If you haven’t noticed; I have been wrestling with the belief of “eternal damnation and separation from God”. I chose to put it that way because I do not believe in eternal separation from God but do believe in Hell and I do believe in the Lake of Fire.
Did you know that they are 2 different things? Because I did not before I started this study. Should I explain this now or move on? I will get back to that idea because it is completely easy to prove in the Scriptures and relevant to this topic.
Here’s what I intend to briefly (for your sake) cover.
1. Separation from the presence of God
2. The difference between Hell and the L.O.F. (Lake of Fire)
3. The purpose of fire
Know that I have not been gleaning from anyone else’s teachings about this but, for the past 6 months have been wrestling with the Lord, seeking him in prayer and the Scriptures about this very serious topic. What I write is not regurgitated information but, very intentional analysis of the Scriptures from a completely child-like heart to just know our God and his will towards us.
His will is agape love to us. Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never gives up! (See 1 Cor.13) God IS agape. Our God is an all-consuming fire.
I was always taught that Hell was “eternal separation from God” and that was the worst part, even worse than the fire and worms! That sounds really profound but, is that what the Scriptures say? Here are the few verses that I have found concerning this topic.
That’s what the prophet David (Yes, he was called a prophet in the Scriptures in Acts 2:29,30) said about Hell.
But, maybe the O.T. is not enough to convince you that what you were (probably) taught all of your life is not true. So check out Revelation 14:9-11
And a third messenger did follow them, saying in a great voice, ‘If any one the beast doth bow before, and his image, and doth receive a mark upon his forehead, or upon his hand, 10he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, that hath been mingled unmixed in the cup of His anger, and he shall be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy messengers, and before the Lamb, 11and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever”
They won’t be banished from the presence of God during their punishment. They will be in the presence of God “forever and ever” (which is probably a poetic way of saying a really long time. Because Forever cannot have more ever than forever. It’s either literally forever or it’s literally not forever. Is there anything that can be added to forever? If it’s literally forever than you cannot literally add to it…I’m just saying…
The problem that I found with this concept is the well known phrase in 2 Thess.1:9, which says “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” or more accurately…”who shall suffer justice — destruction age-during — from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his strength,”
Did you catch the subtle distinction? Most versions say that they will be “from the presence of the Lord” but it is literally “from the face of the Lord.” This is an allusion to O.T. poetic imagery about having God’s kindness and favor towards them. Maybe as opposed to looking at his backside. (tongue-in-cheek)
Remember the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 about “the Lord’s face shine upon you”. Yahweh told Moses that no man could look on his face and live…but, we have already died 🙂
2nd Point ~ Hell and the L.O.F. are 2 different things:
At the “great white throne judgement” in Rev. 20 ~”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. 14And death and hell ( hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.“
Death and hell are thrown into something different than hell.. The L.O.F. is a different place/experience? than Hell. Because Paul confirmed what Hosea 13:14 prophesied in 1 Cor.15:54,55 ~ “But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55“Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?”
Wait a minute…2 men of God moved by the Holy Spirit prophesied that death and hell (hades) will be swallowed up in victory but, John prophesied that they would be thrown into the L.O.F….? What’s going on here?
Is it possible that we simply misunderstand the purpose of the L.O.F? Remember that God is an all-consuming fire!
I believe so but, it’s going to have to wait until another blog post because this is getting a bit long…