God is a consuming fire, and Jesus is One with the Father. So, when He returns, "the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make an end, yea, a terrible end, of all them that dwell in the land." (Zephaniah 1:18b). The day is fast approaching when all unregenerate flesh will be consumed by the coming of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. No physical flesh can survive the full manifestation of Jesus. For thousands of years man has been obsessed with flesh, and Israel continued to make sacrifices of flesh even though Jesus had put an end to the Law. In the end, God turns the tables and makes His own sacrifice of flesh to, of all things, the scavengers of the air. In the fire of His jealousy, Jesus exposes flesh as mere flesh.1
In the Revelation, John told of seeing an angel who cried with a loud voice, "saying to all the birds that fly in mid heaven, come and be gathered together unto the great supper of God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit thereon, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, and small and great." (Revelation 19:17b-18).Jesus Himself prophesied of the same when He said, "Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." (Matthew 24:28). Vultures are related to eagles and hawks,2 so the use of "eagles" would indicate the immediate appearance of vultures coming to feast on the creatures of flesh, both human and animal, that were slain by Jesus' presence.
Ezekiel also prophesied of the destruction of flesh with words similar to those in Revelation. The word of the Lord God will go out to the birds of prey and beasts of the field, calling them to the "sacrificial feast" that He is preparing for them at which they "may eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, of goats, and of bullocks." He gives the reason in this next passage: "And I will manifest My honor and glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see My judgment and justice [in the punishment] which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know, understand, and realize beyond all question that I am the Lord their God from that day forward."3
In His dealings with all that is flesh, God shows Israel the value of flesh. God intended for man to live as he had been created to live, but because man fell, flesh HAD to be destroyed. By destroying, once and for all, the thing that man had put between himself and his Creator, God makes a mockery of the fleshly works by the hands of man. Jesus had come to destroy death brought on by flesh, by taking our bodies of sinful flesh in Himself, but man has been unwilling to surrender his flesh to the crucifying power of Jesus. And now, as Jesus returns to earth in His glorious, resurrected body, it will be too late for man; he will have made his choice, and he will perish.
Peter told of cataclysmic occurrences: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the which the heavens (which had been the demonic realm) shall pass away with a great noise [whizzing sound]4, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up [consumed]."5 (2 Peter 3:10).
Peter's message continues with further confirmation: "Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved [loosened],6 what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire [refined]7 shall be dissolved, and the elements [rudiments] shall melt with fervent heat? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Peter 3:11-13). By this we see how the earth will be purged of all unrighteousness. The word "dissolved" was translated from the same Greek word used as "loose him" when Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead and said, "Loose him, and let him go."8
Peter also pointed to Paul the Apostle's words, saying, "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot, and blameless in his sight. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest [pervert]9, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:14-16). Paul poured out his life for the sake of the Gospel, warning repeatedly of the pitfalls of the flesh and the Law. Many who are "ignorant and unstedfast" have not come to an understanding of the Truth, but have perverted it "unto their own destruction."
Peter ended his second epistle with the admonition to beware, lest being "carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in the grace, and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:17b-18a). In these last days, we must remain yielded to the working of God's Grace, and steadfast in our pursuit of relationship with Jesus. It is the only hope we have to escape the error that is so widespread in the church.
There are dreadful consequences for those who at one time may have experienced the new birth, but have wilfully turned away. Having once had the Spirit of Christ come to dwell in them, they are without excuse--it is "impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (Hebrews 6:6b). The writer of Hebrews also tells us of the "sorer" punishment that is due those who have "trodden under foot the Son of God" and made the blood of the covenant to appear as "an unholy thing," doing "despite unto [insulting]10 the Spirit of grace."11 Any person who has known the Life of Christ and experienced God's Grace, but returns to trusting in the flesh is turning his back on Jesus. He is treading under foot the One who died to free him from the very thing to which he has reverted--FLESH. He has insulted the Spirit of Grace who was given to keep him faithful to Jesus.
Peter spoke similarly when he told of what will be the end for those who are deceived by the false teachers, and turn away from Christ. If we become entangled again in the "pollutions of the world" after coming to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we will be worse off than if we had never known Him. "For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'A dog returns to his own vomit,' and, 'a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.'" (2 Peter 2:21-22 NKJV).
Death at its worst
The Lake of Fire is referred to as "the second death" in Revelation 21:8: "For the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death."
There is no death worse than everlasting hell-fire. But there are varying degrees of punishment in the Lake of Fire. The Greek word "Hades,"12 translated as both "grave" (1 Corinthians 15:55) and "hell," (Revelation 20:13, 14, et al) is easily misinterpreted. "Hades" is the place (state) of departed souls. This is where the rich man conversed with Abraham and asked him to send the beggar Lazarus with a drop of water to cool his tongue because he was tormented in the flame. (Luke 26:19-26). Hades, the abode of the dead, is where Jesus went at His death and where He "preached" to the "spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:19). There was a great gulf13 separating the righteous from the unrighteous until Jesus ascended to the Father. Ever since His ascension, the spirits of those having died with faith in Him have ascended to where He is with the Father.
The second Greek word, translated "hell," is derived from a Hebrew word14. It depicts the place or state of everlasting punishment. With the exception of James 3:6, all other uses of this "hell" can be found in Jesus' words in the gospels.
The third use of the English word "hell" can be found once in Second Peter 2:4. The meaning of this Greek word is "deepest abyss of Hades" or "to incarcerate in eternal torment."15 Peter said, "For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. . ." Peter goes on, in the remainder of the passage, to tell how false teachers who turn souls away from the truth will receive the same punishment. This is also the place to which Jesus referred when He spoke of separating the sheep from the goats: "Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" (Matthew 25:41 Amplified).
The Greek word for "angels" literally means "messengers" as well as "(by implication) pastors."16 The deepest abyss of Hades was prepared especially for the devil and his "messengers," which includes any and all who have not proclaimed the truth, but have spoken lies--calling it "preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Scenario of the Lake of Fire
Because of having been allowed the privilege of experiencing the Father's heartbreak, and having learned all that has been presented in previous chapters, I believe that what I am about to describe has been placed in my heart by God Himself. Remember, it is only a scenario. But, is it possible that eternity could be this way for those who have not surrendered to Jesus, the One who gives Life? The following is what I believe the Lord showed me:
"The fire in the Lake of Fire is an everlasting, unquenchable fire but not a consuming fire. It is a lake of fire AND brimstone. Brimstone is sulfur--it burns with a blue flame, and its stifling odor stings the nostrils.17 Those who spend eternity in that horrible place will experience never-ending, excruciating pain unlike anything they ever suffered on earth. The stifling odor from the brimstone will cause those in hell to cry out for air, but they will never breathe fresh air again. There will be no unconsciousness to take away the sense of suffocation. There will be the stench of burning flesh that never dies and is never consumed. There will be no shutting out the screams of anguish, the shrieks of rage, and the grinding of teeth--the loud wailing of masses of people will go on for eternity. There will be aloneness such as they have never known, with no insanity in which to escape. There will be no fellowship, no shoulder to cry on, and no sympathetic ear. They lived for self while on earth, and now all they have is "self"--no one will care because each one will be taken up with his or her own torment.
"There is no such thing as annihilation in the Lake of Fire. The relief of death will never come, because death also has been cast into the Lake of Fire.18 Just as there is no such thing as unconsciousness, there is no such thing as sleep in the Lake of Fire--tiredness will never end. Eyes will never close to give relief from the torturous, sulfuric fumes. Thirst and the agonizing pain of dryness on the tongue and throat will be endless.
"Those things for which the tormented souls lived on earth will indicate the area of their torment in the Lake of Fire. Those who abused their bodies with tobacco, alcohol, or drugs will never have relief--the cravings will be eternal. If, on earth, any were involved in some form of sexual perversion their torment will be some of the worst--because the body was intended to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, and their sin was against the body. There will be never-ending memories of their partners, and they will be tormented constantly with unfulfilled desires.
"Memories of all the evil deeds committed while on earth will remain vivid forever. Never to be forgotten will be the memories of every wrong done against another. There will be memories of times when the Gospel was heard, but put off until 'later.' They will remember every believer they knew on earth. There will be the memories of a godly mother or grandmother who spent countless hours praying for them, while they wilfully rejected Jesus. Two words will ring incessantly in their minds: 'if only.' And there will be no end to the 'ringing.'
"Unrepentant murderers and those having shed the blood of the innocent unborn--or any unrepentant person responsible for encouraging such--will pay an eternal price. Thoughts of the cries of babies will haunt them forever--there will be no escape.
"The false prophets (i.e. ministers who have not preached the truth) who caused souls to be lost, will have the worst punishment of all. They will be horrified to find themselves cast into the Lake of Fire, in the company of Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. The rage of these false ministers against God whom they believed they served will cause blasphemous tirades to echo all over the Lake of Fire. Those whom they turned away from trusting Jesus will recognize the voices of these "ministers," and their anger and anguish will be magnified at the sound of these religious imposters who lied to them."
All those who are suffering the torment of hell-fire are there because they chose a life of flesh. And now their eternal reward is in the place "where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED." (Mark 9:48 NAS).
1. 2 Peter 2:12
2. Webster's New World Dictionary - Simon & Schuster Inc. 1986
3. Ezekiel 39:17-22 Amplified
4. Greek #4500
5. Greek #2618
6. Greek #3089
7. Greek #4448
8. John 11:44
9. Greek #4761
10. Greek #1796
11. Hebrews 10:28-29
12. Greek #86
13. Luke 16:26
14. Greek #1067
15. Greek #5020
16. Greek #32
17. Webster's New World Dictionary - Simon & Schuster Inc. 1986
18. Revelation 20:14