They Know Not Anything

“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” – Ecclesiastes 9:5

Death is a foreign invader. It was never meant to be a part of this world. It does not belong. The masses are sensitive to this fact. Death is regarded as an object of fear. There are few who can state that they do not fear it without speaking lies. To close one’s eyes in darkness and pass from the land of the living is a thought which many regard as unpleasant. It would seem a natural thing to regard it as undesirable.

As though we have been programmed with self-preservation mechanisms, we find ourselves seeking to avoid it at all costs. We as a species pursue an endless quest for longevity, executing every means within our power to increase the length of our lives. Although not all of us do this, many may still be found in pursuit of immortality; seeking out every means within reach to end aging and demolish disease. It is because death is a foreign invader that does not belong on this world that we as human beings do this.

This did not always exist. In the book of Genesis we read, “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” – Genesis 3:22-24.

When mankind was created, he was placed in the garden of Eden. In this garden there was something called the “tree of life.” As long as human beings ate from it, they were enabled to have immortality. Were access to the tree to be cut off, mankind would no longer be immortal. Mankind only had access to the tree so long as he was obedient to God. We as a species lost access to the tree of life when we transgressed God’s commands in the beginning, thereby resulting in our banishment from the garden of Eden and the entrance of death into our world.

Our bodies at this time began their slow break down. Aging entered the scene and men could now kill one another. These things did not exist prior to mankind’s banishment from the garden of Eden. The death that came upon the scene at this time was in no sense a “spiritual death” as some claim in order to escape conviction that their traditions are false, but was the literal death which we as a species know in our world today. This is made obvious by the words of scripture, “and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” The obvious purpose of our removal from the garden was so that we as a species would no longer be enabled to posses immortality.

The entrance of death into our world has resulted in the insatiable craving for that which we have lost, which was everlasting life. This longing for immortality that many possess generates the inevitable inquiry, “what happens after death?” The fearsome prospect of the abyss connected with the grave forcibly produces this question like some cry of anguish under torment. In search of answers, the masses engage in tireless research.

It is unfortunate that too often the wrong answers have been found. There are a variety of them from “ye shall return as a cow” to “your soul goes to heaven or hell.” When there seems to be so many answers, what exactly are we to believe? What is the truth? The scriptures give several definitions for truth, one of which is most pertinent to the subject in question.

In the book of John we read, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – John 17:17. In this text, Jesus is speaking [see John 17:1], and he is praying to our heavenly Father. He has here defined the truth as God’s word, thereby making the scriptures or rather the Bible as being the truth. As looked at previously, Isaiah 8:20 defines the Bible as the detector of error for the Christian. We are therefore to reject anything which is not found in the testimony of God’s word, which is the truth.

You would have a difficult time proving from scriptural sources that anyone would return to life as a cow or some other animal. This type of thinking is usually found in other religions of the world, and creates a rather undesirable cycle with no end to it. Who would want to return to life as a cow only to be eaten, then to come back and potentially repeat the process as either a cow or another animal? Even more awful is the thought of endlessly returning to this world of pain and suffering.

By process of elimination, we find ourselves left with answers such as “your soul goes to heaven or hell.” Answers of this class can usually be found in Christian circles, and sometimes other religions. The idea is that you possess an immortal soul, which cannot be killed and which separates from the body at death to be taken to whatever place of reward you are to receive. This is a popular teaching which exists in the Church at this time. Yet we have already seen that other popular theories found in the Church do not pass the test of Isaiah 8:20, thereby showing us that popularity does not prove the truthfulness of doctrine.

Do these popular teachings with regards to the soul pass the scrutiny of scripture? It is at this point that the immortal soulist brands the believer in non-immortality as a heretic, classing him with groups that mainstream Christianity regards negatively [such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, of which I am not]. Such a label is attached to a man merely because he asked questions, or found something in scripture which contradicts traditional thinking. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is my hope that you will lay all preconceived opinions and traditions at the door of investigation and seek to understand what the scriptures truly teach on this subject.

In the book of 1 Timothy we find a passage which reads, “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the king of kings, and Lord of Lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 6:15-16.

We have examined the above passages before. To refresh your memory, these passages speak of Jesus or in fact God. The statement “Who only hath immortality” shows us that only God is naturally immortal. All other beings in existence are therefore mortal. They can be either destroyed or their bodies break down over time and they die. In view of this fact, how is it that anyone can claim you have an immortal soul? This thought is a massive contradiction to passages presented. If you possess an immortal soul, this means that a piece of you is naturally immortal. According to these passages this is a complete impossibility.

If this is in fact the case, why does the Bible use the word ‘soul’? Or what about the word ‘spirit’? The term ‘soul’ may be traced back to Genesis. In the second chapter we find the following, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” – Genesis 2:7. This passage of scripture is the Bible’s first use of the term. It also furnishes us with a proper definition as to exactly what a Soul is.

The combination of the breath of life with the dust of the ground is comparable to a battery powered cellular device. The breath of life is like the battery. Taking the battery out of your cell phone causes your phone to have no power. You cannot make calls or send text messages. If a man were to have the breath of life removed from him, he would no longer be alive. Piecing these two things together causes a man to have life and thus to become a ‘living soul.’ The logical conclusion is that you do not have a soul in the traditional sense, but rather you are a soul.

As for the term ‘spirit’, there is a fascinating passage in the book of Ecclesiastes. When compared with Genesis 2:7 and two other passages, it sheds some light on this concept for us.

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” – Ecclesiastes 12:7

“All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;” – Job 27:3

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” – Genesis 2:7

In Genesis 2:7, the breath of life is said to be breathed “into his nostrils” [referring to man.] Later in Job 27:3 we see that the ‘spirit of God’ is defined as being in Job’s nostrils. This statement is given right next to his statement that his ‘breath’ is in him. Both statements seem to quite obviously target the same thing. Their obvious relation to nostrils connects the passage of Job 27:3 back to Genesis 2:7, which mentions the breath of life.

It would be pure ridiculousness to take Job 27:3 as though you either have a disembodied being in your nose, or as though the Holy Spirit resides in your nostrils. Neither of these are what Job is here referencing. It would be logical in this case to connect the term “spirit of God” as it is used in Job 27:3 to Ecclesiastes 12:7, which in this case would make the term “Spirit” a reference to the breath of life. This fact is made obvious by the connection of the term “spirit of God” with the word “breath” in Job 27:3.

These are facts which are sufficient to put the concept of an immortal soul into question. The second answer which is so popular throughout Christian churches is therefore not the correct answer. If this is indeed the case, than what do the scriptures really teach in regards to death? What happens after a man dies? In the book of Genesis, we once again find an answer to this question which is so often overlooked by many. The passage reads, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” – Genesis 3:19

“Thou” is an old english word meaning “you.” This passage therefore references the entire person, and not simply just the body as some may attempt to argue in defense of tradition. Previously you were shown to be defined as a living soul, while the spirit was proven to be the breath of life. Such a conclusion is therefore impossible. The verse goes on to state “till thou return unto the ground.” When a man dies, he goes down into the graves and his body returns to dust while the breath of life, according to Ecclesiastes 12:7 returns to God.

But what is to happen after this? Does a man stay in the grave with no hope of eternal life and only darkness to engulf him? In the book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul spoke of this very topic. He is found stating, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

In these passages from 1 Thessalonians, Paul speaks about death in an unmistakeable fashion. He says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” The term “sleep” as is used in this passage at first glance might generate confusion. Why on earth would sleep trigger sorrow? The thought of a man sorrowing because of a loved one literally going to sleep is a point of sheer confusion. The answer is first found one passage beneath, in which Paul mentions that Christ died and rose again, and sets Jesus in contrast with them who ‘sleep in Jesus.’ The contrast should be a clear indicator that Paul is here referencing death.

If we take this thought and then apply it to the first passage, than Paul’s admonition to refrain from sorrowing ‘as others which have no hope’ makes much more sense. As we continue to examine the passages, notice that the term “sleep” or “asleep” is used multiple times throughout 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Every single time Paul is referencing death. This is made much more apparent as you reach verses fifteen through sixteen, which state that “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the with trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”. First Paul makes the reference of those that are asleep, and then immediately follows up with the statement that “the dead in Christ will rise first” in the passage that follows, leaving the strong impression that the dead are asleep.

Yet there are even more interesting facts about these passages. The events described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 are actually the resurrection of life spoken of in John 5:28-29, a fact which is made obvious by the statement “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” That statement alone is sufficient to indicate that a resurrection is taking place in the passages, especially in view of the fact that the living and dead are described in the final verses as being together in the clouds. Paul ends by saying, “wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

These statements from scripture target loss, and are meant as a comfort to those who might be sorrowing over deceased loved ones. We might therefore ask why Paul does not attempt to comfort people by saying, “your loved ones are in heaven now” or “they are watching over you in heaven”? Why does Paul not say, “their souls have gone to heaven and when you die you shall be with them too”? The facts are that these passages contradict traditional thinking, that an individual receives reward at death and immediately goes to heaven or hell when they die.

Resurrection in of itself is made obsolete by the thought that a man is to go to heaven when he dies. If you have already received your reward, what is the purpose in a resurrection? No one would argue against the confusion created by the thought that a man is to be sent to heaven at death, only to be brought back into his body, just so that he can be taken back up to heaven. It is clear that this type of thinking does not make sense and is contradicted by the testimony of the scriptures.

What of this word “sleep”? There are multiple locations across the scriptures in which the term “sleep” is used as a reference to death. One such occurrence may be found in the book of John. In the eleventh chapter of this book we may read, “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” – John 11:11-14.

Jesus is here found referencing the death of Lazarus saying, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” Due to the fact that he used these words instead of outright stating that Lazarus had died, the disciples were confused. They took the word ‘sleep’ in a literal sense, believing that Lazarus was resting as though he napped. Yet the scriptures are clear that Jesus was here speaking of Lazarus’ death. In view of their misunderstanding, Jesus had to be more plain with them stating “Lazarus is dead.” This entire sequence in of itself implies in a strong sense that death is a sleep. It would be difficult to conjure a more logical explanation of why Jesus used the term “sleep” to refer to death. This is a fact which further sheds light on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, making it clear that those passages also are referencing death.

The question then left to us is why? Why do the scriptures refer to death as a sleep? The most logical conclusion that can be drawn from such a picture is that there is no consciousness in death. Yet there is no direct statement of this thought in the passages examined. Is this therefore jumping to a conclusion, or are there passages elsewhere in the scriptures which may be produced to furnish evidence of this conclusion? Throughout the scriptures we find the following passages.

“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 9:5-6

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, wither thou goest.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10

“For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.” – Isaiah 38:18-19

“Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness destruction? Shall thy wonder be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” – Psalm 88:10-12

“For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.” – Psalm 143:3

In Ecclesiastes, a profound statement is made. It is said that “the dead know not anything.” If they know not anything, than the strong implication is that they do not possess consciousness. As if this statement alone were not enough, Solomon goes on to give a list of emotions such as ‘love’, ‘hatred’, and ‘envy.’ He closes by stating that these are ‘now perished’ and that ‘neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun.’ The dead are not conscious of anything. Their emotions are ‘perished’, implying that they do not experience them. And they have nothing to do with anything that takes place on this planet. This implies that they do not get up and walk around, or come back to talk to the living.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 states that whatever we find to do with our hands should be done with all our might. The reason cited is that ‘there is no work, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, wither thou goest.’ If there is no work, than nothing may be done in the grave. No knowledge or wisdom ties in with the previous passages examined, which state that the dead ‘know not anything.’ This again implies that the dead are not conscious of anything.

We find this concept again in the book of Isaiah. It is said that the ‘grave’ cannot praise God and that death cannot celebrate him. The passage that immediately follows in the particular chapter then goes on to state that the living do all of the praising of God. The ‘grave’ here mentioned in Isaiah is an obvious reference to death, especially since it is set in contrast with death. The implication here is that there is no praising or celebration of God by the dead because they are not conscious and are therefore not capable of doing so.

Psalms 88:10-12 starts out with a similar concept as the passages from Isaiah. It begins by asking questions of, “shall the dead arise and praise thee?” The obvious answer that anyone in the right mind would produce in response to such a question is a solid ‘no’. The Psalmist however continues along the same line of questioning, asking “Shall thy wonder be known in the dark?” It is obvious at this point that this is a reference to the grave. This should be clear given the other passages examined in combination with the fact that the Bible references death as a sleep multiple times, however the fact that there has been no change of subject present in these passages should be sufficient evidence in of it self to prove this. This is yet another strong implication that the dead are not conscious of anything.

In Psalm 143, we find primarily poetic language. The primary subject in question is not death, and this should be obvious to anyone who reads the passage. However, this verse does in fact contain a reference to the dead. The psalmist says, “he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.” This implies that those who have been dead “dwell in darkness.” The obvious reason for this type of language is that there is no consciousness in the grave.

All of these passages shed light on the reasoning behind scripture referring to death as a ‘sleep.’ Death is a sleep because there is no consciousness in the grave. If there is no consciousness in the grave, this means that the idea that a man goes to either heaven or hell immediately after he dies and spends eternity in bliss or misery from there is a false theory which is not supported in scripture. Concepts such as purgatory, the reception of men’s rewards at death, an eternally burning hell, and spirits of the dead coming back to visit the living all start to vanish under the weight and strength of scriptural evidence, and are exposed to be the false doctrines they are.

In view of all this, it is my desire to issue a warning. The majority of Christians have failed to see the danger of traditional thinking, and the position it places the believer in at the end of time. They have not discerned the first lie of the enemy. In the very beginning the serpent told Eve, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” – Genesis 3:4. This lie is the foundation upon which all of the concepts previously mentioned rest, and upon which we find something called ‘Spiritualism.’

Just what exactly is spiritualism? An internet dictionary provides us with the definition below.

spiritualism
[spir-i-choo-uh-liz-uh m]
Examples
Word Origin
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
1.
the belief or doctrine that the spirits of the dead, surviving after the mortal life, can and do communicate with the living, especially through a person (a medium) particularly susceptible to their influence.

Taking a close look at the definition provided, we notice that it bears similarities to what the majority of Christians believe. Most of Christianity at this point believes in the immortality of the soul, and that it separates from the body at death and goes to either heaven or hell, purgatory or some kind of intermediate state. Did anyone take notice of the fact that this means that almost all Christians have believed what can be best described as ‘half-spiritualism’? This is made obvious by the fact that their belief is that the spirits of the dead survive after death and go to any one of these places. The only components missing are communication through a medium, or just straight communication.

This is something which Christians should be alarmed by. They have bought into a deception which is against scripture and which places them in a position in which the stage is set for the enemy to introduce the missing components. We know that our foe is crafty and is more than capable of bringing error into the Christian church. It wouldn’t take much to introduce the most horrific heresies disguised with angel garbs so as to bypass detection, and deceive numerous Christians into swallowing sugar coated rat poison.

The practice described above is condemned in the scriptures. In the book of Deuteronomy we read, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

A ‘consulter with familiar spirits’ is an individual which was known in these times for calling up the spirits of the dead. They would act as a medium of communication between the spirit of a deceased person and some one who wished to speak with one of them. The practice is condemned and described as an ‘abomination.’ These passages from Deuteronomy condemn spiritualism. If this is condemned, why would anything close to spiritualism be permissible?

Yet if this were not alarming enough, we find the following in the prophecies of the scriptures. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, workings miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” – Revelation 16:13-14.

These passages from the book of Revelation describe “unclean spirits” which are to come out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. Those spirits are defined as the “spirits of devils, working miracles.” They are described as going before the world to ‘gather them to the battle of that great day of God almighty.’ These passages speak of the end of time, and of the deception that the devil and his demons will bring the entire world under. They are described as working miracles in order to gather everyone to battle against God.

If the enemy is to go forth and work miracles at the end of time, how might he take advantage of traditional beliefs? If a believer holds to the doctrine that the spirits of the dead go to either heaven or hell when a person dies, than the stage is set for Satan to take advantage. He can then pose as a dead loved one, claiming to be happy in heaven, and then begin to spoon feed all manner of doctrine contradictory to scripture in the most subtle of manner to the believer. At that point, the likely hood of the believer swallowing the enemy’s deceptions is at its highest as the wonder worked to get their attention would be so powerful that few would stand against it.

There is no reason for the believer to hold to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Plenty of answers may be found for those who have any further confusion on this subject. Than we might see that this concept falls apart under the weight and strength of scripture, and that the dead reside in their graves. They sleep and await resurrection, and may neither be found in heaven or hell, purgatory [a concept which I have never seen evidence for from Genesis to Revelation] or some kind of intermediate state. No one will come back as a cow or go to either heaven or hell at death, but will awaken in a Resurrection at the end of time; whether it be of life or death.

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Forever – An Answer to Revelation 14:9-11, 20:10

“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 for ever and ever.” – Revelation 20:10

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, if any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall 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 ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” – Revelation 14:9-11

For ever…

These texts are said to support the idea that this is exactly how long the wicked will burn. It is also claimed from these passages of scripture that this is the duration of the flames. The flames supposedly last for ever and the victims of the lake of fire are claimed to burn for just as long. On the surface, these passages seem to support the traditional view. They outright use the words “for ever,” seem to be talking about the lake of fire in both cases, and at least one of them seems to reference the punishment of the wicked while the other is more directly targeting the devil.

With that in view, it is usually at this point that an exultant believer in eternal hell fire exclaims “See! I told you so!” Peter once issued a warning, speaking specifically about the difficulties of understanding scripture. He said, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things: in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” – 2 Peter 3:16. The passage directly above verse sixteen mentions Paul [“even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you” – 2 Peter 3:15], a fact which makes this a direct reference to his writings specifically.

Targeting Paul’s writings, Peter warned of things present in them which were difficult to understand. He stated that they could be easily wrested from their true meaning, and used to give a message which they did not originally convey. Although Paul’s writings are the primary target, a point worth noting is that Peter specifically mentioned the rest of scripture in this passage. He says, “as they do also the other scriptures” making the statement that people twist the Bible all the way across the board. It is perhaps therefore logical to conclude that this passage is applicable to the rest of scripture as well.

At this point, I want to direct your mind to focus specifically on the statement “hard to be understood.” Anyone who has attempted to study the Bible should be able to recognize that you can find scriptures which fit this description everywhere from Genesis to Revelation. The book of Revelation is especially filled with passages which can be described as “hard to be understood”, to the point where many claim that they cannot understand Revelation. In view of this fact, these passages here would obviously fall under this category. This would logically make 2 Peter 3:16 applicable to this case.

Dear friends, we should be careful not to wrest these passages to our own destruction. We should not conclude that they support traditional thinking without thorough investigation. Previously examined passages, such as Malachi 4:1-3, would seem to create a contradiction between all mentioned verses. Do we as Christians run around with a contradictory Bible? Many have been skeptical of Christianity because of the claim that the Bible contradicts itself. Perhaps for the sake of defending the validity of the Bible, we owe it to ourselves to investigate these matters thoroughly before jumping to conclusions.

A fact often overlooked in regards to both of these passages is their deep symbolic nature. Revelation 20:10 mentions the “Beast and the false prophet.” Revelation 14:9-11 mention the “beast and his image.” If we’re going to take this passage literally, than we need to imagine for a moment that the lake of fire currently has a monstrous beast and some false prophet sizzling in the flames. Perhaps while we are at it we should take Revelation 17:3-4 as though CNN will cover a story about a woman riding a seven-headed beast at the end of time. Friends, this is not how we properly interpret symbolic texts.

What does a beast represent in Bible prophecy? In the book of Daniel, we find the answer to this question. “Thus he said, the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” – Daniel 7:23. A beast is therefore a kingdom in Bible prophecy. Are we to believe that an entire kingdom will be burning in the lake of fire throughout all eternity, structures included? My friends, I hope that you are starting to see the foolishness of interpreting symbolic passages literally.

Perhaps we might do well to ask ourselves, what of the primary individual whom the text targets? In order for some one to burn for ever, their existence needs to be perpetuated. Either they need to already be naturally immortal or immortality needs to be granted to them some how. Searching the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you will not find one text which even remotely suggests that the devil will be granted eternal life. That would be a fairly ridiculous thought, and a heresy in the extreme.

The next question we must therefore ask is, does the devil have an immortal nature? In the book of 1st Timothy we find the following passages, “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only potentate, the king of kings, and Lord of Lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen” – 1 Timothy 6:15-16.

The fact is that the devil is not immortal. According to this passage, he can be destroyed and he is incapable of living for ever. Only Christ is immortal, and it is therefore impossible for the devil to literally ‘burn for ever’. Since we have already seen that there is no tree of life in the lake of fire, which is the only means that anyone can be perpetuated in order to have eternal life, than it should be clear that the term “for ever” is not to be understood in this sense to mean “through out all eternity” as we might look at it in our limited human understanding.

The term “for ever” in the Scriptures is found in connection with a variety of things which have an end. One such example is found in the book of Jonah. The first passage reads, “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.” – Jonah 2:6. In the second passage we find the following, “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” – Jonah 1:17

It would be rather strange to interpret the term “for ever” as used in Jonah 2:6 to mean that Jonah was in the belly of the whale throughout all eternity, when the Scriptures are clear that he was only there for three days and three nights. We may best define the term “for ever” in the biblical sense as simply referencing a period of time, limited or unlimited. It is essentially a type of Hebrew poetic language meaning “until it is over.” We find this concept all over the Old Testament and the Bible. In the book of Deuteronomy there is the following passage of Scripture, “An Amorite or a Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever” – Deuteronomy 23:3.

In this particular case, “for ever” was defined clearly as being “ten generations.” This is another case in which the term “for ever” was connected to something found to have an end in the Scriptures. Still more striking is what we find in the book of Exodus. For a moment, you should perhaps consider the feasts of the Old Testament sacrificial system. For the most part, the Christian world today does not recognize or keep them. This is simply because most of us recognize that these were done away with, a fact which I will not here dwell upon at this time.

“And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.” – Exodus 12:17. Those who would interpret the term “for ever” in the Bible to always mean “throughout all eternity” would do well to check the foundations for their thinking, especially in view of the fact that this term is clearly connected to something which we learn from later Scriptures was done away with [Colossians 2:14-17]. Interpreting the term “for ever” to mean “throughout all eternity” in this particular sense would not be a sound principle of Bible study, as you would not be comparing one passage with another and therefore ignoring what the rest of the Bible says.

The same mistake has quite obviously been made with Revelation 20:10 and 14:9-11, as many have discarded clearer texts such as Malachi 4:1-3 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 in favor of the term “for ever.” Or they have ignored terms like “death” and “perish” all throughout the bible [John 3:16, Romans 6:23] in favor of the phrase “for ever”, completely neglecting to compare scripture with scripture and basing whole doctrines off one or a few verses.

Beyond the meaning of the term “for ever”, we find other passages in the Bible which speak about the ultimate fate of the adversary of souls. In the book of Ezekiel there is a section which speaks about the enemy. It reads, “Thou hast been in Eden the Garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God: thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned; therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy trafick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.” – Ezekiel 28:13-18

There are many identifying marks in these six passages proving that they are really targeting the devil. The first is the phrase “Eden the garden of God.” Very few people were in the garden of Eden. Adam & Eve, Satan, and God are all that the Bible records as having been there. The fact that these passages use the term “Cherub” multiple times indicates that this is really talking about an angelic being of some kind. Verse twelve uses the phrase “Thus saith the Lord” indicating who is doing the talking [Ezekiel 28:12]. These facts are sufficient to eliminate Adam & Eve and God, leaving only Satan left by process of elimination.

Other identifying marks include the fact that this being is described as having its heart “lifted up.” This is a clear statement of pride. In fact, the language used here is identical to that which is used in the book of Isaiah to speak of Lucifer. The verses read, “For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most host high.” – Isaiah 14:13-14.

What is the fate of the individual described in these passages? The eighteenth verse states “therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.” Terms such as “ashes” and “devour” paint an obvious picture of complete destruction. Just a few passages prior the word “destroy” is used. Since there are clear connections to the devil in Ezekiel twenty-eight, and terms painting a picture of complete destruction are used, it should be clear that the ultimate fate of the devil is destruction and not eternal conscious torment. The adversary of souls, who is not immortal, will eventually be destroyed according to Scripture.

In an effort to get around this fact and support tradition, some have attempted to prove that this is not talking about the devil by citing verse twelve. Their argument is essentially that this verse places the context of the passage around the king of Tyrus, and therefore this cannot be talking about the devil. The entire passage reads, “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” – Ezekiel 28:12.

We acknowledge that this passage does in fact reference the king of Tyrus, and that he is in fact the target of Ezekiel 28:12-18. However, this is a phenomenon which is often found in prophecies in the Old Testament. Places, cities, and individuals are used as symbols of future events or other persons. Examples of this fact can be found in Jeremiah 4:23-26 [description of the earth after the second coming], and Isaiah 13:1-17 [where we find obvious end times descriptions such as “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” – Isaiah 13:10]

This fact should also be made evident by terms such as “Anointed Cherub” and “Eden the garden of God.” A cherub is obviously an angelic being, completely eliminating any possibility that this can only be a reference to an earthly king. The clear reference to the garden of Eden, a place where no earthly king has ever been, is a fact which also destroys any possibility that these passages only refer to the king of Tyrus. This case also bears similarities to when Jesus rebuked Peter, saying “Get thee behind me Satan” [Mark 8:33]. Was Jesus talking to Peter or Satan? He was obviously addressing both, because the spirit behind the man was under rebuke. The evidence should be clear that the case is here is similar.

What of Revelation 14:9-11? One might think that the rising of smoke for ever and ever is clear. The mind may picture fires that never go out due to the apparent perpetually rising smoke, yet mental pictures should be set aside in favor of the facts. The symbolic nature of this passage previously dwelt upon should remind us that this passage is not to be taken literally. The imagery used of the “smoke of their torment rising for ever” is a symbol as well. It borrows heavily from old testament imagery.

In the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, we find a similar symbol used to describe the end of the whore of Babylon. “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleuia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of her servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleuia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.” – Revelation 19:1-3.

Clearly these passages from Revelation 19 must be telling us that smoke will be literally coming off of the great whore for ever. The redeemed will be in heaven witnessing a smoking whore riding a beast, just sort of sizzling. This simply must be what these passages are teaching. In all reality, I hope that you might once again see the fallacy of taking symbolic texts far too literally. Going that route would require us to believe that there will be a literal dragon with wings that breathes fire trying to devour a pregnant woman standing on the moon with stars on her head [see Revelation 12]. Perhaps this is also something CNN will cover a story on as we get closer to the end of time.

To my knowledge, the book of Revelation uses this symbol twice. Once in the fourteenth chapter and again in the nineteenth. So we are then left with the question, “just where does this symbol come from and what does it mean?” In the book of Isaiah we find similar language used to describe the destruction of Idumea. Below are the passages which show us these facts.

“For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.” – Isaiah 34:5 [Context]

“For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned to pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.” – Isaiah 34:8-10

“But the cormorant and the bittern shall posses it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And the thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be a habitation of dragons and a court for owls.” – Isaiah 34:11-13

In the tenth verse of Isaiah thirty-four, we find the words “the smoke thereof shall go up for ever”. The language here used is similar to that which is found in the nineteenth and fourteenth chapters of Revelation and is therefore the exact same symbol. The language which immediately follows is that of complete destruction. We find words used such as “from generation to generation it shall lie waste” immediately followed by descriptions of emptiness and fortresses becoming dwelling places for animals. Even though the smoke was said to “go up for ever” and flames were said not to be “quenched night nor day”, the flames therefore went out. We might therefore conclude that the rising of the smoke is completely symbolic in nature, and does not mean that the flames are perpetually active. In this case, it seems to be a symbol designating complete destruction.

This same symbol is clearly used in the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. We may therefore go so far as to state that these passages symbolize complete destruction and not eternal conscious torment as many claim. To further illustrate this fact, we need only ask the question “will the flames eventually go out?” In 2 Peter we find some passages that shed light on this subject.

“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.” – 2 Peter 3:7

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” – 2 Peter 3:10

“Seeing then that all these things shall be disolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and goodness. Looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:11-13

The first passage uses phrases such as “kept in store” and “reserved” to reference the “heavens and the earth”, stating that they are “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” The term “against” clearly connects the fate of the wicked with the destruction of the earth by fire. No one would deny the fact that the punishment of the wicked is here referenced in this passage from 2 Peter, as terms such as “day of judgment” and “perdition of ungodly men” are used. In view of this fact, it is logical to conclude that the punishment of the wicked will take place on the earth at the end of time.

In 2 Peter 3:10, we find an expansion of the information given in 2 Peter 3:7. The verse states, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Terms like “heat” and “burned up” display the obvious presence of fire in this passage, connecting the verse back to 2 Peter 3:7 which stated that the Earth was “reserved unto fire.” The phrase “burned up” implies that the earth will be completely consumed in the fire, and nothing will be left. It is also logical to conclude that everything on it will be destroyed with it, ungodly inhabitants who are being punished included. This is a fact which is confirmed by other passages of scripture [Malachi 4:1-3].

The language used just a few verses down in 2 Peter 3:11-13 not only expand on this, but hammer the last nail in the coffin of the “eternally burning hell.” Peter starts out by saying “Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved”, a statement which is a clear reference to his early language in 3:10 and 3:7. He then goes on to reference the earth melting with fervent heat. The thirteenth verse sticks out the most out of the three. It states, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:13.

Given the order in which Peter mentions events, starting first with the destruction of the earth by fire, and then moving into the creation of the new earth, it is logical to conclude that the flames will eventually go out. If the earth is to be burned up, and then eventually made new, how is it to continue burning with its ungodly inhabitants throughout all eternity? Such a thought does not make any sense given the facts. It would make even less sense to suggest that the wicked will be still burning somewhere on the new earth. It is therefore impossible for Revelation 14:9-11 to be suggesting that the lake of fire will burn for ever.

Revelation 14:9-11 and Revelation 20:10 do not prove the doctrine of eternal conscious torment any more than Matthew 5:30 proves Jesus to be commanding us to literally chop our hands off. Such would of course be a foolish thought in the extreme that any thinking Christian in the right mind would question and condemn as error. These verses prove nothing and have been perverted to support a false theory which has invaded the Christian Church thousands of years ago.

Everlasting Destruction

Hell…

Never has a word in the English language generated so powerful an emotional reaction. Disturbing images grip the imagination as the mind grasps the full implications of the word. Perhaps one might picture a place of fire and torment, where the dammed suffer throughout all eternity. The mind conjures up images of flames of fire engulfing the shrieking lost, and demonic entities tormenting and torturing as though it were an activity of leisure. The thought crosses the mind of people dying one minute, and the next waking up in fire to be tormented without end.

While these images fill the mind, what is said of such a place is all the more disturbing. There are many who claim that Hell is a place where those who do not love or serve the monarch of the galaxies go to be tormented forever. We are told and expected to believe that Hell is the realm of the suffering dammed, where those who have died without our precious savior in their lives are now suffering in a lake of fire. The report has circulated that at an undisclosed location in the universe the lost are now in torment, and will be there throughout all eternity.

Dear friends, have you ever burned your hand on a hot stove? Dare I say that you might be feeling the agony of your mistake for a time? Now let us imagine that pain on a much grander scale, and toss eternity into the mix. Never ending pain and suffering is the product of our analysis. Spellbound by the horror of such a thought, one can only clench their fists as questions in regards to the character of our redeemer fill the mind. What is it that a man can do that would warrant such punishment? One cannot help but question the justice of never-ending torture as the sheer implications of the concept sink in.

It is perhaps such questions that have lead others to reject the monarch of the galaxies totally. Unable to resolve apparent philosophical flaws in such teachings, many have rejected the very idea of our Lord’s existence and have stormed away from him in anger. With every sense of justice offended, they are left with no other option. Than it is clear that the stereotypical concept of Hell has lead many to atheism, severely hindered the advancement of our Lord’s work, and provided those skeptical of the Bible with more than enough ammunition for criticism.

I am therefore lead to inquire, who is your God? As stated before, this subject matter deals very heavily with the character of our Father in Heaven. We do well to remember that we tread on holy ground. It has been said, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” – 1 John 4:16. Supposing that the stereotypical teachings in regards to the punishment of the wicked are not the truth, than it is clear that rather serious railings upon our Lord have been accepted as fact by the masses.

The obvious inconsistencies between the above passage of scripture and what appear to be the traditional teachings of Christianity display these facts to us. Yet, supposing such traditions have a strong foundation in God’s word we find ourselves in a position where we have no right to question this teaching. We are therefore left with the question, why investigate the matter at all? It perhaps seems sound to reason that since it has been the traditional teaching of Christianity for as long as many can remember, and so many have believed it than it must be correct.

In all reality, popularity and tradition are not proof of the truthfulness of doctrine. In addition, the length of time in which a particular teaching has been believed does not attach biblical accuracy to it either. History is filled with the testimony of men who have discovered the traditional doctrines of the established Church to be false and have no foundation in the word of God, and who were then placed in the peculiar position of having to stand up for the truth. We are told plainly by the testimony of scripture, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” – Isaiah 8:20. In the face of such a warning from scripture, we should not be afraid to place the matter to honest investigation, especially if the teaching in question is only a tradition of men.

Jesus made a very interesting statement in the book of John. He said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 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.” – John 5:28-28. These passages present some rather serious questions for us. Why is it that there are any in the graves? After all, is it not the truth that as soon as some one dies they will be instantly transported to either heaven or hell? Were this the case, the thought certainly crosses the mind that a resurrection is a rather pointless exercise. It is an obvious logical flaw and point of sheer confusion to imagine oneself sent down to hell at death, only so that you can be brought back up into your body to be taken back down to Hell again.

In light of this fact, it should be very clear to us that no one is in Hell at this moment. My dear friends, it is my hope that this revelation is a source of relief to you. There are many who have been tormented day and night with the thought that their unsaved loved ones are suffering in Hell, yet these passages clearly teach us that this is not the case. At this point in time all reside in their graves, awaiting resurrection. Yet even beyond this, we find obvious inconsistencies between the traditions of men and the word of God. Is it therefore logical to conclude that if scripture has provided us with such a massive contradiction to what is commonly taught, than we are dealing with nothing more than a false theory?

With the evidence tending toward such deductions, we may therefore press our inquiry without fear. What else than may be found in the scriptures to further validate what we have discovered? Consider the parable of the wheat and the tares, the interpretation of which reads: “The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 13:39-42.

What is the ultimate fate of those who are cast into this ‘furnace of fire’? Further to the point, do these passages refer to the punishment of the wicked in general or are they only in reference to the fate of the tares? Supposing that these passages are in reference to the general punishment of the wicked, than that would logically place that event at the end of the world in connection with the second coming of Jesus Christ. Theoretically, this chronology of events would present serious problems for the traditional viewpoint of the punishment of the wicked. Pieced together with the fact that the dead reside in their graves, the idea of Hell as a place of torment beneath your feet or at some undisclosed location that burns for eternity starts to vanish.

Paul once said of this very event, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” – 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9. As you wrap your mind around these facts, compare the above passages with that of Matthew 13:39-42. Are not the messages of the two sets of passages undeniably identical? Than we may logically come to the conclusion that those who are cast in the furnace of fire at the end of this world are “punished with everlasting destruction.”

It is therefore clear that those who were cast into the furnace of fire were completely destroyed. The term “destruction” places this fact on display. The obvious literal meaning of this term shows us the true fate of the wicked. Those who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will, at the time this world comes to its end, face complete destruction for all eternity. There will be no resurrection for them, and there will be no second chances. The fate of the wicked is an eternal death from which there is no return.

Even in the face of such evidence, it can be tempting to cling to traditional thinking. Many have brushed aside the exposure of plain contradictions between the sayings of men and the words of scripture, claiming that the conclusion that the wicked are destroyed is based off of one bible verse alone. They say, “you are basing your conclusions off of just that!” At this point, people then brush the truth aside and cling tenaciously to tradition.

If this is indeed not the case, than one should be able to produce more evidence from the scriptures with ease. What other passages of scripture may be found conveying a similar message? The book of Malachi contains a fascinating description of the fate of the wicked. In the third chapter of Malachi, we also find a question which has perhaps baffled many even in our day. Why is that God has allowed good things to happen to bad people?

“Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, what have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up, yea, they that tempt God are delivered.” – Malachi 3:13-15

“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shal be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” – Malachi 3:16-18

These passages from the book of Malachi establish the context of what is to be found in the fourth chapter of Malachi. They clearly determine the subject matter presented between these two chapters. A question is asked in the third chapter, and that is clearly  a question of “why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?” Language such as “they that tempt God are delivered”, “And now we call the proud happy”, and “they that work wickedness are set up” make this fact apparent to us. The question is also asked as to what the point in serving the Lord is, when all of this takes place.

The response that immediately follows is filled with salvation language. We read, “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” The obvious promise here is that something positive will eventually happen to the righteous, we do not follow the Lord in vain while the wicked prosper. All of this and what follows is an obvious response to the questions asked in these texts.

In the fourth chapter of Malachi we read, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” – Malachi 4:1

“And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” – Malachi 4:3

The language here used indicates complete destruction. When Malachi 4:1 says “the day that cometh shall burn them up”, the obvious conclusion is that the wicked shall be consumed. The fact that the wicked “shall be stubble” is further evidence of this fact. The word “stubble” in Hebrew means “straw” as shown below. No one would argue against the fact that straw is material which burns rapidly when lit ablaze to the point in which it is utterly consumed. The fact that the scriptures use this kind of a picture makes it very clear and plain that the wicked are to be destroyed.

H7179
קַשׁ
qash
kash
From H7197; straw (as dry): – stubble.

As if this evidence were not enough, Malachi 4:3 expands on the information already given. We are given the description that the wicked “shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.” This imagery indicates that there is to be nothing left of the wicked, that they are to be completely consumed by the flames.

We find this concept again in the book of Job. In the twentieth chapter we read, “Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste. I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer. Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.” – Job 20:2-8

A close examination of this language further confirms what we have discovered. The question here found in Job appears to be addressing a similar problem to that found in Malachi. It reads, “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?” The target in question here is the wicked, and their apparent triumph and prosperity here on this earth. But this is stated to be “short” alongside the joy of the hypocrite being defined as “but for a moment.”

The very next thing mentioned is they “perish for ever.” To suggest that the term “perish” in this text means anything other than what it says on the surface is dishonesty and foolishness, and an attempt to twist scripture in an effort to support traditional thinking. The word perish suggests “death”, and is found linked with “for ever” indicating that the wicked are to be destroyed permanently. The poetic language that follows hammers this point in further, stating “they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?” The implication here is that the wicked have been thoroughly destroyed to the point where nothing is left. They are therefore completely consumed.

Knowing that John 5:28-29 speaks of a resurrection of damnation in which the wicked are to rise to meet their doom, it should be obvious to us that this text cannot be applied to the first death here on earth but must rather be applied to the ultimate fate of the wicked. In spite of the fact that these passages do not reference the word “hell” and do not mention fire, this application should be made clear to us by the questions presented and their apparent response. This application is also made undeniably clear to us by words such as “perish for ever”, eliminating the possibility of this referencing anything other than this application.

Even beyond all of this, there is something often overlooked by many. Many read over the plainest statements of scripture without the slightest thought that they contradict traditional thinking. In the book of Genesis, we find in the third chapter a description of something powerful.

“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” – Genesis 3:22-24

In the beginning, man had access to something called the “tree of life.” As long as he ate from this tree, he had access to eternal life. Man was enabled to have immortality. This was the only way that men could be immortal. The passages above make this fact clear to us. They demonstrate that the entire purpose of kicking mankind out of the garden of Eden was so that he would not have access to this tree and he would not be able to live for ever.  This is a fact which sets up a standard. God showed that he would not immortalize sin or sinners.

The question should then be asked, is there a tree of life in the lake of fire? If the tree of life is the only way that men may be enabled to have immortality, than there would logically need to be a tree present in the lake of fire in order to keep those who were burning alive permanently. Without this, the inhabitants of the flames would inevitably burn up.

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” – Revelation 22:14-15

“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielder her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” – Revelation 22:2

“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.” – Revelation 21:8

A comparison of Revelation 21:8 with 22:15 displays to us the position of the lake of fire. Revelation 21:8 mentions “whoremongers”, “murderers”, “sorcerers”, “idolaters”, and “liars”. These same sins are pointed out as causing an individual to be outside the city in Revelation 22:15. This would logically connect the two passages, since they are talking about the same subject matter. Revelation 21:8 mentions that these people will be burned in the lake of fire, while simultaneously being defined as being outside the city, therefore positioning the lake of fire outside the city.

With that being the case, note the location of the tree of life. Revelation 22:14 states that the righteous will have access to the tree of life, and be able to enter the city. Revelation 22:2 states that the tree is located in the “midst of the street of it.” Revelation 21:1-2 provide the context, since there has been no change in subject from those passages up to this point.  Both texts read, “And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” – Revelation 21:1-2.

The “midst of the street of it” is therefore an obvious reference to the New Jerusalem, placing the tree of life in the middle of the city. With the tree of life in the middle of the city, and those who are lost described as being outside of it, than we can therefore conclude that there is no tree of life in the lake of fire. One might spend the rest of their life searching through the different scriptures which speak of the fate of the wicked and not find one single statement describing a “tree of life” in the lake of fire. With this fact before us, it is therefore impossible for the wicked to burn for ever, since there are no means present to sustain them throughout eternity.

But what of terms in the scriptures such as “everlasting fire” and “everlasting punishment”? Or what about when the Bible says the fire “shall not be quenched”? Doesn’t the scriptures use the phrase “for ever” to describe how long the wicked burn? What about the rich man and Lazarus? The use of the phrase “for ever” in the Bible is a complex issue, which will have it’s own article. The Rich man and Lazarus is something we will also examine separately. However, we will examine the rest of these terms here. There are perfectly logical answers to all of these questions.

The term “everlasting fire” is found twice in the new testament.

“Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” – Matthew 18:8

“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.” – Matthew 25:41

It would seem that these terms are clear, and that they simply must support traditional thinking. However, an important principle when studying the scriptures is that we must allow the bible to explain itself rather than jumping to conclusions. We find an answer for these terms in three passages of scripture.

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” – Jude 1:7

“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha  into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;” – 2 Peter 2:6

“But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” – Luke 17:29

Jude 7 states that the inhabitants of Sodom & Gomorrha were to “suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.” Obvious questions are raised as to whether or not Sodom & Gomorrha are burning today. You would be hard pressed to locate the smoke of their cities still rising. Perhaps this is something which CNN will soon do a story on? Or maybe it is more likely to appear on Fox News? These two cities are clearly not burning today, yet they are described as “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

In 2 Peter, we find an identical passage where Peter states that these two cities are an example for those who live an ungodly life. Jude 7 uses the same language. Therefore we may conclude that whatever happened to these cities will be the same fate of the wicked. Peter then states that they were turned into “ashes”, a fact which provides a parallel to Malachi 4:3. However, the book of Luke finishes everything off with a statement from Jesus saying that “fire and brimstone rained from heaven, and destroyed them all.”

It is an undeniable fact that terms such as “everlasting” and “eternal” carry virtually the same meaning. This is a fact that only he who is grasping at straws would argue against. We may therefore connect Jude 1:7 with the statements from Matthew which use the phrase “everlasting fire.” The chain of evidence provided by the three passages above make the meaning of the term “everlasting fire” plain to us.

Everlasting fire is fire which destroys, the effects of which are everlasting. This should be clear to us given the fact that these two cities are defined as being destroyed by “eternal fire”, and that they are not burning today. It should be therefore obvious to us that terms such as “Everlasting fire” do not hold the meaning they appear to on the surface, and that they are wrested to support traditional thinking.

We can see this kind of thing happening again with the phrase “the fire is not quenched.” In the book of Mark we read, “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” – Mark 9:43-44

These passages are misinterpreted by many. The phrase “worm dieth not” is misread as though this is some how referencing an undying soul, which will never die in the flames as it is tortured. The phrase “the fire is not quenched” is interpreted to mean that the flames therefore go on for ever. Is this the proper way to interpret this passage?

We find the following curse in the book of Jeremiah, “But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of the Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” – Jeremiah 17:27. Were Israel to not do as it was told, the punishment to be inflicted on it was a fire which “shall not be quenched.” Does this mean that Jerusalem was to be on fire throughout all eternity? Is Jerusalem on fire today?

“And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” – 2 Chronicles 36:19-21

The description here given in 2 Chronicles indicates that Jerusalem was completely destroyed. Jerusalem was burnt to the ground and the inhabitants of it were carried away captive. It is obvious that Jerusalem is not on fire today. This would be a very ridiculous suggestion that nobody would attempt to defend. In view of that fact, we can see the phrase “fire shall not be quenched” in connection with a fire which eventually went out. It is therefore logical to conclude that this phrase merely means that the fire cannot be put out, and not necessarily that it goes on for ever.

As for the phrase “worm dieth not” in Isaiah we read the following, “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” – Isaiah 66:24. The language here used is identical to that which appears in Mark. In fact, we might go so far as to say that Jesus, who had a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, was likely quoting from this text. We must point out that while the worm doesn’t die, the individual it belongs to is a carcass. We are more than likely dealing with worms feasting on carcasses rather than some kind of undying soul.

What of the phrase “everlasting punishment?” In the book of Matthew we read, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” – Matthew 25:46. It is at this point that a believer in eternal conscious torment will exult, saying “See! I told you! The punishment is everlasting!” What exactly then is the punishment in this passage defined as?

“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” – 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. In response to this question, we present some previously examined texts. Note that in verse 9 when it says “Who shall be punished” this must logically be a reference to those who “obey not the gospel” mentioned previously, and that this sentence in of itself speaks of their ultimate fate while the verse before hand targets their fate at the second coming of Christ.

This statement found here in 2 Thessalonians defines their punishment as “everlasting destruction.” It is to be compared with the passage found in Matthew in order to obtain a proper definition of exactly what the “everlasting punishment” mentioned is. The everlasting punishment mentioned in that passage from the book of Matthew is “Everlasting destruction”, a death from which there is no return, and not eternal conscious torment in fire.

The wicked are to be destroyed for ever. They will not return to cause further problems for God or the righteous. The universe will be purged from sin by fire. The fate of the wicked is Everlasting destruction, not torment for ever in fire.