HELL

Hell has been a source of terror for all who hear of it, a place of perpetual agony, torment and fire, the horrifying destination of sinners after death. Yet people ask, "How a merciful, loving God could sentence people to go to such an awful place?"

First, we need to find out why Hell was created, and go from there.

Jesus gave us the reason for the creation of Hell, when he spoke to the people concerning His return;

MATTHEW 25:31-46

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Note carefully Jesus' words in verse 41, in which He says that Hell was originally created for Satan and his angels, not for Man. So this establishes why Hell was created. We often forget that God is indeed a loving God, one who rewards good behavior, but He is also a God of judgment, a God who punishes sin, wickedness and disobedience.

But if Hell was created for Satan and his angels, why isn't he there already?

God is a just God, and if He had sentenced Satan to Hell immediately, all of Adam's descendants would not have to make the same free will choice as he did, namely whom to serve as God. But God, being just and having given Man a free will, has allowed Satan to tempt us as he did with Adam, and we all must of our own free will choose whom to serve, God or Satan.

And you must serve one or the other. God and Satan are locked in a war to the finish, a war that Satan started when he rebelled against God before Man was created. And like any people caught in the midst of a war, you must choose which side you support. There is no neutral, middle ground. And the choice to serve God must be done as an active, intelligent decision. So if you choose not to serve God, you have already chosen to serve Satan.

As Jesus said;

MATTHEW 6:24

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

What if I choose to serve neither?

Unfortunately that is not an option. We all became sinners when Adam bowed to Satan, and we inherited his sinful nature which is why the world is as it is today. Adam sold all of us to Satan, making Satan our master. Therefore we can either remain slaves to a cruel, merciless master, or we can choose to fight Satan through acceptance of God's free offer of salvation, and by making God our Master and Lord.

God's justice requires that sin be punished, and just as Satan's punishment for his sin of rebellion was to spend eternity in fire, the same sentence was passed on to Mankind for Adam's sin. Sin is sin in God's eyes, and there is one punishment for sin for all beings, be they Satan and his angels, or Man.

With his enticement of Adam and Adam's subsequent sin, Satan thought he had pulled off a masterstroke of ingenuity. He reasoned that if God simply forgave Man for Adam's sin, he could demand that God forgive him too. And if God didn't forgive Man, all of mankind would be sentenced to eternal fire along with him.

But God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy made a provision so that His justice for sin could be served, yet Man could be saved from Satan's fate.

Because of Adam's sin, God decreed that all creation be sentenced to destruction, through death. As Scripture records;

GENESIS 3:17-19

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life;

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

And with that curse, God's natural law began to break down. Animals became carnivorous, weeds and briers began to grow, pain, disease and death entered the world, everything began to age and the world began to waste away. It is interesting to note that a law of physics called the Law of Entropy states that the universe is running down, that everything is going from an original perfect state to a lesser, corrupt state. Given enough time, the universe would eventually become cold, dark, and lifeless.

In verse 19 above, God sentenced Man to death, decreeing that he would return to the dust from which he had been created. And with that curse, came the sentence of Hell for Man's spirit, the same destination as Satan and his demons. (For more on the Garden of Eden and Adam's sin, please see the in-depth study in this Web site devoted to this issue).

Is Hell a real place, or just an allegory?

Hell is a very real place, as the following examples show.

NUMBERS 16:1-35

1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took [men]:

2 And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:

3 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, [Ye take] too much upon you, seeing all the congregation [are] holy, every one of them, and the LORD [is] among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?

4 And when Moses heard [it], he fell upon his face:

5 And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who [are] his, and [who is] holy; and will cause [him] to come near unto him: even [him] whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.

6 This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;

7 And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be [that] the man whom the LORD doth choose, he [shall be] holy: [ye take] too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.

8 And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:

9 [Seemeth it but] a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?

10 And he hath brought thee near [to him], and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?

11 For which cause [both] thou and all thy company [are] gathered together against the LORD: and what [is] Aaron, that ye murmur against him?

12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up:

13 [Is it] a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?

14 Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.

15 And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.

16 And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow:

17 And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each [of you] his censer.

18 And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron.

19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.

20 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.

22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?

23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

24 Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

25 And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.

26 And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.

27 So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.

28 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for [I have] not [done them] of mine own mind.

29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; [then] the LORD hath not sent me.

30 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 into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.

31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that [was] under them:

32 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.

33 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.

34 And all Israel that [were] round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up [also].

35 And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.

Note in the reference above, Korah, Dathan, Abiram and all of their families went down alive into Hell (described as "the pit"), showing that Hell was a very real place. Why did God also destroy their wives and children? The children would have inherited the sin of their fathers, and would have created further rebellion in Israel, accusing Moses and Aaron of the murders of their fathers, even though the Lord had destroyed them.

Did the children go to Hell? God is a merciful God, and even though the children died before the Lord, I seriously doubt that they went to Hell for the sins of their fathers. I believe they went to the place of rest described below, for they in reality had no part in the sins of their fathers.

Children are innocent before the Lord, until the "age of accountability", where they can choose for themselves what is right and wrong. There is no set age for this, as each child is different, but the Lord knows when this happens, as He knows the hearts of all men.

The Jews have a "coming of age" ceremony, called the "Bar Mitzvah" (Son of the Commandment) for male children and "Bat Mitzvah" (Daughter of the Commandment). This occurs when the child reaches the age of 13, and signifies that the child has reached a level of maturity enabling them to understand the laws contained in the Torah.

Hell in the Old Testament is often called "the pit", as the following references show;

PSALMS 28:1

1 Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, [if] thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.

PSALMS 30:1-9

1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

5 For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.

7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled.

8 I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.

9 What profit [is there] in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?

Note that David in verse 9 spoke of when he goes to the pit, after death stating it as a certain thing. By these Scriptures, it seems as though Man goes to Hell even if he is righteous, which doesn't seem fair.

However Jesus told a fascinating story concerning Hell (note that He never said it was a parable), saying;

LUKE 16:19-31

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence.

27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Several things to note here.

The rich man was in Hell. He could see, hear, feel, speak and apparently understood who Abraham was, even though he had never seen him before. He also recognized Lazarus the beggar who laid outside of his gates, begging for crumbs from the rich man's feasts.

There was also a huge abyss between where Abraham rested and where the rich man was being tormented in fire. This shows that "the pit" and Hell were in the same location, but were separated from each other, and once assigned to one place or the other, no one could cross between them.

Note also, angels apparently carried the spirit of a dead person to their final destination, carrying the spirit of the dead person to one place or the other, for only angels can cross the abyss fixed between Hell and "the pit".

So why didn't righteous men like Abraham go to Heaven after death? Because even though they were considered righteous in the eyes of God, their sins had not yet been paid for. They were not yet made perfect.

Everyone knows that it is impossible to keep all 613 laws of the Old Testament Law all of the days of your life as the Law requires. For as Moses said;

DEUTERONOMY 27:26

26 Cursed [be] he that confirmeth not [all] the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

The Law curses anyone who does not follow all of its works as written. Therefore anyone who does not sacrifice to the Lord is cursed, everyone who does not stone any man or woman who takes the name of the Lord in vain is cursed, etc.

Therefore there can be no salvation in the Law, for God made it impossible for Man to keep all 613 commandments all the days of his life, thereby ensuring that Man could never attain salvation and righteousness through his own works. The Law was created to show Man what was sin in the eyes of God, and to establish a righteous social order for Man to live by.

The animal sacrifices required by the Law were a reminder to the fathers that they could never attain righteousness through the Law. The sacrifices were a reminder that God, through His grace and mercy alone made a substitute upon which the sins could be placed which through death would satisfy His justice for sin. He allowed the use of animals, for animals have no sins of their own, thereby showing that a perfect sacrifice needed to be sinless in His sight.

But animal sacrifices were not sufficient to take away sin, for even though the death of the animal satisfied His justice concerning sin, they could never remove the sins, they could only cover them, much as paint covers stains on a wall, but doesn't remove the stains.

The animals, while having no sins of their own, were still under the curse of destruction set down by God after Adam's sin. Therefore the only perfect sacrifice acceptable in His sight would have to be truly sinless, not under the original curse put on all creation.

Therefore, even though the fathers followed the Law, they still weren't righteous enough to enter Heaven, for even though they were considered righteous for their obedience to the Law, they were not yet perfect.

And the inability of the sacrifices to remove sin was shown by the fact that they had to be offered over and over again to cover offenses. A perfect sacrifice would only need to be offered once.

Therefore until the perfect sacrifice came, they would be assigned to "the pit", a place of rest to await God's promised redemption.

Note carefully Abraham's words to the rich man, when the rich man asked that Lazarus be sent to his five brethren to warn them of Hell. Abraham told him that if they refused to hear Moses and the prophets, neither would they listen to one who rose from the dead.

This still holds true today. For even though Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies concerning the promised redemption of God and rose from the dead, far too few believe in Him, or in the fact that He fulfilled the prophecies concerning Him.

Apparently the dead wondered about their promised redemption, as Scripture records;

1 PETER 4:6

6 For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Jesus after His death preached the Gospel to the dead that both those in Hell and those at rest in "the pit" would fully understand God's finished plan for salvation, and would understand why they were where they were.

And after His resurrection, those at rest in "the pit" were made perfect for their sins had been finally paid for, and God's justice concerning sin had been satisfied. Therefore they were now worthy to enter Heaven, as recorded in;

EPHESIANS 4:7-10

7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Therefore when Jesus ascended back into Heaven to take His place at the right hand of the throne of His Father, He also took with Him those at rest in "the pit", for they were now made perfect. Therefore all who die in their sins go to Hell, and those who die in righteousness now go to Heaven.

But what about those who have never heard of God or His commandments?

Actually God has made a provision for this also, for as it states in the book of Romans;

ROMANS 2:11-16

11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

13 (For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

First, note carefully that Paul says in verse 11 that there is no favoritism with God. If you, Moses, Daniel, Noah and the apostle John stood before God, He would view each of you equally. Therefore there will be no favoritism in the Judgment, but all will be judged by the same standards.

Paul also brings up an interesting point in verses 14-15, in which he refers to the fact that those who have never heard of God or His commandments, who try to follow what they instinctively know to be right in their hearts, fall into a special category. They will be judged by how well they tried to follow what they understood to be right in their hearts, and will be granted access or denied access to Heaven based on that provision.

Man received the instinctive knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil when Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The reason God had not wanted him to eat of it, was because they were innocent, and therefore guiltless in His sight.

Remember, He created the Law to define what was sin in His sight, and once defined, Man was responsible for that knowledge. As Paul states;

ROMANS 5:12-13

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Paul is stating that sin was in the world before the Law was created, but Man cannot be held accountable for that which is not defined as sin in God's sight. However, until the Law, Man still had that instinctive knowledge imparted to him from Adam's act of disobedience. Remember, Adam and Eve immediately knew they had sinned when they ate of the forbidden fruit, even though no one had told them they had sinned, as their consciences condemned them.

Therefore we have no excuse before God, and all the world is sinful before Him. And we still have the same choice as Adam and Eve did, and all of mankind since then, namely the choice of who to follow as Master and Lord.

We can either continue in sin until death and spend time in Hell until we are judged and sentenced to the Lake of Fire, or we can choose to follow God's commandments, accept the sacrifice of His Son, and spend eternity in Heaven in glory and peace.

(Note that hell and the Lake of Fire are two different places. At the judgement, Hell will give up the dead who are in it, and will be cast into the Lake of Fire along with those who have died in their sins for eternity). As Scripture records;

REVELATION 20:11-15

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

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.

So what purpose does Hell serve? Hell is a prison where the unrighteous dead are held until the Great Judgment, when they will be given their "day in court", and will have the chance to defend themselves before the Throne of God.

The fact that Hell is a prison is verified in;

ISAIAH 22:21-23

21 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones [that are] on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.

22 And they shall be gathered together, [as] prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.

23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

Their being visited "after many days", refers to the great Judgment when the unrighteous dead will be judged and will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire, to be tormented for eternity with Satan and his angels.

REVELATION 20:10

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.

BOTTOM LINE

Where you will spend eternity, is up to you. After death, there is no further choice, and your eternal destination is determined.

God defined what was sin in His eyes by the creation of the Law, and ensured that no man could fulfill all 613 commandments of the Law and attain salvation by his own works. This is why those who died in obedience to the Law were assigned to "the pit", instead of being allowed into Heaven, as even though they were considered righteous, they were still sinners whose sins had not been paid for.

Animal sacrifices could satisfy God's justice for sins, but their blood could only cover the sins, not remove them. Removal of the sins would require the blood of a perfect sacrifice, one which was not subject to the curse that God placed on creation because of Adam's sin, a sacrifice perfected in the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

By this fact, those who try to follow the Old Testament Law today are trying to follow a law of works that cannot provide salvation, nor was it ever meant to provide salvation. It was designed to put men in obedience to God's commands until the perfect plan for salvation was accomplished. Their faith and obedience was counted as righteousness, but did not make them perfect. But when the perfect sacrifice came, the Law of sacrifices was finished, and there was no further need for animal sacrifices.

Therefore those who still try to attain salvation through the Law fall under Moses' curse, for no one can follow the Law without fail all of the days of their life. God designed it this way so that salvation could be attained from Him alone, and that by His grace in making His Son the perfect sacrifice required for the redemption of mankind.

And as in the garden of Eden, just as Adam and Eve were held responsible for the knowledge they received by eating the forbidden fruit, even so will those of you who read this be held responsible before God for what is written here. What you do with this knowledge, only you can decide. And where you spend eternity, you alone can decide.

And as I tell others, don't take my word for fact. Please research the issue for yourself, ane be satisfied in your own heart as to what is right.

Will you spend eternity in torment in the Lake of Fire with Satan and his angels, or in eternal peace and glory with God?

Choose carefully!

Questions? Comments? E-mail: watchmen_777@yahoo.com

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