The Reality of Hell

Revelation 20:13-15 “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

The topic of Hell is one that is quite broad and can be depressing. The idea of a place of eternal torment is one that people often times don’t like to dwell upon. Even the thought of Hell being eternal has been argued on multiple levels. When someone loses a loved one that clearly rejected the grace of God in Christ, the thought of that loved one suffering in Hell can be too much to bear. The solution for many mainstream secular pundits is to give everyone a free pass to heaven. If they deem someone as having done more good than bad, well, they qualify. If a person does something, according to them, that is unforgivable, then no matter what reparations they make, their fate is sealed; thank goodness, these people don’t dictate who does and doesn’t qualify.

So what does God’s Word say about Hell? You may be surprised at what you’ll find.

The first mention of Hell I can find is in Job 11:7-8Can you search out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?
8They are higher than heaven—what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?

The name ‘Sheol’, is a term often synonymous with Hell. It is a reference to the underworld and is mentioned many times in the Old Testament. Besides Job, David reflected on the reality of Hell multiple times.

Psalm 49:13-15 “This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah
Like sheep they are laid in the grave(Sheol);
Death shall feed on them;
The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;
And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.
15But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave(Sheol),
For He shall receive me
. Selah

Psalm 16:9-10 “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
10For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

What is this redemption from the grave that David so eagerly looked forward to? Why does he hope that God will not leave his soul there?

Could David, a man after God’s own heart, have actually gone to Hell?

We see a clue, from Jesus, as to why this was the case and not only David but every other person in history was relegated to this place.

In Luke 16, Jesus relates a parable that reflects on the status of those who went before His death and resurrection.

Verses 16-23 begin: “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21desiring to be fed with [i]the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Now, when Jesus gave a parable, He typically never mentioned names. The parable of the Samaritan and prodigal son, the parable of the vineyard and workers, etc., were examples made for a spiritual principles to be understood, not necessarily factual information of people or places. In Luke 16, Jesus specifically mentions Abraham dwelling in Sheol, but in an area of non-torment. {This is significant, when a name of the patriarch of all Jews and spiritual patriarch of all believers is mentioned, it is meant to be taken literally}.

So as we continue in verses 24-26 we see more details of what that place looked like:

Then 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.’But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

This place of non-torment is where David prayed that God would not leave his soul. Even if there was no agony, gnashing of teeth or unquenchable fire where the worm doesn’t die, it still was not a place you wanted to spend eternity. Apparently, one could visualize, across a great divide, those who were tormented day and night and this alone had to be difficult to witness from Abraham’s perspective.

So why were these great men of God relegated to this place, men such as Adam, Noah, Enoch, Isaiah, Elijah, and every other person who died in their sin? Because they had not yet received the promise of the Messiah.

Hebrews 11:13, 39-40 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Do you see what this is saying? They were not made perfect apart from Jesus! This is the only way to be made perfect!

Hebrews 10:11-14And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man(Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

We who have believed in Christ alone and accepted His freewill offering of salvation by grace alone, have been imparted the righteousness of Christ. God’s righteousness is the perfection of His nature. We have been made perfect, because Jesus was perfect on our behalf and we are now identified with Him in His death.

The followers of Yahweh of old, could only look forward with eager anticipation for His coming. All that they could rely upon was a high priest and the sacrificing of an animal upon an alter, on their behalf. It was a sacrifice that was incomplete in its sanctifying work, for it was only a shadow of what was to come….the Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of the world.

Hell, referred to as the (second death), in Revelation 2, 20 and 21, is where the death of a soul’s final place of existence occurs. There is the death of our bodies, which we all must endure (apart from the rapture), and there is the second death that occurs when a soul, who has rejected the God of all creation, dies in their sins, unjustified. Justification or (the ability for one to be made right in the eyes of God) is only accomplished through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary. For one to avoid the scourge of eternal darkness, fire and torment, accepting the sacrifice Jesus accomplished on our behalf, in humility and contrition of heart, is mandatory.

Titus 3:4-5But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”

When we observe the signs hanging on street corners, neon billboards or placards at games…Jesus saves….it is from Hell He has saved us from. When sin rules in the hearts of people, there is a binding and control that ensues. Like chains weighing down a prisoner so does sin weigh down and enslave its captors.

When a soul admits their guilt, confesses and turns from sin, forgiving from their heart others past offenses they open the door for the Spirit of God to fill their heart and cleanse them of all unrighteousness. The sins of a believer are remembered no more, they stand justified before a Holy and Just God and they are made perfect.

It is sin that condemns the guilty and these offenses cannot be remedied by any good works, by begging and they are certainly not absolved of their crimes automatically because of Gods love. God’s love was expressed by Christ on the cross, and it is by accepting this expression of love by which we may only approach His throne.

When Jesus arose from the grave, He released the captives in Sheol who were awaiting His arrival and they were taken with Him into Heaven until that day when the church will fully be united as one. That day will be glorious, we will receive new bodies that will not perish, and we will dwell in the presence of the Lord forever.

For those who reject His call, there awaits an eternity of utter hopelessness. Sheol, or Hell as it is known now will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, joined by Satan and all the angels who fell with him, their eternal home is one not to be reckoned with.

Hell has many descriptives, and just as Jesus reflected on the various degrees of reward, He likewise alluded to degrees of suffering or punishment in Matthew 11:24 and John 19:11.

What’s your plan? If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, what’s holding you back? Is a death bed confessional or some good deeds what your relying on? The stakes are too high, the nature of this decision is far too great.

Revelation 21:1,3-4 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

This is the future of those who are redeemed. Place your trust in Jesus today and be counted among the righteous, you’ll never regret it.

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