Hello and welcome back to K.I.S.S.I.T. I hope you found my last blog, ‘Is God Real?’ interesting. This week we will be discussing a topic, hellfire and brimstone, that I had questions about when I was very young.
Just say it out loud and how does it make you feel?
Hellfire and Brimstone!
Hellfire and brimstone is a topic that is highly defended by those who believe in this place of eternal torment. My opinion about hell is not why we are here. I am here to present to you what I have found from my research in both the bible and other sources. I am not asking anyone to believe what I am about to put forth. You have the right to believe whatever you chose; you even have the right not to believe in any of this. However, if you want to keep it scripturally simple, then let us get started!
In my first blog I stated that, according to the bible, we are created in God’s image … our capacity to love or forgive all comes from God. If I were to ask you, “If you had the power to burn someone that you disliked very much for all eternity, would you do it?” I am hoping most of you would answer, ‘No.’
Okay, so why should we believe that God would partake in this horrific deed? Why would God burn people for all eternity due to disobedience? Let us see what we can find out from the bible.
Life and death are mentioned in the very beginning of the Bible at Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 says, “And God proceeded to form the man of the dust from the ground, and blow into his nostrils the breath of life; and man came to be a living soul.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+2%3A7&version=KJV
Think about what the bible is stating here for a minute. Adam, who God created from the dust of the earth, was dead until God blew the breath of life into him, and then he became a living soul. That is how life came to be … so what about death?
Let us read Genesis chapter 2 verses16-17 to see what God told Adam in the Garden of Eden: 16 And God also laid this command upon the man: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. 17 But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%202:16-17
This is the first time the bible mentions death. What is death? Genesis chapter 3 verses17-19 says, 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and took to eating from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, ‘You must not eat from it, cursed is the ground on your account. In pain, you will eat its produce all the days of your life. And thorns and thistles it will grow for you and you must eat the vegetation of the field. In the sweat of your face, you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%203:17-19
At the end of his life, for his disobedience, Adam would turn back into the dust from which he was created. That is what God told him, is it not? If a place of torment existed, would this not have been the best time for God to have told Adam, “because you have disobeyed me, you will burn in a place of fire and be tormented for all eternity.”
God simply said, “from dust you came and to dust you shall return.” So then this belief in hell, and torturous ‘hellfire and brimstone’ must have come into existence later.
Some people will say that the soul of a person goes to heaven or to hell a place of torment after they die. That is not what God told Adam, according to the bible. Before he was living, Adam was dust. After he died, Adam went back to dust, the curse that was placed on Adam for his disobedience has been passed on to his descendants, us. Therefore, after we die, we return to the dust from which Adam formed. Most people would call that a grave.
Note: A grave is a location where a dead body (typically that of a human, although sometimes that of an animal) is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grave
If you look up the word ‘hell’ online, you will find all kinds of sites trying to use the bible to explain that belief and a few that do not indorse it. Does the bible back up their claims of hell being a place of fiery torment?
First, let us see if we can figure out where this teaching began. We will use the first search I found when looking for the definition of hell. I found it at http://www.biblestudytools.com
Please take notice of the word ‘Sheol’. That is a Hebrew word. The people that had a relationship with God at the time of the Old Testament were Hebrews. I went to https://en.wikipedia.org for the meaning of the word ‘sheol’…
She’ol (/ˈʃiːoʊl/ SHEE-ohl or /ˈʃiːəl/ SHEE-əl; Hebrew שְׁאוֹל Šʾôl), in the Hebrew Bible, is a place of darkness to which all the dead go, both the righteous and the unrighteous, regardless of the moral choices made in life, a place of stillness and darkness cut off from life and from God.
A place where the righteous and the unrighteous go. It does not say a word about any of the dead being where, “conscious souls face a shadowy existence in this “land of oblivion.” Sheol sounds more like a grave, does it not? Let us read Ecclesiastes chapter 9 verses 4-5,
4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 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.
I understand that to be saying that we that who are living know that one day we will die, but, after we die, we are conscious of nothing at all. It must be talking about the soul of all-living beings.
Leviticus chapter 17 verse 14 says, “You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus%2017
Remember, God blew into Adam’s nostrils and he became a living soul or life. The soul of a person is their life. Look at what Wikipedia says the Hebrew meaning of the word ‘soul’ is:
The traditional concept of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body was not found in Judaism before the Babylonian Exile, but developed as a result of interaction with Persian and Hellenistic philosophies. Accordingly, the Hebrew word nephesh, although translated as “soul” in some older English Bibles, actually has a meaning closer to “living being”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_in_the_Bible
A living being, is that not what the bible said in Genesis chapter 2 verse 7? Most Christian religions teach that the soul of a dead person will go to heaven or hell. They say that the soul cannot die. In Ezekiel chapter 18 verse 4 God said, “Look! All the souls —– to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son —– to me they belong. The soul that is sinning —– it itself will die.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel+18%3A4&version=KJV .
Wikipedia tells us that the Hebrews did not believe in an immortal soul. It seems that when a living soul dies, it returns to the dust of the earth, according to the bible. Therefore, people are not conscious in hell. To me that sounds like hell, is the common grave of humans.
If you would like another source for more information? Then try http://www.jlfoundation.net/mh.html
Therefore, you may wonder how this belief in hell came into being. It comes down to the translation of the Hebrew word ‘Sheol’ into the Greek word ‘Hades’.
Again, Wikipedia gives us a clue. It says: When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 BC, the word “Hades” (the Greek underworld) was substituted for Sheol. This is reflected in the New Testament where Hades is both the underworld of the dead and the personification of the evil it represents.
That is not the meaning given from the Hebrew definition of the word Sheol. So now, we have to find the meaning of Hades.
In Greek mythology, Hades was regarded as the oldest son of Cronus and Rhea, although the last son regurgitated by his father. He and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon defeated their father’s generation of gods, the Titans, and claimed rulership over the cosmos. Hades received the underworld, Zeus the sky, and Poseidon the sea, with the solid earth—long the province of Gaia—available to all three concurrently. Hades was often portrayed with his three-headed guard dog Cerberus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hades
Hades, Greek God of the underworld. So what is this underworld?
The Greek underworld, in mythology, is an otherworld where souls go after death, and is the original Greek idea of afterlife. At the moment of death the soul is separated from the corpse, taking on the shape of the former person, and is transported to the entrance of the Underworld.The Underworld itself is described as being either at the outer bounds of the ocean or beneath the depths or ends of the earth. It is considered the dark counterpart to the brightness of Mount Olympus, and is the kingdom of the dead that corresponds to the kingdom of the gods. Hades is a realm invisible to the living, made solely for the dead.
The belief of a soul that lives on after death originates not from the bible, but from Greek mythology. So would the Creator of all things be associated with Greek mythology? I think not. However, even in my search, I cannot find where the Greek underworld is a place of torment.
So where did this place of torment come from? ‘Hell’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Gehenna’. Most people have never even heard of this word because when translating it to English they just substituted it with the word hell. So what was Gehenna?
Let us look at https://www.gotquestions.org/Gehenna.html
Answer: The word gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, meaning “Valley of [the sons of] Hinnom.” This valley south of Jerusalem was where some of the ancient Israelites “passed children through the fire” (sacrificed their children) to the Canaanite god Molech (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2–6). The place is called “Tophet” in Isaiah 30:33. In later years, Gehenna continued to be an unclean place used for burning trash from the city of Jerusalem. Jesus used Gehenna as an illustration of hell.
In the days of Jesus, Gehenna was a trash dump that burned with fire night and day. Therefore, when Jesus said that those that were not part of God’s kingdom would be thrown into Gehenna, he meant they were going to be done away with, just like the trash in the garbage dump. So maybe you are beginning to see how this hellfire belief began.
The next thing people will say is that Revelation chapter 20 verse 10 speaks of a lake of fire. “And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and Sulphur, where the wild beast and the false prophet [already were]; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+20%3A10&version=KJV
Sounds like the belief in hell has relevance after all, right?
Not so fast.
Let me read what it says in verses 13 thru 14 of the same chapter in Revelation.
“And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2020:13-14
It says that death and Hades or (Hell) gave up the dead in them, and they were judged. That sounds like the resurrection of the dead to life, so they could be judged according to their deeds. Someone cannot be resurrected from the dead, if they are already being tormented consciously in hell for their deeds, can they? If Hell is a place of torment for the wicked, why is it giving up its dead?
Then it says that, “Death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.” The second death? What is the second death, and how can one hurl death, something that is not physical, into a physical lake of fire? Chapter 20 verse 15 in Revelation tells the story. “Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+20%3A15&version=KJV
What could this book of life be? Could it be God’s memory of each and every one of us and everyone that has ever lived? If it is God’s memory of us, that would explain why this would be the second death, because God has forgotten everyone not written in the book of life or His memory. They have no hope of ever living again.
The first death is the one almost all humans will endure. There is a resurrection of the dead from that death, the first death, but not the second. For the bible says at Acts chapter 24 verse 15 “that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (NWT) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+24%3A15&version=KJV
If we, according to most Christian religions, either go to heaven or hell when we die, why is there going to be a resurrection on judgement day? It would seem to me that if we were already in heaven or hell there would be no need of a judgment day, our sentences would have already been handed down on us.
Why does the bible use fire to denote God’s displeasure with unrighteous beings, whether they be humans or spirits? Fire is the most destructive element that we humans know of, even the hardest substance known to man, diamonds, will burn, if exposed to enough heat, according to https://www.gemsociety.org.
The bible uses fire to help us understand that if you are forgotten by God, you will cease to exist. Hebrews chapter 24 verse 29 says, “For our God is a consuming fire.” (NWT) What greater torment could there be, than to be forgotten by God?
Again, at Malachi chapter 4 verse 1, the bible states: “For, look! The day is coming that is burning like the furnace, and all the presumptuous ones and all those doing wickedness must become like stubble.”
I can find no reason to believe that my God would put unrighteous persons in a place of torment for all eternity. To take back His life giving spirit from beings who willingly choose to disobey Him, like Adam, does make sense to me. But once death is hurled into the lake of fire, death and the Devil will be no more.
So this concludes my analysis and explanation of the subject of ‘hellfire and brimstone’. I hope you will join me next time, for my next discussion. The whole bible comes down to two philosophies … what do you think they are?
Before you leave, I’d like to invite you to see and hear a live discussion on this subject of Hellfire and Brimstone. Please visit my YouTube channel and tune into this episode: (Just click on the image)