Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Lake of Fire – B

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will continue to address The Lake of Fire

The Purpose of the Lake of Fire.

Ok, so the possibility of the duration of the Lake of Fire has been discussed. Lets take a quick look at the purpose of the lake of fire and see if we can get instruction from the passage

First off, the verses under consideration

and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:10

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

According to Revelation 21:8, who is in the Lake of Fire. Read the list again. And what is their “portion”?

Portion, or the Greek word meros, according to Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words is defined as

Part (Noun, a Portion; Verb, to Give or Divide, Partake): denotes (a) “a part, portion,” of the whole, e.g., Jhn 13:8Rev 20:622:19; hence, “a lot” or “destiny,” e.g., Rev 21:8; in Mat 24:51Luk 12:46, “portion;”

This portion, is a part of a whole. A whole what? Is John speaking of the age? Their portion of the age is to suffer? Their portion of the suffering is the age? I’m asking questions, and I am not gonna build an entire thought on this definition, but some of this may supplement the thoughts provided in the previous post on the duration of the age.

On to the description of the Lake of Fire.

Jesus used the same two terms defining the judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah in Luke 17:29

but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all – Luke 17:29

This is the only other instance I can find the terms “fire and sulfur” combined and this judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah is also described by both Moses and Jude.

Moses writes of Abrahams experience.

Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. – Genesis 19:24

And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. – Genesis 19:28

Moses recites to the the Israelites the history of the doomed cities.

the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath– – Deuteronomy 29:23

Jude speaks of that terrible judgement in verse 7 of his epistle

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. – Jude 1:7

A few items to glean from the above verses

  • Sulfur and fire rained down on Sodom & Gomorrah.
  • Abraham looked back and saw the smoke rising. Smoke is evidence of a fire, but may not include the fire.
  • Moses speaks of the result of the land burned out with brimstone (sulfur) and salt, the utter wastefulness of the land
  • Jude speaks of the punishment of eternal fire.

If hope you noticed what I missed for years. Jude speaks of eternal fire, and yet Moses implies the fire was over, only smoke arising from the ashes, and the result was a wasteland, not a continual fire. So what gives? How can Jude speak of the fire as being eternal?

He isn’t! Two things are going on here, as best as I can tell.

First, the term eternal in Jude is the same term (aiōnios) we tripped over in our last post. This term is often translated as “age” and may not be referring to a never ending condition. This may be helpful, but to describe the fire of Sodom as age long still doesn’t help me with Moses statement of Abraham looking back and seeing smoke (and not fire)

Secondly, the term term (aiōnios) is modifying the punishment, not the fire. The punishment was eternal, or better stated, the punishment was age-long.

Ok, I think we slipped into the duration description again but I’m sure you will forgive me.

Back to the Purpose of the Lake of Fire. Two terms will be addressed for your consideration.

Torment

Torment, in the New Testament, is the translation of the Greek word basanizō, G928 and has the following definition from Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

VerbStrong’s Number: g928Greek: basanizo

Pain (Noun and Verb):primarily signifies “to rub on the touchstone, to put to the test” (from basanos, “a touchstone,” a dark stone used in testing metals); hence, “to examine by torture,” and, in general, “to distress;” in Rev 12:2, “in pain,” RV (AV, “pained”), in connection with parturition.
See TORMENT. (In the Sept., 1Sa 5:3.).

The original meaning of torment was the “action of an inspector who sought to test the quality of gold and silver coins” Heaven’s Doors, George Sarris, page 183. It is interesting that the purpose of the torture is testing, not punishment. Not retribution but testing. There is a difference!

Sulfur

Mr. Sarris referred to a web site describing the purposes of sulfur which I found somewhat interesting, with the following except

Sulphur was used by pagan priests 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. Pre-Roman civilizations used burned brimstone as a medicine and used “bricks” of sulphur as fumigants, bleaching agents, and incense in religious rites. Pliny (23-27 A.D.) Reported that sulphur was a “most singular kind of earth and an agent of great power on other substances,” and had “medicinal [sic] virtues” (Cunningham 1935:17). The Romans used sulphur or fumes from its combustion as an insecticide and to purify a sick room and cleanse its air of evil (Cunningham 1935). The same uses were reported by Homer in the Odyssey in 1000 B.C.

In summary, it appears the ancient reader, whom John was writing to, may have understood the Lake of Fire somewhat differently that us moderns do.

  • The duration of the Lake of Fire may be age-long and not “eternal” as in our current way of thinking
  • The purpose of the Lake of Fire on the one suffering may be of
    • testing
    • purifying
    • a medicinal quality
    • a cleansing agent.

At the very least, some of these findings have provided much to consider in my musings and have been offered to my reader to consider.

If you have comments, please supply below. Thanks for reading and hope to see you again next time.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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