Is Hell Real?


The reality of Hell is a hotly debated topic. Many believers in Jesus do not believe in a literal “Hell” even though Jesus talked about it at length. Should we discount His words regarding Hell? If so, how can we be sure that the place called Heaven exists? Jesus referred to a place that literally existed in His time to emphasize the existence of a literal Hell. The place was called Gehenna.

What is Gehenna?

Gehenna is a place – a specific location. It is first mentioned in the book of Joshua as the boundary between the lot of land possessed by the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. It is a valley that lies south of Jerusalem bordering the old city of Zion, heading west and runs into the Kidron Valley.

Gehenna – Ge: “valley” and henna: “Hinnom”. “Valley of Hinnom”

In Joshua 15:8, we see this valley called the “Valley of the Son of Hinnom”. Who the “Son or sons of Hinnom” are is not known for certain, but the valley carries this name to the present day.

God spoke to Jeremiah these words concerning the valley:

Jeremiah 19:1-6: Thus says the Lord: “Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests. And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle. “Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, not the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind), therefore behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.”

On the southern brow, overlooking the valley at its eastern extremity Solomon erected high places for Molech, (1 Kings 11:7) whose horrid rites were revived from time to time. In the same vicinity the later idolatrous kings, Ahaz and Manasseh made their children “pass through the fire” in this valley, (2 Kings 16:32 Chronicles 28:333:6) and the fiendish custom of infant sacrifice to the fire-gods seems to have been kept up in Tophet, which was another name for this place – Tophet meaning, “the place of burning”.

Before the time of King Josiah, this valley was the place of the worship of Baal and Molech. To put an end to these abominations the place was polluted by Josiah, who renders it ceremonially unclean by spreading over it human bones and other corruptions, (2 Kings 23:10,13,142 Chronicles 34:4,5) from which time it appears to have become the common cesspool of the city, into which sewage was conducted, to be carried off by the waters of the Kidron.

It has been a common opinion that the later Jews, in imitation of Josiah, threw into this place all manner of filth, as well as the carcasses of animals and the dead bodies of malefactors; and that with reference to either the baleful idolatrous fires in the worship of Moloch, or to the fires afterwards maintained there to consume the mass of impurities that might otherwise have occasioned a pestilence, came the figurative use of the fires of Gehenna, that is, valley of Hinnom, to denote the eternal fire in which wicked men and fallen spirits shall be punished.

The prophecy of Isaiah describing the last days mentions a place of continual corruption and burning (Isaiah 66:24) to which Jesus referred when speaking of the seriousness of dealing with our sins:

Mark 9:47-48: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—“where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

Jesus referred to hell as Gehenna at least 11 times. It was a literal place which Jesus used to illustrate a literal place of final punishment for evildoers.

Now, does Gehenna represent the heart of man or the heart of God?

Gehenna/Valley of Hinnom does not represent the will of God but the will of those who reject God and the will of heaven. The things that went on there in the worship of idols; the destruction that is depicted there does not represent the will of God. When speaking to Jeremiah, God said that things that man did in the Valley of Hinnom never entered into His mind to do. They were products of demonic influence and human activity.

God must judge evil. The removal of evil and the judgment thereof is part of justice, which is a component of love. You cannot have true love without justice for the oppressed. Judgment of evil is as sure as the reality of sin. Does sin exist? Then, so does judgment for sin.

But, God’s heart is salvation. He desires to save all who will be saved.

Does society have a problem with the existence of hell? When you look at how many people believe in a literal hell, you would think so.

God has an even bigger problem with it. He hates it more than you do. In fact, He hates it so much He gave His life to save you from it.

Hell was created for the devil and his fallen angels. They not only wronged God; they wronged you and me as well. Without the ability to choose evil, you don’t truly have free will. Without free will, you and I are not created in the image of God. For choice to exist, you must have something to choose between. That’s why there were two trees in the Garden of Eden – that’s why there are still two “trees” available for us to choose today – good or evil.

God has destroyed the power of hell. Through His Son, Jesus, God took your “hell” upon Himself. If you are a believer, this present existence is as close to hell as you will come. If you are not a believer, there is something worse than anything you can experience in this life. Give your life to Jesus. Avoid Hell. When you really think, the choice is an easy one.

 

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The Millennial Reign of Christ


Today, I will finish the series of blogs about the end times by taking a look at the final event before the establishment of the new heavens and new earth. This final event, or better yet – final time period is known as the Millennial Reign of Christ.

We ended last time by describing the battle of Armageddon. The Antichrist, the False Prophet and their armies move against Israel to destroy her. It is at this time, that Jesus appears on the Mount of Olives just outside of Jerusalem with the armies of heaven. His appearing is accompanied by cataclysmic events such as earthquakes and hailstorms. Jesus destroys the armies arrayed against Him with a word from His mouth. The destruction is to the extent that the blood of the slain flows at the depth of a horse’s bridle for 200 miles! The Antichrist and the False Prophet are captured and thrown into the lake of fire.

Here’s where we pick up:

There are people who believe that the 1000 year reign of Christ known as the Millennial Reign is simply allegorical, with differences covering everything from disagreement over the length of an actual millennium to disagreement on when this will occur to others saying that they don’t believe in a literal, physical reign of Christ upon the earth. It would take too long to discuss the origin and reason for each of these positions. This is my point in mentioning this:

I don’t see any reason to dispute what the Bible seems to be saying which is that there will be a literal 1000 year reign of Christ upon the earth. There is no reason that I can see not to interpret these scriptures literally. You want to interpret all scripture literally unless there is good reason to interpret them figuratively.

Now, the Bible tells us that when Christ returns to the earth at the time of His Second Coming, He will establish  Himself as king in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David. This period of time will result in the fulfillment of several covenants that God made with the patriarchs.

 

It will fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant promising Israel a land, a posterity and a ruler, which shall be a spiritual blessing to all (Gen. 12:1-3). It will fulfill the Palestinian Covenant promising Israel restoration to the land and occupation of it (Deut. 30:1-10). It will also fulfill the Davidic Covenant which promises Israel a king from David’s line who would rule forever—giving the nation rest from all their enemies (2 Sam. 7:10-13).

Israel will be re-gathered from the nations, converted, and restored to the land. The Bible speaks of the conditions during the millennium as being a perfect environment as earthly possible. Micah 4:2-4 and Isaiah 32:17-18 says it will be a time of peace. Isaiah 61:7,10 states that it will be a time of joy. Isaiah 40:1-2 tells of the comfort of that period. Christ will rule as king. According to Isaiah 32:1 and Matthew 19:28, righteous nobles and governors will rule with Him and Zech. 8:3 states that Jerusalem will be the political center of the world.

Who will be alive and populate the earth during the Millennial Reign?

Most scholars believe that there will be two distinct groups occupying the earth in the millennial kingdom – those with glorified bodies and those with earthly bodies who lived through the tribulation. Most scholars believe that those with glorified bodies consist of the raptured Church who return with Christ and the martyred tribulation saints who are resurrected at the Second Coming.

Matthew 25:31-46 tells of the separation of the sheep and the goats. Many scholars believe this to refer to the righteous and unrighteous Gentiles, the unrighteous or goats who took the mark of the beast cast into the lake of fire while the righteous or sheep will survive on into the millennium. Some believe that Old Testament saints will also be raised during this period (Dan. 12:2).

Those who are live during the Tribulation in earthly  bodies are the righteous who survived the Tribulation and, the impression is given that it will be the Israelis alive at the time of Christ’s Second Coming. Zechariah 8:1-5 describes Jerusalem this way:

“I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her. I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the Holy Mountain. Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of his great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.”

Most scholars believe that, according to Christ’s teaching in Matthew 22:30, those with glorified bodies will not marry or be given in marriage so as to produce children, yet those with earthly bodies could have children.

People will not be robots during this period; they will still be responsible for their own faith. The influence of the devil will be gone, the influence of Christ will be present and the authority of the establishment will be righteous.

But, Revelation 20 tells us a sad and unbelievable tale.

At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will go to the lands farthest away from Jerusalem and will deceive people into rebelling against Christ revealing to us the utter folly of the belief that our nature is basically good. An army will be raised and will march against Jerusalem to destroy the rule of Jesus. Fire will fall from the sky and will destroy the army.

Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire, where he will be tortured forever along with all those who lived all throughout history whose names are not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

This is the final even in history before the creation of the new heavens and new earth and in it, the new home of man and God, the New Jerusalem.

Now, hear the pronouncement to those of us who live now:

“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14