By Buel Hallpike
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Most Bible believers are looking forward to an eternal life spent in the presence of Yahweh and Yahshua. Nevertheless some have difficulty in reconciling seeming contradictions between verses that tell us about that glorious future.
The Bible teaches, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which [Yahweh] has prepared for those who love Him 1 Cor 2:9. We are unable to know exactly what the future world will be like until we see Yahshua. But the Bible gives enough information that we can have clear answers to specific basic questions without the need for guessing or remaining perplexed.
Sinners also ought to have clarity on what will be their punishment for rejecting Yahweh. Some verses convey the impression that their fate is death, while others seem to suggest it is eternal torment.
Working on the premise that the Bible does not contradict itself, we will examine verses that may not be so easily or readily understood and see whether we can improve our comprehension of what the Bible teaches is the future for the saved and unsaved.
1. Does Isaiah 65:20 contradict Revelation 21:4?
In Isaiah 65:17, Yahweh said, "behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind". Isaiah then continued in verse 20 No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. What? Could there be "sinner" and "death" in the new heaven and new earth? Revelation 21:4 tells us that [Yahweh] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. In Revelation 21:27 we read, there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
How could one writer seem to tell us there will be death and sinners in the new heaven and new earth while another says the complete opposite? The two cannot be made to fit perfectly. If we accept that the Bible does not teach contradictory doctrines, we are bound to conclude that they cannot be both describing the same period.
When the meaning of a verse is unclear, its meaning can be better understood if we consider more precise scriptures on the same topic elsewhere in the Bible. There is no difficulty in understanding Revelation chapters 20-22. It is one of the Bible’s major themes and the hope of every believer. There is absolutely no doubt that before the new heavens come to a new earth, ALL the causes and results of man’s sins would have been totally destroyed. One of the main purposes of Yahshua’s Second Coming will be the final destruction of the forces of evil and to prepare the way for the new heaven and earth. Satan would have been thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where he will no longer be able to influence or deceive. There also, will be all those who rejected Yahweh’s ways. Rev 20:14-15 state, then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
With evil removed from the earth, the stage would have been set for the elimination of pain, suffering, death, sorrow, crying and sin, which shall not be in the new heaven and new earth. Indeed even Isaiah himself wrote, He will swallow up death forever, and [Yahweh Elohim] will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for [Yahweh] has spoken Isa 25:8.
Therefore how could Isaiah be referring to the time of the new heaven and earth, and say nevertheless that persons will die (Isa 65:20)? If he is not alluding to the same events detailed in Rev 20-22, to what then is he referring?
The verse is covering a period of time in which man’s lifespan would be increased to that of the pre-flood era, where a person one hundred years of age would be regarded as a child. Compared to Methuselah, a person one hundred years of age would have only lived for roughly one ninth of their potential life span. If for convenience we regarded average life expectancy today to be seventy years, then one ninth would be less than eight years of age – a child. It is to this scale of longevity that Isaiah is making comparison, in which the hundred year old is considered to be a mere youth!
Even though a return to those early Biblical lifespans would be a significant improvement on the present day, it is far removed from our hope of eternal life, where pain and death will be forever obliterated. Living for as long as Methuselah is not our final hope. It is not the destiny of those who will live with Yahweh when He comes to dwell with His people. There cannot be a new heaven and new earth in which according to John, death would be no more, and also that which Isaiah seems to be describing in verse 20, in which persons would die. Both are irreconcilable if relating to the same event. But as we have seen, Isaiah has himself admitted in chapter 25 verse 8 that death and tears would not be in the new heavens and earth. Therefore Isaiah 65:20 cannot possibly be describing what will happen, at the time of the new heaven and the new earth, as this is not only contrary to Rev 21:4, but also to Isa 25:8
In verses 21 and 22, Isaiah details some of the normal everyday activities people will be carrying out. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. Enjoying the mundane work of our hands is not the occupation we would expect at that time when we will no longer bear the penalty of Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience to Yahweh. The curse of eating bread from the sweat of our brows (Gen 3:19) would have been removed. It is true Isaiah has said we will not be deprived of the enjoyment of the fruits of our labour. That is a significant improvement on the present day. But it is still a far cry from enjoying the work of Yahweh’s hands in our eternal home, where sin and its consequences would be no more.
Once again, although Isaiah’s prophecy in 65:21-22 takes us a stage further than our present state, it does not seem to promise us the Biblical Utopia that Revelation tells us will be our final destiny. In our new idyllic home we would not expect to do any work for the purpose of our survival, but in service, praise and worship of Yahweh and Yahshua.
Nevertheless we cannot simply dismiss Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah has made this prophecy, so we can expect it to come to pass. When and how will that be?
It is wrong to assume that because Isaiah 65:17 speaks of new heavens and a new earth, that everything in the succeeding verses is telling us what will happen in the new heaven and earth. Before the new heaven and earth takes place, the enemies of Yahweh will have to be defeated. This is covered in Isaiah 66:15-16: behold, [Yahweh] will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword [Yahweh] will judge all flesh; and the slain of [Yahweh] shall be many. Verse 18 tells us, It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.
This is not the time when there will be a new heaven and earth. Rather it precedes the new heaven and new earth. It is the time of Messiah’s Second Coming, when His fury will be vented on His opponents, and He will defeat His foes on earth and will set up His Kingdom. It is the time of the end of Gentile dominance over Israel that is referred to by Yahshua, when He said "Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled" Luke 21:24. (Note: this is not to be confused with Rom 11:25, in which Paul speaks of the fullness of the Gentiles). It is in that Kingdom that there will be peace in Jerusalem; persons will live for a much longer time and would enjoy the fruits of their labour; like a well-established tree there would be stability and Israel would dwell in safety (Isa 65:20-25). This will be a great time for Israel, when Jerusalem will rejoice, but it will not be the new heaven and earth.
In Isaiah 66:22-24 we are given more details: "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says [Yahweh], "so shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the [Yahweh]. "And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
Zechariah takes up this same theme. He wrote in Zech 14:16-19 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, [Yahweh] of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, [Yahweh] of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which [Yahweh] strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
This will NOT happen when there is a new heaven and new earth, and the earth is completely cleansed from all disobedience, after the influence of Satan would have been finally eradicated. Only those who have been made new would have inherited eternal life and live in this brand new everlasting home with Yahweh. No, Isaiah 65:20 can only be referring to a time that precedes the new heavens and a new earth. It is the Millennial Kingdom period he is describing.
‘A-Millennialists’ who do not believe in Yahshua’s literal 1000-year reign on earth, think that this verse is symbolic rather than factual. But if we accept this, then there is no reason why most of Isaiah should not be considered to be also metaphorical. The fact is that Revelation chapter 20 tells us in six consecutive verses that there will be a thousand year reign of Yahshua.
Verse 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to [Yahshua] and for the word of [Yahweh], who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with [the Messiah] for a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of [Yahweh] and of [the Messiah], and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison.
Make no mistake about it, Yahshua shall reign on EARTH for one thousand years and His saints will also reign with Him on EARTH. Rev 5:9-10 state: And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to [Yahweh] by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our [Eloah]; And we shall reign on the earth."
If one should doubt that verses 20-24 of Isaiah 65, relate to the Millennial Kingdom, then such a person would be left with only two other options. One alternative is to assume that Isaiah 65:20 like Revelation 21:4 deals with the time of new heavens and a new earth. By doing this you retain the irreconcilable perplexity of these two verses, and you would not have progressed from the contradiction between these verses. The other alternative is to have the view of ‘A-Millennialists’ in thinking it is allegorical rather than the literal. Neither of these points of view is consistent with the repeated promises and expectations detailed throughout the Bible.
The rest of chapter 65 to the end of 66 provide details of the beginning of the process by which Yahweh will create new heavens and earth. First Yahshua will return to earth, defeat His enemies (Isa 66:15-16), set up His Millennial kingdom and during one thousand years Satan will be bound. In 1 Cor 15:24-25 Paul tells us, then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to [Yahweh] the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. "All enemies" include pain, sorrow and death.
It is only then that [Yahweh] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away Rev 21:4.
There is no contradiction between these two Bible records. Isaiah 65:20 tells us of events that will precede the new heavens and earth. It describes the time when Yahshua will reign on earth for 1000 years. Revelation 21:4 on the other hand gives an account of the time when there are new heavens and a new earth.
2. Does Revelation 21:24 suggest that in the new Heaven and earth there would be unsaved nations?
Revelation 21:24 states: the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. This does not mean that in, or during the time of the new heaven and earth, there would be nations that are not saved. Psalm 9:17 tells us: The wicked shall be turned into [sheol], and ALL THE NATIONS that forget [Yahweh]. This is reiterated in other places. Ps 37:10 for yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. Ps 37:28 [Yahweh] loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
Rev 20:15 anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
In the new heaven and earth there will be no place for nations or peoples who are not saved. They would have been already destroyed 'burned up' in the lake of fire.
Furthermore, the NKJV footnotes state "NU-Text and M-Text omit ‘of those who are saved'". This casts some doubt on the validity of the phrase "of those who are saved", and therefore means that one should not allow the inclusion of this phrase to colour their understanding of this verse. In the new heaven and earth, ALL unrighteousness would have been totally eradicated. There is no room for or contact with the unrighteous. There would no longer be nations that are not saved. All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them Jer 31:34. The rendition of Revelation 21:14 without the phrase ‘of those who are saved’, makes the meaning much clearer and removes the possibility, which is unsupported elsewhere in Scriptures that in the new heaven and new earth there will be some nations who are not saved. Several translations have omitted this phrase. Those include the ASV, DBY, NASB, NIV, NRSV and RSV.
If however we retain the phrase, then based on other Scriptures and the clarification in the NKJV footnote, the verse should be understood to mean, "those who are saved out of the nations". The unsaved would have had the punishment of the second death and would not be found.
3. Healing in the new universe?
Rev 22:2 states: In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Will there still be a need for healing in the new universe? For clarification of this verse, we must refer once again to Rev 21:4 "And [Yahweh] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
When we fully accept that there will be no suffering, we are compelled to acknowledge that the tree of life will not be required to heal any diseases or to keep the inhabitants of the city healthy. Fundamental to understanding these verses is our belief in the unmistakable teaching in Revelation 21:4 that death, suffering and crying will be no more. When we really believe this plain and simple teaching, then there is no need to be confused when some other verse with less clarity may seem to contradict what has been already clearly stated.
Yahshua said in Rev 2:7 "To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of [Yahweh]." This is repeated in Rev 22:14 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.
This tree of life is one of our Key rewards for overcoming to the end. But how and when does one eat from the Tree of Life?
Paul tells us, This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory" 1 Cor 15:53-54.
Hosea wrote in Hosea 13:14 "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!
From the moment we have become immortal, there will be no need for healing. The healing would have already taken place. We would have already partaken whether literally or figuratively of the tree of Life that had been denied to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
It brings us to the question: ‘what is the tree of life?’
The expression ‘tree of life’ is used metaphorically in many parts of Scripture:
Prov 11:30 the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
Prov 13:12 hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Prov 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
In the Garden of Eden, ‘The tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ was the means whereby one would be led into paths of unrighteousness and die. Conversely, the tree of life is the means whereby one can obtain eternal life. Eat of it and you would not die. In John 6:51 Yahshua said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
He continued in John 6:54 whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
John 6:56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
What did Yahshua mean by eating His flesh and drinking His blood? Doubtless it was with reference to accepting the gift of His life for our salvation. His expression if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, is almost the same as Yahweh had stated before driving Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Yahweh sent them from the Garden lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever Gen 3:22. Projecting this to thousands of years later, it was as though Adam and Eve having had an opportunity to accept Yahshua’s salvation leading to immortality, spurned it and chose death instead.
The parallelism between the ‘tree of life’ (Gen 3:22) and salvation through Yahshua (John 6:51, 54-56) is clear. In both cases it is the route to acquiring immortality. In John 6:51 Yahshua said He would give His flesh for the life of the world. In Rev 22:2 we are told that the leaves of the tree of life were for the healing of the nations.
There is no Biblical evidence that when the saints rise to meet Yahshua in the air, they would have eaten of any tree. Nevertheless there is no doubt that they would have become immortal and could not die or suffer. 1 Cor 15:50 tell us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of [Yahweh]; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Mortals would now be immortal in the Everlasting Kingdom and would have all already partaken of the ‘tree of life’, which could be Yahshua, salvation or simply the right to immortality. So also would anyone who accepted Yahshua’s ways during His Millennial reign.
John records that in the new heavens and new earth, I saw no temple in it, for [Yahweh Elohim] Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of [Yahweh] illuminated it. The Lamb is its light Rev 21:22,23.
The tree of life in the middle of the street may well be Yahshua or His salvation, in the same way that He and Yahweh are the temple and light; and He has said that if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. The Bible makes it clear that Yahshua is the Bread of Life, but it does not also tell us in precise words that He is also the tree of life. Therefore we cannot state categorically that He is. Of this however we can be absolutely sure: those who are in the eternal city would have already partaken of Yahshua’s salvation and would have kept the commandments. They would no longer have the need for physical healing, since they would have been already immortal.
Observe that most translations say the leaves of the tree WERE (not ‘are’) for the healing of the nations. The use of the past tense may have special significance in this context, suggesting that the 'healing' had already taken place. Also as there would be no ‘nations’ but only one kingdom, the insertion of ‘nations’ here could be further confirmation that the healing had taken place before the new heavens and new earth when nations had still existed (Please see our reference to 'nations' under previous subheading).
We cannot be totally sure what is the tree of life, and how and when its leaves would have provided healing, but we are satisfied that immortal beings in the new heavens and new earth would not require to be healed. It is right that in our final destination, where the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will be no more relevant that we will have in our midst the tree of life (whatever or whoever that may be) from which/whom we would have already partaken in some way or another and become immortal.
4. Revelation 22:15 Outside are dogs
Revelation 22:14-15 state: 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. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Does this verse suggest that somewhere outside of the city of the new earth, unrighteous persons would continue to exist?
Remember that this chapter is referring to a time after unrighteousness has been obliterated and there is a new heaven and new earth. There is no Biblical evidence that there would be a separate place where sinners would continue to exist.
Rev 20:14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Rev 21:7-8 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his [Eloah] and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second DEATH.
Ps 37:10 avers: For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more.
The foregoing verses all indicate that there will be no sinners anywhere in the new earth. They would have already received their final punishment in the lake of fire, which is the second death.
The consistent account in the Bible suggest that "outside are dogs…" cannot mean that sinners would be alive outside the city, but rather that they would not be found anywhere in the new heavens and earth. They would have been already annihilated and thus debarred from the new earth.
Weymouth New Testament renders Rev 22:15 as follows: The unclean are shut out [excluded], and so are all who practise magic, all fornicators, all murderers, and those who worship idols, and every one who loves falsehood and tells lies.
Rev 21:27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
1 Cor 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of [Yahweh]? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
1 Cor 6:10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of [Yahweh].
Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of [Yahweh].
Eph 5:5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of [the Messiah and Yahweh].
5. Will sinners live and burn forever in the lake of fire?
There are two opposing popular schools of thought with regard to the final punishment of sinners. One holds the view that sinners will be tormented in an unending lake of fire. The other, that death will be the end of sinners. Both quote Scriptures in support of their case. Which is correct? A principle that must be always followed in dealing with less easily understood verses, is to allow other verses that are readily comprehended to shed some light on passages that are less clear. We will therefore be considering some verses whose meanings are irrefutable and see where they lead us.
Paul expressed the destiny of unbelievers quite precisely when he said in Rom 6:23, the wages of sin is DEATH, [not life], but the gift of Yahweh is eternal life. Throughout Scriptures we find many occurrences of two contrasting fates awaiting the unrighteous and the righteous – death for the one and eternal life for the other. It is Satan's lie from the Garden of Eden that man is immortal and will not die.
In that very well known verse, Yahshua said: "For [Yahweh] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" John 3:16. The word ‘perish’, means to die, expire, rot, cease to exist, pass away, breathe your last, depart this life. It does not mean to be tormented forever. Eternal torment implies eternal life, albeit torturous. According to the overwhelming evidence of Scriptures, eternal life is reserved only for those who believe in the Son, and death for others who do not.
John 5:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
In many other unambiguous verses, Yahshua explained what would be the fate of the unrighteous.
Matt 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."
Matt 13:40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.
On the same theme, John the Baptiser said in Matt 3:12 "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." ‘Burn up’ is to incinerate, thereby reducing to ashes.
With regard to being reduced to ashes, Peter said of Sodom and Gomorrah, 2 Pet 2:6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live [wickedly]. The complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is our example of the fate that awaits the unrighteous. Therefore we can conclude that just as Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed by fire, so also would the unrighteous.
How then are we told in many places that there would be an everlasting fire for sinners? Matt 18:8 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
Matt 25:41 Then He will also say to those on the left hand, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels".
Referring to the fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah, Jude had this to say in Jude 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Observe that Jude said it was an eternal fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of eternal or everlasting fire. But Jeremiah tells us in Lamentations 4:6 The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, with no hand to help her! So then 'everlasting fire' caused instant destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah!
What then is "everlasting fire"?
In our earlier quotations from Matthew 3:12 and Matthew 13:30 and 40, both John the Baptiser and Yahshua compared the burning of the wicked to chaff. But whereas Yahshua used the expression ‘burn’, John used "burn up" and John also said the fire would be unquenchable. His words once again were: He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. "Unquenchable fire" is the same as "everlasting" or "eternal fire". The wicked, like chaff or Sodom and Gomorrah, would be burned up by unquenchable fire. But is the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah still raging today? Or when chaff is burned up, does the fury of the fire continue unabated forever? Everyone would agree that the answer to both questions is "No!" This would therefore indicate that the everlasting or unquenchable fires are fires that would continue burning until they had reduced to ashes their source of fuel. Until then they could not be extinguished.
You may ask, why then does the Bible referring to the end of the wicked say that t heir worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched ? (See Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:44, 46,48). The quotations by Yahshua in Mark 9:44, 46 and 48 were taken directly from Isaiah 66:24, so let us read the whole verse. Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. Observe Isaiah has said that, the men who have transgressed against Me would be corpses (NKJV). The word "corpses" is also used in the NASB. The King James Version as well the DBY, KJ21 and YLT use the word "carcasses". The ASV, HNV, MKJV, NIV and RSV call them "dead bodies". So the translations are in agreement. Wicked persons will have died, and worms will be feasting on their decomposed bodies, which shall be abhorrent. So it is not the transgressors but the worms that keep on living or continue an unbroken chain of reproduction and feasting! The verse did not say, "they did not die". It said their worm does not die.
Mal 4:1 "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," Says [Yahweh] of hosts, "that will leave them neither root nor branch".
What could be plainer? Still need more Scriptures?
Ps 21:9 You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger; [Yahweh] shall swallow them up in His wrath, and the fire shall DEVOUR them.
Ps 37:10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more.
Ps 37:20 But the wicked shall perish; and the enemies of [Yahweh], like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish. Into smoke they shall vanish away.
Ps 37:38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.
Ps 92:7 When the wicked spring up like grass, And when all the workers of iniquity flourish, It is that they may be destroyed forever.
Gal 6:8 he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
James 1:15 when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Rev 2:11, 20:6, and 21:8 clearly indicate that those who were excluded from the new heaven and earth will experience the second death.
Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of [Yahweh] and of [the Messiah], and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Rev 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
The evidence thus far clearly indicates that death by fire is the punishment that awaits all those who rejected Yahweh and His ways. But does Matthew 25:46 however suggest an eternal torment? That verse reads: And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
In understanding Scripture we have to start by establishing a basis of our beliefs on irrefutable doctrines. We have already seen that the final punishment by death of sinners is the recurrent and undeniable Biblical theme. Therefore this solitary verse cannot be taken as giving us completely contradictory information. Paul throws some light on this verse in 2 Thess 1:9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of [Yahweh] and from the glory of His power. 'Torment' is not a synonym for destruction. Check any dictionary or Thesaurus, and you will find that the word destruction has such meanings as ‘obliteration’ and ‘annihilation’. So the punishment to which Paul is referring is complete and irreversible extinction for all eternity. Unlike the righteous who will have eternal life, in the presence of Yahweh, these will experience a final death (extermination) removing them completely for all times from Yahshua’s and Yahweh’s presence.
Furthermore in Matthew 25:46, it is the punishment, which is everlasting, and not the sinners. Also the word used is ‘punishment’ not ‘punishing’.
Persons, who will have a second death, would have previously had a first death, which is the natural fate of all mankind and is not an individual punishment. In the first death, they ceased to exist, and would have eventually decomposed.
It is evident from the foregoing that in the second death, persons will die. But this will not be the natural cessation of life. It will be a punishment meted out by an angry Elohim whose wrath with the wicked will be consummated in a fire from heaven that will annihilate all unrighteous persons. Yes He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor [of earth] and … will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire Matt 3:12.
Just a thought: Since Yahshua by His death bore for us the penalty we should have suffered, then if our real punishment were supposed to be everlasting torment, should He not even now be in everlasting torment? This remark is not as foolish or as callous as it may seem. If the ransom for someone is set at $1,000,000 and a benefactor paid only $30,000, would you say the intended liberator had paid the ransom in full? Of course not! Yahshua paid our ransom in FULL by His DEATH, which we should all have suffered.
The Bible tells us in 1 Cor 2:9 Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which [Yahweh] has prepared for those who love Him. As it is with Yahweh’s blessings so also are His curses. Just as His reward for the righteous is incomprehensible, so also we are incapable of understanding the excruciating suffering that is stored up for those who disobey Him. Let no one be fooled by the seeming 'tameness' of death in contrast to the eternal torment of sinners, which some preach. Hebrews 10:31 warns us all, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living [Elohim].
When we allow the Bible to be its own interpreter, many questions are answered. The Bible does not contradict itself. Where there seems to be disagreement between Scriptures, we need to carefully and prayerfully examine passages whose meanings are unambiguous, and use these to throw light on those which are unclear.
We have attempted to show the Biblical distinction between the Millennial Kingdom and the new heavens and earth. One is transitory. The other is eternal. In the Millennium there will be sickness, suffering and death. In the new heavens and new earth, those things would have passed away. He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new" Rev 21:5.
The Bible also tells us that eternal life awaits Yahweh’s saints and death by fire will be the end of sinners. As we understand and believe what the Bible teaches, we no longer entertain any possibility of the continuation of sin, sinners, death, suffering and evil anywhere in this new heaven and earth. The former things [would] have passed away Rev 21:4.
We ought to be confident that only those who had been faithful to the end would see Yahweh and dwell with Him forevermore. What profuse joy that would be, when we would have at last attained that pristine state, and could explore for all eternity with other saints the limitless potential, which our Infinite Father had purposed for us before creation! The old order including Satan would have been completely removed to make way for a boundless new life in service, praise and worship of Yahweh and Yahshua.
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly [suddenly]." Amen. Even so, come, [Yahshua]! Rev 22:20
We end with Peter’s conclusion in 2 Peter 3:14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.
"Our beliefs must fit in with the Scriptures especially when the Scriptures do not support our beliefs". Buel Hallpike
© Buel Hallpike June 2012