B A C K
THE LAKE OF FIRE PART .2
THE ELEMENTS OF FIRE
Judging the world in righteousness
THE LAKE OF FIRE XVI PART D4: HELL - "GEHENNA FIRE JUDGEMENT"
L. Ray Smith (Bible Truths)
THE LAKE OF FIRE XVI PART E: HELL - "HADES AND THE SECOND DEATH"
L. Ray Smith (Bible Truths)
THE LAKE OF FIRE PART VI: "THE TWO JUDGEMENTS BY FIRE"
L. Ray Smith (Bible Truths)
SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD - THE JUDGEMENT
J. Preston Eby (kingdom Bible Studies)
SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD - THE LAKE OF FIRE
J. Preston Eby (kingdom Bible Studies)
ECHOES FROM EDEN PT 34: THE DOMINION OF ANGELS...
J. Preston Eby (kingdom Bible Studies)
ECHOES FROM EDEN PT 35: THE DOMINION OF ANGELS...
J. Preston Eby (kingdom Bible Studies)
THE PATH FINDER: "INTO THE SECOND DEATH"
Elwin R. Roach
WHERE IS THE LAKE OF FIRE?
Associates for spiritual knowlegde (A.S.K) *note: we indorse only a "symbolic" interpretation of these findings
THE DEAD SEA: IT'S HISTORY, ITS SIGNIFICANCE..
J. G. H. Steedman (the Differentiator Revisited)
THE DESCENDER
TREASURES OF TRUTH ARCHIVE (the Differentiator Revisited)

 

Introduction

 

“Because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS...” (Acts 17:31)

 

The pulpits of Christendom are rarely acquainted with the truth concerning the nature and purpose of Gods fiery judgements. Much has been written, taught and preached about the Biblical afterlife, yet no subject has been more open to error, speculation and contradiction by those who claim to be the spiritual shepherd’s over their flocks.

 

Even those preachers that do refer to the Greek and Hebrew meanings in their sermons possess the uncanny ability to misinterpret and overlook the most important Scriptures as far as their doctrine of “endless punishment” is concerned. Take the “lake of fire” of Revelation for example. Even the interpretation of the word “lake” itself is pivotal to understanding the meaning and purposes of Gods righteous and perfect judgements over all creation.

 

After all, how does the Church actually decide just what the “lake of fire” is? What happens there, why, to whom, and for how long? How does the church decide that those who are thrown into this “lake of fire” are tortured by real fire, for all eternity? The church assures us these things that Jesus spoke concerning fire are literally “REAL!” as though arguing that a spiritual “lake of fire” means it is NOT REAL!

 

Maybe that is what frustrates carnal theologians about spiritual things. Maybe they think spiritual things ARE NOT REAL! Oh the “lake of fire” IS REAL. It is, in fact, MORE REAL being spiritual than if it were physical, material, and literal! It accomplishes things that physical, literal fire could NEVER do! Yes, when we come to God's judgments, we approach a subject upon which there has been a fathomless sea of ignorance and misunderstanding.

 

The view of judgement that is generally entertained is of Christ coming to earth, seated upon a great white throne, and that He will summon every sinner in rank and file before Him to be judged, amidst great convulsions of nature - earthquakes, opening graves, rending rocks and failing mountains; that the trembling sinners will be brought from the depths of everlasting woe to hear their many sins rehearsed, only to be again returned to an eternal and merciless doom of torture; and that the saints will be brought from heaven (of course many saints have a fear that they may appear at that judgment as one judged) to witness the misery and despair of the damned, and return to heaven for eternity.

 

This distorted picture arises from all too “literal” interpretation of a few verses of Scripture which were actually given as SYMBOLS! - Images to be understood by the Spirit! There are far more judgments than people have ordinarily recognized. The fact is, the Scriptures speak of MANY JUDGMENTS! Some judgments are already past, some are continuously present, and some are yet future. It is misleading to speak of "THE JUDGMENT" as though it were only one event limited to sometime in the future.

 

 A careful and prayerful study of the Word will show that there are many judgments - some of unholy angels (messengers), of Satan, of Israel, of cities, of nations, of sin, of death, of the believer, of servants, of sons, of unbelievers, etc., etc. Each takes place at a different time, in different surroundings, and in a different way. Believe it or not, some of the judgements by “fire” are in fact already at work....in Christ’s CHOSEN and ELECT! What does it mean to be “salted with fire?”

 

So what are the purposes of God’s judgements? What is meant by the term “the second death?” What do the scriptural elements of “fire” and “brimstone” say about the nature of these judgements – or indeed the very nature of God considering that He IS manifestly, this very “fire?” Remember - “For our God IS A CONSUMING FIRE” (Heb. 12:29)

 

Why a “lake?” Why not a river, or a desert, or forest of fire, or a valley? Is there an Old Testament “witness” to a “lake” and “fire,” that might testify to the nature of righteous punishment? There are indeed answers to these questions, answers that are as potent and awe inspiring as they are powerfully beautiful! The scriptures don’t lie, proclaiming;

 

“...for when Thy judgments are in the earth, THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Isaiah 26:9)

 

Understand this. When God in all wisdom birthed the creation of mankind, he did so as a perfect Father, lavishing upon it all the mercy and love of an expecting parent. Like a good Father, God does NOT punish for the sake of punishing! No He does NOT! God punishes for the sake of correcting, purging and chastising his children! How indeed will the “WORLD learn righteousness” when Gods perfect judgements are upon it? Will the sinning masses “learn righteousness” in HELL? Or if Hell isn’t bad enough, how about in a LAKE filled with super heated FIRE? According to Christendom, Gods judgements are USELESS! They serve no purpose other than to entertain the saints by providing an unfathomable torture display the likes of which Nero himself would have been proud.

 

No. There is MUCH more to punishment than meets the eye. People will LEARN their righteousness through the “fire” of judgement. They will be chastised by it, even “tormented” by it – but it serves a GREATER purpose - remember our study on “Gehenna fire?” No decent human parent would EVER consider torturing their child endlessly without cause now would they? No, they discipline, they scold, they ground them, smack them if necessary - and why? Because they love them and BECAUSE IT TURNS THEM INTO BETTER PEOPLE! Should we expect any less from God our perfect Father? Can we NOT begin to see the blasphemous error of orthodox Christian teaching?

 

 

 

 

Judgment defined

 

So, before proceeding any further, we need to understand exactly what is meant by the word “judgment.” Judgment is translated in the Old Testament most often from the Hebrew word MISHPAT. MISHPAT means simply “a verdict.” which may be either favourable or unfavourable. The only judgment most people understand is the negative aspect of judgment, the unfavourable verdict, which is unto condemnation and wrath. It should require only a moment's reflection, however, to enable anyone to see that the very same judge who sentences one man to pay a fine, another to die in the electric chair, may suspend the sentence of a third man and declare yet a fourth man “not guilty”- acquitted!

 

It is plain that a great many different “judgments” or “verdicts” may come from this one judge. Thus, the work of the judge is not merely to condemn and mete out sentences, but to weigh all the facts and take all the circumstances into consideration in each case and render a just verdict, favourable or unfavourable, as the case may demand. Furthermore, the “judge” of a beauty contest does not condemn or damn any of the contestants who fail to receive the highest recognition. He merely renders a “verdict” as to whom, in his estimation, is “the fairest of them all!”

 

The concept of “the judgment of God” is just too frightening for most people to fathom. Due to the Churches portrayal of judgment being no more than a horrific torture fest, most see Gods verdicts as a horrible and fearful event involving sentencing many to an eternity of insane torture by fire. But let’s take a Scriptural look at the doctrine of God’s judgments by “fire.”

 

Believe it or not, God is presented as the Great Judge over His creation from early on in the scriptures. The first time the word “judge” is found in Scripture:

 

“...shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right” (Gen. 18:25).

 

Actually this phrase is: “shall not the Judge (shaphat) of all the Earth do justice (mishpat).”

 

As we mentioned, the Hebrew “mishpat” according to Dr. Strong means: “a verdict-favorable or unfavorable.”

 

And our dictionaries add to this: “a quality of being just; fairness.”

 

So “justice” is “just and fair!” (Most Christian teachers state that an eternity of torture in a literal hell of literal fire is “JUSTICE,” and that hell is “FAIR.”) NO, an eternity of torture in fire is not “justice,” nor is it “fair,” as the teachers of heresy contend.

 

The word “Judge” in this verse is from the Heb: shaphat and means according to Dr. Strong: “judge, to pronounce sentence-to vindicate or punish.”

 

It is clear that they are very similar. God the Judge will, “do JUSTICE,” or will “Judge justly,” or as King James translates it “do right.” And not surprisingly, the New Testament tells us the very same thing:

 

“Because He [God] has appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness...” (Acts 17:31).

 

Notice that Jesus will [1] judge, [2] the world, [3] in righteousness.

 

Next let's read Isaiah 26:9

 

“When Thy [1] judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants [2] of the world [3] will learn righteousness.”

 

What a marvellous spiritual match. When Jesus Judges the world in righteousness, the world will “learn righteousness.”

 

Ironically, the first time we find the words “justice and judgment” in the Bible is in the very same verse:

 

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him" (Gen. 18:19).

 

Here we learn that doing “justice and judgment” brings the blessings of God.

 

Will Jesus and God His Father do the “right” and “just” thing when it comes to judging this world? Certainly. In the Old Testament we read that God does not change (Mal. 3:6); God does not change (James 1:17); Again, He does not change! (Heb. 13:8). Use your God-given minds for a moment and consider the insanity of infinite punishment for finite sins, and the same punishment for both gross and minor sins.

 

“But the fearful [Gk: timid], and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

 

Does anyone in their right mind believe that murderers and timid people should be sentenced to the same “eternity of punishment?” Why even most heathen governments match the punishment to fit the nature and degree of a crime. But most Christian theology does not have even the good sense of some pagans!

 

Even when “many stripes” were administered (even among wicked men), they were to be limited to 40 lashes: Deut. 25:3; Lk 12:47; Acts 16;23; II Cor. 11:24.

 

To “judge” means to set right, whether it is in chastening, or sentencing. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right” - that is to judge justly so as to bring about change.  Again:

 

“When Thy [God's] judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world [everyone] will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9). 

 

When the wicked are left to their own devices, they will NOT learn righteousness, but when God's just judgments are added to the mix, and Jesus judges in righteousness, they cannot but “learn righteousness.” Why won't the Church teach these marvellous truths? Well, of course it can't, seeing it is deceived. God's judgments and the knowledge of His plan and purpose for humanity has reached precious few

in the past, but it is prophesied to cover the earth: 

 

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9).

 

And: 

 

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

 

It is an easy thing to turn men (and women) into beasts and heartless criminals. Torturing them or annihilating them would likewise be an easy thing for God to do. But turning vile and demented criminals like Hitler, Saddam, or Charles Manson into godly saints, now that's an accomplishment.

 

Of course most Christian theologians and pastors do not believe that God is up to a task this great. Just wait. If God can spiritually transform a criminal like the Pharisee Saul, into the loving Apostle Paul, Hitler and the boys will not challenge God's ability to convince them of their great need of repentance!

 

So all these verses line up with these principles that the Hebrew word MISHPAT indicate - merely the rendering of a judicial verdict or decision, favourable or unfavourable, as the case may warrant. The Psalmist spoke of this when he said:

 

 “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But GOD IS THE JUDGE: He putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Ps. 75:6-7).

 

The positive aspect of judgment, the rendering of a favourable verdict, is implored of the Lord by David in “JUDGE ME, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: for Thou art the God of my strength.” (Ps. 43:1-2)

 

The word “judgment,” moreover, signifies even more than the rendering of a verdict though. It includes the idea of a trial, as well as the decision based upon that trial. And this is true not only in the English word judgment, but also of the Greek word it translates in the New Testament. In the Greek New Testament there are a number of terms used in connection with the judgments of God. Each is based on the “KRI” stem of “KRINO” meaning “I judge.”

 

“For with what judgment ye judge (krino), ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Mat 7:2)

 

There is the word KRISIS from which we derive our English word “crisis” and which carries basically the same meaning as our English word “crisis.” It denotes an experience and time of crucial testing, and has reference to the experience one undergoes out of which a decision, or judgment, is made KRIMA relates to the condemnation of the criminal. KRIT'ES and KRIT'IKOS (“critical” in English) both speak of the judge and his decision, while yet another Greek word, KRIT'ERION, refers to the basis for his decision or sentence (as "criterion" in English).

 

 

 

 

Judgments past

 

Of course, the FIRST great judgment (trial and sentence) was at the beginning, in Eden, when the whole human race, as represented in its head, Adam, stood on trial before God. The result of that trial was the verdict - Guilty, disobedient, his sin being worthy of punishment and correction; and the penalty inflicted was death – “Dying thou shalt die” (Gen. 2:17, margin). And so it is that “In Adam ALL DIE” (I Cor. 15:21-22).

 

Most have never thought of this as a JUDGMENT DAY for mankind, but such it was, a sentencing, and the sentence was, and is, as we all know, fully carried out. That trial time in Eden was the world's FIRST JUDGMENT DAY and the decision of the Judge has ever since been enforced. Again we read, “The wrath of God IS REVEALED from heaven against all unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18).

 

This wrath of God which is revealed against the ungodliness of men may be seen in every funeral procession - every tomb and every grave stone is a witness to it. But contrary to orthodox teaching, we know that God in His wisdom planed it this way (Rom 8:20). Mankind is to be recovered from the sentence of that first trial, for the penalty was not to be inflicted forever, but only until the Redeemer should come and offer Himself as one sacrifice for ALL. And so it is written of Jesus:

 

“Now we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of THE WORLD” (Jn. 4:42).

 

“The bread which I will give is My flesh, which I give FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD” (Jn. 6:51).

 

“God sent not His Son into THE WORLD to condemn THE WORLD; but that THE WORLD through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17).

 

“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD” (I Jn. 2:2).

 

“God was in Christ, reconciling THE WORLD unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:19).

 

“Therefore as by the offence of one JUDGMENT CAME UPON ALL MEN to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One THE FREE GIFT CAME UPON ALL MEN unto justification of life” (Rom. 5:18).

 

There have also been many other judgments beyond this general judgment that fell upon man in the beginning. At various times in the past God has called peoples and nations to account for their actions and executed His judgments by bringing destruction upon them. The best known of these is the massive deluge in the days of Noah. The destructive judgments of God have always come as a result of the wicked

conduct of the people in their daily lives.

 

Sodom and Gomorrah are graphic examples of this.  God inspected those cities and determined that the sin of the inhabitants was very heavy; He judged that the cities must be brought to ruin (Gen. 18:20-21; 19:14). Later Jude wrote that those cities underwent the “vengeance (Gr: judgment)” of “fire” which brought destruction (Jude 7). So these cities experienced a “day” of judgment.

 

God conducted a legal case against ancient Babylon, the long time enemy of God and His people. Because of being unnecessarily cruel to the house of Judah, not intending to release them after the seventy-year captivity and crediting the god Marduk with the victory over God's people, Babylon was in line for a destructive judgment. That came to Babylon in the year 539 B.C. when it was violently overthrown by the Medes and Persians (see Jer. 51:36; Isa. 14:3-6,17; Dan. 5:1-4).

 

Similarly, Jeremiah prophesied that God would “put Himself in judgment” with Edom, among others (Jer. 25:17-31), hence that nation that had shown repeated hatred for the Lord and His people experienced destructive judgment and was obliterated from the earth.

 

Likewise, when Judah and Jerusalem became unfaithful and merited the Lord's displeasure, He promised to “execute JUDGMENT in the midst of her” (Eze. 5:8). This destructive and corrective judgment came when Nebuchadnezzar came and plundered the land destroyed the city and the temple, and carried the people away slaves to Babylon (Eze. 7:19). However, another and more severe “day” or time of judgment on Jerusalem was prophesied. Joel foretold an outpouring of the Spirit of God which would begin “before that great and terrible day of the Lord” (Joel 2:28-31).

 

Under the anointing of the Spirit, Peter on the day of Pentecost, explained that they were then experiencing the fulfilment of that prophecy (Acts 2:16-20). That particular day of destructive judgment came in A.D. 70 when the Roman armies executed judgment upon the Jews, destroying their city and temple, pillaging their land, murdering more than a million of its inhabitants, dispersing the survivors and catapulting them into a “judgment day” that lasted for nineteen long and tortuous centuries!

 

 

 

                                                          

Physical vs Spiritual?

 

But what of Gods FUTURE punishments? What is their TRUE nature and what do they accomplish? It is a common practice to compare physical things with physical things in an endeavour to prove that the thing in question is indeed physical and literal. Ironically, too many of those in the Church who practice such things, believe that they have accomplished a spiritual undertaking. God, on the other hand, tells us that even all the physical things in creation are signs of His spiritual divinity (Rom. 1:20).

 

Contrary to human logic, physical things are not made out of solid matter. God says they are made out of things [‘things’ not out of nothing] which “do not appear” - invisible things, things of God. God is invisible and therefore “visible things” are made out of the invisible Creator God (Heb. 11:2).

 

Scientists know this for a fact. Physical, tangible, material substances can be reduced down to atomic and subatomic invisible energy—SPIRITUAL ENERGY, if you will!

 

And why does this matter? Well, it is not surprising then (in the light of these vivid and material Old Testament judgements) that carnal theologians can only relate to “the lake of fire” (a symbolic phrase within a whole BOOK of symbols) as physical, material, and literal. They forget too easily that these judgements of fire are executed “in righteousness” They compare this phrase with similar phrases in Scripture thinking that they have proved that the lake of fire is literal. They cite:

 

“…cast into everlasting fire…cast into hell fire,” (Matt. 18:8-9).

 

“…cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark. 9:45-46).

 

“…cast into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42-43).

 

“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,” (Matt. 25:41).

 

“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 forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).

 

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15) and “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

 

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment…” (Matt. 25:46).

 

We of course now know that “everlasting” or “forever and ever” are unknown phases in the Greek as far as “aionios” is concerned. All these verses refer to an age only – a limited duration. Yet does no one see fit to match these scriptures with all the other verses and parables that mention “burning” and “fire?” Or are we talking about a different “fire” here? The proof that these are all literal (as we shall discover) is found in the carnal mind, not in the Scriptures. Some of these verses regarding “fire” may sound like they can be taken literally, but that is not the test of whether something is literal or figurative - whether it sounds like it could be literal. Some of the parables of Jesus sound like they could be literal, but NONE OF THEM ARE LITERAL, they all have a higher spiritual truth than is ever conveyed in the literal example or story.

 

Do all of these verses combined establish that the “lake of fire” is a literal fire that burns literal physical bodies as an eternal punishment for unbelieving sinners? No, they do not. They in fact prove something quite opposite from that of “eternal torture” in real fire. They have NOTHING to do with physical bodies! They have NOTHING to do with physical torture! And they have NOTHING to do with eternity! As we shall discover, some of these very LITERAL Old Testament Judgements by “fire” are in fact perfect “types” and “shadows” to the REAL nature of all New Testament judgements by “fire” -  specifically, “the lake of fire!”

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Testament “LAKE OF FIRE”

 

But in order to prove that these above verses ARE symbolic and figurative references to God’s “righteous” judgements by fire, we must look to the Old Testament “witnesses” and “spiritual” matches. Needless to say, there is NO direct Old Testament quote stating; a “lake of fire.” It’s just not in the text – anywhere! We have to do some detective work - to read between the lines, in order to find such a vivid and striking image. Yet rest assured it is there, hidden in plain sight.

 

But isn’t the “lake of fire pagan in origin?” Well YES, remember - all CHRISTENDOMS (Egyptian/Greek) teachings on the “lake of fire” are most definitely pagan! The REAL scriptural “lake of fire” and its REAL meaning are anything but! God himself (the character of righteous judgement) embodies this “lake of fire,” and the scriptures shall prove it!

 

So there IS a “lake of fire?” Haven’t we just contradicted ourselves? You will just have to forgive us if you think we were being disingenuous with our last study when we concluded that there is no Old Testament “lake of fire” per se. There is no such expression used (or warning given) from ANY of the Old Testament writers. And so at the unveiling of one such “lake,” we must emphasise that it CANNOT and MUST not contradict the rest of the scriptures that are all but silent, regarding “eternal torture” beyond the grave. Rest assured, the “lake of fire” is SYMBOLISED by an Old Testament event pertaining to Gods past judgements! For the most part, Christians have no idea what is behind the Old Testament story that was so strikingly reintroduced by John, in His Revelation of Jesus Christ!

 

And know this. There is so much more than meets the eye, to the physical nature of God’s past judgements by fire. The stunning history behind the REAL Old Testament “lake of fire,” has been all but forgotten by Christian teachers today.  Why did John just seemingly “pull out of nowhere” this strange and isolated symbol of a “lake” with “fire” in it, to illustrate Gods righteous judgements? Truth be known, He used a well known Jewish symbol in his writings of Revelation! It is astounding that today’s Christians know NOTHING about its true origins! Far from being a baseless, dispensationalist “future” vision of eternal torture, “the lake of fire” is actually a symbol steeped in the traditions of the ancient past, one that was and still is, literally etched into the Biblical landscape.  

 

Most importantly, the true meaning of this long forgotten, ancient symbol of “fire” blows all preconceived ideas of judgement right out of the water! There is more to be understood about this symbol, than any carnal minded Christian could ever imagine - providing we have the Spirit to see it!

 

So if there is NO Old Testament scripture stating in words; “the lake of fire,” is there even such a “physical” lake in Old Testament times that fits its description?  The answer is “yes.” In fact, this lake has been in existence for at least 4000 years. People have travelled to its region for many generations and have reported seeing fire and columns of smoke ascending from its central sections. Such eyewitness reports have been given from earliest times. They also have testified to the presence of sulphurous fumes coming from the lake. And one scientist in our modern era has observed a hue of absinthe or “wormwood” (oh look a symbol!) hovering on occasion over the lake.

 

At present this lake is within one of its periodic “quiet” cycles and fire is not now observed within it, but it is undoubtedly destined to erupt again. This lake was long ago known as a “lake of fire” and in history it has spewed forth its sulphuric and fiery eruptions in times when God chose to judge sinners for their ways. It is a potent symbol of God’s judgements, the elements of which make up a perfect fiery cauldron for which to judge the wicked and sentence “death” and “Hades” to a fitting end. (Revelation 20:14).

 

Early Jewish theologians considered this lake a place of judgment and even mention it in their ancient records. In this “lake of fire,” or more accurately, “The Lake of the Fire,” It is the fire which is found in the lake that makes the lake unique, and that fire is the fire of judgment. The fuel that feeds the fire in this lake is brimstone (an old name for sulphur).

 

So where is this biblical lake located? It is not difficult to discover its whereabouts if one will pay attention to some of the identifying factors associated with it. Let’s notice some of these points.

 

The first important matter to consider is what constitutes “a lake.” The dictionary defines a lake as an area of depression in the earth which contains a liquid (normally water). It always has higher ground surrounding it, and in the case of ordinary lakes, it represents the central area of a drainage region into which streams and/or rivers flow. John in the Book of Revelation used the ordinary term for “lake.” He states “The Lake of THE Fire.” Note the definite article qualifying the word “fire.” The Apostle John was referencing a lake that had “THE fire” in it which symbolised best, God’s judgments.

 

This particular lake had fire associated with it that was fuelled by sulphur. In some way, that chemical must be found in its midst. Indeed, it is plainly shown that the wicked will be “tormented” with fire and brimstone

 

“in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascends up for the ages of the ages: and they have no rest day or night” (Revelation 14:10–1).

 

This is an exact reference to Isaiah 34:8-10.

 

“For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion. And the streams [of Edom] shall be turned into pitch, and the dust into brimstone, and the land [of Edom] shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; the smoke shall go up for the age from

generation to generation it shall lie waste...”

 

This burning of Edom occurs when “the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll” (Isaiah 34:4) Ah! Sound familiar?...Revelation perhaps?

 

Where is this region of Edom that will have its streambeds flowing with rivers of fire? This pitch and brimstone flows into an area located just east and south of Jerusalem. This Old Testament “Lake of the Fire” must certainly in the vicinity.

 

A final factor to consider is John’s vision is that this “lake of fire” will cease to exist after the Great White Throne period. John states:

 

 “the former things [including the Lake of the Fire] are passed away. Behold, I make all things NEW” (Revelation 21:4–5).

 

The area in which this lake is found is healed and made new. Interestingly, there are some important scriptures that speak of a prominent lake being healed when the periods of God’s judgments are completed. What happened to the “eternal” torment huh? These factors are not of themselves enough to identify the lake, but they give us some excellent clues which can become significant when we look at other scriptures and a number of historical indications.

 

 

 

 

Piecing the puzzle

 

There is in fact a prime New Testament reference which goes a long way in solving the identification of Old Testament “lake of fire.” It is found in the Book of Jude. This New Testament writer (traditionally brother of James, and the half-brother of Jesus) said that there was, in his time, an example of “eternal” fire (age-lasting fire) that was an active and present witness to what the judgment of God would be like in the future. That example was the geographical area where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah once existed.

 

Jude called attention to the ruined condition of that region as well as the fire that was still burning in the locale. That’s right. The area around the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was still associated with fire and smoke in the time of Jude. Notice carefully what he said on the matter.

 

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication [promiscuity] and going over to strange flesh, are set forth [are presently set forth] for an example, suffering [are presently suffering] the vengeance of age-lasting fire” (Jude 1: 7)

 

When one looks at that verse closely, it tells us very much about the environment around this location as it existed in the time of Jude. There were then active fires and smoke in the area. Strabo, the first century geographer, described the

neighbourhood as “a land of fires” (XVI, 764).

 

Some of the fires were fed by the seepage of naphtha (an old name for petroleum), bitumen, and other gaseous fumes. A hundred years before Strabo, there is the record of a Jewish author who described this area.

 

“Wisdom saved a man [Lot] from a destruction of the godless, and he escaped the fire that came on the Five Cities, cities whose wickedness, is still attested

by a smoking waste” (Wisdom of Solomon 10:7)

 

This historical reference indicates that this region was then, back at that time, still smoking from subterranean fires. Diodorus Siculus, who also lived in the 1st century BC said:

 

“The fire which burns beneath the ground and the stench render the inhabitants of the neighboring country sickly and very short lived” (Book II, 48).

 

A few years later, in the time of Christ’s childhood, the Jewish writer Philo gave witness to the burnings and smoke that was still ascending.

 

“The fire is most difficult to extinguish, and creeps on pervading everything and smoldering. And a most evident proof of this is to be found in what is seen to this day: for the smoke which is still emitted, and the brimstone that men dig up there” (On Abraham XXVII).

 

Have you guessed it yet? Probably! So, what geographical wonder of the Biblical landscape involving a “lake,” “fire,” “smoke” and “brimstone,” emphatically embodies ALL the elements of God’s wrath and “JUDGEMENT?” Answer: THE DEAD SEA!

 

 

 

 

The Dead Sea!

 

Yes, far from the “fiery pools” of the pagan Egyptian world of the dead and Greek “rivers of fire,” Revelation employs the use of the Old Testaments most potent and vivid symbol of judgement to reveal the TRUE nature of God’s wrath and victory over sin and evil and even DEATH itself!

 

The Dead Sea has been an enigma to mankind throughout the ages, a source of superstition and of incredible legends. It is strange that until a little over a century ago only a few traditional tales had come out of the country concerning it. No Westerner had made any attempt to search it out and explore it. To have done so would have led such a traveller through most dangerous territory. It was not until 1848 that a properly equipped expedition set out to do so.

 

It should be mentioned of course, that the Dead Sea, as it is called today, is NEVER so named in the Bible. It is most frequently called the “Salt Sea.” In Joshua 3:16 and 12:3 it is referred to as the “Sea of the plain,” “the Salt Sea.” It is also known as the “East Sea” in Joel 2:20 and Ezekiel 47:18, and the “former” Sea in Zechariah 14:8. According to context it is, or may be referred to as “the Sea,” or the second “sea” in the expression “from Sea to Sea,” though, in places, this is thought to be the Persian Gulf. It is known as the Dead Sea for nothing lives, or can live, in its waters because of their salinity.

 

The first mention of this stretch of water is in Genesis 14:3, when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies of the neighbouring Cities, joined in battle against the confederate forces of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, to resist him, having served him for twelve years, when he came to suppress their revolt in the thirteenth year. This takes one back to the previous chapter, where there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle.

 

This brought about a decision that they must separate. Abram, therefore, gave Lot the choice of where he would go, saying that he would proceed in the opposite direction, be it one way or the other;

 

“And Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of  the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest to Zoar. And Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan and Lot journeyed East...and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.”

 

The Dead Sea itself lays 1,280 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean. Its shores are the deepest known exposed surface of the earth's crust. It has a 25% of common and other salts in solution, whereas the normal sea content is slightly under 5%. There is no outlet, so that the supply of fresh water from the Jordan and its tributaries and sundry other smaller streams, totalling about 300 million cubic feet per day was evaporated from its surface, maintaining its constant level The maximum depth of water is found to be in the neighbourhood of 1,300 feet. Thus its bottom-most part is only a few feet short of 2,600 feet below the Mediterranean Sea level. This is over 5,000 feet below Golgotha, the highest point of Mount Moriah, less than 25 miles away.

 

Today, the prophetic implications of the Dead Sea (Salt Sea) region are all but lost on a church culture determined to look blindly forward for clues, in dispensationalist fervency. Few Christians will ever hear the truth on this subject – yet it is the will of God.

 

There is actually a LONG historical record of references to the Dead Sea, even the Egyptians knew and benefited from its whereabouts. In fact, the constant “fire” and “smoke” that emanated from the Dead Sea was infamous! The geographer Strabo called the Dead Sea a “lake” (as did Josephus, the early Jewish historian - War IV,8,4), and described the fiery characteristics which came from its centre:

 

“In the midst of the lake is a source of the fire and also there are great quantities of asphalt in the middle. The eruption is uncertain, because the movements of fire have no order known to us, as it is of many other basis.”

 

Josephus continues:

 

“Together with the asphalt there arises a great deal of soot, smoke, and [gases] invisible to the sight, by which brass, silver, and everything shining, even gold is tarnished.”

 

Around the area were “drops of pitch distilling from the rocks and boiling streams.”

 

“The lake was formed by earthquakes and boiling outbursts of fire, and hot water impregnated with bitumen and brimstone” (Strabo, Book XVI, 764).

 

It is interesting to note that the eruptions of fire, smoke, and asphalt were not of continuous duration however. Only at irregular times did such phenomena occur, but the occasions were frequent enough that eyewitnesses around the time of Christ and the Apostles called it a “lake of fire and smoke.”

 

In actual fact, we are told by Henry Maundrell (who travelled from Europe to Palestine in AD 1697) that most of the map makers prior to the seventeenth century show “smoke ascending above the surface of the water” (Journey, p.454, Bohn Edition). However, when Maundrell visited the area, no smoke was seen by him. Yet the explorer Volney in AD 1787 was told that smoke periodically could be observed.

 

The south of Syria, that is, the hollow through which the Jordan flows, is a country of volcanoes: the bituminous and sulphurous sources of the Lake Asphaltis [the Dead Sea], the lava, the pumice stones thrown upon its banks, and the hot baths of Tiberius, demonstrate that this valley has been the seat of subterranean fire, which is not yet extinguished. Clouds of smoke are often observed to issue from the lake, and the new crevices to be formed upon its banks” (Travels, vol.1, pp.28l, 282).

 

Volney was a very astute observer and he customarily inquired of the inhabitants about the characteristics of the lands that he visited. It seems, then, that as late as the eighteenth century, there were still some rare outbursts of smoke and fire coming from the middle of the Dead Sea.

 

The lake itself has seemingly been rather quiet of activity over the past 200 years and it has not erupted as formerly described by those who lived near the time of Christ. It was said that after major earthquakes, a great deal of the asphalt broke up in the bottom of the lake and rose to the surface.

 

The Dead Sea itself sits upon a geological fault on the earth's surface is called “The Great Rift.” It has its Northern end at the foot of the Taurus Mountains, in Asia Minor, near the upper regions of “the Great River,” the river Euphrates. Its length has been accurately traced, and in its path are Mount Hebron, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan, the Dead Sea, the Ghor, the Arabah and the Red Sea. Except where it passes across the Red Sea and a few other places, this Rift is flanked on both sides by high mountains or raised table-lands.  The surface of the earth, in ages gone by, was subject to periods of considerable change, volcanic eruptions, times of quiescence, big upheavals and again other epochs of comparative tranquil state.

 

The first scientific investigation of the Dead Sea by Lynch in AD 1848 recounted that there was “a strong smell of sulfurette hydrogen” a “fetid sulphurous odour in the night....the north wind was quite fresh and accompanied with a smell of sulphur” (Journal of R. Soc. vol. XVIII,p.127).

 

This is the very description of some of the factors comprising “lake of the fire and Brimstone [Sulfur] in the Book of Revelation, but, of course, there was no literal smoke seen by Lynch that he could without doubt vouch for. But he did, however, on one occasion report a strange phenomenon that happened. At one time there “appeared” to be smoke coming from the centre, saying;

 

“At one time today the sea assumed an aspect peculiarly sombre. The great evaporation enveloped it in a thin, transparent vapour, its purple tinge contrasting strangely with the extraordinary colour of the sea beneath and, where they blended in the distance, giving it the appearance of smoke from burning sulphur. It seemed a vast cauldron of metal, fused but motionless. In the afternoon of the same day it looked like molten lead. At night it had the exact hue of absinthe [or wormwood] (J.R.G.S., ibid. pp. 276, 324).

 

In the Book of Revelation, absinthe is called “wormwood” (G894 Apsinthos) (Revelation 8:11) which caused waters to become bitter. Strong’s states: Of uncertain derivation; wormwood (as a type of bitterness, that is, [figuratively] calamity): - wormwood. An apt symbol is it not?

 

What the explorer Lynch observed is interesting. The scene gave the impression of smoke from burning sulphur ascending above the surface of the Dead Sea, while parts of the lake gave the appearance of a vast cauldron of molten lead. Is this illusory occurrence seen by Lynch what the ancients were talking about? Are we beginning to see how pertinent this region is to the symbolism of Revelation?

 

 

 

 

Sodom and Gomorrah

 

But physical properties aside for a moment, the actual “spiritual” proof of the Dead Sea’s pertinence to the prophetic “lake of fire” is abundantly clear! Let us recall that Jude said that the area of Sodom and Gomorrah was a present example (in Jude’s time) for the eternal (age-lasting) fire that God has designed for the punishment of the wicked (Jude verse 7). The Bible tells us that those cities of which Jude spoke are now under the Dead Sea. The former Valley of Siddim in which Sodom and Gomorrah were situated, “is the salt sea” (Genesis 14:3).

 

There is some debate as to exactly where these cities now rest. Those favouring the northern part of the Dead Sea state that Abraham and Lot looked over Sodom and Gomorrah from the site of Bethel located a short distance north of Jerusalem. And in no way would it have been possible for Abraham and Lot to have seen the southern part of the lake from Bethel (Genesis 13:10). The Bible makes the clear statement that those two cities were “east” of Bethel (Genesis 13:11), not south-by-east. Even the biblical description of the four northern kings attacking Sodom and Gomorrah, shows the kings circling the Valley of Siddim on the east and then south, and finally attacking Hazazon-tamar (En-Gedi—now half way up the western side of the Dead Sea) before they encountered the King of Sodom (Genesis 14:7–8). This, again is used as proof that Sodom and Gomorrah may lay in the northern regions of the Dead Sea.

 

We are also told that the Wilderness of Zeboim (a near spelling of Zeboiim, the neighbour city of Sodom) was directly east of Beth-horon and Bethel (1 Samuel 13:18). This also leads one from Bethel eastwards towards Jericho.

 

However, those arguing that the city ruins lay at the southern end, connect the name Sodom with the ancient Arab name for the ridge of “Jebel Usdum.” When, subsequently, these cities were destroyed Lot was told, “Escape for thy life...neither stay thou in all the “plain,”....And the Lord....overthrew those cities and all the “plain.”

 

The Hebrew word used for “plain” is KIKKAR, translated twelve times thus, but 48 times “talent” and 4 times “loaf,” which conveys the meaning of a definite circular, flat surface, as of a coin or a loaf (pan-cake), such as was baked by the Eastern women on their primitive ovens. Thus the term came into use as any circular, flat land at the mouth of a river, or even of a large flat area, such as the basin of a lake, embracing all the land surrounding it. In this way it appears to have been used in Deuteronomy 34:3, which reads, “unto the utmost Sea (Mediterranean), and the South (NEGEV),  and the “plain” of the valley of  Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.”

 

Zoar was the city to which Lot fled on the destruction of Sodom. Earlier reference has been made to the peculiar contour of the bottom of the Dead Sea along its North-South axis and mention was made of the record of two Roman Soldiers, who were deserters from their Unit, having been found to have waded across the Salt Sea at its narrowest point. Soundings taken of this part today, and that to the Southward, show it to be much deeper, but such a change is not out of the way.

 

 It is argued that this shallow part is the original site of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim and that Zoar was some little way away on ground that was slightly more elevated, but not in the mountains, for Lot, later went there with his two daughters. In those days the vale, or basin, was well watered or irrigated by substantial rivers, now “wadis,” which under certain circumstances becoming raging torrents, bringing down the mineral salts from the mountains. Through the centuries, from time to time, this water has come down and lodged in large lakes on the higher ground south of the present Sea.

 

Early modern geologists recalled that a short way back from the water's edge, on the western side of the south end of the Dead Sea, stretched a five mile long escarpment, averaging 150 feet high of solid rock salt, weathered, but where portions great and small, have lately broken off,... glittering in the fierce sunlight as one moves along. Interestingly, this is called by the Arabs Jebel “Usdum,” a name handed down through centuries from father to son, but preserving the ancient name of Sodom. In view of all this one wonders if there is not some connection between Sodom and common salt (Sodium chloride), where thousands of tons of this rock salt formed a rampart over against the city.

 

The lakes have, time and again, evaporated so that as one looks across the plain, it has the appearance of a series of snow drifts. But conditions were different then, before Sodom was destroyed, and “it was well watered everywhere....even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest to Zoar.” This seems

to indicate a complex system of irrigation and possibly of reservoirs.

 

Before the destruction of these cities the Dead Sea extended only as far South as Ha-Lashon, the tongue that juts out from the Moabite shore to the Westward. In fact the Southern gulf of the Sea was an elevation, maybe 50 to 100 feet above the surface of the Sea, on which Sodom and its sister cities were built. It is conjectured that the destruction that came upon these cities was brought about by a repetition, on a small scale, of the process of formation. The fault, or rift, opened out a few feet at that particular place and the 'plug' dropped, producing a tremendous pressure on the gases enclosed below it, which had accumulated there in the course of millenniums.

 

These gases may have forced their way up through the cracks at the sides of the valley, bringing with them rocks and lumps of minerals and throwing them high in the air. Amongst these minerals was rock sulphur (brimstone) which together with the gases became ignited and rained down in burning masses upon the doomed cities, completely destroying them; “And Abram gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward  all  the  land  of  the  plain, and behold, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.”

 

As the cities were destroyed the ground would have continued to settle so that presently the waters of the Salt Sea flowed over the ruins, extinguishing the flames and obliterating the very remembrance of where they had been built.

 

Yet another more modern theory for Sodom and Gomorrah’s demise, maybe explained by a clay tablet that has baffled scientists for 150 years. It has been identified as a “witness's” account of an asteroid suspected of being behind the destruction of the cities.

 

Researchers who cracked the cuneiform symbols on the Planisphere tablet believe that it recorded an asteroid thought to have been more than half a mile across. The tablet, found by Henry Layard in the remains of the library in the royal place at Nineveh in the mid-19th century, is thought to be a 700 B.C. copy of notes made by a Sumerian astronomer watching the night sky. He referred to the asteroid as a "white stone bowl approaching" and recorded it as it "vigorously swept along." Using computers to recreate the night sky thousands of years ago, scientists have pinpointed his sighting to shortly before dawn on June 29 in the year 3123 B.C.

 

About half the symbols on the tablet have survived and half of those refer to the asteroid. The other symbols record the positions of clouds and constellations. In the past 150 years scientists have made five unsuccessful attempts to translate the tablet. Mark Hempsell, one of the researchers from Bristol University who cracked the tablet's code, said: "It's a wonderful piece of observation, an absolutely perfect piece of science."

 

He said the size and route of the asteroid meant that it was likely to have crashed into the Austrian Alps at Köfels. As it travelled close to the ground it would have left a trail of destruction from supersonic shock waves and then slammed into the Earth with a cataclysmic impact. Debris consisting of up to two-thirds of the asteroid would have been hurled back along its route and a flash reaching temperatures of 400 Centigrade (752 Fahrenheit) would have been created, killing anyone in its path.

 

About one million sq kilometres (386,000 sq miles) would have been devastated and the impact would have been equivalent to more than 1,000 tons of TNT exploding. Dr Hempsall said that at least 20 ancient myths record devastation of the type and on the scale of the asteroid's impact, including the Old Testament tale of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, fell into the River Eridanus after losing control of his father's sun chariot. The findings of Dr. Hempsall and Alan Bond, of Reaction Engines Ltd., are published in a book, "A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels Impact Event." The researchers say that the asteroid's impact would explain why at Köfels there is evidence of an ancient landslide 3 miles wide and a quarter of a mile thick.

 

Theories aside, from the awe with which the Arabs looked upon the Dead Sea even up to very recent years and from all the tales of superstition that have been woven about the place, it would appear that the memory of the inferno that must have raged in that pit of iniquity on the surface of the earth, struck the beholders with such terror that generation after generation would have given the neighbourhood a wide berth. Few would have ventured near it and those who were bold enough to do so would have been sure to have returned with bombastic tales of their intrepid expeditions into the valley of evil spirits, poisonous vapours, overpowering heat, and death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prophetic connections

 

So in the light of such profound devastation, there is a good reason why Jude centred his example of future judgment on the ancient area of Sodom and Gomorrah. To Jude’s primary audience, the Dead Sea (with its sulphurous smoke and fiery characteristics) would have been an obvious illustration of judgement. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was the archetypal portrait of God’s wrath and intolerance toward sin!

 

Of course, Jude’s reference to judgment went back before the Flood of Noah. Enoch, the great grandfather of Noah, was a prophet who foretold even the second advent of Christ (Jude 14). He was also a prophet who gave many warnings of judgment. And it is said that he even foretold the exact year for the occurrence of the Flood of Noah. But what has this to do with the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah which was an example of the end-time vengeance of God? It has very much to do with it. One should pay careful attention to the fact that Noah (the man who was saved through the Flood) was the tenth generation from Adam (Gen.5). God gave the Pre-Flood world exactly ten generations before their judgment came.

 

The concept of the “tenth generation” from creation was important to early biblical interpreters, because Enoch (according to Jude) also prophesied of the second judgment to occur on earth when the Lord would appear from heaven with ten thousands of his saints (Jude verses 14–16). But it is the nature of the judgement that is important - as it could NOT be via water! Remember, God had promised that no more universal punishment would come through the use of water (Genesis 8:21–22). When one compares later prophecies of the Bible, the next adjudication was to arrive on earth in the form of what? “Fire and brimstone!”

 

Yes, after one is “baptised” in water (the shadow) one MUST be “baptised with fire!”(the spiritual) It is amazing how seemingly hidden parabolic interpretation, becomes glaringly obvious in the light of vigilant study! In ancient times it became popular to view history and prophecy in a cyclical fashion (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Things reoccur!

 

And yet there is more. Note again that Noah was the tenth generation from Adam: 1) Adam; 2) Seth; 3) Enos; 4) Cainan; 5) Mahalaleel; 6) Jared; 7) Enoch; 8) Methuselah; 9) Lamech; and finally 10) Noah—in whose time the Flood destroyed the world. Now note the next generation to follow Noah after the Flood. It was 1) Shem; then 2) Arphaxad; 3) Salah; 4) Eber; 5) Peleg; 6) Reu; 7) Serug; 8) Nahor; 9) Terah; 10) Abraham.

 

So the tenth generation from the watery destruction in the time of Noah was Abraham. With Noah, God began a new creation in a physical way, but with Abraham (also a tenth generation individual), God began the process of a new “spiritual” creation. Again, the “physical” - then the “spiritual!” Such is the prophetic “order” of judgement! But the church cries God’s future “lake of fire” is LITERAL! Not according to the spiritual pattern of scripture it won’t be! First, the “physical fire” of Sodom and Gomorrah, (now “baptised” under the dead sea) then the resurrection to life - in the SPIRITUAL judgement of fire to come! “Second death” anyone?

 

It was out from this first judgement that a man who would produce a nation of people, (Israel) would in turn produce.... the Messiah - A Messiah to rescue ALL people from THE JUDGEMENTS of God and bring them into a perfect salvation. This is accomplished through the efforts of Christ Jesus! And how? Could it be through the “lake of fire?”

 

 

 

 

 

A land of parables

 

After the Jordan rift valley was destroyed, it was a scene of such devastation, that it gained legendary notoriety and thus becomes the ultimate example of future judgment, when God will rain down a fiery rebuke on rebellious men at the end of the age.

 

But in our modern church era, we just simply don’t comprehend the vast connections that the Jewish populations throughout Judea, had with their land. The landscape was littered with history and held deep cultural and religious significance. Behind every hill, river, valley, ravine and city, a story was sure to be told and a history remembered. This “promised land” was itself, a parable of all that it was and is, to be called from the wilderness and into the fold of God’s chosen and elect. The New Testament is FULL of such references. Jesus’ own parables echoed the sentiments of the landscape and the traditional histories thereof.

 

Jesus’ parable of “Lazarus and the rich man” (Luke 16:19-31 - though implying commonly taught, pagan traditions – see our study in Hell PT.2) was no doubt enriched by the local knowledge and symbolism of the Jordan rift and the northern region of the Dead Sea. Here was the Rich Man after death in the place of fire. He looked and saw Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. Between Abraham and the Rich Man was a “great gulf fixed” (Luke 16:26).

 

The “great gulf” of Christ’s parable is almost certainly the Jordan rift valley. The Rich Man was east of the Jordan River, and Lazarus and Abraham were west of it. The latter two were inheriting the promises of the land of Palestine given to Abraham, but the Rich Man (Judah) was not allowed to enter. He had to remain in the region of the fires near the northern edge of the Dead Sea but east of the Jordan River. As we now know, this was an area where there once were continual and unrelenting flames, which existed in the time of Christ.

 

The significance of the parable was to show that the region of the “great gulf” was a place of punishment. It was directly in the same location that Jude placed the example of eternal [age-lasting] fire to try the wicked (Jude verse 7).

 

As we have previously studied, The Valley of Hinnom (Christ’s “Gehenna fire”) similarly employs the images of “fire” and “death” in relation to God’s judgements – especially in relation His own DISCIPLES (see our study notes - Hell PT3) This particular valley was situated outside the southern walls of Jerusalem. It was a place where the fires to the pagan god Moloch were sanctified (Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 20:31). It was also called Tophet.

 

“For Tophet is ordained of old, yea, for the king [the evil king] it is prepared; he has made it deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone, does kindle it” (Isaiah 30:33).

 

The Valley of Hinnom commenced at Jerusalem and journeyed eastwards at a precipitous rate until it emptied into the northern parts of the Dead Sea. The watercourse is known to this very day as the “Wady en-Nar” (Arabic: The Streambed of Fire). This Valley of Hinnom (that is, the Gehenna mentioned by Christ) was about fifteen miles long. It plummeted into the Dead Sea (the lake of fire). This means that “Gehenna” and the “lake of fire” were typically connected.

 

Amazingly, this rich landscape was also integral to the ceremony of the “Scapegoat” (Azazel) on the Day of Atonement and was a part of the ceremonial story (Leviticus 16). Two goats were selected. One was to be sacrificed in Jerusalem, while the other was to be taken by an able bodied man into the wilderness east of Jerusalem. Indeed, the Scapegoat was to be taken down the Valley of Hinnom to a place about three miles east and south of Jerusalem called Beth Chaduda where the goat was allowed to go over a very deep cliff (like an abyss) so that he would never come in contact with civilization again (Yoma 67b; Targum Jerusalem Leviticus 14:10).

 

This part of the wilderness was traditionally one of much superstition. It was where demons were supposed to reside! Significantly, it was near this region where Christ was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1–11). The place was a part of the drainage system of the “Wady en-Na” - the extension of Gehenna, the Streambed of “fire.” From this area, the Streambed of Fire ran directly eastwards into the Dead Sea. This region between Beth Chaduda and the Dead Sea contained an “abyss.” Are we beginning to see the true origins of the symbolism found in Revelation?

 

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit [the abyss] and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon [just like the “fit man” of Leviticus 16:21 led the Scapegoat], that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut him up [away from mankind and civilization], and set a seal on him that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be fulfilled: after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:1–3).

 

The place that the Azazel Goat (the Scapegoat) was taken in the ritual of the Day of Atonement, is where Satan is symbolically kept for the “Millennium.”  Again, it is also the place in the wilderness where Christ defeated Satan during his forty days of temptation! Christ of course (the sacrificial lamb) would fulfil completely the role of atonement for all the world – the ultimate victory over death. Yes, symbols, symbols and more symbols! Everything fits perfectly in this prophetic scenario.

 

 

 

 

 

The “Geography” of death

 

It is no wonder then, that Christians today cannot adequately grasp the depths of the New Testament teachings regarding God’s judgements. Without the geographical and cultural knowledge of the Biblical landscape, much of its symbolism has been lost to mere speculation and carnal interpretation. The Wilderness of Judaea is one of the most unique areas on earth, a desert of the worst kind right next door to the region “of olive oil, and honey: a land wherein you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack any thing in it” (Deuteronomy  8:8–9).

 

The margin between “paradise” and “utter desolation” is often no more than one, two, or three miles. People who travel to the area are amazed at the abrupt contrast. George Adam Smith, who wrote the classic book called The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, gave some graphic descriptions of this wasteland to the east of Jerusalem. The words of a professional geographer cannot be surpassed for description. Note what Prof. Smith had to say about this land of the Scapegoat where Christ was tempted by Satan the Devil.

 

“The wilderness of Judaea: In the Old Testament this land is called the Jeshimon, a word meaning Devastation It is one of the driest and most poisoned regions on our planet (p.183).

 

Those fifteen miles of chaos [east of Jerusalem], sinking downward to a stretch of the Dead Sea, show the influence of the desert on Jewish imagination and literature. It gave the ancient people of Judaea the sense of living next door to doom; the sense of how narrow is the border between life and death; the awe of the power of God, who can make contiguous areas so opposite in character (p.212).

 

For hours, as you travel across these hills, you may feel no sign of life, except the scorpions and vipers which your passage startles, in the distance a few wild goats or gazelles, and at night the wailing of the jackal and the hyena’s howl (p.213).

 

From the heart of the country [near Jerusalem] the wilderness of Judaea carries violence and desolation right down to the same desolation of the Dead Sea valley (p.211).

 

There could hardly be an area more foreboding and awesomely stark on the surface of this earth.”

 

What is so striking is the contrast: A beautiful and well watered land on the west side with the crests of the Holy Land, and then (so quickly and abruptly) the thorough desolation of the “Land of the Scapegoat” - the region traversed by Gehenna (the Streambed of Fire), the location of the abyss (bottomless pit), and then the Dead

Sea (the Lake of the Fire). Amazing stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Enoch

 

Ironically, to understand better these matters as understood by the Jews at that time of Christ, we have to look outside of the current Bible cannon. The Book of Enoch (written about 100 years before Christ) is not a canonical book of the Bible, but it is referred to by Jude in verses 14 and 15 of his epistle. It divulges a great deal of information about the wilderness of Judaea and uses imagery very close to that of Revelation. The book exemplifies typical teachings about “Gehenna,” the “abyss,” and the “lake of fire,” as believed in many Jewish quarters in the time of Christ.

 

Enoch was supposed to have seen in vision the manner in which God would judge evil angels and wicked men. This is where the Jewish mythologies and traditions transcend into the realm of superstition.  He sees “a deep valley with burning fire.” (Enoch 54:1) the streambed of Gehenna, as it leaves Jerusalem for its eastward trek to the Wilderness of Judaea and the Dead Sea. Once a person starts down the streambed from Jerusalem, he gets closer to the wilderness. He then comes in contact with the kings and the mighty [the angelic powers in confinement] mentioned in Isaiah 24:21–22 this is the place of the pit (or the abyss). It answers to the Beth Chaduda region where the Scapegoat (the Azazel) is cast into an abyss - down a steep and precipitous cliff.

 

The Book of Enoch identifies with the symbolism of Revelation stating; this is where “iron chains are placed on those who descend into its bosom”—the bosom of the abyss. This is the place (or places) where the evil angels are temporarily confined.

 

“These are being prepared for the hosts of Azazel, so that they may take them and cast them into the abyss [the bottomless pit] of complete condemnation” (Enoch 54:5).

 

 “And God will imprison those angels, who have shown unrighteousness in that burning valley (that is, the eastern parts of Gehenna, the Wady en-Nar) in the mountains of Israel.” This is the very place where the Scapegoat (the Azazel goat) was taken in the ritual of the Day of Atonement. As said before, this was in an area down the Wady en-Nar east of Beth Chaduda (about three miles eastward of Jerusalem - see the early Jewish work the Mishnah, Yoma, VI,8).

 

The Book of Enoch goes on to say that it is the same place where a “star had fallen from heaven...into the abyss: now that abyss [the bottomless pit] was narrow and deep, and horrible, and dark” (Enoch 88:1,2). The apostle John in the Book of Revelation spoke of the same place.

 

“I saw a star fall from heaven into the earth: and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit [the abyss]. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace” (Revelation 9:1–2).

 

This of course is where the false orthodox Christian teaching of “Lucifer” and his “fall from heaven” comes from – that’s right, from a book of tradition and superstition OUTSIDE of the Bible cannon. These pervasive myths have tainted our understanding of the “symbolic/figurative” nature of the scriptures – particularly, Revelation. Yes, THE TRADITIONS OF MEN! We shall look at this in more detail in a future study.

 

As we have stated before, the imagery of Revelation (far from the dispensationalist interpretations today) was instantly recognisable to the Jewish Christians of the day. It relied heavily upon Old Testament imagery and local tradition to convey its message of encouragement, to those persecuted under Roman law. In the light of these facts, surely we cannot therefore apply a LITERAL interpretation to figurative symbols that are to be discerned SPIRITUALLY! We MUST at all cost remind ourselves, that Revelation and all its symbols (types and shadows of the past) are Revelations of CHRIST in relation to HIS church, HIS chosen and elect! It is SO easy to become distracted from the purpose of Johns visions, when we focus on the “physical.”

 

That the imagery of Revelation is based upon popular ideas of the day does not diminish the message of the dispensation of God’s spiritual judgements however! Jesus himself used imagery (sometimes pagan) from local traditions in his teachings, as did Peter, James, Jude and no doubt all the Apostles. Just because these traditions were mentioned by Christ and the Apostles, does NOT mean they indorsed the “mythology” associated with them! The Church rarely understands these principles, all too frequently being “cast aside to myths” as Paul stated. This is crucial information for anyone interested in “spiritually” discerning the scriptures.

 

So it is within the text of The Book of Enoch that we see the archangels of God taking hold of Azazel (the Scapegoat) with his angels “and cast them into the burning furnace” (Enoch 54:6). We see the abyss - Satan is placed in the abyss for 1000 years. He is only placed in the “lake of the fire” (a different place) after the Millennium is over (Revelation 20:1–10). This abyss was somehow connected with the lowest waters “under the earth” (not unlike the Greek “Tartarus”) and sometimes those waters were considered hot and boiling.

 

But as said before, this abyss is not the final place of punishment for the rebellious. That last place is “the lake of the fire,” located down the mountain just east of Beth Chaduda, the Dead Sea. The Book of Enoch calls this area the “valley of the angels who led astray mankind burned beneath that land” (Enoch 67:7) – a

reference to the Jordan rift valley in which the Dead Sea was located.

 

We must remember, that until Revelation, it had been generally accepted that true prophesy (had by and large) remained silent. The intertestamental period, riddled with conquest, rebellion and cultural interaction created huge social upheaval, not to mention the inevitable melting pot of religious ideas (namely Greco-Roman) into Jewish culture. So perhaps we can begin to appreciate Christendom’s propensity to so easily take on the mythologies of well entrenched traditions. Add on two thousand years and the invention of dispensationalism and we are in a world of utter

confusion!

 

 

 

 

The healing of the waters

 

How is it that Christian Theologians are completely unaware of these things? Isn’t it amazing that all this history has been lost, in a church age that has so much access to historical information! Not only are most Christians completely unaware of the origins of the symbology strewn throughout Revelation, but they are withheld from seeing the awe inspiring prophetic conclusions, that are drawn from the symbols of this “Land of the Scapegoat.” It is the prophetic symbolism pertaining to the FATE of the Dead Sea (lake of fire) itself, which is so astounding. For it is in this end game scenario, that we are made aware of the grand truths, concerning the nature of God’s righteous judgements within the lives of His own flock and upon the rest of mankind. Against these symbols, carnal orthodox doctrines of endless torture and woe are shattered once and for all! These rarely taught truths are sure to leave even the most hardened “Hell, Fire and Brimstone” preacher aghast! And here is why...

 

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their place” (Revelation 6:12–14).

 

Looking at this portion of scripture, we see a gigantic earthquake is associated with the time when the heavens “depart as a scroll.” And so there is only one place in all the Bible which speaks of this exact phenomenon. That is Isaiah 34:4–9 when it says that the streams of Edom will become burning pitch when;

 

“all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree, For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Edom and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.”

 

These fiery streams of Edom flow directly into the Dead Sea. But there is more. This is also the exact time that “the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:31).

 

This is when the nations of the world (all mankind) assemble in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

 

“Assemble yourselves, and come, all you nations, and gather yourselves together round about... Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the nations round about... Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of YHWH is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall cease their shining... And the heavens and the earth shall shake” (Joel 3:11-16).

 

In this symbolic region of God’s judgement, the streams of Edom will become burning pitch and fire and brimstone will rain down on the heathen at the great shaking against Gog and his forces. (Ezekiel 38:19–22) There will be a great conflagration from heaven around the Dead Sea (lake of fire) and Christ said there will also be darkness over Jerusalem (Matthew 24:29; 2 Thesalonians 1:7–8).

 

In accordance to the parabolic scenario of judgement, note that Christ said to; “remember the example of Lot” (Luke 17:22-37). Lot fled from the cities of the plain of Jordan - from the Dead Sea area. That’s when the whole of the Jordan rift valley went up in smoke. Jude said this area was the example of the future judgment that was to come upon the rebellious (Jude verse 7). And this is the exact region of the Valley of Jehoshaphat (though that location is in the southern part of the Dead Sea area). The prophecies actually consign the whole of the rift valley east and south of Jerusalem to a fiery judgment.

 

But the symbols of judgement pertaining to this area continue! Throughout the region of the Jordan rift valley we are told that the blood will flow as high as horses’ bridles. It will do so for 1600 furlongs (Greek: stadia). That equals about 184 miles (Revelation 14:20). The valley in which this will happen is “without the city.” The city under discussion was “Mystery Babylon” – Jerusalem, at the end of the age. And the Jordan rift valley from Mount Hermon to the end of the watershed south of the Dead Sea is almost exactly 1600 furlongs in length.

 

So, concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, Jude tells us that the first incineration was only a type (an example) of the final judgement to come. Jude said: Likewise [in the same fashion], will the judgment occur when “the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude verse 14) It is primarily the smoke that comes from the re-igniting of the Dead Sea that causes the sun, moon, and stars to be darkened!

 

As a matter of interest, the sun being darkened at the time of Christ’s crucifixion could well have been an eruption of the Dead Sea (Matthew 27:45), and Peter must have been referring to a recent darkening of the sun and moon when he mentioned Joel’s prophecy in Acts 2:17-20. That darkening smoke referred to in the prophecy had to emerge from the Valley of Jehoshaphat, in the area south of the Dead Sea. God could have bestowed, at Christ’s crucifixion, a foretaste of the judgment to come from the Lake of Fire. God’s chosen and elect will be able to escape (as did Lot) this wrath of God’s vengeance to come (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

 

It is clearer still, that the “lake of fire” of Revelation is steeped in the rich symbolic prophesies of the past. When all the pieces of the picture are finally put together, the judgements of God are revealed with startling clarity. But again, why is the fate of the Dead Sea so important? Well, because the Church REFUSES to “tell the whole truth” on the subject, that’s why! Oh, the Church LOVES talking about the judgement of the wicked. It REVELS in the pain and suffering of evil doers and blasphemers. It LOVES the idea of being more “special” then everybody else while everybody else burns! Alas, if only the Church had such a LOVE for the WHOLE TRUTH of the scriptures!

 

Because the judgements of God don’t end with the sinning masses of humanity being thrust into “the lake of fire.” No, the prophesy continues! Here in lies one of the most SIGNIFICANT yet most neglected symbols of the ENTIRE judgement scenario.

 

Once Christ has returned and established his kingdom, Ezekiel says that a river of fresh water will emerge from underneath a “new temple” (Ezekiel chapter 47). This fresh water stream flows eastward into the Dead Sea. Did you catch that? FRESH water? Yes, LIVING water! Water that no doubt follows the old watercourse of the Wady en-Nar (the Streambed of Fire), ends up in THE DEAD SEA of humanity! Seriously, how many times throughout the Word of God, are “flowing streams of water” spoken of?

 

“How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men...shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the rivers of Thy pleasures. For with Thee is the fountain of life” (Ps. 36:7-9).

 

Jesus tells us that the water that He gives will become a fountain of living water within us, springing up unto “eternal” life (Jn. 4:14). He says again that whoever is thirsty may come to Him and drink, and whoever believes on Him will have “rivers of living water” flowing from within him. (Jn. 7:37-38). All these words relate to one thing - that God Himself has flowed out and is still flowing on this earth into humanity AS LIFE. Jesus Christ, the first-born Son, IS the fountain, the reservoir of this divine water; and the Holy Spirit, flowing through the body of Christ and into the Dead Sea of humanity!

 

And what does this “fresh water” do to the desolate land of Judgement and doom? It changes the characteristics of the land bordering it! It brings spiritual life to those lives that are spiritually dead! This no doubt occurs because we are told that an abundance of fruit trees and medicinal plants will flourish around its banks (Ezekiel 47:12). This would mean that there would no longer be any Gehenna (Valley of Fire) going through that terrible wilderness! In actual fact, we have the express teaching of the Bible that Gehenna (otherwise called Tophet) will become “holy to the Lord.”

 

“And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:40).

 

This will be the end of Gehenna when the whole area will be made “holy unto God.” And with the Book of Ezekiel telling us that a river of fresh water will issue forth from the new Temple (and gets larger as it approaches the Dead Sea,) it seems interesting that it is Gehenna (remember it’s pertinence to Jesus’ disciples on the sermon on the mount - Gods chosen and elect) that is FIRST made “holy unto the Lord” before the river descends into the SEA (the REST of humanity) Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up. Amazing!

 

Here we see this beautiful of symbol of fresh water flowing into the Dead Sea, which causes it to become fresh and clean and most importantly -  LIFE SUPPORTING!

 

“And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; there shall be a place to spread forthnets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea [the Mediterranean], exceeding many” (Ezekiel 47:10).

 

Isn’t that what is promised? Who would have guessed that there would be abundant  LIFE after Judgement?  For within this scene we are told of the “lake of fires” awakening to life again where the masses of sinning humanity and even Satan himself will be judged and purged in the great white throne of judgement. We read that all judgment has been given unto the Son, Jesus Christ. Yet we know Jesus is not the only Judge in that day. Here is where the manifested Sons and Daughters of God (the elect) come into their most important role in the salvation of all mankind (the Dead Sea of humanity), all creation, and the entirety of the creation in both the heavens and the earth. Are not the called and chosen born to be Judges?

 

“Or are you not aware that the saints [the manifested Sons and Daughters of God] shall JUDGE THE WORLD? And if the world shall be judged by YOU, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (I Cor. 6:2).

 

“And I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and JUDGMENT was given unto

them [the saints, the manifested Sons of God]…” (Rev. 20:4).

 

Every man will be judged and the Saints will do the judging:

 

"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" (Rev. 20:13).

 

The called and chosen were born to be Judges, Lords, Priests and Kings:

 

"If we suffer, we shall also REIGN with Him…" (II Tim. 2:12).

 

"And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall REIGN on the earth" (Rev. 5:10).

 

Seriously. Can we not see that for in order to rule and reign, you need SOMEONE TO RULE AND REIGN OVER! According to the church, those we are told the elect shall reign over are somewhere else being endlessly tortured in fire. Where will the sinning masses of humanity “learn righteousness?” In Hell? In a torturous lake of LITERAL fire? NO! WE WILL TEACH THEM! WE too make up the LAKE of FIRE judgement. And when the time of the Great White Throne Judgment period is over, God will then create a new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). All the former things (including the purpose for a lake of fire) will pass away (Revelation 21:4–5).

 

“Behold, I make all things NEW” (Revelation 21:5). God establishes his permanent residence with mankind (Revelation 21:2–3). A new “Jerusalem” and divine governance in place - totally unlike any that preceded it. There is no need for any “earthly” Temple (Revelation 21:22), but there will be a river of water come forth from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1–2). The physical example of water coming from the Shekinah (the cloud with the sapphire throne that gave water to the children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years) and the Temple that existed in Ezekiel’s prophecy (the millennial Temple) with water flowing from it, will have served as a foretaste to this new water source in the new earth!

 

Christendom refuses to believe in God’s glorious plan for mankind, yet the scriptures are full of the intentions of Gods amazing benevolence! The time is surely coming when “death” will be abolished for all who have ever lived (1 Corinthians 15:26).

 

The final conclusion of all things is that God will become “all and in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). There will then be no more sin, no more death, no more Gehenna, no more abyss, and no more Dead Sea (the lake of fire). All that will be left is LIFE, and the beginning of a series of new creations in which all of us can participate, for the rest of time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape of coincidence?

 

Further still, it is not just the symbols of judgement that are engraved into the Biblical landscape. No, it goes well beyond that. The geographical landmarks of the region pertaining to the Dead Sea are the scenes of some of the greatest Old Testament stories and events. We should by no means underestimate the significance of the history of the land, in regards to Prophetic fulfilment. Israel’s journey from slavery to the “promised land,” is every bit OUR journey - from the slavery of sin (Egypt), through the baptism of the Jordan and beyond unto that of FIRE.

 

That this foreboding landscape should be chosen by God for the carrying out of His great plan for the redemption of mankind, is no coincidence. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ are etched upon these “spiritual types.” The rivers and rocks, trees and shrubs, mountains and seas by figure of speech, illustrate or point out Scriptural truths that Christians today will almost never hear. From the snows of Mount Hermon, to the depths of the abyss of the Salt Sea, in whose waters all is death, runs the fresh water of the Jordan. (or the “Descender” as it is known)  Is not

this an apt picture of the story of mankind?

 

The pure snows of Mount Hermon (the most probable scene of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ), melting and running down through fissures on the mountain top, and by devious channels and unknown reservoirs beneath the surface, deep in the mountain's heart, to issue into the light of day some seven thousand feet below along a route of about 200 miles before finally resting upon all that which is DEAD and impure! You can’t make this up.

 

Or look at the last mentioned city inherited by the tribe of Judah, EN-GEDI—meaning, spring of goats, which was situated half way down the Western side of the Salt Sea. En-gedi is mentioned earlier in Genesis 14:7 under its more ancient name HAZAZON-TAMAR—meaning row of palms, as being an Amorite city. It was a place of caves, of strongholds or fortresses; for it was there that David resorted when he fled from Saul. It was a place of vineyards (Song of Solomon 1:14). It most certainly was an oasis in the wilderness of Judah.

 

The road from Sodom to En-gedi is scarcely more than a very rough track. When the children of Israel were near the end of their forty years wandering in the wilderness they came up from the South from Ezion-geber on the Gulf of Akaba, and after compassing the land of Edom, they took to the King's Highway to pass through Moab on their way to the plains over against Jericho, at Kir-Moab, thus passing the length of the Salt Sea. They were within a dozen miles, parallel to its shores, and would have looked down upon its forbidding depths from four to five thousand feet above and viewed the promised land rising from the opposite shore twenty-five miles away.

 

From Mt. Nebo, before “he died there in the land of Moab, according to the Word of the Lord,” Moses had his view of the whole of the land of promise from Mt. Hermon in the North, the Utter most or Mediterranean Sea in the West, to the Negev, or South country, whence they had come. This was precisely the description of Elijah, whose last appearance has been in this very wilderness, before he finally vanished from the eyes of his disciples.

 

This, too, was the aspect of his great representative (John the Baptist), when he came, in the same place “in raiment of camel's hair.” To the same wilderness, probably that on the Eastern side (of Jordan), up into the desert-hills whence Moses had seen the view of all the “kingdoms” of Palestine, where John was baptising beyond Jordan, where Moses left off and was buried, and whence Elijah was “taken up,” there the Lord of heaven, the Son of Man was “led up” by the Spirit to be tempted of the Devil. From there “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.” Thus far had the Spirit of God taken Moses; thus far had the same Spirit taken Elijah the prophet; and from this very place Jesus started out on His great ministry. Amazing!

 

From here Joshua (the shadow/type of Christ) led the children of Israel into the land to possess it, while the law still stood; but Jesus (the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew Joshua-meaning “Jehovah will save”) having fulfilled the law in every point, and the prophets in all they foretold of Him, takes up His mission from the point where Moses left off (being unable to enter the promised land) and goes forward to accomplish that for which He was sent. Remember Jesus said;  

 

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one  jot  or one  title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt. 5:17-18)

 

The Sea of Galilee (or Lake Tiberias) is where men chose to build so many towns and villages, the embodiment of security and self satisfaction. It was from its depths that he had obtained so plenteous a supply of food, of fish caught by line and net. It was from its shores that he produced his crops for daily bread, his fruit and vegetables. Here sits the symbol of the “sea of humanity,” the fishing ground of men!

 

It was on the slopes of its hills that his flocks of sheep, his herds of goats were led out to pasture. It was on the top of the escarpment on the Eastern side that the swine were feeding, into which the demons were permitted to enter, whereon they ran down the steep place into the sea, where the waters covered them and they perished; the demons returning to the “sea of humanity.”

 

Here man passes his life in serenity, only occasionally disturbed on the surface, surrounded by pleasure and religion, in self satisfaction and complacency. Yet man is inexorably drawn to the southern end and in slow motion, hardly perceptible, he passes into the channel and glides slowly past the banks. The pace quickens and the fall of another 600 feet begins, to cover the 66 miles to the Dead Sea.

 

Again, it was not by chance that the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 and Matt. 2:6). This town is situated only 15 miles from the Dead Sea and about 3,600 feet above its surface and about 900 feet higher than the sources of Jordan. When the time was come for Jesus to commence his ministry, He is introduced in all four gospels AT THE LOWEST SPOT ON THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH, where mankind is at closest proximity to the emblem of death! John the Baptist called upon the People to repent of their sins and turn to God. Those who were obedient submitted to be plunged below the Surface of the Jordan, symbolising their passage through death and rising again in newness of life.

 

Yes, Jesus identified Himself with degenerate mankind at his lowest place. It was then that heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice from heaven, which said, “This is My Beloved Son; In Thee I am well pleased.” It was contrastingly at the summit of Mt. Hermon in the “heights” of His glory and in the presence of Moses and Elijah at the end of His ministry, that Jesus was transfigured.  The locality of these two great events can be no more a matter of accident than the birth at Bethlehem - one at each end of Jordan – “the descender;” but with Him they took place in reverse, for He Jesus is SURELY - the “Ascender.” Not only that, but is it mere coincidence that Bethlehem and Golgotha are almost the same elevation?

 

From the forty days temptation in the wilderness, to Nazareth proclaiming in the synagogue “This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears,” to His ministry round about the Sea of Galilee, working from Capernaum. to his fate upon Golgotha, to the Mount of Olives, forty days later, where He was received upwards from sight into the heavens, these landmarks bare ALL the hallmarks of parabolic symbolism in the same vein as Revelation. This is truly profound. As is to be expected, the Apostle Paul did not miss the significance of all this.

 

“Ascending on high He captures captivity and gives gifts to mankind. Now the 'He ascended' what is it except that He first descended also INTO THE LOWER PARTS OF THE EARTH. He Who descends is the Same also Who ascends, also, above all the heavens, that He should complete the universe” (Eph. 4:8-11).

 

As we can see, Christ has dealt with death as represented symbolically by the Jordan and the Salt Sea, so it will be found that eventually that symbol of death WILL be abolished, according to prophecy. The Jordan is a prevalent identifier for the “state of dying”  - “When one crosses over Jordan,” - Earth (the carnal) is on one side and Heaven or Paradise (life in the Spirit) on the other.

 

As the formation of the Dead Sea was caused by upheavals and earthquakes, so also it will be found that in the time of the end and the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of the prophets, similar seismic convulsions, which will so alter this lakes spiritual climate, that the Salt Sea will disappear and those plunged into it will be given life as it becomes fertile - for; “the desert will blossom as the rose.” Yes, it’s all in there if we have been given the eyes to see it!

 

 

 

 

 

The judgements by fire

 

Yet as grand and inspiring as these little known Old Testament symbols of judgement and restoration are, they are but sign posts (“types” and “shadows”) pointing to “spiritual” fulfilments yet to come. Their substance must traverse the Testaments so that the New bare witness of the Old. Rest assured, the New Testament judgements by fire have nothing to do with PHYSICAL torture, rather SPIRITUAL refinement. Not only that, but the very PROPERTIES that make up this “lake of fire,” give us further valuable insights into Gods ultimate purpose for judging the world. They explain the very NATURE of righteous judgement!

 

For believe it or not, only two New Testament sections of Scripture speak of the NATURE of judgement, and they pertain to man’s WORKS. They are Revelation 20 and I Corinthians 3. Few realise that judgment is actually upon the House of God NOW (from the time of the Apostles until the return of Christ.) There is coming LATER, a judgment at the Great White Throne where all humanity and all angelic messengers will be judged by fire. These judgments are instruments of righteousness, embodying the nature of chastisement and correction! The disciplinary actions of a loving God and Father do NOT consist of eternally torturing humanity IN fire, but rather eternally saving humanity BY fire. This is where the Church just cannot grasp the deep things of God.

 

Let’s read it and rejoice:

 

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; YET SO AS BY FIRE” (I Cor. 3:13-15)

 

Does everyone understand this? NO ONE is tortured, killed, or annihilated in this fire! This fire of God SAVES people who go through it! There is salvation BY means of this fire. This fire is part of God’s judgment and grace!

 

 

 

SCRIPTURE MUST INTERPRET SCRIPTURE

 

There are but two places in all Scripture that speak of “EVERY MAN’S WORK” being tried and judged: Twice in I Cor. 3 and twice in Rev. 20. And there are but two places in all Scripture where every man’s work is tried and judged “IN FIRE.” And again those two places are I Cor. 3 and Rev. 20. Funny that!

 

We learn from the Apostle Peter that;

 

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture at all is becoming its OWN EXPLANATION” (II Pet. 1:20, Concordant Literal New Testament).

 

So I Cor. 3 cannot completely answer all that is contained within its verses without the aid of the ONLY other such Scripture in the Bible, Rev. 20. And Rev. 20 cannot completely answer all that is contained within its verses without the aid of the ONLY other such Scripture in the Bible, I Cor. 3!

 

Paul tells us in I Cor. 2: 12-13 that;

 

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW THE THINGS that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak [in only twelve more verses Paul Himself speaks of just such spiritual things concerning the judgment of men’s works in fire] not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches [not the same physical torture in physical fire taught by the foolish understanding of the church] but which the Holy Spirit teaches; COMPARING [OR MATCHING] SPIRITUAL THINGS WITH SPIRITUAL.”

 

By comparing these two spiritually matched Scriptures with one another, we can come to the truth of God’s intention for BOTH of these fires that judge and try EVERY MAN’S WORK in their own order.

 

The fire of I Cor. 3 accomplishes the very same thing as the fire of Rev. 20 accomplishes. Both of these fires are symbolic. Literal fire does not burn up inanimate flaws (wood, straw and stubble) of human character. But AS literal fire does burn up literal wood, straw and stubble, SO ALSO does God’s spiritual fire burn up human character flaws. We are not told of this “wood, straw and stubble” in the lake of fire, nor of the “gold, silver and precious stones.” We learn from I Cor. 3 that this is the case with “the lake of fire” also because these two sets of Scripture are the ONLY spiritual match in the entirety of the Bible. And just as we learn new things and additional things about “the lake of fire” in I Cor. 3, we also learn something new and different in Rev. 20:10 that is not mentioned in I Cor. 3.

 

 

 

UNQUENCHABLE FIRE?

 

When interpreting scripture from scripture, consistency MUST be key! Believe it or not, the subject of whether such “fire” is “ETERNAL” or not, is an issue of real contention amongst those arguing over the nature of God’s punishments.  More than 2500 years ago the Holy Spirit warned the wicked inhabitants of Jerusalem that God would kindle a fire at Jerusalem's gates which would devour her palaces.

 

“But if you will not hearken unto Me ... then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not he quenched” (Jer. 17:27).

 

Such expressions like “unquenchable,” are regarded as among the most terrible to be found in the Scriptures; and by a large portion of Christian believers, are considered as decisive of the “endless” duration of the punishment of the wicked.

 

Did not God say this fire “shall NOT BE QUENCHED?” This prophecy was certainly fulfilled and the fire did occur a few years later and it did destroy all the houses of Jerusalem (Jer. 52:13). Since God said no person or thing would “quench” this fire, did that mean that it would burn forever? Since it accomplished the work it was sent to do, and since it is NOT BURNING TODAY, it obviously went out by itself after accomplishing its purpose!

 

The phrases “unquenchable fire,” or “the fire that shall not be quenched,” occurs several times in the New Testament, in Mark 9:48 it is found in connection with the phrase “the worm that dieth not.” The repetitions of the same expression are obvious, the terms being repeated (of the eye, the hand, the foot) simply for emphasis.

 

We know the origin of the phraseology in the desecration of the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna), making it a place for the deposit and burning of dead bodies and offal, and that Jesus borrows it from the prophet Isaiah. Yet as we can see from Jeremiah 17:27, this “unquenchable” fire certainly belonged to this world! Not only that, but ALL these “unquenchable” judgments of God pertain to WORDLY judgements that have but all been passed.

 

For example, the overthrow of the Jews, and the laying waste of Judea, by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, is predicted by Ezekiel in the terms following:

 

 “I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree; the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from north to south shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.” Ezekiel (20. 47, 48.)

 

The Old Testament writers used the phrases in review as figures of God's judgments in the Earth, of the calamities which He sent upon wicked nations, through the agency of war, famine and desolation. In not one of the texts cited is the language employed as a figure of any judgments or sufferings but such as belong to time and Earth!

 

Now, if Jesus used the same phraseology used by the prophets and the Jews, He would undoubtedly employ it in the same sense! The prophets had employed these expressions, and the people were familiar with the use of them, as symbols of terrible judgments and punishments sent upon the guilty nations, falling on the transgressors in this life. Their Scriptures never use them in any other sense, and the significance of the language was in regard to the severity, and NOT the duration, of the punishment.  Furthermore, other ancient Greek authors employed such terms in similar fashion;

 

Strabo, the celebrated geographer, speaking of the Parthenon, a temple in Athens, says: “In this was the inextinguishable or unquenchable lamp” (asbestos, the very word used in the Gospels) Of course, all it means is that the lamp was kept constantly or regularly burning during the period alluded to, though extinguished or quenched ages ago.

 

Homer uses the phrase “asbestos gelos,” “unquenchable laughter.” But we can hardly suppose they are laughing now, and will laugh to all eternity!

 

Plutarch, the well-known author of the biographies familiarly known as “Plutarch's Lives,” calls the sacred fire of the temple “unquenchable fire” (pur asbeston, the exact expression of Jesus), though he says in the very next sentence it had sometimes gone out.

 

Josephus, speaking of a festival of the Jews, says that every one brought fuel for the fire of the altar, which “continued always unquenchable,” (asbeston aei). Here we have a union of the word supposed to mean specially endless, when in the form of “aionios,” (see our study notes; “Eternal Consequences”) with the word “unquenchable,” and yet both together do not convey the idea of duration without end; for the fire of which Josephus speaks had actually gone out, and the altar been destroyed, at the time he wrote! And still he calls the fire “always unquenchable.”

 

Even Eusebius, the father of ecclesiastical history, describing the martyrdom of several Christians at Alexandria, says: “They were carried on camels through the city, and in this elevated position were scourged, and finally consumed or burned in unquenchable fire” (puri asbesto). Here, again, we have the very phrase employed by Jesus, and applied to a literal fire, which, of course, was quenched in the short space of one hour, probably, or two hours at the longest. All that is implied is, that it burned till it had consumed the victims.

 

So “unquenchable fire” is simply “a fire never quenched till it has done its work,” or, in other words, a thoroughly destructive fire!

 

The following facts, then, are surely established.

 

1. The whole Old Testament usage of the language in review is against the meaning of endless, as the passages cited and referred to fully show.

 

2. The Greek writers quoted above did not use it to signify endless; which gives us both scriptural and classical usage against it.

 

3. There is not one particle of proof to show that Jesus used it in the sense of endless, or in any other sense than that of the prophets, viz., a figure or symbol of great temporal judgments!

 

We do not yet, therefore, find the doctrine of endless punishment revealed in the New Testament, nor in any way sanctioned by the authority or language of Christ. 

 

Unquenchable fire then, is simply fire that cannot be put out until it has consumed or changed everything it is possible for it to change! It then simply goes out, for there is nothing more to burn. Yet we hear all too often; preachers ranting and raving about poor souls being cast into bell fire where “their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched” and this, we are told, means eternal, unending torment. How foolish, illogical, and deceptive! Such a view contradicts the plain meaning of the term “unquenchable” and its use in the Word of God. So are the judgments of God permanent? Look again!

 

“When Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9).

 

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory.” (Mat. 12:20)

 

Surely Judgment, therefore, is not an eternal condition, but it is given to produce that victory. Judgments of themselves do not save anyone, but they are used by God to bring one to one's self, to effect a change of attitude and will, to consume away the unwanted impurities of the apostate carnal mind. It is very interesting indeed then that in this lake of fire of Rev. 20 we find a most unusual thing – “brimstone.” BRIMSTONE? OH NO! NOT BRIMSTONE! Isn’t this lake of fire going to be painful enough without adding “brimstone?” First we learn from Christendom that the non-believers and wicked will be tortured for all eternity in literal white-hot fire, and now we read in the Scriptures that there is going to be BRIMSTONE in this lake of fire!

 

Whose idea is it to add “brimstone” to this fire? Is this a cruel curse from Satan? That doesn’t seem plausible seeing that this is GOD’S WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT, and not Satan’s BLACK THRONE JUDGMENT. But why then would God be putting this cursed brimstone into this fire? Wait a minute… Maybe the brimstone isn’t a cruel curse from God, but rather a marvellous blessing. Is that possible? With God all things are possible.

 

 

 

BRIMSTONE IN THE LAKE OF FIRE

 

So what have got so far? Well, the Old Testament association with the Dead Sea judgements are SYMBOLISED in the New Testament. Remember - Everything in the book of Revelation is “signified” (SYMBOLIZED). So what is “brimstone” anyway? We know that there is literal fire and there is spiritual fire; and there is literal “brimstone,” but is there also spiritual “brimstone?”

 

Ask any nominal Christian why there is “brimstone” in the lake of fire, and he will probably tell you that it is there to make the fire hotter and more painful. Oh really? Is there something about “brimstone” that is caustic to the skin that would cause great pain? Does “brimstone” somehow cause fire to burn hotter and hotter? Does “brimstone” make the flesh hotter? Or is it corrosive material that eats away at the skin and flesh thus causing even more intense insane pain. The very sound of the word “brimstone” has come to represent something Satanic, yet nothing could be further or diametric opposite from reality. For those who have never learned the meaning and derivation of the word “brimstone,” you are in for a real shock.

 

Look up the word “brimstone” in any dictionary and you will find it defined as “sulphur.” Brimstone is sulphur. What then are the properties and uses of sulphur?

 

 

 

THE PROPERTIES OF SULPHUR

 

SULPHUR: “It is often called brimstone (burning stone) and ignited sulphur is mentioned in the earlier records of many countries as having been used for religious ceremonies, for PURIFYING (fumigating) buildings and for bleaching cloth” (Encyclopedia Britannica, page 536d).

 

There are in fact some remarkable facts about “sulphur,” that have rarely been explained within the context of its ancient usage. The word sulphur is Latin for “burning stone” and was used almost interchangeably with the term for fire. Because of its combustibility, sulphur was used for a variety of purposes at least 4,000 years ago. Historically, it found use among many ancient peoples in various healing balms, in medicinal concoctions and even as an anti-parasitic agent. Ancient Chinese cooks mixed it with saltpetre and charcoal to remedy indigestion.

 

After the devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Dead Sea continued periodically, to be a source of wealth. The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra even built cosmetic and pharmaceutical factories in the area. Later, the Nabateans (Petra) extracted asphalt from the Dead Sea and sold it to the Egyptians. The Egyptians used asphalt to embalm their dead. (The word “mummy” actually comes from the Egyptian word for asphalt.)

 

Bedouin fellahs in the Judean Desert used to burn the bituminous chalk for lime and related the secret of the combustion to the influence of “Nebi Musa,” the holy tomb of Moses located in the area.

 

In addition to the bituminous chalk and the clay found within the layers on both sides of the Dead Sea, there was floating clay which the Egyptians used to smear on their vessels and to embalm their dead. Embalming of the dead had been an Egyptian tradition for millennia, driven by the ancient Pharaonic belief that, without preservation of the body, there could be no assurance of an afterlife for the soul.

 

Sometime in the fourth or fifth century BC, the Egyptians began to experience a shortage of the aromatic resins (gathered from shrubs and trees) that they had relied upon exclusively for the operations of embalming. Eventually, Egyptian priests found they could do just as well by reducing the quantities of these aromatics and mixing them with molten bitumen - or mrh.Hr, as transliterated from an old Egyptian papyrus text on embalming. The word mrh.Hr, written in hieroglyphics, is suspiciously close to an Arabic word for bitumen (humar) which the Nabataeans used. Egypt's ever growing population meant demand for bitumen increased. The Nabataeans knew that the oil of the Dead Sea that they had their hands, was worth a fortune!

 

Ancient Greeks and Romans used sulphur for religious reasons also, but recognized sulphur's additional property as a fumigant. Burned in homes of sick people to drive away evil spirits, this substance's fumes also drove out insects and left the residence a healthier place. They actually manufactured special bricks of sulphur to be burned for this purpose.

 

Interestingly, the sulphur deposits of the Dead Sea region were not the only valuable commodity available. “Sodomite salt” was one of the minerals used in the making of holy incense (Ketoret). The town of Ein Gedi is linked to the production of the temple's secret fragrance.

 

So, we can safely conclude that the “fiery elements” of the “lake of fire” did in fact serve a “higher” purpose than just burning flesh more effectively! Could it be that spiritual brimstone might be used to PURIFY and fumigate PEOPLE and bleach their darkened hearts to a bright white? After all, ancient producers actually described their method of obtaining sulphur from its ore as PURIFICATION BY FIRE!  “Purification by fire” - Sound familiar?

 

Does God “purify” good and wonderful things by “fire?” Yes, He does: 

 

“The WORDS of the Lord are pure words: as silver [silver? Isn’t the silver qualities of our character also tried in ‘fire,’ I Cor. 3:12-13?] tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6).

 

Now we all know that the very “words” of God are not burned in a literal fire. But “AS” silver is tried in literal fire, so SPIRITUALLY God’s words are tried in spiritual fire!

 

Malachi 3:3 says “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver...”

 

For silver refinement, it's necessary for the silversmith to hold the silver piece right in the middle of the flame, where it's hotter and impurities are burned! Why is it that God sometimes hold us in “hot” situations in life? Silversmiths have to keep their eyes on the silver the WHOLE time it sits in the flames. If the silver piece stays there one minute more in the fire, it gets destroyed. Poignantly, on being asked by an enquiring bystander - “How do you know when the silver is completely refined?” A modern silversmith is said to have answered: “Oh, this is easy... it's ready when I can see MY IMAGE in it!”

 

How much more precious are we to He who passes us through the flame? Yet according to what we have been told over and over by doomsday prophets of eternal damnation, “sulphur” is little more than an insidious ingredient added to make the fires of hell more painful!  Unfortunately, “sulphur” being both TASTELESS and ODORLESS, it in fact HAS NO ACTION ON THE SKIN!

 

So maybe it’s just the heat that is intensified by the use of sulphur, and that is its purpose in the lake of fire - to increase the intensity of the fire’s heat to cause more insane pain? Continuing: “Physical PropertiesSulfur is A POOR CONDUCTOR OF BOTH HEAT and electricity…"

 

A POOR CONDUCTOR OF HEAT? Maybe not. Theoretically, if God were to put enough brimstone into the lake of fire it would protect those in the fire like an asbestos suit! Is anyone beginning to see the sheer folly in the church’s teaching that the lake of fire and brimstone are literal? 

 

NO, brimstone is not the demon of “hell fire” that it has been portrayed. Sulphur rather, has hundreds and hundreds of beneficial uses not the least of which are purification and medicines.

 

And anyway, let’s face it. Just what DOES happen to things that are thrust into the heart of the flame? They are “burnt” are they not? Well yes, and what does this REALLY mean? “BURNING” something actually refers to some kind of combustion, or to consume. To consume does not mean to annihilate, for there is no such thing as annihilation in the absolute sense. When fire consumes a log in your fireplace it does not destroy any of the elements within the log, it merely changes their form.

 

Combustion is the process by which chemicals combine to form new chemicals. For example: a tree might be cut down, sawed into fire wood, and burned. When the wood is burning the heat causes the chemicals of which the wood is composed to vaporize, mixing with the oxygen in the air to form new chemicals, including water and the gas carbon dioxide. So what was formerly a tree is no longer identified as the form of a tree, but the substance thereof is now simply CHANGED into a DIFFERENT FORM and exists in its new form within the atmosphere as water, carbon dioxide, etc.

 

Thus, to bum, means to CHANGE. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that fire does not burn down; it always burns up; it seeks the highest level. And all that it consumes “goes up in smoke,” to exist in a new form in a higher dimension. Even if you take a pan of water and place it over a fire, before long the water will take on the property of the fire and will begin to go up in steam. To burn means to CHANGE, and the change is always UPWARD in its motion.

 

FIRE is the heat and light that you feel and see when something burns. It takes heat to start a fire, but once the fire is started it produces heat that keeps the process going. Thus, fire is really HEAT and LIGHT.

 

It is no coincidence that “Sulphur” and “fire” was considered sacred to the ancients. It was certainly sacred to the deity among the ancient Greeks and for this purpose they burned it in their incense. In Homer's Iliad (16:228), one is spoken of as purifying a goblet with “fire” and “brimstone.” The verb derived from THEION is THEIOO, which means to hallow, to make divine, or to dedicate to a god (See Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon, 1897 Edition). Divine purification and divine consecration are the plain meaning in ancient Greek!

 

So, if BURN means combustion; to change the form of and FIRE means heat and light and BRIMSTONE denotes “the divine,” - putting these three together could we not say that the lake burning with fire and brimstone is, actually, DIVINE HEAT AND LIGHT PRODUCING A CHANGE? Is such a process eternal? All the laws of nature shout that it is not!

 

So why “sulphur” in “the lake of fire?” If it serves no detrimental purpose, is it possible that it serves a beneficial purpose? Surely we can agree that the Bible uses the word “fire” figuratively on frequent occasions. Certainly no serious student of the Word would consider the following verses as using fire in a literal way:

 

 “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were as a flame of FIRE” (Rev. 1:14).

 

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes though it be tarried with FIRE, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:7).

 

“And the tongue is a FIRE…” (James 3:6).

 

“And of the angels He says, Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of FIRE” (Heb. 1:7).

 

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by FIRE; and the FIRE shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (I Cor. 3:13).

 

“For our God is a consuming FIRE” (Heb. 12:29).

 

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in

so doing you shall heap coals of FIRE on his head” (Rom. 12:20).

“John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE” (Luke 3:16).

 

“For EVERY ONE shall be salted with FIRE, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt” (Mark 9:49).

 

“But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s FIRE, and like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2).

 

“…for all the earth shall be devoured with the FIRE of my jealousy” (Zeph. 3:8).

 

“For in My jealousy and in the FIRE of My wrath have I spoken” (Ezek. 38;19).

 

“From above has He sent FIRE into my bones…” (Lamentations 1:13).

 

“Is not My word like as a FIRE? saith the Lord” (Jer. 23:29).

 

“Who makes His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming FIRE” (Psalm 104:4).

 

 

 

SYMBOLIC BRIMSTONE

 

And there are, of course, many more such Scriptures where “fire” is used figuratively. So again, what about this “brimstone?” Consider the facts that sulphur is used to make medicines. Remember how many were saved with the famous sulpha drugs back in World War Two? Will there be “spiritually sick” people in this lake of fire? Yes indeed! THEY ARE ALL SPIRITUALLY SICK! EVERY ONE OF THEM! They certainly need a good medicine. We also learned that sulphur has been used since the beginning of time for PURIFICATION! Are those thrown into this lake of fire “pure?” NO, THEY ALL NEED PURIFICATION! EVERY ONE OF THEM!

 

And since physical medicines cannot cure the spiritually sick, and physical sulphur cannot purge spiritual impurities, it follows that the sulphur in this lake of fire is also being used symbolically. Yet the physical benefits of physical sulphur used as a spiritual symbol of healing and purification, are only the tip of the iceberg. What is the real origin of this word “brimstone” (sulphur)? Let’s notice carefully the first few times that brimstone is used in the Scriptures:

 

“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah BRIMSTONE and fire from the Lord out of heaven… And he [Abraham] looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace” (Gen. 19:24 & 28).

 

As we have already established, this historical judgement was every bit PHYSICAL. There is nothing in suggest that this destruction was figurative. However, it most certainly is a spiritual and symbolic message in this destruction for our admonition TODAY!

 

Now ALL these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for OUR admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11).

 

Notice that this destruction of these cities comes from God, but not only did God burn the cities, but the WHOLE PLAIN AND COUNTRY as well. This destruction from the Lord was so complete that even the location of these cities is a matter of conjecture to this day! And why the “brimstone?” Could God not have destroyed these cities with fire ALONE?

 

“So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sickness which the Lord has laid upon it; and that the WHOLE LAND thereof is BRIMSTONE, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor bears, nor any grass grows therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah…” (Deut. 29:22-23).

 

Notice once again that this destruction comes from the Lord and that it is a complete and total destruction so that even grass would not grow on this land.

 

Every single time the word “brimstone” is used in Scripture, its source is GOD out of heaven. Satan is NEVER connected with the use of “brimstone.” Brimstone is as far removed from the nature of Satan as unrighteousness is removed from the nature of God. Now then, what is brimstone, REALLY? Are you ready for this? After all the centuries of rank paganism being interjected into God’s pure Word, it’s time we blow the lid off of this heresy being published and preached by the church around the world, blaspheming the very name and nature of our Great God!

 

 

 

ORIGIN OF THE WORD “BRIMSTONE”

 

Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament: brimstone, #2303. theion. 

 

So let’s look at this a little closer. We are told that “Theion originally denoted - fire from heaven.”

 

This word theion #2303 comes from the Greek word theios #2304, of which we read the following:

 

Theios means :

 

(1) DIVINE, and is used

 

(1a) of THE POWER OF GOD (2 Pet. 1:3), and

 

(1b) of HIS [GOD’S] NATURE, (2 Pet. 1:4), both of which proceed FROM HIMSELF.

 

(2) In Acts 17:29 it is used as a noun with the definite article, to denote THE GODHEAD, THE DEITY, THE ONE TRUE GOD."

 

Now it must be stated that there is strong evidence that the word for “sulphur” is related to the Greek verb thuO, meaning SACRIFICE. 

 

The word “sulphur” (or brimstone, "burn-stone"), found seven times in the N.T., is always a noun, never an adjective. And it is always found joined to another noun, either “fire” or “smoke.”

 

Now, no-one is suggesting that a verse like Luke 17:29 should read; “fire and divine rains from heaven” or that Rev 9:17 should be rendered “out of their mouths are issuing fire and smoke and divine,” yet no-one can deny that the FIGURATIVE use of “sulphur” is ubiquitously SYMBOLISED in conjunction with DIVINE judgement and certainly Gods NATURE. GOD ALMIGHTY is this FIRE! – this spiritual “CONSUMING FIRE” (Heb. 12:29).

 

This fire is not only SPIRITUAL, it is DIVINE. The “lake of fire” is a spiritual fire from GOD to purge, purify, cleanse and heal all impurities of all humanity. Yes, this fire shall cause TORMENT but we shall cover the real meaning of this later on in the series.

 

We must attest, that Jesus Christ did NOT die on the cross in vain! He will NOT fail to save the whole world! He “so loved the world” that he DIED for its salvation! Jesus WILL “draw all men unto himself.” He has been given all power and judgement in both heaven and earth. EVERY knee will bow, EVERY tongue shall confess, EVERY person WILL repent and EVERY human ever created will be purged and purified by God’s all consuming divine fire from heaven!

 

Make no mistake about it. It is by means of FIRE that all mankind will ultimately be saved! God has spoken it:

 

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by FIRE [God’s DIVINE {spiritual} CONSUMING FIRE, Heb. 12:29] and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be BURNED, he shall suffer loss; but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; YET SO AS BY FIRE!”(I Cor. 3:13-15)

 

But hold on, we are saved by GRACE, not FIRE! Well, does “fire” contradict “grace?” Does “grace” contradict “fire?” NO, they do not contradict.

 

"For BY GRACE are you saved…" (Eph. 2:8).

 

How so?

 

“For the GRACE of God that brings SALVATION has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live

sensibly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12)

 

Notice how “grace” does something more in ADDITION to just bringing salvation!

 

 TEACHING [Greek: paideuo, TO TRAIN, EDUCATE, DISCIPLINE, PUNISH, CHASTISE, LEARN, INSTRUCT. (P.186, Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament).

 

Such words as “discipline,” “punish,” and “chastise,” are great TRIALS that we are to go through and endure. These things are not fun, but wearisome. Yet this is HOW we are being saved, this IS the process!

 

Peter has instructed us with the following wisdom:

 

“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto SALVATION [yes, and by ‘grace’] ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein you GREATLY REJOICE [rejoice, Yes, but also with a heavy heart], though now for a season, if need be, you are IN HEAVINESS through MANIFOLD temptations [trials]: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes though it [your faith] be TRIED WITH FIRE [fire is an important aspect of saving grace], might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:5-7)

 

Salvation involves the trying of our faith “with FIRE.” This Peter calls our “FIERY trial,” “Beloved, think it not strange [this is not some unusually or rare thing—we ALL must go through it sooner or later] concerning the FIERY TRIAL which IS [certain] to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you [or you only]” (I Peter 4:12).

 

But once again, can we not see that Peter is not speaking of LITERAL fire, but SPIRITUAL fire, God’s all CONSUMING spiritual fire? There was a reason (a lesson for us) for the brimstone in the fire that destroyed Sodom and there is a reason for the brimstone that is in the lake of fire judgment. Are we so naive as to think that God could not have destroyed Sodom and the neighbouring cities with fire alone?

 

Was the brimstone necessary to destroy Sodom? Not only didn’t God need to use brimstone to destroy Sodom: He didn’t even need to use fire. God could have just made Sodom DISAPPEAR!

 

Just as there are properties of “fire” that God wants us to understand in the spiritual, there are properties of “brimstone” that God wants us to understand in the spiritual too! Can we not get it into our heads that GOD IS SPIRIT and that all He is building and creating is SPIRITUAL. We will have SPIRITUAL bodies, we are SPIRITUAL temples, we are to produce SPIRITUAL fruit, we will live in SPIRITUAL Jerusalem, in SPIRITUAL Zion, in SPIRITUAL heaven, as members of a SPIRITUAL kingdom, Headed by a SPIRIT GOD!

 

The physical and natural will all pass away. The two laws of thermodynamics are at work on every piece of matter in the physical universe. EVERYTHING PHYSICAL is growing older, colder, and darker—it will all come to an end one day. Let us learn another great and profound spiritual lesson from the Scriptures.

 

 

 

FIRST THE PHYSICAL AND THEN THE SPIRITUAL

 

“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural [soulish, physical]; and AFTERWARD that which is spiritual” (I Cor. 15:46).

 

It is clear that this is not what the church teaches. They teach that first came the natural, the soulish, the physical, and AFTERWARD will come A BETTER VERSION of the natural, the soulish, the physical – an age filled with PHYSICAL blessings and PHYSICAL tortures! That is unscriptural nonsense. God is not building a better version of our physical bodies. We will be given SPIRITUAL BODIES:

 

“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; [Adam was destined to DIE from the time of his very creation:] “For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willing, but by reason of Him Who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself [this certainly includes Adam] also shall be delivered from the bondage of CORRUPTION…” (Rom. 8:20-21)

 

Adam was created in the ‘bondage of corruption! it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a SPIRITUAL BODY. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul [subject to death and corruption]; the last Adam was made a quickening SPIRIT [NOT subject to death or corruption]. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is SPIRITUAL" (I Cor. 15:42-46).

 

Make no mistake about it, what God is creating is SPIRITUAL and “eternal.” But first He created the physical and the temporary. He has dealt with the physical and temporary in the past, and will get do so in the future, but the time will come when God will do away with physical things, and then all will be spiritual. There was an OLD Covenant and now there is a NEW Covenant. The first was based solely on the physical and temporary promises, whereas the second is based on SPIRITUAL AND PERMANENT promises!

 

The reason there was “brimstone” in the fire from heaven when God destroyed Sodom and the cities of the plain is that “brimstone” is the essential purging and purifying agent – a DIVINE cleansing agent! This purging of the plain of these evil cities was a DIVINE purging fire from the God of heaven. God so “divinely purged” those cities of the plain!

 

To show God’s utter disdain for the sins of that land, God did not merely destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbouring cities, but He rather WIPED THEM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH! That land was then pure! It was fumigated. It was made white. It was purged of every and all wickedness of its inhabitants. Poor Sodom. Are they lost forever? Are all Sodomites right now burning in the fires of

some fabled hell?

 

Well, what do you suppose might have been the fate of Sodom had Jesus preached His message there and performed His healing miracles there? We don’t have to suppose or guess, because Jesus has already told us exactly what would have happened if He had taught and healed in Sodom:

 

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shall be bought down to hell (the GRAVE) [Greek: hades the unseen]: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, IT WOULD HAVE REMAINED UNTIL THIS DAY” (Matt. 11:23).

 

So by Christ’s own words we have witness of the fact that all it would have taken for Sodom to remain a city right down to our very generation today, was some healings and miracles in their city (Luke 10:13)! Is a whole race of people worth a few healings and miracles? Not according to the evil doctrines of the church. They will tell you (if you corner them) that God opted for an eternity of torture for the Sodomites rather than Salvation at the cost of a few healings and miracles!

 

No, Sodom is dead! But like all peoples of the world who have ever died (both the righteous and the wicked), they will be resurrected back to life and will be judged and purged in the fearful (yes it will be fearful!,) loving, consuming, spiritual, divine fire of God. Jesus did not come to eternally destroy the Sodomites nor torture them for eternity.

 

“The Lamb of God, which takes away the SIN OF THE WORLD” (John 1:29).

 

“…we trust in the Living God, Who is the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially of those that believe” (I Tim. 4:10).

 

So – NO! The occupants of Sodom and Gomorrah are not currently being tortured in “hell” (Hades) as taught by the church today! We know full well that HADES means nothing more than the state of the dead in the GRAVE. After all;

 

“Death and hell [hades/unseen] delivered up the dead” (Rev. 20:13)

 

Yes the GRAVE gives up the DEAD people that dwell there.

 

“Death and hell [hades/unseen] were cast into lake of fire” (Verse 14)

 

“Death,” as the "act of or process of dying" brings people to the "state of the dead," which is sheol/hades, where (and this is important) there is no longer any consciousness, pain, joy, or “anything”(Ecc. 9:5).

 

So when God tells us for example that “the last enemy to be destroyed is DEATH” (I Cor. 15:26), it must include every and all aspects of what death really is. Death will no longer be the cause of anyone going through “death” in the act of dying, neither will there be any more dead people in the final state of death.

 

But will Christians accept the abolition (or destruction) of the ACT of death, the CAUSE of death, and the STATE of death, as representing what Jesus Christ will, literally and spiritually “destroy?” No, of course not! How could they then continue hanging on to their distain towards sinners with their torture in hell for all eternity for those they don't love, doctrine?

 

The scriptures don’t lie! Death itself WILL be destroyed, or as the Concordant Version renders it: “the last enemy being abolished: death.” (It is more likely to abolish something that is inanimate rather than to destroy it as the King James translates it). Death MUST be abolished or there will yet remain some form of death which would then continue to be an eternal “enemy” in God's creation.

 

 

 

 

 

The law of fire

 

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)

 

So what on Earth is all this talk about judgements by fire and abolishing death and death being an “enemy” etc? Not only do we have to understand the scriptural state of the dead to understand the real meaning of “death” as used in Revelation, we then have to interpret what this “SECOND DEATH” is, in relation to “the lake of fire” and what happens to those passing through it?

 

Well clearly we can see for ourselves, that “the lake of fire” IS “the second death.” O.k...and what the heck does that mean? Know this. These are age old questions the Church has been all too quick to answer, yet in reality; it has absolutely NO clue to meaning of these profound scriptures. There is FAR more to “the second death” than the orthodox “from the frying pan and into the fire” theology - of “Hell” being plunged into the “lake of fire.” Some teachers even go so far as to advocate for some kind of purgatory - before the REAL torture begins! What utter nonsense. Talk about being blown around by “every wind of doctrine!” Did the Reformation count for nothing?

 

Too many preachers’ transfixed upon the fiery “end time” judgements of God, forget that FIRE and DEATH are inextricably linked to judgement - right “in the BEGINNING!” Yes indeed. Just as Adam and Eve received in judgement for their trespasses –DEATH, so also did Sodom and Gomorrah (the example to all) and EVERYONE going through the trial of divine, righteous judgement. And just what kind of death and judgement? Death by fire! Yes, that’s right - FIRE! The symbol of FIRE and judgement is in fact found right at the beginning of the Bible!

 

“After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”(Gen 3:24)

 

This “tree of life” (a shadow of the fullness of Christ) is guarded by FIRE! Yet this “life” bespeaks a “spiritual” realm of life, beyond what Adam already possessed. Adam was after all, already a “living soul,” and though the sentence passed him was “physical death”  it was not necessary for him to eat of “the tree of life” to be alive.

No.

 

Those Cherubim at the gate of Eden wielded a flash or a flame, such as of lightning. This flame or lightning is depicted as having the form of a “sword” by which no living human being makes his way across that dread portal! The tree of life and all that Eden represents, was guarded by the power of death, it became untouchable, divinely unapproachable. Indeed Man was condemned to live upon the cursed ground of the carnal realm, the flaming sword placed there for the express purpose of SHUTTING MAN OUT FROM LIFE! The guards of Paradise were not appointed to show man the way back to his lost heritage; rather, they were assigned their determined duty;

 

 “LEST he put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Gen. 3:22).

 

We must understand that the Cherubim speak of a REALM OF DOMINION, only obtained through CHRIST! And what of the “sword” anyway? Remember the “sword of the spirit?.” Well, the flaming sword is THE WORD! Jesus Christ is THE WORD! - THE LIVING WORD - and IN H-I-M IS LIFE! Yet we have to understand, that the flaming sword at the portal of Eden is A WORD, a DEAD WORD, it is FORM without ESSENCE, LAW without LIFE, it is “the letter” that “killeth,” it keeps men from life and shuts them up unto the dominion of death. It should not be difficult to understand that as Jesus Christ is the “Living Word” of God, the sword of the Spirit that quickens, so is the letter of the Word a deadly sword, killing, rather than quickening!

 

So, Man's approach to the realm where God dwelt was barred completely by the flaming sword - by A WORD which issued as a fiery, consuming stream from the dominion of the Cherubim. There in the midst of flaming flashes of fire (the flaming sword!) the LAW was given, which Paul in II Cor. 3:6-7 speaks of as THE MINISTRATION OF DEATH.

 

“The letter killeth,” he tells us, “but the Spirit giveth life.” After all, remember how the LAW was given? Remember the voice from Sinai? - that those who heard it begged and prayed that it might say no more, for what it commanded was more than they could bear? So fearful was the spectacle that Moses cried out as Adam did at Eden's gate, “I am terrified and tremble.”

 

Remember the terror of blinding, piercing streaks of lightning and the deafening roar of thunder, under which the whole mountain shuddered, God gave the law, the letter that killeth, the MINISTRATION OF DEATH! Fearful judgment, fierceness of fire, devouring the adversaries? - this is the message from Sinai! Gee, there’s that FIRE of Gods Judgement thing again!

 

And so we can see that “death” in Revelation, refers to those who are “spiritually dead.” Righteousness and life do not come by the law; therefore, something else must come by the law. What is it? What does the law bring forth? The law brings us to CONDEMNATION AND DEATH! “The ministration of DEATH, written and engraven in stones.” In the light of this truth can we doubt that the flaming sword at Eden's gate bespeaks a WORD OF DEATH - the LAW - the FORM OF TRUTH?

 

The flaming sword SEPARATED mankind from the presence and power of God! It shut God up from man, and man out from God! It stood between man and his lost heritage in God and said, “Stay out, keep away, no admittance!”

 

Surely this is what Paul meant when he states

 

“Is the law then to be looked upon as a contradiction of the promises? Certainly not, for if there could have been a law which gave men spiritual life then that law would have produced righteousness. But, as things are, the Scripture has all men "imprisoned" under the power of sin, so that to men in such condition the promise might be given to all who believe in Jesus Christ. Before the coming of this faith we were all IMPRISONED UNDER THE POWER OF THE LAW, with our only hope of deliverance the faith that was to be shown to us. The law was like a STRICT TUTOR IN CHARGE OF US until we went to the school of Christ and learned to be justified by Him. Once we have that faith we are COMPLETELY FREE FROM THE TUTOR'S AUTHORITY. For now that you have faith in Christ Jesus you are SONS OF GOD” (Gal. 3:21-26).

 

Yes, this “life” offered to man in “the tree of life” is a HIGHER KIND OF LIFE than the life Adam originally knew. It imparts more than the never-ending human life which Adam could have retained simply by refusing to eat the tree of knowledge. This tree of life lifts man up from the realm of humanity, from the earthly, from the physical, from the natural, and infuses him with “eternal” life, DIVINE life, the very life of GOD. Jesus is not only our life today, but He has ever been, from the very beginning, the life of God made available to man.

 

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God. The same was IN THE BEGINNING...IN HIM WAS LIFE; and the life WAS the light of men” (John. 1:1-4).

 

“That which WAS FROM THE BEGINNING, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of THE WORD OF LIFE, for the LIFE WAS MANIFESTED and we have seen it, and show unto you THAT ETERNAL LIFE which was with the Father” (I John. 1:1-2).

 

This tree of life was known in the beginning, not as the man Jesus Christ, but as THE WORD OF GOD. A little less than two thousand years ago “the WORD was MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us” (John. 1:14).This “life” is offered us ONLY in Christ. And it is available only through the most extreme means! Death! Oh yes, in order to attain life “eternal,” one MUST pass through the FIRE of DEATH! Rest assured, Revelation has a “higher” meaning to its symbology, then the idea of roasting humans forever in real fire!

 

 

 

 

 

Reinterpreting – The “second death”

 

So that’s the thing about FIRE and DEATH in Revelation. People are so accustomed to the “traditional teachings” of Christendom, that the very thought that judgment by fire might be even remotely positive, is NEVER considered The “RESURRECTION OF DAMNATION,” as it was interpreted in John 5:29 of the King James version, is commonly taught with a negative sense of foreboding and one of fearful warning and awful consternation, and there are reasons for it. 

 

Over the centuries the church system has embraced many seemingly impervious doctrines, good ones and bad ones alike. With the ravaging of time and the bombardment of religious synods many of the adopted views have changed over the centuries, often evolving beyond any semblance of their origin; those of man growing more grotesque while the others degenerate, taking on the form of the earth as they fall from heaven's glory. The less they are understood by the Spirit the more they suffer in the “guardian” care of men — one of which is THE SECOND DEATH. 

 

During the fourth century when Christendom was integrated by many of the world's religions, the meaning of REAL meaning of “the second death” began to change. Traditions established by pagan prophets, poets, and artists served as very real elements of change, not to mention the Church fathers' views. 

 

The second death has received a wide scope of speculation which range from the willingly ignorant, to the extreme liberal side of the scale today, to the ultra conservative. The willingly ignorant simply ignores the thought and hopes for the best, which is becoming a fairly popular approach. The liberal view suggests “God is all love,” and no one shall suffer any recourse for their wanton lusts and deeds.

 

The other perspective conserves the archaic school of thought by going to the opposite side of the scales, which enfolds the very graphic “R” rated scenarios of cavorting demons and naked flesh writhing in boiling, searing fire throughout eternity. The latter speaks of the hordes of unsaved men, women, and teenagers being raised from the seas, from their graves, and out of the depths of hell to receive their just dues of “eternal damnation.” (If people really believed this, we wonder why they don't euthanize their children before reaching the age of “accountability” — for wouldn't they think it a better thing for them to live only a short time now and be guaranteed eternity in paradise, rather than to live a little longer here and possibly abide in hell forever?)  Oh the theology of men!

 

The fact is, the likes of Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, and other post-Nicaean Church leaders can take much of the credit for establishing the thought of “eternal damnation” in the ranks of Christianity. Dante, of course, like an undeclared prophet, helped to strengthen this ruse. He supplied religion with ample imaginations for countless hair-singeing sermons over the centuries. His epic poem, The Divine Comedy, although seldom read or consciously considered as a major source of doctrine, seems to have become a sacred scroll to the church at large. His detailed lyrics, coupled with the works of other poets and various paintings of the master artists of the past ages, helped to rivet these graphic images into the pliable minds of the masses.

 

Among them is Virgil's poem, The Odyssey, of which Dante was greatly influenced. It went hand-in-hand with The Divine Comedy, and was a major contributing factor of this concept of hell in the western world. Until a decade ago The Odyssey was required reading in all the European and American schools. For the sake of art and literary education our nations have poisoned the minds of countless millions; and the crux of the matter is, the poison has become accepted tradition. We are beginning to see, in part, where the roots of these macabre teachings are anchored! 

 

Tradition, an almost impossible thing to overcome, has played a major acting role in the featured play of the misrepresented “Second Death.” What was it that Jesus and Paul said about men's sacred traditions: 

 

“Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” “And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mt. 15:2-3, Mark 7:9,13)

 

“And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb (of Jewish religious traditions), and called me by His grace, To REVEAL HIS SON IN ME, that I might preach Him among the heathen.” “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men...and not after Christ” (Gal. 1:14-16, Col. 2:8).

 

The truth is that regardless of one's sentiment of “eternal damnation,” or convincing arguments on hand from mistranslated portions of the Bible, the doctrine is simply not founded in truth. It is nothing more than a product of TRADITION, plain and simple.  Once the Spirit of revelation makes truth known, the scriptures explode with brilliant, dazzling life. Beyond the veil of carnal reasoning some are awakening to the voice of the Son of God and are rising victoriously to the occasion of truth! They are seeing much of the plan of God as the Book opens; of which, a portion of that plan is THE SECOND DEATH. 

 

 

 

 

 

Death by fire – the “second death”

 

So, what does this all mean? What can we conclude? Here is the truth - if we can dare to believe it. The “lake of fire/second death” is HOW God deals with the sins of humanity! It is how ALL humanity cursed by death under the “first Adam” and the “first death,” is redeemed by the “second Adam” (Christ) by means of (you guessed it) the SECOND DEATH!

 

Like the “lake of fire” itself, THE SECOND DEATH is a term found in no other area of the Bible except in the book of Revelation, and in this book of symbols it is used only four times. To make the argument again, one would think that since it is one of the foundational doctrines of most churches, we could find it sown like a blazing ribbon throughout the tapestry of the Bible, especially in the New Testament! We would expect to see many warnings to its readers and telling them to BEWARE of the Second Death....yet God strangely omits the impending danger to His

unsuspecting offspring. Most Christians don’t realize, that some early Eastern orthodox churches actually dismissed the book of Revelation all together! How did those Christians survive without it? Indeed today’s Churches live without it also due to complete lack of understanding!

 

Remember, for thousands of years God said nothing about the “Second Death.” Moses didn't mention it; the apostles did not bring it into view, except the four times John placed it in script, but not as a dreadful woe; and Jesus failed to even refer to it. Some say that Paul hints at it in his letter to the Hebrews, but Paul was not one to “hint” at anything. He was probably the most straightforward and outspoken of all the Apostles. Alluding to hints was not one of his attributes, but just the opposite. He boldly stated that he shunned not to declare the WHOLE COUNSEL of God (Acts 20:27). And let’s face it, he spoke often of the consequences of sin, but never suggested there was a place wherein the sinner would go to never return, and neither did he ever say they would be annihilated completely from existence!

 

He did say however, that certain sinners would not “inherit” the Kingdom of God, but he did not say they would never enter “into” His Kingdom as citizens. If either thought (eternal damnation or annihilation) was a part of God's counsel and the foundation of His truth to the Church, it is odd that they never surfaced in Paul's or any of the other foundational teachings in the Bible. (A few scriptures can be misconstrued as referring to annihilation, that once a person dies he is dead forever, but such thoughts do not have the substantial foundation to stand in the presence of truth. Nevertheless, many are dancing to that hopeless tune.) 

 

One would suppose if such a dreadful penalty of eternal torment stood with gaping jaws awaiting hapless man, God would have made it plain and clearly established it in every book of the Bible. But it is not to be found. What is found, however, is THE ANSWER to death — JESUS CHRIST! This is the ribbon we see sown throughout — THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE rather than THE THREAT OF ETERNAL DAMNATION. The truth is, “the Second Death” is a BENEFICIAL AGENT; for it is the very thing that DESTROYS man's greatest enemies — SIN, DEATH, AND THE GRAVE. Anything that is contrary to the Kingdom of God and separates men from Christ, finds its end in “the Lake” called “the Second Death.” 

 

“And DEATH and HELL were cast into THE LAKE OF FIRE. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:14).

 

Let us mark this fact again as we continue on, that THE LAKE OF FIRE does not cause the second death — IT IS THE SECOND DEATH. In the ultimate sense, Death is simply being void of the life of Christ Jesus. Hell, by definition of “hades,” the Greek word from which it is translated, speaks primarily of the unseen realm, the place, the abode, the home (grave) of the dead. Yip, being dead – nothing more, nothing less. And THE LAKE OF FIRE is that which both death (dying) and hell (the grave) are cast into. The next verse (Rev. 20:15) tells us there is yet some additional refuse that finds itself subjected to this misunderstood lake: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

 

What we see going into THE LAKE OF FIRE is everything that pertains to DEATH. Death itself goes; hell (the abode of the dead) goes; and everyone whose names are not written in the Book of Life shall find their place in the Lake of Fire. All death is cast into THE LAKE OF FIRE, W-H-I-C-H I-S THE SECOND DEATH.

 

This “lake” has been used as a threatening tool by religious orders for countless centuries; and it has effectively enslaved intelligent human beings by the billions, almost everyone at one time or another. We can be grateful that we have been given understanding to see it for what it is! It should not be seen as the “eternal” dread, but to the contrary, for it is humanity's hope. It is their assurance. It may well be a dreadful, foreboding thought to the carnal man, but to the spirit it is a promise of life! Be assured that Jesus will never forget those He died for (all mankind of the scattered earth), because He loves them too much for such irresponsible neglect. He has this wonderful Lake of All Consuming Fire wherein He remembers them, and into a consuming embrace, He “lights their fire.” 

 

Let us consider then, the FIRST MAN (Adam) and the SECOND MAN (Jesus Christ) as mentioned in I Corinthians 15:45-47. He is also called the LAST ADAM in the same passage. This SECOND MAN, THE LAST ADAM, reverses everything the first Adam did, whether directly or caused to happen indirectly. By one act of sin, ALL LIFE was cast into the FIRST ADAM, and all died — this was the FIRST DEATH. It was the DEATH OF LIFE. On the reverse hand, by an act of righteousness, ALL DEATH is cast into Christ the LAST ADAM, the SECOND DEATH — THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH, the DEATH OF DEATH. ALL who died to life in the first Adam shall die to that death in the last Adam — THE LAKE OF FIRE. Their death shall die, it shall cease to be, it shall be no more. The same all who died in the man of sin and death shall live in the man of righteousness and life (I Cor. 15:22). If you can do simple arithmetic, or understand the principle of balancing equal weights, it is easily seen. The ALL in the FIRST ADAM is the very same ALL in the LAST ADAM.

 

If the First Death is dying to God, to His righteousness, and to His life, then reversing the process — dying to Adam, his sin, and his death — is “the Second Death.” But how is it done? How does one die to Adam? How can a man die to sin? And what is the process of the death of death? Death to the old man Adam begins by the birth of the new man Christ in one's life. Sin dies in the fire of His Holy Spirit, wherein every soul shall be baptized. And the process of THE DEATH OF DEATH is simply THE FILLING UP WITH LIFE that which is dead. 

 

We can go further still! “The second death” IS “death and hell” CAST into “the lake of fire.” Therefore we have exactly the same meaning either way it is stated. What is the second death? It is the first death and hell cast into “the lake of fire!” The second death is not merely “the lake of fire” itself, it is the first death and hell CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE! Amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

Revealing the purposes of “spiritual” fire

 

These understandings have truly profound implications for ALL humanity! After all, receiving salvation after one dies is a total impossibility according to Christian teaching! Yet the Scriptural reality is that most of humanity will be saved in judgment after death! It is only the “Firstfruits” (God’s chosen and elect/rulers with Christ) that are saved in THIS life before the resurrection to judgment! But before we explain this further, let’s consider why this MUST be!

 

When we look at Jesus’ ministry, it is clear that there were many who did genuinely believe that Jesus was a man sent from God, and they followed Him. But why? Well, truth be told, mostly because of His miracles and healings. They were taken in by His miraculous works. On one occasion Jesus said the multitudes were more interested in the miraculous bread that filled their belly rather than any spiritual food they could have received. But, just as quick as many were to follow Jesus, likewise, many quickly turned from Him. When Jesus told them that, “the flesh profits NOTHING” and “the words that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT” (John 6:63), they decided they had enough of this Man: “From that time MANY of His disciples went back, and walked NO MORE with Him” (John 6:66).

 

Let’s be completely honest. Is that not what we see happening today? In a cutting edge culture of showmanship and consumerism, the church toady believes materialism is spiritualism! All of the preachers subscribing to this “Prosperity Gospel,” have not a clue as to what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about! The “treasures” that Jesus spoke of are decidedly NOT houses, cars, jewellery, and money. The treasures of heaven are SPIRITUAL!

 

And so we have those who were called of God and understood some of the good things of the kingdom of God, but then turned away from Christ. We have whole multitudes that heard Christ preach for years and never understood a word He said, and died that way in their sins. And we have whole nations of people who have never heard of the name of Jesus Christ. What will happen to all of these multitudes and nations that died in their sins not being worthy of the kingdom of God? God will JUDGE them, and they will all be saved! That’s what Jesus Christ is—HE’S A SAVIOUR—HE SAVES! He’s the best Saviour there ever was or ever will be. Contrary to popular Christian teaching, Jesus Christ is very good at what He does. He is a PERFECT SAVIOUR. No one will be lost when Jesus sets His hand to SAVE THE WORLD! You can take that to the bank.

 

The Church of course, HATES the idea of Jesus ACTUALLY saving the world via His perfect Judgements. That Jesus Christ is THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD, and therefore, WILL SAVE THE WORLD is tantamount to blasphemy according to “enlightened theology,” yet this should be axiomatic to even the youngest and newest minor in Christ! Sadly many Christian veterans of a half-century do not and cannot believe it.

 

One clichéd analogy Christians produce to prove that Christ can be the Saviour of the world, and yet NOT SAVE THE WORLD, goes like this:

 

“When a fireman goes into a burning building to save trapped people, what happens if these trapped people refuse to be saved? Is the fireman not still a fireman simply because some do not wish to be saved?”

 

Here we see the foolishness of the carnal mind at work desperately grasping for straws to support an unscriptural theory that Christ TRIES to save everyone (just like a fireman tries to save those trapped in a burning building), but is unable to save everyone because many REFUSE to be saved. Therefore Christ is STILL a Saviour

even if He doesn’t save everyone. See the “logic” in this analogy?

 

1. Only an insane person would prefer to be burned in literal torturing flames of fire rather than to be saved by a fireman! Christians truly believe that most of humanity will CHOOSE to be burned in the pain of literal hell fire for all ETERNITY, rather than to be saved by Jesus Christ! THEY LIE!

 

2. Any fireman worth his salt will save men, women, children, and even cats, dogs, and other pets, WHETHER THEY WANT TO BE SAVED OR NOT! Imagine a mother being told by a fireman that he left her little girl back in a burning building because the little girl didn’t want to be rescued by a fireman?

 

3. Jesus Christ does not suffer the limitations of a fireman! Jesus Christ IS GOD! God does what He WILLS and God wills to save all humanity (I Tim. 2:4 and Isaiah 46:9-11). Such stupid analogies themselves condemn the wicked and carnal minds of those who purpose them:

 

"Well if everyone is going to eventually be saved, then why should those of us who are following Christ now, not just go out and live it up? Why shouldn’t we go out and fornicate, get drunk, steal, kill, or do anything we want? Why not just enjoy life and have a happy time? Why should we obey God or pray or go to Church, or be concerned for other people now if we are all going to be saved later anyway?"

 

Talk about condemning your own darkened and unintelligent heart! Anyone asking such questions proves nothing other than the fact that they would PREFER to live a wicked life of selfish carnality and a continuous quest for physical pleasures of the flesh! They truly do not see the value of living a righteous, godly, and spiritual life nor being PURGED BY FIRE in order to live as such! They condemn themselves as being unworthy of the “Kingdom of God.!”

 

Truth be told, most Christians LOVE the world! They LOVE the flesh! Seriously, who really believes Jesus when He says that in following HIS way - “the flesh profits NOTHING?” or that “the WORDS that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT?” (John 6:63)

 

How indeed can “the lake of fire which is the second death” be literal even though we just read where Christ Himself says, “the WORDS that I speak unto you, THEY ARE SPIRIT?” Who do you think spoke those words, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death?” Was it not CHRIST?

 

Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ! The words that “the lake of fire is the second death” ARE a revelation of Jesus Christ, and Jesus told us that His words are SPIRIT. Not only are the words “lake of fire” and “second death” figurative, symbolic and metaphorical, but since this is a revelation of Jesus Christ Himself, they are of necessity also, SPIRITUAL!

 

Christendom thinks it understands the words of SPIRIT which Jesus spoke, but does it really? Notice the context of these statements of our Lord. Jesus told the Pharisees and multitudes and disciples that He was the bread of life come down from heaven. Jesus again used bread at the last supper to SYMBOLIZE His FLESH which we are to eat in order to have life. The real, literal bread was a symbol of HIS SPIRITUAL

FLESH.

 

Sorry to have to state the obvious, but what is it that Christians by the millions do every morning in churches around the world? They take communion by eating real physical bread, which at least one major denomination has been told has now been turned into real physical flesh protein, of our Lord’s physical body!

 

First of all, Christ’s BODY IS SPIRITUAL, not physical, (“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a SPIRITUAL BODY" I Cor. 15:43, and “Now this I say, brethren, that FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD” 15:50). In other words, they take something physical (bread); magically metamorphose it into something else physical (namely flesh); and think they have comprehended and achieved something SPIRITUAL!

 

Christ gave us word symbols to show us a higher spiritual teaching, namely that eating bread which gives physical life is symbolic of eating the real bread of life from heaven, the SPIRITUAL FLESH OF JESUS ("eating" and "flesh" also being symbolic of something else), which imparts SPIRITUAL LIFE....But we digress...

 

So, Jesus died for the sins of all humanity (I John 2:2). But what it seems the whole Christian world is failing to see, understand, and experience, is GETTING THE SIN OUT OF THE SINNER. How spiritually blind can we be! After Jesus has died for the sins of the world, the world continues to sin. Surely we can see from the Scriptures that God wants to first get the sin out of His Elect and then ALL his creatures.

 

If Jesus died to save sinners, is He going to save only some sinners? His chosen Elect only? By saving a few chosen elect sinners, does that make Jesus Christ, “The Saviour OF THE WORLD?” (I John 4:14) God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned Jesus “TO BE the Saviour of the world.” Will Jesus be justified by His Father if He saves only a FEW? Well, let’s read the scriptures and look at the process of salvation for ALL of humanity.

 

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened, and another book was opened which is the books of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their WORKS” (Rev. 20:12).

 

“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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:13-14).

 

Now, when the “dead... stand,” we are being presented with a “resurrection from the dead.” For this is exactly what resurrection means (anastasis in Greek means, "to stand up again"--See Strong's #386 translated 'resurrection').

 

It is in resurrection that “the dead... stand” before God. And yes, since we know Revelation is a book of spiritual symbols, we would be correct in stating that it is “the SPIRITUALLY dead” who are standing before God. Regard the aspects of this

Judgment:

 

[1] “the dead, small and great stand [resurrected] before God”

 

[2] they are judged according to the books, according to their works

 

[3] “the sea [the sea of wicked humanity] give up its [spiritually] dead”

 

[4] this includes “every man” [Gk: 'each one or 'every one' or 'every person']

 

[5] “death [the cause] and hell [the realm] are cast into the lake of fire”

 

[6] and those “not found in the Book of Life were cast into the Lake of Fire”

 

[7] this “Lake of Fire is the Second Death”

 

The Christian orthodox teaching on the “Last Judgment” is a pagan fabrication which has been deceiving Christians by the billions for two thousand years! We will now look closer at just what this lake of fire/second death is all about.

 

As we have discovered in our studies regarding “Gehenna Fire,” we know there is Judgment for both the chosen Elect NOW and the unbelieving wicked in the resurrection to Judgment LATER.

 

“For if we would judge ourselves [now, in this life], we should not be judged [with the world later]. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned [judged] with the world [at the resurrection to Judgment] (I Cor. 11:31-32).

 

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (I Pet. 4:17-18).

 

Well we see where they appear in Paul's statement that they will be “...condemned [judged] with the world.”And this is at the Great White Throne Judgment in the resurrection to Judgment, in “the lake of fire/second death.” Let’s look at some of the biblical references of judgement.

 

 

 

SOME REFERENCES TO JUDGMENT ON THE WICKED:

 

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [judgment].” (Joh 5:29)

 

“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.” (Rev 20:13)

 

“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting [eonian] life, and some to shame and everlasting [eonian] contempt [this is part of their judgement]. (Dan 12:2) 

 

“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise... For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity [judgment]: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” (Isa 26:19 & 21)

 

“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1Co 6:2)

 

“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2Pe 3:7)

 

“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Act 17:31)

 

“To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jud 1:15)

 

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27)

 

That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luk 22:30)

 

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2Pe 2:9)

 

“And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” (Act 10:42)

 

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters:” (Rev 17:1)

 

“Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” (Rev 18:10)

 

 

 

SOME REFERENCES TO JUDGMENT UPON THE ELECT:

 

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1Pe 4:17)

 

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal [Gk: eonian] judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.” (Heb. 6:1-3)

 

“I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.” (Joh 8:26) 

 

Notice that these are the doctrines of Christ, and it is “us” that are being spoken to in this verse. This "eonian judgment" is for us, first, and then the world. This world knows little or nothing about what Heb. 6:1-3 may have to say about them, at this time. Well, actually, the Church knows virtually nothing of this also, as it is not taught in Christendom that individual Christians are being judged right now as we live, and that there is no judgment for us after we are resurrected!

 

I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. (Ecc 3:17)

 

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1Co 11:31-32)

 

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Mat 7:2)

 

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer. (2Th 1:4-5) 

 

There are many Scriptures showing that there will be “Judgment” upon God's Elect and upon the wicked. We will now look at some Scriptures that show us that Judgment itself is symbolically represented to by FIRE! Yes, there is a pattern to all these scriptures that mention “fire” and “death.” They ALL have a “spiritual” application and “spiritual” applications apply to “spiritual” things! NOT physical things!

 

 

 

ALL FIRES ARE THE SAME ONE “CONSUMING FIRE” OF GOD

 

GEHENNA FIRE IS JUDGMENT:

 

“Gehenna” is a classic example of this. We have to remember that “Gehenna” (the burning rubbish dump outside Jerusalem’s walls) is a metaphor for the purging of vile, evil carnality. Jesus’ “Gehenna fire” embodies perfectly the idea of “purifying” that which needs judging! In Matt. 5:21-26 Jesus lists four ways in which we can be judged:

 

 [1] the Judgment.

 

[2] the Council. 

 

[3] Gehenna fire. 

 

[4] Prison. 

 

But hereafter in verse 29, Jesus uses Gehenna and again in verse 30. And pay close attention for what sins this “fire” is used: “...if your right EYE offend you... if your right HAND offend you...” it must be removed, or the penalty is “Gehenna fire.” In Matt. 10:28 Jesus mentions again the judgment of Gehenna. In Matt. 18:9 He again uses “Gehenna fire.”

 

 In Matt. 23:33 Jesus even warns the Pharisees (the so called “House of God”) of “Gehenna” judgement.

 

“Ye serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation [Gk: 'a tribunal, justice, JUDGMENT'] of Gehenna?”

 

And so “Gehenna fire” is clearly seen as a way in which Jesus Judges ALL sinners, and specifically, the sins of the eyes, hands, and feet. “Gehenna” fire IS JUDGMENT. What else is “Gehenna?”

 

 

 

GEHENNA FIRE IS THE FIRE NEVER QUENCHED:

 

In Matt. 9:43 & 45, the Judgment for offending with our eyes, hands, and feet is again mentioned, and here we learn that the fire of this judgment “...never shall be quenched.” It is (as we know) not “eternal” fire, but it is fire that shall not be “put out” until it “burns out” all that it is designed to purge. So “Gehenna fire” is also the notorious “unquenchable fire.” And so “Gehenna fire” and “unquenchable fire” are the same fire of JUDGMENT.

 

GEHENNA FIRE IS THE FURNACE OF FIRE:

 

“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things [those] that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41-42).

 

This is the same Judgment of Gehenna fire which is used to judge all those who offend with their eyes, hands, and feet. Here ALL who offend are put into a furnace of fire which is the same as the unquenchable fire, and the Gehenna fire.

 

 

 

GEHENNA FIRE IS EVERLASTING [EONIAN] FIRE:

 

Next notice that Judgment for offending with our eyes, hands, or feet, is once again called Gehenna fire in Matt. 18:9. But back in verse 8 this Judgment for the same sin is called “everlasting [Gk: 'aionios/eonian/age-lasting] fire.”

 

So here we have Scriptural proof that “Gehenna fire,” and “everlasting [eonian/age-abiding] fire” are one and the same fire. And so "everlasting/eonian fire" is just another term for the judgment of “Gehenna.”

 

 

 

GEHENNA FIRE/EONIAN FIRE IS THE LAKE OF FIRE:

 

When Jesus returns to this earth in glory with His holy angels (Matt. 25:31), He will come with great power to JUDGE (Rev. 19:11), and those who oppose Him will be thrown into “the lake of fire” (Verse 20). Satan also is cast into this “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:10), and “death and hell/hades” is cast into this “lake of fire” (Verse 14).

 

Now then, what “fire” does Jesus say he will use for His judgment on the goats and on the Devil and his messengers? It is “everlasting/eonian/age-abiding fire” (Matt. 25:41). Once more we have clear Scriptural proof that all these descriptions of fiery Judgment are the very same fire, and that Fire is GOD:

 

“For our God is A CONSUMING FIRE” (Heb. 12:29).

 

“Gehenna fire” is the “furnace of fire,” the “unquenchable fire,” the “everlasting  [Gk; eonian/age-abiding] fire,” and the “lake of fire,” as we just saw proven by Scripture.

 

And this fire by five names - is God's Judgment:

 

·         upon His disciples (Matt. 5:22, 29, 30)

·         upon the Pharisees (Matt. 23:33)

·         upon the chaff (Matt. 3:12)

·         upon the spiritual goats (Matt. 25:32 & 41)

·         upon trees which bear no good fruit (Matt. 7:19)

·         upon the spiritual tares (Matt. 13:40)

·         upon all the WICKED (Matt. 13:49-50)

 

Can we see that all these five “fires” are the same one fire? And  that this fire is the “Consuming Fire” of God that JUDGES BOTH US AND THE WORLD? It is clearly stated that “The lake of fire IS the second death” (Rev. 20:14 & 21:8). The “lake of fire” is JUDGMENT, and the lake of fire is “the second death.” Yes, the “SECOND death” IS GOD'S JUDGEMENTS UPON BOTH THE WICKED AND THE ELECT!

 

There is to be judgment upon the wicked and judgment upon God's Elect of The House of God. And both of these groups are judged by the spiritual fire of God Almighty, “For our God IS a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

 

 

FIRE & JUDGMENT on God's Elect:

 

“That the trial of your faith [God's Elect], being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ... judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Pet. 1:7 & 4:17).

 

 

FIRE & JUDGMENT on the UNGODLY:

 

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (II Pet. 3:7).

 

Revelation shows us that the “lake of fire” is where all sinful humanity will be “judged” (Rev. 20:13), and this lake of fire is the SECOND death:

 

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the SECOND death” (Rev. 20:14)

 

And

 

“the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the SECOND death” (Rev. 21:8).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The appointment of “the second death”

 

“And as it is appointed unto men [Gk: 'anthropose'--human, mankind] once to die, but after this the judgment”

 

This above Scripture is all-encompassing, universal, and applies to every human who has ever lived. All humanity must die once, and after that death, they must be judged. There are no exceptions, not even for mentally challenged, teens, youngsters and even infants. (Do sound-minded Christians really believe that when babies die they go to heaven and therefore, there will be millions of eternal babies [in diapers?] living in heaven for all eternity AS BABIES?) God has a way to deal with babies and infants in the Day of Judgment that will be quite equitable -- they will grow up to be adults. This is something we shall cover in another study.

 

The Chosen Elect are judged now in this Church age (I Cor. 11:31), while the unrepentant, unbelieving, mentally challenged, infants, and all other such categories, are judged in the resurrection to Judgment (I Cor. 11:32)“In that day,” as the Scriptures mention so many times;

 

“Because he hath appointed a day [called that day and the Day of the Lord in many prophesies], in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man Whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

 

Some Scriptures refer to judgment on the unrepentant, wicked, and unbelievers. Others refer to judgment on the chosen Elect of God. And still others refer to judgment on both the wicked and the Elect, but at different times.

 

Now get ready for a real revelation. There are two mysteries in Heb. 9:27 when applied to God's Elect:

 

1.What and when is the “ONCE to die?”

2.What and when is the “after this JUDGMENT?”

 

We will take up the Elect's Judgment part of this verse first.

 

We learned that “Gehenna fire,” and “unquenchable fire,” and “eonian fire,” and the “furnace of fire,” and being “salted with fire,” and “the lake of fire,” are all the same fire, and this fire is JUDGMENT. Now then, since “the lake of fire” is judgment, and the lake of fire "is" also the second death, if follows that the second death also "is" judgment. THE SECOND DEATH IS JUDGMENT, AND JUDGMENT IS THE SECOND DEATH.

 

To make this clear, Heb. 9:27 could be read like this: “And as it is appointed unto men ONCE to die, but after this the SECOND death.”

 

For that is what the second death is, JUDGMENT. Likewise then, Judgment is the SECOND death. After the ONCE to die comes the SECOND to die. Or: After the FIRST death, comes the SECOND death. Simple enough when God gives us eyes to see.

 

 

 

GOD'S ELECT MUST DIE THE SECOND DEATH THROUGH JUDGMENT

 

Most Christians believe nothing good can come from the righteous judgements of God. They perceive that He is going to throw people into a “lake of fire” which will be their SECOND death. It all seemed so frightful and final. Yet we are all destined for some form of this same “lake of fire/second death/judgment.” As we have stated, God's Elect MUST also die the SECOND death!

 

“For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.” (Rom. 8:13)

 

Paul puts people into two options (based on God's foreknowledge):

 

OPTION ONE is for the wicked world: “For if you live after the flesh, you shall DIE...” Not only will they die, because “it is appointed to men once to die” (Heb. 9:27), but after they die, they will then come up in the resurrection to judgment, which is the “lake of fire/second death” (Rev. 20:13-14).

 

OPTION TWO is for God's Elect: “...but if you through the Spirit do mortify [kill, put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13). Therefore, in the resurrection, “...you shall not be hurt of the second death” (Rev. 2:11). “...and he that has part in the first resurrection on such the second death has no power” (Rev. 20:6).

 

“The second death” is not a literal death of the physical body - neither for the Elect nor the Wicked. It is a death of the carnal mind, the heart of sin, the nature of sin! Our literal, physical flesh and blood does not die a second time. But all character flaws associated with sin must die: All believing Elect Saints of God must DIE TO THE FLESH OF THE CARNAL MIND. Death is the daily life of the Believer!

 

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

 

“I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die DAILY ['daily am I dying'--Concordant Version]” (I Cor. 15:31).

 

“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed ['we are put to death'--Concordant Version] all the DAY LONG; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Rom. 8:36).

 

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life ['die'] for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25).

 

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live [Paul was spiritually dead, 'crucified,' yet he still lived 'now... in the flesh' and was growing spiritually in Christ] in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

 

“As unknown, and yet well known; as dying [a spiritual SECOND death], and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed” (II Cor. 6:9).

 

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (I Pet. 2:24).

 

“And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24).

 

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I [am crucified] unto the world ['love not the world,' I John 2:15-16]” (Gal. 6:14).

 

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Phil. 3:10).

 

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify

the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13).

 

“Always bearing about in the body [our body] the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (II Cor. 4:10-11).

 

“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments [worldliness] of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances” (Col. 2:20).

 

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which DIE in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13).

 

“Mortify [deaden, put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

 

But how can we be sure that all these scriptures really have reference to “the second death,” seeing that not one of them actually mentions a “second death?” Well, just connect the dots!

 

1. “The second death” IS Judgment, and Judgment after the resurrection is called “the second death.”

 

2. “The lake of fire” IS “the Second Death,” and we too go through the “lake of Fire” (also called, Gehenna fire, eonian fire, etc.), so we too go through “the second death” (dying to ones-self) and the above Scriptures refer to the Judgment of “death” on God's Elect.

 

3. We will see that this second death” comes after a previous (first) death, and therefore can only be a “second” death. Notice how our “death” is linked with fire. Yes even as Gods elect are firstly “dead” in their sins (the first death) so when we are called to son ship, we must die to the flesh (the second death) in order to gain LIFE!

 

 



GOD'S ELECT MUST DIE THE SECOND DEATH IN FIRE

 

After all, Jesus taught that “Gehenna fire” is first applicable to US, His Disciples & Elect:

 

“But I say unto you [Christ's disciples, the Elect, YOU, right now] ...shall be in danger of Gehenna fire” (Matt. 5:22).

 

“And if thy right eye offend you [the eye of a disciple, any true follower of Jesus Christ] ...thy whole body [body of His disciples, that's us] should be cast into Gehenna” (Verse 29-30).

 

The Apostle James actually sheds light on what Jesus said with regards to “Gehenna/Hell fire” and the judgement we MUST endure.

 

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it [the tongue] is set on fire of hell [Gk: Gehenna].

 

Why is this important? How indeed is the tongue set on fire by “Gehenna?” What does that mean? The answer is found in the whole chapter beginning with verse 1:

 

“My brethren, be not many masters [teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation [Gk: krima, condemnation, judgment]” (James 3:1).

 

We have to understand, that God’s elect are held to a much higher standard! Teachers must be very careful in what they teach, the words that come out of their mouth, because if they are not correct words, then their Judgment will be much more severe than with others. Now verse 2:

 

“For in many things we [James includes himself] offend all. If any man [including himself] offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).

 

It is the “words” that are spoken by the “tongue” that will come into Judgment.

 

Notice what Jesus taught:

 

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are things which defile the man” (Matt. 15:18-20).

 

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).

 

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”(Matt. 12:34).

 

And what does Jeremiah tell us is the disposition of the universal heart of man?

 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked [Heb: 'exceedingly weak']: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).

 

Jesus used the examples of our eyes, hands, and feet that are used as instruments of offense, and must therefore be spiritually “cut off.” And this spiritual cutting off occurs in “Gehenna fire.”

 

James is merely adding another member of our bodies, “the tongue,” into this same symbolic teaching. Notice how James likens the destructive power of just “little things” in nature, to the very small tongue of the human body:

A literal very small bit in a horse’s mouth can turn the whole body of the beast, with very little effort (James 3:3).

 

A literal very small helm [rudder] can turn great ships in fierce winds, with very little effort (Verse 4).

 

A literal little fire can burn a great amount of material, even a whole forest, with very little effort (Verse 5).

 

And so the metaphor, “the tongue is a fire,” (the tongue is not a literal fire), means that it is like a literal fire in certain ways. What ways? [1] “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity” and it [2] “defiles the whole body” and [3] “sets on fire the course [wheel] of nature” (Verse 6)

 

The phrase “course of nature” is translated as “the wheel of our natural life” by Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, and as “the wheel of our lineage” by The Concordant Literal New Testament. The meaning is something like Elton John's song “The Circle of Life” from Disney's, The Lion King.

 

And James informs us that no man can tame this little monster called “the tongue.” For if he could, then he would be “a perfect man, and able to bridle [to curb, conquer, and control] the whole body” (Verse 2).

 

And what is the solution to “bridling the tongue” (which speaks for and in behalf of the deceitful "heart")? Why to “fight fire with fire.” Set the tongue on fire with Gehenna fire-Gehenna JUDGMENT! (Verse 6). Right there is the solution to the whole enigma of what is “Gehenna fire;” what is “eonian” [falsely called everlasting] fire; and what is “the LAKE of fire.”

 

So “Gehenna fire” is first and foremost for Christ's disciples (the Elect), and is first taught by Jesus on the sermon on the mount TO His disciples. That’s why it can’t be “literal fire,” nor is it “everlasting fire.” And so “Gehenna fire” has nothing to do with eternal torture, but rather with eonian chastisement and Judgment-for “the House of God's elect,” now, and for those who “obey not the Gospel of God,” in the Judgment of Gehenna/lake of fire, later.

 

The Lord knows all too well how severe the trials and tribulations of life can be, but take heart, for the purging fire of “Gehenna” is NOTHING like that which the Church teaches! Read the following with a fresh pair of eyes!

 

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches” (Rev. 3:18-22).

 

Yes, Jesus’ fiery judgment IS restorative justice, and not only that, but Jesus said this fire was “...already kindled” during His ministry (Luke 12:49). Yes, Jesus comes to us as a Comforter, but also as a Refiner. All the symbolic, spiritual fires of Scripture are the same fire. The fire of “Gehenna,” “eonian fire,” “unquenchable fire,” “furnace of fire,” “salted with fire,” “fire already kindled,” “God's consuming fire,” “chaff burning fire,” “tares burning fire,” “fiery trials, “ministry of flaming fire,” and “lake of fire” are all the same spiritual consuming fire of God. And they all accomplish the same thing--THEY PURIFY!

 

“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when He appears? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:2-3).

 

Notice that Jesus is returning to “purify the sons of Levi” - not Levi, but Levi's sons. Just who are these sons of Levi that Jesus will purge when He comes?

 

Can we still remember that “the words that I [Jesus] speak unto you, they ARE SPIRIT” (John 6:63)? Who are these sons that Jesus is first going to purge? Remember that the Levites were the priests under the Old Covenant. Malachi was the last book written before Jesus brought the New Covenant. Now, under the New Covenant, Jesus Christ is the High Priest, and we, the Elect, are the priests under Him:

 

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet. 2:5 & 9).

 

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).

 

And yet again, the apostle Paul tells us how this spiritual Refiner's fire will purify and save us:

 

“Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (I Cor. 3:13-15).

 

Of course, the apostle Peter was well aware of God's trials by fire:

 

“That the trial of your faith [the 'your' being all the Elect House of God], being much more precious than of gold that perishes though it be tried with fire” (I Pet. 1:7).

 

“Beloved [God's Elect], think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” (I Pet. 4:12).

 

Fiery trials will try God's Chosen Elect and here’s the clincher! If you aren't tried in this spiritual fire that Jesus had already kindled during His ministry, then you are not Jesus' disciple!

 

There is a repetitive phrase (with slight variations) used in the book of Revelation, which confirms that, the testimony, witness, and prophecy of Jesus Christ, is for all ages:

 

“ am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).

 

And so, when Jesus says:

 

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:18-19)

 

As we know from our last study, Jesus is assuredly speaking to those in the first century. Yet...and YET, He is decidedly speaking also to those in the last two thousand years and to us today! These prophecies spoken to the Seven Churches of Asia are spoken to the entire Church through all the centuries!

 

The likeness of gold being refined and purified with fire is used several times in Scripture to show us that we must ALL go through a similar process to that of purifying precious metals under extreme heat and pressure, which produce a product of great price and value.

 

 

 

 

The burning coal

 

But if we are still unsure of Gods intentions when subjecting His “elect” to “cleansing” by fire, then consider Isaiah!

 

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. (Isaiah 6:5-7)

 

Surely we can again see the “pattern” of fire and judgement exemplified by Isaiah’s office of Prophet. This altar of incense from which the seraphim (burning ones) took the burning coal, was the heavenly reality of the earthly tabernacle (Exodus 30:1-10)

 

Yes, the altar of “fire” is where unclean men find cleansing and purging from sin. It was Isaiah who was taught that all purity flows from God alone. It was a burning coal from the altar that cleansed Isaiah’s lips.  “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”

 

One would think that such an action would cause immense PHYSICAL pain. The Church still does! Let’s face it, a burning hot coal applied to the lips, one of the more sensitive areas of the body?  Yet, nothing is written that Isaiah reacted in pain! Can someone say SYMBOL!

 

Isaiah knew he did not serve the LORD like these seraphim, the burning ones. So God said, “I will light a fire in you, also!” That is why a burning coal was used to purify Isaiah. Jehovah, who is a consuming fire, can only fitly be served by those who are on fire, whether they be angels or men!

 

Isaiah was not alone in seeing God’s throne. Almost everyone in the Bible who had a vision of heaven and wrote about heaven spoke of God’s throne. The prophet Michaiah saw God’s throne (1 Kings 22:19), Job saw God’s throne (Job 26:9), David saw God’s throne (Psalm 9:4 and 7, 11:4), the Sons of Korah saw God’s throne (Psalm 45:6, 47:8), Ethan the Ezrahite saw God’s throne (Psalm 89:14), Jeremiah saw God’s throne (Lamentations 5:19), Ezekiel saw God’s throne (Ezekiel 1:26, 10:1), Daniel saw God’s throne (Daniel 7:9)

 

And guess what?  The Apostle John saw God’s throne too! (Revelation 4:1-11). Can’t we GET IT INTO OUR HEADS THAT THIS IS ALL SYMBOLIC! – that Revelation IS a book of SYMBOLS! In fact, the book of Revelation may as well be called “the book of God’s throne,” because God’s throne is specifically mentioned more than 35 times!

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

So, painful as it is, aren't we glad God has, and still is in the process of consuming us by His cleansing, transforming fire? We have learned what a good thing fire is in our own lives, whether it is for light, for warmth, or for purging. What then, causes one to believe it will not be a glad day, yet painful like our own, for the rest of the world in the “lake of fire?” It is strange how people can see the good of God's fire in their own lives during this age of preparation, but they fail to see it in other's in the age to come.

 

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the HOLY GHOST, and WITH FIRE” (Mt. 3:11).

 

It is just as accurately translated, “He shall baptize you with the HOLY GHOST, even FIRE,” indicating the Holy Spirit and “fire” are one and the same thing.

 

The HOLY SPIRIT of God is the HOLY FIRE of God; and whatsoever the HOLY FIRE OF GOD touches, it either burns up or refines. It either destroys or changes; usually both, by destroying sin and changing the sinner. Anytime the SPIRIT IS ACTIVATED, FIRE PROCEEDS FROM THE THRONE — WAVES OF FLAME SURGE FROM THE LAKE OF FIRE. HIS PRESENCE IS FIRE, HIS WORD IS FIRE, and HIS MINISTERS ARE FLAMES OF FIRE.

 

A sermon ministered in the Spirit is a WORD OF FIRE. A song that is sung in the Spirit is a SONG OF FIRE. An act of love (not carnal) is a PASSION OF FIRE. The life of His ministers are FIREBRANDS IN THE EARTH. There can be nothing said, sung, or done in the Spirit that does not change or destroy something inwardly or outwardly; for the SPIRIT IS FIRE, and everything fire touches it effects one way or the other. It consumes the wood, hay, and stubble while refining the precious metals of the Lord!

 

Know this. The punishment by penal fire leads back to the beginning of things. The final work of God in this world will be the destruction of the world (order) by penal fire! That will change all things. That will melt all the elements, so that no man can tell you where his original grab was. It will burn up all the governments, institutions, systems, and fruitage of the carnal mind. It will melt all the customs, cultures, traditions, and practices of society and make of this earth a new earth wherein dwells righteousness.

 

Every man's work will eventually be tested in this fire. The fire will try every man's work of what sort it is. If you and I build into our walls wood, hay, and stubble, that fire will find it out, and the wall will come tumbling down. When God turns on the HEAT, the BLAZING LIGHT OF HIS SPIRIT AND WORD - some things begin to change! The fire is never sent to destroy the PERSON, but to purge out all that hinders and separates him from his God, to consume the pride, arrogance, hostility, defiance, and rebellion of the flesh, the carnal mind, that He might then be wooed and drawn by the Holy Spirit unto the Father of Spirits and live.

 

If you think the Kingdom of God is rosewater, or eau-de-cologne, you are mistaken. You cannot war on the devil with that. You cannot war on the carnal minds of men with that. You have to make war on the world, the flesh, and the devil with a sword sharper than any two edged sword. You have to make war on the carnal mind with fire, divine fire that must burn up every inherent altar of Baal, and lick up the very dust around.

 

Make no mistake! OUR GOD is a consuming fire! He is man's “horse breaker” and He will break you and bring you to the foot of the cross of Jesus no matter how hot He has to build the fire around you! Even if long ages of fiery judgment and tormenting darkness fall upon you, they will last no longer than till the Great Fire of God has melted all arrogance into humility, and all that is self has died in the bloody sweat and all-saving cross of the Christ, which will never give up its redeeming power till sin and sinners have no more a name among the creatures of God.

 

Can we now open the eyes of our understanding to see that everything cast into the lake of fire pertains to DEATH? Death itself is cast into the lake of fire. Hell, the realm of the dead, is cast into “the lake of fire.” And those whose names are not written in the Book of Life, those who are dead, in trespasses and in sins, who inhabit hell, are cast into the lake of fire. That is the end of death and hell and sin, for God shall destroy death in the lake of fire, He shall burn up hell in the lake of fire, and He shall consume sin and rebellion in the lake of fire. How I long to see the end

of sin and death and hell!

 

The time is coming, when God's Kingdom shall be “All in All” and there shall be neither sin, nor sinners, nor death, nor hell. It is clear that God does not destroy men in “the lake of fire,” nowhere does it say that, for that would be a contradiction of terms. How can you destroy death by creating death? How can you abolish death by bringing men under the power of eternal death from which there is no escape? Oh, no, it is not men who are destroyed in “the lake of fire” - it is SIN and DEATH and HELL that are destroyed. “And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:26). Thus, the lake of fire is nothing more nor less than THE DEATH OF DEATH!

 

The first Adam died to God and righteousness, and became alive unto sin. The last Adam died unto sin (Rom. 6:10), and lives unto God, and so fulfils all righteousness. The first made all men sinners, the last makes all men righteous. The lives and the deaths of the two Adams are thus greatly contrasting the one to the other. The FIRST DEATH was a transition from life to death, the SECOND DEATH is a transition from corruption to incorruption, from mortality to immortality. Transformed from the “carnal mind” to the “spiritual mind,” which is life and peace, which transformation is wrought by a dying out to the one realm, to come alive to the higher realm. Because – “the second death” is prepared to purge out and burn away sin and its results, and so doing, cleanse all of Gods universe.

 

Whatever we hold as the nature of the death state, may we let this truth sink deep into our hearts: DEATH IS TO BE ABOLISHED. Again -  “The LAST enemy that shall be destroyed is death” overthrows the whole structure of accepted, but unproved, theology which shuts up the mass of the human race in “eternal death.”

 

No more death! No more first death. No more second death. No more of any kind of death. To say there is no more death is to say that there are no more sinners, for sinners are DEAD MEN, dead in trespasses and in sins. To say there is no more death is to say that God has not “burned up” all the wicked and left them dead, or in hell, for as long as any creature of God is in a state of death, death is not abolished. To say there is no more death is to say there is no more hell, for hell is “the realm of the dead.” To say there is no more death is to say there is no more a lake of fire, for the “lake of fire” IS “the second DEATH.” To say there is no more death is to say there is no more sin, for “the wages of sin is DEATH.” What a universe of truth is contained in three little words: NO MORE DEATH!

 

Yet, perhaps we are getting carried away? Perhaps we are drawing to unsubstantiated conclusions regarding the righteous judgements of a Holy God, who cannot and will not tolerate the presence of sinners? After all, aren’t we forgetting the explicit imagery of TORMENT and “outer darkness,” of the “gnashing of teeth?”

 

“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 forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).

 

Oh yes, the TORMENT is real! The PUNNISHMENT is real! This “lake of fire” IS real! It is within this very “body” of fire that God shall pour out all His wrath and indignation upon the temporal evils that He in wisdom allowed to flourish upon the face of the earth! Yet there is MUCH more left to discern about the “lake of fire” than just its fiery elements. What about the symbol of a “lake” itself? Few rarely understand the parabolic symbolism of “the sea” found throughout the scriptures. Few understand the “torments” of the seas and their pertinence to the “testing” and “trying” of Mans resolve and worth – let alone that Jesus alone wields the power to “calm the stormy seas.”

 

There is a reason why the Book of Revelation (the book of the full revealing of JESUS CHRIST) reintroduces to the seven churches - the Old Testament “lake” of judgement! We shall look into the meaning of these symbols next. Maybe only then, will we understand how “...the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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