must stop twisting God’s character with false doctrine! God “will not lay upon man more than right”; rather, “in a moment [the wicked] shall die.” (Job 34:23,20)

And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)

Ashes! Did you catch that, friend? “They shall be ashes”! As dead as dead gets. Both “soul and body” destroyed forever.

God is righteous. He is just. But He is merciful.

Everlasting burnings

What about the everlasting burnings? Here you go:

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. (Psalm 68:2)

The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty.
(Isaiah 33:14-17)

The righteous–not the wicked–shall dwell with everlasting burnings. We shall see the king in His beauty! Amen!

Friend, our “God is a consuming fire”. It is His glorious presence that destroys the wicked, that cleanses the earth. This is the very same glorious presence that brings us eternal joy–because we, in this life, allowed that fire to burn within us, to consume the ugly sin that tried to take our lives away.

I know I’ve gone over this very quickly. I have an abundance of verses on this topic–watch for them as you study your Bible. It becomes very clear.

God is love, friend. I leave you with this thought from Psalm 16:11–

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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