Saturday, September 29, 2007

Is hell separation from God?

Read this, from the Desiring God Blog.

Regarding hell, consider what is recorded in Revelation 14:9-10:

“And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.’”

Those in hell, who worshiped the beast, are “tormented…in the presence of the Lamb.” Doesn’t this suggest that, in some way, God is present even in hell? Certainly this view would accord with the testimony of David, who wrote in Psalm 139:7-8,

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

Consider, also, these verses of Scripture:

Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

Isaiah 33:14, “The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: ‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?’”

Hebrews 12:29, “…our God is a consuming fire.”

These and other Scriptures suggest to me that one great reason hell is the place of torment that it is to the lost sinner is because God is there. How grateful we should be, who have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus bore the wrath of God on the cross, we shall spend eternity in the presence of God without ever seeing His wrath. We shall never experience the “everlasting burnings”.

1 comment:

James said...

There's separation and then there's separation. Irremediable removal from fellowship with God and then removal from before the eye of God.

I think you are correct in identifying that a big part of Hell is being continually before the eye of God as judge. Think what it shall be to have the conscience pricked, shown plainly all of God's perfections, shown plainly how in these perfections He invited us to know His mercy and to know Him, and then in that moment of perfect awareness and clarity about God, also to become clear about ourselves. To know the extent of our wickedness. To know how utterly impossible it is for us to remedy our own plight and how the door has been permanently closed to us: it is appointed for us to die once, then after that the judgment.

And then there's the inescapability of it. That first moment of horror is followed by another. And then another. And our sharpened consciences realize that every response that we are having is sinful, resentful, hostile, rebellious--that we are incapable of good, and we do not care to be capable of it. And our souls become more and more demonic. Moment upon moment becomes age upon age, our eyes ever widening at the horror of it all.

And yet there is a danger in viewing Hell as some internal, psychological state. You touched upon the immensely important and inexplicably downplayed dimensions of Hell's objectivity. It includes objective torture from without, not just subjective torture within. If God did not pour this out, He would not be just. But He is. And it is an objective place. A place that people will go and be. A place into which God will cast them. It is not simply an eternal state of mind or existence. It shall have a location.

It is an astonishing thing that many of us know this, and yet as people around us pass continually from time into eternity we say nothing. Can the love of God really dwell in us who are bystanders to such calamity as it befalls our neighbors?