Question: Dear Brandon,
Thanks again for this forum and your dedication to Our Father. Could you help me to understand why the Bible says the sinners that don't make it will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Is this a figure of speech? I thought they would be blotted out. Thank You and may God continue to Bless you...
Answer: Dorothy, thank you for the question. A lot of people have a tough time with this one, so we are taking a deep dive.
Sinners are not tormented forever, it is a figure of speech. We are going to document that, but I want you to understand death is a product of Satan's fall from The World That Was. Looking forward, Satan who brought about death will be destroyed at the end of the Millennium, and with that, death, pain, and suffering will all be done away with.
We are going to start off by reading the words of Jesus Christ.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Jesus clearly explained, our Father can destroy our body and soul. In fact, this word “destroy” means,
To destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: - destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.
Destroy does not mean burn forever, destroy means perish, cease to exist.
Either the soul burns alive forever and ever, or as Jesus plainly said, souls are destroyed. It cannot be both. Otherwise, that contradicts the Bible and makes the entire Book a lie.
Some might be wondering about Lazarus and the Rich Man. So let us read what Jesus said in Luke 16:19-31. Remember, when Lazarus and the Rich Man passed away, their spirit returned to God, (Ecclesiastes 12:7, see: Do We Go To Heaven When We Die?).
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
"He" is the Rich Man, and he was not burning in hell. Abraham was in the general vicinity of him and doing just fine.
Neither was the Rich Man in any physical pain. His spirit which is the soul was now in Heaven in his spiritual body which does not perish or age. The Rich Man was in “hell” which simply means the “grave or the place (state) of departed souls”. The “departed souls” who did not follow God's Word, and this is why the Rich Man is in “torments”. Take a look at this word and you will see it means, “The notion of going to the bottom”.
The Rich Man not only found himself in Heaven faced with the reality of God, but on the wrong side of the Gulf in Heaven and away from his earthly treasures. He quite literally hit rock bottom.
Have you ever hit rock bottom?
If you have, then you had a small taste of what the Rich Man was feeling. Think about it, he was a wealthy and powerful man on the earth, but now on the wrong side of the Gulf in Heaven, he was very lowly and realized in that instant, he made a mistake. Try and envision the torment, shame, and humiliation he was dealing with.
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
This is symbology, no man on fire has ever had a conversation before. Further, if the Rich Man was really burning, do we honestly think a drop of water would extinguish the flame and his torment?
This is simply a figure of speech to explain how humiliating the situation was. I am sure there have been situations in all of our lives where we have burned with humiliation. You can literally feel your body temperature rise as you turn red. That is only a small example of the Rich Man's new reality.
Turn your Bible with me to,
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.
This verse is often cited as evidence sinners are tormented forever and ever. Yet, this is simply a figure of speech, just as the words of the Rich Man were.
We also find this same reference toward the Great Whore of Revelation 17.
2 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 his servants at her hand.
3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever.
This Great Whore is symbolic of the city of Babylon, (Revelation 17:18). Obviously, a symbolic city cannot burn, it is not something tangible that can burn in a flame forever and ever.
Look, when we sit around a campfire, what happens to the smoke?
The smoke rises into the air and dissipates into nothing. That is exactly what God is trying to convey to us.
That is also why those in Revelation 14:11 have no rest, they did not find Jesus Christ in the flesh, and without Him, there is no rest. Nor would one be able to obtain spiritual rest when they are on the wrong side of the Gulf in Heaven as the Rich Man is.
The Saints who follow God today, and those throughout history will take part in the First Resurrection which occurs on the first day of the Millennium. This means they obtain Eternal Life, their soul will become immortal.
However, those on the wrong side of the Gulf in Heaven must turn to God during the Millennium and accept Him, otherwise, they will be destroyed in the Lake of Fire at the White Throne Judgement. They will have 1,000 years to make the correct decision being taught by Jesus Christ and His Saints, (Revelation 20:4-6).
At the end of the Millennium, what must be mere moments before the Eternity we have the White Throne Judgement, (Revelation 20:11). At that point, Satan has been cast into the Lake of Fire which is the permanent destruction of his soul. There is no coming back from this death which was prophesied long ago, (Revelation 20:10, Ezekiel 28:15-19).
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
We have another figure of speech, there are no dead people standing around God. He is "not a God of the dead, but of the living," and we should understand 'to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord' in our true bodies which are our spiritual bodies that never get sick, old or die (1 Corinthians 15:35-55, 2 Corinthians 5:8, Luke 20:38).
The dead mentioned here are the spiritually dead. Those like the Rich Man who are on the wrong side of the Gulf in Heaven. The spiritually dead are those who did not accept Christ on earth. They will now be judged by their works, hopefully, they make changes during the Millennium where they will be taught by Christ and His Saints, (Revelation 22:12).
This is the second and final resurrection.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
These last two verses sound grim, but they are an outstanding promise from God. Not only are the wicked finally destroyed, meaning their souls are extinguished, but death itself is now destroyed. This will fulfill the Scripture "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?", (1 Corinthians 15:55).
With death itself, Satan, his angels, and all the wicked souls that have ever existed now destroyed, we begin the Eternity. This is the moment in time when God renews Heaven and Earth, (Revelation 21:1). This will be the moment when,
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
As you read that verse, I want you to consider the thought of souls burning alive forever and ever screaming in pain... Not only does that contradict the words of Jesus we read earlier. It also contradicts this verse as well.
Imagine your mother, father or another loved family member. Some of them may not be in the Eternity. Imagine them screaming and burning forever and ever while you witness it each and every day.
- Would you feel sorrow?
- Would your eyes be dry?
- Would you feel pain?
When God said He is going to wipe away all of our tears, that is a promise.
God will accomplish that by destroying; Satan, sinners, death, pain, and sorrow. None of those things will exist in the Eternity. That is how we can be sure and confident that sinners will not be tormented forever. Instead, their souls are instantly destroyed in the Lake of Fire as they are blotted out from the Book of Life, (Psalms 69:28, Revelation 3:5).
God uses symbology so we can better understand His Word. No one appreciates or likes the idea of burning in a Lake of Fire forever and ever. This symbology was used so we can understand how severe, humiliating, and emotionally stressful this reality must be.
For the entire 1,000 year Millennium, the Rich Man (even since his death) and those on the wrong side of the Gulf in Heaven will continually feel the stinging burn of pending death until they hopefully obtain redemption, though that is their choice.