Monday, May 17, 2010

The Biblical Truth About Hell part 3

Ok, let's continue to part 3 of the study I've been doing on hell. Again, if you haven't yet, please read all the other parts, they all fit together and provide a mountain of supporting verses that relate to each other. I have been writing about how "hell" is actually the grave, and that the fate of the wicked is to be burned up forever in the lake of fire, the second death. Destruction, not burning forever.

Let's start Psalms part 2 off with Psalm 37, a Psalm about blessings of the righteous.

Psalm 37:
[1] Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
[2] For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

Notice the word wither here. I'm going to break protocol a little bit, and post a handful of New Testament verses to back this up. I may bring them up again when I unravel more NT verses in a future installment of this study, but it's important that the connection to Psalms is made. The main argument to this "wither" ordeal is probably the one saying that these verses are referring to the life in the flesh, the mortal life. Well, the context of these verses say otherwise.

James 1:
[10] But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
[11] For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
[12] Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

A burning heat withers the grass, and it perishes. It's compared to the rich man fading away. Look at verse 12. James goes on to say that those that endure temptation are blessed with the crown of life. He's talking about life eternal! So it's imperative that we see that the context here is eternity, not a mortal lifetime. Notice also that a burning heat is what causes the grass to wither. Does that sound familiar? Yep, the lake of fire is a burning heat that burns up (or withers) the wicked.

1 Peter 1:
[23] Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
[24] For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
[25] But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Same concept here. Flesh withers, the Lord endures forever. We're seeing this same pattern of absolute opposites that I've recently noticed is everywhere in the Bible. I thank the Lord for shedding some wisdom on me with this! Let's get back to more of Psalm 37:

[9] For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
[10] For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
[11] But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Evildoers cut off, being contrasted with the meek inheriting the earth. Inheriting the earth is the promise the Lord gave to Abraham and his seed! Abraham has not received this promise yet.

[12] The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
[13] The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
[14] The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
[15] Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
[16] A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
[17] For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
[18] The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
[19] They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
[20] But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.

Do you see a very familiar phrase in verse 12? I hope you do. Gnashing with teeth. Doesn't the Lord Jesus mention this in the Gospels? Yes He does! He is referring to the day the wicked are destroyed. They see their day coming, and gnash their teeth at Him and the righteous. The days of the upright, and their inheritance are forever. The wicked shall perish. Once again we have that absolute contrast! Still don't agree about gnashing of teeth? Let's briefly skip over to:

Psalm 112:
[9] He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.
[10] The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.

The wicked see the righteous and hate it! They gnash their teeth at them in anger and hatred, and they melt away! It's all right there for us. Here's another teeth gnasher of a verse:

Psalm 35:
[16] With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

The phrase is used to mean the wicked showing hatred for righteousness, and the upright man.

Back to Psalm 37. Verse 20 says "into smoke shall they consume away." This immediately brought another verse to my mind.

Revelation 14:
[11] And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

I know this verse is used to "prove" a burning inferno, but there is no fire described here. What is described, though, is the aftermath of a fire: smoke! It's a symbolic passage, showing that the wrath of the Lord is forever, and the remains of the wicked symbolically smoke forever. I will get more into this in New Testament studies. The Lazarus passage of Luke 16 plays a role in this as well. From Psalm 37:20, we see the wicked are consumed away into smoke. Revelation says the smoke of their torment rises forever. See the connection? Forever is used to describe finality. It doesn't mean continual. It means God's judgment is final, the wicked are consumed away, like all the verses I'm posting say very clearly.

Continuing further into Psalm 37:

[21] The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
[22] For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.

Again we see the blessed inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). On the other side of that, the wicked do not, and are cut off, meaning destroyed. (I explain the meaning of "cut off" in Psalms part 1.) More of Psalm 37!

[29] The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
[30] The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
[31] The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
[32] The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
[33] The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
[34] Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
[35] I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
[36] Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
[37] Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
[38] But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
[39] But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
[40] And the LORD shall help them and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.

We see again that the righteous inherit the land, and this is forever. So now there's no disputing the fact that this is talking of eternity. Verse 34 shows that the righteous will see the wicked being cut off, or destroyed. 36 flat out says the wicked passed away, and was not. 38 says transgressors shall be destroyed together and cut off. Verse 39 then says that the righteous are saved because of the Lord, and He will deliver them from the wicked! It's all here in plain sight. Look at the words used to describe the fate of the wicked: cut off, passed away, was not, destroyed together, and cut off (again). This Psalm alone is enough proof to show the fate of the wicked. Thankfully I am providing much more to reinforce this.

Let's back up a few Psalms, I missed a verse!

Psalm 34:
[22] The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Here's the definition of desolate:

אשׁם אשׁם
'âsham 'âshêm
aw-sham', aw-shame'
A primitive root; to be guilty; by implication to be punished or perish: - X certainly, be (-come, made) desolate, destroy, X greatly, be (-come, found, hold) guilty, offend (acknowledge offence), trespassive

Once again, we see a word that means the same as perish, destroy, cut off, etc. Why doesn't the Bible say that the Lord redeems His people from a burning inferno? It says He redeems them from desolation, from being destroyed. It's right there.

Psalm 39:
[10] Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.
[11] When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.
[12] Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
[13] O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

Verse 10 shows how David is consumed by the hand of the Lord, if the Lord doesn't spare him. Man's beauty consumes away like a moth. The last verse shows David pleading to the Lord to spare him before he is no more. David doesn't say "O spare me...before I go hence, and burn forever," does he?

Psalm 40:
[14] Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.
[15] Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.
[16] Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.
[17] But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

The wicked seek to destroy David's soul. Destroy here, again, means the same as it always has so far. Soul is translated from "nephesh," which simply means a breathing creature, or vitality. So David is asking the Lord to drive back those that want him dead. Verse 15 then says to let their reward be desolation, destruction. Death. The Psalm ends by showing how the Lord saves His people and delivers them.

Psalm 41:
[5] Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?

[8] An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.
[9] Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
[10] But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
[11] By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
[12] And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.
[13] Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.

Another plain example here. David asks the Lord when his enemies' names shall perish. How can a name perish if it is burning forever? Then verse 8 says "now that he lieth", or is cast down/deceased (from the Strong's definition of "shakab"), he shall rise up no more. Verse 10 finds David asking the Lord to raise him up, to triumph over his enemies. Is this talking about eternity? I think it is.

Psalm 49:
[6] They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;
[7] None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
[8] (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)
[9] That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

Corruption is death. See 1 Corinthians 15:42-50. I'll discuss that passage in the New Testament section of this study.

[10] For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.
[11] Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
[12] Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.
[13] This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.
[14] Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.

Wise men and fools die, perish. They are laid in the grave, death feeds on them, and their beauty is consumed in the grave. Note the same vocabulary as all the other verses. Also note that the upright have dominion over them. They inherit the earth, and trod the ashes of the wicked. The book of Malachi elaborates this (among others), in the chapter that deals with the coming of the Lord:

Malachi 4:
[3] 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.

Continuing in Psalm 49:

[15] But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
[16] Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;
[17] For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.
[18] Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.
[19] He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.
[20] Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

The wicked are consumed in the grave, the righteous are redeemed from the grave's power. They aren't redeemed from the power of a burning inferno. It doesn't say that.

Psalm 50:
[3] Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

A fire that devours? Interesting. Doesn't Revelation 20:14 say the lake of fire is the second death? Isn't a devouring fire something that destroys? Yep.

Psalm 52:
[5] God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.
[6] The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:
[7] Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
[8] But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
[9] I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

This is one of the clearest examples in the Bible of the fate of the wicked. The Lord destroys them forever, takes them away, and roots them out of the land of the living! What's the opposite of being alive? Being dead! Destruction, having been destroyed! It then goes on to say that the righteous see it and laugh, and that they are like a green olive tree, living forever. Once again it's all right there. We have the same absolute contrasting that is evident throughout many of the verses I'm providing. The righteous praise the Lord forever, because He has destroyed the wicked. Very clear.

Psalm 53:
[5] There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.
[6] Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

This is the fate of the fool: God scatters their bones, while Israel is saved. Are scattered bones equivalent to burning forever? Or does it fit better with death and being destroyed? Combined with the multitude of supporting verses, I think the answer is very apparent.

Psalm 58:
[7] Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces.
[8] As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
[9] Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.
[10] The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
[11] So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.

Again we see the wicked being melted away, just like Psalm 112:10. Once again pass away is used to describe their fate. The righteous again see it, and rejoice. Verse 11 shows that it's God's judgment, not a prior time, or an earthy death. The Psalm is entitled "The punishment of the wicked" in my Bible.

Psalm 59:
[13] Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.

Hmm, here we see consume again.

Psalm 68:
[1] Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.
[2] 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.

Here is another tremendous example of the fate of the wicked. It's undeniable. David compares the perishing of the wicked to wax melting before a fire. Remember the melt away verses? Remember the verses dealing with being consumed? Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Does wax continually melt, or does it melt down to nothing? Please see these verses for what they are. There should not be any reading between the lines or adding to them.

At this, I will conclude part 3 of my study of the truth about hell. I've provided many more verses that I believe show that hell is not a burning inferno, and that the wicked are burned up, not burned forever. They are destroyed, being alive no more. I have more to show from the Psalms, and more to show from both the Old and New Testaments. Please stay tuned for the next installment, coming very soon! Thanks again for reading.

A Voice in the Wilderness

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