By Daniel H. King
One of the first things the new alien-resident of Florida is forced to accommodate himself to is the hot weather. There are some early moments in one’s sojourn here when he feels as if it is so oppressive as to be unbearable. Really it isn’t, but it feels that way.
What helps him to endure this unpleasantness is the realization that refreshment and relief are available and that the unpleasantness is but for a moment. It is temporary. A good shower will wash the sweat away. A big icy glass of water will quench the thirst. A few moments beneath a gargantuan oak or inside an air-conditioned dwelling will shortly render the heat a forgotten threat. Scripture promises that in the Heavenly City “they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike upon them or any heat” (Rev. 7:16). The land of the Bible was a place much like Florida!
But think with me for a moment about a place (if we may refer to it as a “place”) where the heat is so intense as to compare not to any atmospheric temperature, but to a lake of burning fire: “This is the second death, even the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14).
Next, imagine that human beings will have their ultimate destiny in such a situation. Think of men and women enduring such intensity of heat: “And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15); “there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth”(Matt. 8:12).
Imagine this place also as being a place of incomparable darkness, unfathomable and oppressive. No glint of light can penetrate its gloom: “and cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).
If this were not incomprehensible enough, venture also to imagine that this condition of human souls, once begun, will never cease: “and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10); “and these shall go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46). Its fire does not consume in a moment, as does the fire of earth. This infernal blaze is different in more ways than one. Men endure this ordeal in a state of full consciousness: “And the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24).
If you have been able to imagine the above then you have captured in your mind’s eye what hell is like. It is awful, is it not? Perhaps too awful for some people to believe. But think again. Consider that the punishment must fit the crime. The crime is rebellion against the goodness and mercy of God, against His love and longsuffering, against the tender sacrifice of His beloved Son on Calvary, against the salvation He died to purchase. And consider also that men who end up in that place have chosen to be there. Oh, they have not literally bought a ticket to that destination. But they have ignored the stern warnings of God’s word. They have placed no trust in His promises. They have made no plans or preparations to go anywhere else. They belong there. It is their place. They chose to be there.
As God’s faithful children let us put men on alert to the awful end of those who deny or ignore our Lord. There may be some connection between hell and hot weather in the vocabulary of cursing, but nothing in this world can really compare with this terrible spiritual reality: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 12, p. 359
June 21, 1984