It is written:
Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2 Amplified)
Hell is a very unpopular topic in our day and age, yet it is one that needs to be discussed. Let’s notice four unpopular truths about Hell.
First, Hell is real. The word “hell” is a translation of the Greek word Gehenna, which was a word used to describe the Valley Of The Son Of Hinnom. This was a valley adjoining the city of Jerusalem (cf. Joshua 15:8; 18:16). During the Old Testament, this valley became a place of terrible suffering. Children were often sacrificed to false gods here (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31). It was associated with suffering, demons, and death. God used this as a a symbol to describe what would one day be the fate of those who were separated from Him.
Jeremiah 7:32-Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room.
Jeremiah 19:6-therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
Second, Hell is not only a place of punishment in the Bible- it was designed to be place for a special kind of punishment. Jeremiah declared that Gehenna would be a place of purification for those who entered there. As such, one day the holiness and presence of God would be extended to include even Gehenna.
Jeremiah 31:38-40-Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that the city shall be built for the LORD—from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The surveyor’s line shall again extend straight forward over the hill Gareb; then it shall turn toward Goath. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever.”
This is in the context of the New Testament and the Day of Judgment (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Of course, this is in perfect harmony with what Jesus taught. In Matthew 25:46, Jesus taught that Hell is designed by God to be a place of “punishment.” The Greek word used there had reference specifically to remedial punishment, i.e., the punishment designed to make people better and productive. In Mark 9:49, Jesus declared that Hell was designed to be place where everyone there would be “seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” This is a reference to Leviticus 2:13, where the sacrifices of the Old Testament had to be offered with salt. The reasons for this is shown in Leviticus 2:11, where leaven was forbidden in sacrifices. In the Old Testament, leaven was usually a symbol of corruption. Notice the contrast: leaven corrupts, but salt purifies. Hell was designed to be a place where the most wicked would be purified.
God did not create Hell to be a torture chamber! He designed a place where those who hate God may see the consequences of their choices, where they will be separated from Him (Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). We cannot even begin to imagine how horrible such a place is.
Third, even though God designed Hell for these purposes, there are many who even there will not repent of their sins. Jesus said Hell would be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:11-12). When this phrase is used throughout the Bible, it references people who are angry and rebellious (cf. Job 16:9; Psalm 35:16; 112:10; Matthew 13:42, 50; Luke 13:28; Acts 7:54).
Does this mean that none in Hell would ever repent?
Philippians 2:9-11-Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Apostle here quotes from Isaiah 45, where the Prophet talks about a day when God’s Word will go forth to all the Earth. At that time, every knee will bow and every tongue will take an oath to God as they repent before Him and are ashamed of their wickedness (Isaiah 45:23-25). God will extend mercy on that Day, as He declares:
Isaiah 45:22-Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
What is interesting is that Paul interprets God’s invitation to “the ends of the Earth.” He says that this includes an invitation of salvation for those in Heaven, for those on Earth, and for those under the earth (Philippians 2:10). This phrase “under the Earth” was a Jewish expression that meant for those who are dead (cf. Matthew 12:40; Revelation 5:3, 13).
Let that sink in: the invitation of God’s salvation would be offered even to the unsaved dead!
We would be wise, however, to seek God now. Jesus teaches it is better to go through the fiery trials of this life then to undergo the sorrows of Hell (Mark 9:49-50).
Fourth, consider that the only way to be saved from this horrible separation from God is by the Cross of Jesus.
Colossians 1:20-and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Paul here describes how it is only through the Cross of Jesus that we are able to reconciled with God. He says the blood of Christ has the power to save those “on Earth” (humanity) and “things in Heaven.” Earlier, he had described the things in Heaven as being the “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers” (Colossians 1:16). These were descriptions used in extra-biblical Hebrew documents to describe angelic beings:
1 Enoch 61:10-And he [God] will summon all the forces [dynameis] of the heavens, and all the holy ones above, and the forces of the Lord-the cherubim, seraphim, ophanim, all the angels of governance [archai], the Elect One, and the other forces [exousiai] on earth and over the water.
2 Enoch 20:1-And I saw there [in the seventh heaven] an exceptionally great light, and all the fiery armies of the great archangels, and the incorporeal forces [dynameis] and the dominions [kyriotetesJ and the origins [archai) and the authorities [exousiai), the cherubim and the seraphim and the many-eyed thrones [thronoi].
Testament Of Levi 3:8-There with him [God] are the thrones [thronoi]) and authorities [exousiai]; there praises to God are offered eternally.
Testament Of Solomon-“I therefore, having heard this, glorified the Lord God, and again I questioned the demon, saying: “Tell me how you can ascend into heaven, being demons, and amidst the stars and holy angels intermingle.” And he answered: “Just as things are fulfilled in heaven, so also on Earth (are fulfilled) the types of all of them. For there are principalities, authorities, world-rulers, and we demons fly about in the air; and we hear the voices of the heavenly beings, and survey all the powers.”
We access the blood of Jesus’ when we (believing in Jesus) repent of our sins and are baptized into Him (Colossians 2:11-13).
Be saved from Hell by turning to Jesus Christ today.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.