Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(II Timothy 2:15)
Hell vs the Lake of Fire
Revelation 19:20-21; 20:7-10; 20:11-15
If you know me, then you know I only teach what the Bible says.
If you find it in print here, then you’ll find it in Scripture; and take note; it will be kept within the context with which it was written. Which means that I’m not going to “lift” a verse from someplace in the Bible just to support my teaching point whether it fits or not, as so many teachers do today. I pray continually that I only teach Bible Truths.
I hope we are clear on that.
I mention this, yet again, because there is so much false teaching out there.
No one should be surprised to hear this truth. In fact, since God warned us there would be false teachers, you and I should be expecting them wouldn’t you say?
But God has prepared for these charlatans and false manipulators of His Word.
This is one of the reasons we have the Bible.
Of course to in order to recognize false teaching one must know the Truth!
If I told you, “The sun sets in the north”, how would you respond?
Hopefully, in love, you’d reply, “No Gary, the sun sets in the west…I know this to be true…I’ve seen it for myself.” Well, there you go my experienced one.
That’s my goal; get the Truth out there and nothing more.
At the very least, I pray I instill the desire for you to start spending more time in the Word. You see I believe people are particularly susceptible to false teaching today because they will not set aside time to study their Bible.
Most “Christians” would rather be “spoon fed” their Bible data…rather than take the time to investigate the Scriptures on their own.
That’s a plan some may be comfortable with; and for the most part no real damage is done. But on matters concerning salvation, believe me; you are tip-toeing through a mine field! Are you really going to wager your eternal destination on someone else’s interpretation of what the Lord Jesus Christ said?
Jesus warns all of those who have “ears to hear” of this place called Hell.
And Since He’s the author of this book (the Bible) I’m not only going to listen –
I’m going to believe Him! That’s a choice you make, of course.
Some suggest Hell exists in another dimension.
Some believe Hell is to be found at the back end of a black hole somewhere deep in space. Although these places are interesting and imaginative, I’m going to stick with what this book says, and with what I know.
THE BIBLE IS ADDRESSED TO FAITH AND NOT TO REASON
Remember that the Biblical principle for understanding scripture is found in Isaiah 28:10 which says “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little…”
What does this mean?
You cannot take one or two Bible verses and base a doctrine on it.
In layman’s terms, this means your “tenet” must be supported by ALL of Scripture.
We’ll follow that principle today as we continue to study the location of Hell.
The Old Testament reveals that there is “life” after death.
Believers and non-believers went to a place the Bible calls Sheol, which is the ancient Hebrew dwelling place for the dead. Let’s go to Scripture.
17: The (who) wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God.
17: Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon You; Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in (where) Sheol (the word “Sheol” is translated Hell 31 times, grave 31 times, and pit 10 times in the KJV Bible. Although this is true, it is better to understand Sheol/Hades/Hell as the place where departed spirits go (where the souls of the dead go).
The righteous (faithful) also went to Sheol.
5: For there is no mention of You (O LORD GOD) in death; In (where) Sheol who will give You thanks?
10: I (Isaiah) said, “In the middle of my life I am to enter the gates of Sheol; I am to be deprived of the rest of my years.
35: (Here we find Jacob in mourning, after hearing the news of Joseph’s death) Then all his sons and all his daughters rose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he (Jacob) said, “Surely I will go (where – and notice the direction) down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” (Joseph)
So, you see, Sheol was a place for all Old Testament peoples whether they were righteous or unrighteous. Now that needs some explaining.
I can hear some of you saying I thought you said Hell was created because,
“There is a need for SEPARATION.”
But there was separation.
In Sheol, the righteous (Believers) were separated from the unrighteous (ungodly).
The Creator God placed a “chasm” between them.
On one side there was Hell. On the other a place Scripture calls Paradise.
Please go to Luke chapter 16.
The Bible calls this one of Jesus’ parables.
I don’t believe it is a parable.
In my opinion, Jesus is pulling back the curtain, just slightly, if you will, to give these Pharisees and us of course a brief glimpse of the O.T. version of Hell and Paradise.
Here’s the telling:
19: “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.
20: “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,
21: and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
22: “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to (where) Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.
23: “In Hades (the rich man) he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (not Abraham’s lap but a place of comfort).
24: “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’
25: “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are
26: ‘And besides all this, (now read carefully – many people don’t recognize what they are reading) between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’
Hell and Paradise coexisted.
But it was impossible for a person to leave their assigned area and go to the other.
Let’s back up to the Old Testament.
Please go to the book of Numbers chapter 16.
First allow me to fill in the background on this Bible account.
Moses and Aaron’s were chosen by God to lead the Israelites.
Aaron was the first chief priest. Their authority as leaders was challenged by a man named Korah along with 250 other Jewish leaders. Moses tried to reason with them but they wouldn’t listen.
They continued to press and contest his and Aaron’s rightful place as their leaders.
So Moses proposed a solution to them. He said let the LORD God choose between them who would lead the Israelites. We pick up the narrative in verse 23.
(The LORD God has made His selection; once again He has chosen Moses and Aaron)
23: Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
24: “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’
25: Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with elders of Israel following him,
26: and he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these (who) wicked men (the LORD God has judged them) and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.”
27” So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones.
28: Moses said, “By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing.
29: (Read carefully) “If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me.
30: “But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the (what) ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into (where exactly) Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.
The direction to Sheol is down into the earth.
Do you see that?
Let’s go to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 32.
22: For a fire is kindled in My anger, (this is the LORD God speaking) And burns to the lowest part of Sheol, And consumes the earth with its yield…
There is much confusion about the meaning of this verse.
We are here simply to point out this running “thread of truth.”
Sheol/Hades/Hell’s direction is downward; and it’s in the heart of the earth.
Follow me, please. Turn to Matthew chapter 12.
Here’s what Jesus Christ told a group of Pharisees one day who asked Him for a sign…
38: Then some of the scribes and the Pharisees said to Him (they are speaking to Jesus), “Teacher, we want to see a sign (The Israelites were used to the supernatural. Often a sign and/or miracle from the LORD God would precede some event or movement in Jewish history) from You,”
39: But He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;
40: for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of (where) the earth…”
When one speaks of “the heart” I believe it’s in reference to the center of something, in most cases. Here’s the thing. Jesus was not going to spend three days and three nights in Hell (Hades in the Greek). Forget that. Where was He going then? Good question.
The Bible has an answer for that.
Please turn to Luke chapter 23.
Here we find Jesus on that Roman cross and near the end of His suffering.
Remember, He was crucified between two thieves.
Therefore, there were three crosses on Golgotha that day.
39: One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”
40: But the other (thief) answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
41: “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
42: And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”
43: (Read carefully. This is why we’re here) And He (Jesus) said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in (where exactly) Paradise.”
Remembering my opening remarks, I was wrongly taught for years about the meaning of verse forty-three. My parish leaders once had me convinced Jesus was telling this redeemed thief, who was now saved, by his spoken faith (he certainly did not have the opportunity to be baptized first), that he would be with Jesus this very day in HEAVEN. Not so!
The way to Heaven was not open!
Remember Jesus said He’d spend 3 days and 3 nights in the “heart of the earth.”
We can’t dismiss that remark as if He’d never said it.
We have to deal with it, so…let’s chase it down.
Please go to Acts chapter 2.Acts 2
27: …BECAUSE YOU (God the Father) WILL NOT ABANDON MY (Jesus Christ) SOUL TO (where) HADES (Sheol/Hell), NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.
Skip down to verse 31.
31: he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE (Jesus) WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID HIS FLESH SUFFER DECAY.
Jesus Christ in “Hades?”
No. Remember what He said. “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Before Resurrection Sunday, Jesus had a promise to keep – a mission to accomplish.
Please go to Ephesians chapter 4.
8: (This is the apostle to the gentiles – Paul, who being led by the Hold Spirit writes to that small church he established in Ephesus) Therefore it (Scripture) says, (I love it when he says that) “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
9: (Now this expression, “He, ascended,” what does it mean except that He also (watch this) descended into the lower parts of (where) the earth?
What does all this mean?
The Lord Jesus Christ, after He expired, was taken down from the cross, placed in the garden tomb, and a huge rock blocked its opening.
After that, He descended into the “lower parts of the earth” to bring forth all those Old Testament Believers who had been waiting there into Heaven.
In other words, Jesus Christ emptied out the Paradise side of Sheol.
You see, all these Old Testament Believers, starting with Adam and Eve, and then moving on up through time, when they died, in faith, were buried but their immortal souls were not transported to Heaven. Instead the souls of the faithful were transported to Paradise (Abraham’s Bosom). They were comforted there; waiting for their promised Redeemer to deliver them.
Paradise is no longer occupied.
Its occupants are now in Heaven with their Redeemer.
Its location, according to the Scriptures is in the center of the earth.
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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