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Hell & its features

By Nelson Thomas Mumbai

Summary: - Though different terms have been used to indicate the place where sinners reach after death, one this sure, hell is a reality. It’s a distinct place prepared originally for Satan & evil angels. It is wise to know its horrible state and escape through the only way God has set. In this study you will find 4 main sections: Different terms, seven things, the occupants & the response.

Introduction: -
     Modern man may find it difficult to digest anything about life after death, especially hell! Some think hell and heaven are in this world itself. According to them all those who live in plenty are in heaven and those who suffer are in hell!
      Some others just refuse to even consider this topic, may be due to the dreadful picture hell portraits. Yet it is a reality Bible reveals and we cannot afford to be ignorant of it.
      Remember, one cannot simply escape hell by avoiding this topic. The Bible says very clearly that, there is a distinct place where all the sinners are heading to. Explaining it away is not the solution either. Boldly and sincerely we need to seek the sacred pages to know what hell is and how to escape its terror.

Different terms

Because of the many terms used in the Bible, there is little difficulty in studying about hell. We do have an idea about hell; it is a place of torment / punishment. There are some bible passages where ‘hell’ is mentioned but actually it is not really hell. So it’s good to see the different words used to denote the state of the dead, before we can understand more about hell.

a. ‘Sheol’

This Hebrew word occurs 65 times in the Bible, 31 times translated ‘grave’; 31 times ‘hell’; and 3 times ‘pit’.(KJV). The general idea this term - ‘sheol’ - gives is “The place of the dead” whether righteous or wicked. Cf. Psalm.16:10 —righteous; Psalm.9:17 —wicked.

b. ‘Hades’
     This Greek word occurs 11 times in the New Testament. Mostly translated ‘hell’; once only translated ‘grave ‘/ ‘Hades’. (KJV / NKJV).
     Greek people of olden times considered ‘Hades’ as a place for all the dead in the depth of the earth; which is closed, dark where there is no joy but ruled over by Pluto.
     Both these terms – ‘sheol’ & ‘hades’ - actually do not depict the place of eternal punishment as we understand. Both refer to the place or the state of the dead, righteous as well as the wicked.Many scholars believe that ‘sheol’ or ‘hades’ is a place which is divided in to two department, one is called ‘paradise’ or ‘Abraham’s bosom’ for the good, and the other place of torment for the bad. Luke.16:22; 23:24.
      After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteous of the paradise were transferred to His presence in Heaven. Ephesians.4:8—10. But the wicked dead are kept in Hades / Sheol till the judgment of the wicked at the white throne in future.
     So in short we can say, ‘Sheol’ / ‘Hades’ refer to the place or the state of the dead.

c. ‘Gehenna’

This Greek word has been used 12 times in the New Testament and always translated ‘hell’ referring to the eternal state of the unbelievers after resurrection. ‘Gehenna’ in Greek is a transliteration of Hebrew word ‘ge-hinnom’ meaning ‘valley of Hinnom’.
     There was a valley which belongs to one ‘Hinnom’ outside the city gate of Jerusalem. Solomon built a temple for gods here. 1King.11:7, 8; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6. The LORD God punished them there. Jeremiah.7:31. Later it became a dumping ground, all the filth of the city, even dead bodies were thrown here and burnt. Jeremiah.19:1—3. Thus the ‘valley of Hinnom’ was a place associated with all kinds of filth, fire and judgment. The Lord Jesus used this as a fitting term to indicate the place of eternal punishment.
     Apart from these three words there are many other phrases that indicate the idea of eternal punishment. Whatever confusion be there over different terms, hell as we understand is a place of eternal torment. That is a real, literal place where all the wicked will have to go one day. It is necessary to have a glimpse of hell not only to be saved from such perpetual punishment but also to be burdened to snatch others away from there.

Seven things
     The following seven facts about hell give us a clear description of what it is.
1. It is a prepared place for devil and his angels. Matthew.25:41.
      God never made hell for man, but devil deceitfully taking away man along with him to hell. "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41 2. It is a place of punishment. Matthew.25:46
“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46 3. It is a place of torment /torture. Luke.16:23.
“And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:23
     Do not consider just like our jail today as place of punishment. Some are happy to be in a jail! They get free food and accommodation, even security too!! But in hell you will be tormented day and night, forever. Revelation.20:10Five things used to intensify sufferings in hell:
a. Fire. Matthew.13:42.
Furnace is not simply fire. To see what furnace is visit a steel plant and see how they melt the iron ore. (Raw materials). It’s non-stop fire, not quenched for any moment, it’s fuel not finished. And the surprising thing is one is not being consumed even though burning out! What a terrible place it would be!
b. Brimstone/ Sulphur. Revelation.19:20; 21:8.
This is to intensify the heat. Also it produces an unbearable smell.
c. Darkness. Matthew.8:12; 22:13; 25:30.
Fire burning, yet no light!
d. Smoke. Revelation. 14:11; 9:2.
This thick smoke may be the cause for darkness. It will disturb or suffocate the victims.
e. Worms. Matthew.9:44—49.
Notice three times reference to ‘worms’ repeated. Thus, it is a very terrible place of torment. Notice, how The Lord Jesus warns the listeners in Matthew.9:44—49. Even if it is necessary to take any drastic step, it is essential to escape the hell-fire. It’s worth to sacrifice even the most cherished things to get away from this place of torment. ‘Cut off the hands’ speaks of the way we should consider our body, our interest so that those things may not hinder our effort to run away from hell.
4. It’s a large place. Revelation.19:20; 21:8
      It’s like a ‘lake’ - enough to contain all the wicked of the earth. Something like a large pond. Cf. Isaiah.5:14; Proverbs.27:20.
5. It’s a place of prayer and lamentation. Matthew.13:42.
     Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth etc. Observe, in hell people are conscious – not unconscious. They are fully aware of the pain, suffering and the surroundings.
     They recognize each other, remember the past. Even the memory will haunt them. They will pray. Cf. Luke. 16:27. Rich man prayed for water, also for the salvation of his brethren. But no use of prayer in hell, we need to pray today. Remember, story of Luke 16:27, shows that thousands of souls in hell crying, ‘please do not come here’!
6. There will be different degree of punishment. Matthew.10:15; Mark.6:11; Luke.10:12.
     We do not know much about it, but the scripture says, righteous God in His sovereign plan and righteousness will give more severe punishment to those who deliberately chose to reject Christ and the way of salvation. We should never forget even judgment itself is due to the willful rejection of salvation. John 3:19ff.
7. It’s a place of eternal separation. 2Thessalonians.1:9.
      The occupants of hell will be separated from God and His blessings forever. “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” 2Thessalonians 1:9.
     All those who neglect the precious opportunity today to repent and return to God will regret forever being alienated from God forever. How important it is to know its seriousness and make use of the time today.
     The above mentioned 7 things show, how terrible is the condition of hell! Notice that we can never fully describe heaven in our words — it’s so much better, in the same way, we can never describe hell in our words, for it’s so worse!

The occupants
Who will be the inhabitants of hell?
     As mentioned earlier, Devil and the evil angels were the proposed occupants of hell. Matthew.25:41. Naturally all those who follow Satan will definitely be there. One scripture portion tells it categorically: “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation. 20:15.
     The basic reason for a person to be found in the eternal hell fire is not because he is a sinner. God in His love and mercy provided man a way out from the bondage of sin and its consequences. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” Romans 8:1. The Lord Jesus Christ took our punishment on the cross and it is wisdom to acknowledge Him as the saviour and be saved. Romans 10:9, 10.
     Yet man deliberately chooses to follow a path of rebellion and disobedience. And thus step by step they end up in eternal destruction. The Lord Jesus Christ declared, “And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John.3:19.

What shall we do in view of the truths about hell presented here?
i. Escape.
     Is it not utter foolishness to do nothing about the danger that we know well! We cannot run away from this awful peril on our own effort. Seek the Saviour who can deliver us from this horrifying destination - hell. There is only one Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ Jesus who came to save sinners. All who trust in Him confessing their sins and yielding to His Lordship will be saved. Cf. 1Timothy 1:15; John 5:24; Romans 10:9, 10.
ii. Worship.
How can we keep quite when we realize the horribleness of the hell from where the Lord Jesus saved us in His grace? Every saint who considers these truths will burst out in worship and adoration with wonder and gratitude.
How we ought to thank and praise God for the wonderful work of salvation we have received. It’s purely by His grace we have been saved through faith in Christ our Lord. God in His eternal love and compassion accomplished the work of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Cf. Romans 11: 33ff; Colossians 1:12ff; Revelation 5:9ff.
iii. Witness.
What kind of person is he who refuses to warn a person who moves towards a danger in ignorance? Knowledge of this terrible place should prompt us to counsel our fellow being that they too may be saved from this eternal judgment. Act 4:12; 16:30, 31; 17:30ff; Jude 20—23.

     Dear reader, you have just read enough details about hell as revealed in the word of God. The happiness that you enjoy today, the perfect health of your body and all the other satisfying things of the present days may disappear in a moment of time. Do not wait for the last moment to consider our life beyond the grave. God loves you and asks you, “Why should you die?” Ezekiel 18: 23, 31. Be saved from this eternal destruction.

Related topics::-

Salvation: - According to the Bible - A study // “Be Saved” - Apostle Peter’s Passionate Call based on Act 2:40' // Now you can be saved



More:- An index for all studies

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Hell & it's features