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That there is a place called HELL, there can be no doubt, but no where in the Bible is there any claim that it is to be a place of eternal torment for certain people. In the Old Testament, the word translated HELL is the Hebrew word "Sheol"… "the world of the dead" and in the New Testament, the Greek language shows HELL to be "Hades"…… "the grave". There is no record in the Bible of God ordaining a place of eternal fiery torment for the wicked
God condemned the Children of Israel for their dreadful crime of burning their children in the fire; which, said God, "I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind." (Jer. 7:31) How then, can any teacher accuse God of a worse crime and that is burning people for eternity in an imaginary place of torment?
SOME BIBLE REFERENCES TO HELL:
Jesus went there.. " thou wilt not leave my soul (‘psuche’, breath, spirit, life, mind, soul) in hell (‘hades’, grave) neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption". (Acts 2:27). The Lord Jesus was in the grave for three days, as the Scriptures show, yet the corruption which would normally occur within that three days, did not occur. If Jesus had been in the HELL of popular conception, there is no way by which he could have escaped corruption, as the imaginary fires of HELL would have consumed him. The great King David was certain that the wicked went to the grave (sheol)…. "let the wicked be ashamed and let them be silent in the grave (‘sheol’, grave, hell, world of the dead) (Ps. 31:17).
KING DAVID was just as certain that when people die, their thinking process ceases, so they cannot suffer torments…"put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man….his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in THAT VERY DAY HIS THOUGHTS PERISH." (Ps.146:3-4). To be tormented anywhere, one has to be able to understand what is going on , BUT, if his thoughts perish on the day he dies, then so does his understanding.
JOB KNEW that ‘the grave’ (hell) was a place where people are at rest and not tormented, for he said, "There the WICKED cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest….v.22. when they can find the grave."…(Job 3:17,22) Job is contradicting the commonly held idea that the wicked go to hell to be tormented eternally, claiming that ‘there the WICKED cease from troubling’.
SOLOMON wrote of the state of the dead , "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" (Ecc. 9:5). Nothing could be more final and comprehensive….the dead KNOW NOTHING . How can they be tormented if they know nothing?
HELL IS THE GRAVE:
In all of the Old Testament Scriptures, there is NOT one mention of the ‘hell-fire’ taught for generations. In the 31 references to HELL in the Old Testament, the word will be found to refer to the grave, or a covered place. JONAH referred to his ordeal of being in the belly of a ‘great fish’ for three days, "…out of the belly of HELL (sheol-the world of the dead…grave…pit)… cried I, and thou heardest my voice". To Jonah it was certain this was to be his grave, unless saved out of it.
AMOS the prophet wrote, "Though they DIG into HELL (sheol, the world of the dead…grave….pit.) thence shall mine hand take them…." ( Amos 9:2), showing that the grave was meant.
DAVID was adamant that he believed the grave was HELL, for he wrote…"..if I make my bed in HELL.. (sheol, the world of the dead..grave…pit.) behold, thou art there." (Ps.139:8) The Apostle Peter assures us that David is not in heaven (Acts 2:34), and as there is no evidence he was one of the wicked who was to be ‘allegedly tormented in HELL’ for ever, then the only place David can be, is sleeping in the grave. ISAIAH, the prophet writes of the death of the King of Babylon, saying, "Yet thou shalt be brought down to HELL, to the sides of the pit"…(Sheol, the world of the dead, the grave, pit). (Isaiah 14:15) Verse 19 refers to the GRAVE, confirming that Isaiah was speaking of HELL as the grave
WHAT ARE PEOPLE DOING, IN HELL?
DANIEL the prophet answers this question so simply, "And many of them that SLEEP IN THE DUST OF THE EARTH, shall awake, SOME to everlasting life, and SOME to shame and everlasting contempt." (Dan. 12:2) Daniel is describing many who are in the grave as sleeping and some of them are raised from the dead to eternal life, BUT, some of them that sleep experience judgment in the ‘second death’. Thus Daniel shows that righteous and wicked are in the same place, the grave.
THE LORD JESUS speaks of many who SLEEP in the grave… "…the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves (‘mnemeion’, grave, sepulchre, tomb) shall hear his voice." (John 5:28) The Lord Jesus is speaking of resurrection and thus shows that all, (or all manner of) the dead in the grave are ‘sleeping’, waiting for the call (from the Lord Jesus), to ‘come forth’ as was Lazarus. "I go that I may awake him (Lazarus) out of SLEEP". (John 11:11) Lazarus had been dead in the grave (tomb) for 4 days, yet the Lord Jesus refers to him as SLEEPING.
THE APOSTLE PAUL writes of the ‘saints’ at the time of the coming of the Lord Jesus , "We shall not all SLEEP……the dead shall be raised…." (1 Cor. 15:51-52) What he is saying is that some of the saints will be alive at the time of the Lord’s coming, but those in the grave, who are asleep, shall be raised from the dead.
DOES IT MATTER WHAT WE BELIEVE?
Revelation 18:23 shows so clearly that a great number of people were to be deluded by the ‘sorceries’ of the latter day Babylon…"By thy sorceries were all nations deceived". WE APPEAL TO all thinking men and women to study God’s word and learn the truth of all things and reject the PAGAN TEACHING of HELL TORMENT.
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