Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Is There Really a Hell?

Yes, I believe there is a hell, a place of eternal separation from God. The New Testament says more about an eternal place of torment than the Old Testament does.

The word Sheol in the Old Testament is used many times. It does not always stand for the place of eternal punishment for the unbeliever though it certainly does some times. Often the grave is a description of Sheol. The context in which the word appears makes it clear whether it refers to the grave or to the eternal punishment of those not rightly related to God.

Two Scriptural examples will illustrate these two meanings. Abraham’s son Jacob mourned for Joseph who had died. Jacob said he would go to Sheol mourning for Joseph (Gen. 37:35). Surely Jacob did not mean he was going to a place of eternal torment to mourn. The psalmist wrote that the wicked go to Sheol as do “all the nations who forget God” (Ps. 9:17). This is an example, in harmony with the context, where Sheol means a place of punishment.

In the New Testament, Jesus had a lot to say about the eternal abode of unbelievers. When He returns, He will say to those on His left side, “Depart from me . . . into eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41). To those on His right side He will say, “. . . Come inherit the kingdom prepared for you” (Matt. 25:34). Jesus also spoke of His rejecters as those who will go into “the furnace of fire” where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41-42).

Yes indeed, there is a hell just as certainly as there is a heaven.