Punishment can be:
Where will the punishment take place? p7
Comparison Hell with Heaven p8
“For יְהֹוָה did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” (John 3:17). “who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4). It is always יְהֹוָה’s will that Man should turn back to Him. This is the outpouring of His love and He uses every means possible to bring this repentance about. However, He is also righteous, just and set apart and if Man does not repent, there must be sanctions in place to satisfy these characteristics of His divine personality. Therefore restoration and deterrent are the two major factors in punishment and if these fail then they must take the form of punitive measures.
There are two concepts that have to be considered; a) temporal and b) eternal.
The first of these is of a temporary nature and may be sub-divided into ai) deterrent, aii) discipline, aiii) punitive, aiv) refining and av) persecution. The second concept is always punitory. Whereas aii), aiv), and av) may be called trials or tribulations, unfortunately, in English translations all these concepts can be called “punishment”. The Great Tribulation or Ya’akov’s Trouble features aiii) for the Nations and av) for Believers. The second is a penalty or retribution for a crime committed. The result of this is that hopefully the offender does not repeat the offence.
- ai) Deterrent
“even the censers of these sinners against their own lives; and let them be made beaten plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before יְהֹוָה; therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Yisra’el…to be a memorial to the children of Yisra’el, to the end that no stranger, who is not of the seed of Aharon, comes near to burn incense before יְהֹוָה; that he not be as Korach, and as his company: as יְהֹוָה spoke to him by Moshe.” (Num. 16:38, 40). In the account of the rebellion of Korach, Datan and Aviram in Num. 16:1-50 the punishment metered out to them and their families was meant as a deterrent against future rebellion. The beaten censers was to be a sign #H226 אוֹת ‘owth *41a(5) token that יְהֹוָה and His Word are truly Set Apart. On two other occasions when the Israelites were rebellious the pot of man (Exod. 16:33) and Aharon’s rod (Num. 17:10) were both used as warning signs. Although the pot and rod were kept in the Ark of the Covenant away from human eyes they served as a reminder to all the High Priests that they ministered to a rebellious people on behalf of Set Apart יְהֹוָה `Elohiym.
There are strong cases in the secular world supporting and denigrating the effectiveness of deterrents. In his article (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk), Tim Stanley puts forward a typical case for capital punishment. In this article, it states that there is a definite correlation between the abolition of the death penalty and rising murder rates. This is countered by arguments against the ultimate sanction by Amnesty International and (US) Justice Harry Blackmum (www.bbc.co.uk). Both these sources look at the problem of executing people after a trial only later to be proven innocent. In a secular setting these latter arguments have real weight, but when dealing with the just, righteousness and impeachable Judge יְהֹוָה have no real standing.
aii) Discipline/Restoration – or chastisement is for a short period.
“For their command is a lamp and their instruction a light; their corrective discipline is the way to life.” (Prov. 6:23 NLT).
“You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so יְהֹוָה your `Elohiym chastens you.” (Deut. 8:5).
“Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law:” (Psa. 94:12 KJV).
“My son, do not despise יְהֹוָה‘s discipline, Neither be weary of His reproof: For whom יְהֹוָה loves, He reproves; Even as a father reproves the son in whom he delights.” (Pro. 3:11, 12). A good father disciplines the child he loves.
“Behold, happy is the man whom יְהֹוָה corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17). These last two verses tell us how we are to respond when יְהֹוָה corrects us. We are told not to despise His discipline but that we should consider ourselves as being blessed that our Abba Father loves us so much that He cares about our well-being.
“Then Sha`ul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” (Acts 9:8, 9). Rav Sha`ul was struck down by blindness but it was only for a short time until Hananyah laid hands upon him. It was the whole effect of being struck blind, having to rely on others and Hananyah’s prayer that led to Sha’ul realising that the Master was indeed the long-awaited Messiah.
aiii) Punitive – this is the consequence of wrong doing and is the closest to the common idea of punishment but refers only to this life.
“Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.” (Acts 5:5). Hananyah (Ananias, not that of Acts 9:11) and his wife Shappirah were struck down as a punishment for their wicked behaviour. This may seem to have an eternal effect upon the couple, but in the context of eternity was instantaneous.
aiv) Refining – this is the act of removing the dross from a Believer’s life.
“He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to יְהֹוָה an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:3). This refining process is to make the material more useable. Gold is found in very small quantities in ore. In order to make it more useful, it undergoes many physical and chemical processes in order to make it pure. However, gold is of little use (except for bullion reasons) until it is then given over to the craftsman who makes it into something of beauty or of use causing it to increase greatly in value.
- av) Persecution – this can be further sub-divided into:
“who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end.” (Deut. 8:16). This is a case of יְהֹוָה wanting to teach the Isra’elites that they must trust Him in all that He does. Although many did rebel, יְהֹוָה dealt with them to the strengthening of the rest of the people.
“…And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3b). יְהֹוָה allowed haSatan to inflict Iyov (Job) to prove that Iyov’s fidelity to יְהֹוָה was based on who He was and not what יְהֹוָה had done for Iyov. This is one of the keys to understanding the Book of Iyov.
A good example of this is in the production of porcelain. The soft greenish kaolin clay is formed into the desired article, but has no strength. The colours used in its decoration are usually dull and unattractive. However, when fired to very high furnace temperatures for a period of time, the dull clay becomes translucent and the colours vibrant and beautiful. What was a useless article has become a highly prized piece. Likewise, the Believer when first saved does not seem to be of any use. Nevertheless, יְהֹוָה sees the final product in all its beauty.
“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 Yehshuah and for the word of יְהֹוָה, …” (Rev. 20:4a). The word ‘witness’ #G3141 μαρτυρία martyria from which the word martyr derives. All the above concepts except aiv(b) martyrdom are carried out for the sake of man (יְהֹוָה act towards man) whereas martyrdom is carried out for the sake of יְהֹוָה (man’s act towards יְהֹוָה).
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Matt. 5:11). Martyrdom does not necessarily mean paying the ultimate price of life. However, many people have been considered dead by families when a member has come to faith in Messiah.
“Forasmuch then as Messiah suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind; for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin;” (1 Peter 4:1). Another aspect of punishment is in order to bring about salvation. By bringing tribulation upon the unrighteousness, there is an expectation that a person would turn away from sinful practices back to יְהֹוָה (see also Psa. 23:4). יְהֹוָה, how long will the wicked? How long will the wicked triumph?” (Psa. 94:3).
“For I was envious of the arrogant, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no struggles in their death, But their strength is firm. They are free from burdens of men, Neither are they plagued like other men… Behold, these are the wicked. Being always at ease, they increase in riches.” (Psa. 73:3-5, 12). There is a common misconception that the wicked seem to prosper whilst the righteous suffer the trials and tribulations of this world. This is the theme of Psalm 73 where Asaf questions יְהֹוָה regarding this apparent injustice. “Until I entered יְהֹוָה‘s sanctuary, And considered their latter end. Surely you set them in slippery places. You throw them down to destruction.” (Psa. 73:17, 18). This refers to the ultimate fate of the wicked that they will eventually be punished. However, it may be said that tribulation in the life of the unrighteous is a sign that יְהֹוָה is still trying to lead the person back to himself (Barclay(1)). Rather than being envied, the lack of tribulation in an unrighteous life should be pitied and fervent prayer offered up for the person that they may realise the sin in their lives is blocking out יְהֹוָה.
“Efrayim is joined to idols. Leave him alone!” (Hosea 4:17). Individuals, tribes and nations can all be left un-chastened.
- b) Eternal
“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:46). Here, the punishment is of an everlasting nature. It is not meant for any other purpose but retribution. It is this concept of eternal retribution that is to be considered more in depth here.
“You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger; יְהֹוָה shall swallow them up in His wrath, and the fire shall devour them.” (Psa. 21:9). “Let burning coals fall upon them; Let them be cast into the fire, into deep pits, that they rise not up again.” (Psa. 140:10).The wicked will be cast into the fire.
“And said to haSatan, “יְהֹוָה rebuke you, Satan! יְהֹוָה who has chosen Yerushalayim rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zech. 3:3).
Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) is at the heart of יְהֹוָה’s people and is יְהֹוָה’s Set Apart city. This would therefore mean that יְהֹוָה’s people will be rescued from destruction.
“And even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 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.” (Matt. 3:10, 12). The chaff (the rubbish left over after winnowing out the good seed) will be consigned to unquenchable fire. ‘Unquenchable’ #G762 ἄσβεστος asbestos – that which is not consumed, i.e. will not go out, perpetual. This is the type of fire designated for punishment. In the prelude to the account of Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) immersing of Messiah Yehshuah (cf. Matt. 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-9; 17-19) Yochanan warns some leaders to change their ways or face the consequences.
“and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:42, 50). In the twin parables of the Tares and Fishing Net (Matt. 13:24-50), the Master declares the fate of the wicked. They will all be cast into the fire.
“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. 18:8). ‘Everlasting’ #G166 αἰώνιος ioneos – without beginning or end.
“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 its angels:” (Matt. 25:41).This ‘fire’ must, therefore be part of Creation but was never meant for Mankind but for demons.
“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” (Isa. 66:24). Mark quotes this verse three times in quick succession to warn of the consequences for the wicked (Mark 9:43-48).
“And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 25:30). In The Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:13-31) the unprofitable servant is said to be cast out into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. In my opinion the true reason that the servant was cast out was due to him not having taken notice of the Good News. The 5 talents is for a person who has grown up in a believing family and lived in an environment where the Good News has been preached many times The 2 talents is for a person who has had an extended exposure to the Good News but less than the previous person. The 1 talent is for a person who has heard the Good News. The 5 and 2 talent people have responded to the Good News and have received salvation. The 1 talent person has rejected the Good News, hence the reason for being cast out.
Unfortunately, this verse is frequently quoted in reference to spiritual gifts due to the misuse of the transliterated word ‘talent’ #G5007 τάλαντον talaton a weight or balance.
“And these (the wicked) will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:46). In the continuation of the Master’s account, The Parable of the Sheep and Goats, the wicked found under the curse of יְהֹוָה will end up in the everlasting (ioneos) fire prepared for haSatan and its angels. The righteous will go to eternal life.
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6). ‘Abide’ #G3306 μένω meno – c) in reference to state or condition 1) to remain as one, not to become another or different 2) to wait for, await one. Those who do not ‘remain as one’ with Messiah or who does not ‘wait’ faithfully for Messiah’s return, will come under the full weight of יְהֹוָה‘s wrath.
“as S’dom and Amorah, 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.” (Jude 1:7). “Then יְהֹוָה rained brimstone and fire on S’dom and `Amorah, from יְהֹוָה out of the heavens. (Gen. 19:24). Brimstone was probably flaming pitch and/or sulphur. In later centuries the Byzantines invented ‘Greek Fire’. Although the exact recipe is not known, contemporary accounts suggest a crude oil/sulphur /saltpetre mixture. Greek fire was virtually unquenchable and caused terror in opposing armies as it would stick to any surface whatever the angle and would burn on water. This is my view of the biblical ‘everlasting and unquenchable fire’.
From the above, it is obvious that there are two common factors i) fire and ii) it is unquenchable. The idea that there will be worms speaks further of corruption and as maggots writhe as a mass, the idea is one of continual agitation.
“‘There is no peace,’ says יְהֹוָה, ‘for the wicked.’” (Isa. 48:22). This infers that there will be no respite for the wicked and that whatever is happening there will be no end.
“And suddenly they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with You, Yehshuah, You Son of יְהֹוָה? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” (Matt. 8:29). Legion asks the Master if He has come to torment them before ‘the time’. The demons are to be cast into the pit along with their leader, haSatan at the end of the Millennial Reign. The demons including haSatan.
“And being in torments in She`ol, he lifted up his eyes and saw Avraham afar off, and El`azar in his bosom.” (Luke 16:23). In The Parable of The Rich Man and El`azar (Lazarus) the rich man was in great torment in hell’s fire.
“And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:11). In this passage (Rev. 14:9-13) the wicked are in torment due to the fire and sulphur without rest. The righteous are contrasted by them enjoying peace.
Hell comes from the Hebrew She`ol and is also called Gehenna from which the Greek term #G1067 γέεννα geenna meaning the destination of the damned. The Valley of Kidron was situated just outside of the city walls of Yerushalayim. It was where all the rubbish and dead animals were thrown or cast away. It continually steamed due to deep seated, smouldering fires that never went out. The dead animals were consumed by maggots (worms?) and the area was always covered by flies. This was the typical 1st. Century C.E. (Common Era) idea of what She`ol was like; a place of unquenchable fire that never seemed to consume anything (maybe because the fires were never seen but were continually being fed by the rubbish and dead animals), seething with worms and constant torment of flies. It would not be a healthy place to be.
“…for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (Jude 1:13b). All pictures of hell typically show flames everywhere. However, this is not borne out by Scripture which depicts the eternal place of punishment as one of utter darkness. My idea of Hell (as a place of eternal punishment) can be best equated to Cueva de los Cristales – Cave of Crystals. Massive crystals have formed but, although they are beautiful in appearance, are razor sharp and highly dangerous (as sin is attractive to Mankind but draws us into immortal danger). This is found in the lead and silver mines of Naico, Mexico. The cave was discovered 300 metres below the surface having temperatures above 45 Celsius with 100% humidity. The Humidex Factor allows for a 10 minute exposure before serious health problems arise, but the cave is also high toxic due to the lead presence. Without artificial lighting, the cave would be completely lightless. The heat is attributed to the proximity of an up-swelling of a magma chamber (www.channel.nationalgeographic.com).
Where Will This Punishment Take Place?
“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 its angels.’” (Matt. 25:41). All unbelieving humanity will end up under eternal punishment in hell. The tragedy of this is that it was never יְהֹוָה’s will for man to suffer eternal damnation and torment. He gave everything necessary for Man to be saved from eternal punishment. Hell was designed for haSatan and the fallen angels; never for Man.
“For if יְהֹוָה did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved to judgement;” (2 Peter 2:4). The word #G5020 ταρταρόωας Tartarus is the equivalent to Gehenna in Hebrew. It is the place of utter darkness and is referred to by Homer as the place beneath Hades (Sho`el/Hell) (www.theoi.com). Once an angel is cast down into Tartarus there is no escape and goes directly from there to the lake of fire and brimstone of Rev. 20:10 for eternal punishment (Fruchtenbaum (2)).
There is some belief that ‘heaven’ is next to and visible from ‘hell’ (Luke 16:23). However, I cannot believe that hell is visible from heaven. It would certainly add to the torment if sinners could see how the righteous spend eternity. However, for righteous souls to see the torment of hell, they would suffer themselves. If the view was as a one-way mirror, hell can see into heaven but not heaven into hell, there would be the eternal light of heaven, lighting up hell.
“Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to יְהֹוָה your `Elohiym, also the earth with all that is in it.” (Deut. 10:14). “…יְהֹוָה knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven.” (2 Cor. 12:2b). Sha`ul mentions a third heaven. Yet another belief is that there are more than one heaven and more than one hell. Tradition has there are seven of each. It may be that the first level of heaven and hell are accessible by a person in a non-conscious state (coma, trance, ecstasy) from where the person may return. The second level may be Paradise (for heaven) or She`ol (for hell), the intermediate state form where the soul/spirit is resurrected to join up with the physical body. The other levels may be the final state of reward (in heaven) or condemnation (in hell).
“But as it is written, ‘Things which an eye did not see, and an ear did not hear, Which did not enter into the heart of man, These יְהֹוָה has prepared for those who love him.’” (Isa. 64:4/1 Cor. 2:9). It is stated in Scripture that heaven will be so infinitely better than Man’s finite brain can comprehend. It is my belief that the converse will also be true that hell will be so much worse than Man can ever imagine.
The table below summarises the difference between the place of eternal punishment (Hell) and eternal life (Heaven):
|Everlasting Fire – Matt.18:8; 25:41||Water – Rev. 22:1|
|Fire/Heat – Psa.140:10; Isa.66:24;||Water – Rev. 22:1|
|Unquenchable Fire – Isa.66:24; Matt. 3:12||Water – Rev. 22:1|
|Furnace – Psa.21:9; Matt.13:42,50||Water – Rev. 22:1|
|Fire/Brimstone – Rev.20:10||Water – Rev. 22:1|
|Heaven Visible – Luke 16:23||No Remembrance – Isa.43:18|
|Thirst – Luke 16:24||Water – Rev.21:6; 22:17|
|Darkness – Matt.25:3; 2Pt.2:4; Jude 1:13||No Night – Rev.21:22; 22:5|
|Everlasting Punishment – Matt.25:46||No Pain/Sorrow – Rev.21:4|
|Wailing – Matt.13:42,50||Singing Praises – Rev.5:13|
|Gnashing – Matt.13:42,50|
|Worms – Isa.66:24|
|Weeping – Matt.25:30||No Tears – Rev.21:4|
|No Peace – Isa.48:22|
|Everlasting Torment – Rev.14:11||Health – Rev.22:2|
|Prepared For Devil – Matt.25:41||New Heaven – Rev.21:1|
|Second Death||Everlasting Life – Matt.25:46|
|Greater Than Imagination – Isa.64:4|
The reason that we accept Yehshuah HaMashiach as our Saviour is not to ‘escape’ hell. First it is because we want to obey the King of the Universe as it is His right.
Secondly it is because we want to please our heavenly Father.
“And it shall come to pass that whoever callson the name of יְהֹוָה shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21).
“that if you confess with your mouth the Master Yehshuah and believe in your heart that יְהֹוָה has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9).
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AENT “Scripture taken from the Aramaic English New Testament Copiyright 2008. Used by permission of Netzari Press.”
HNV The Hebrew Names Version is based off the World English Bible, an update of the American Standard Version of 1901. This version of the Bible is in the public domain.
KJV The Authorized Version or King James Version (KJV), 1611, 1769.
Outside of the United Kingdom, the KJV is in the public domain. Within the United Kingdom, the rights to the KJV are vested in the Crown.
NLT Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/capitalpunishment/ Execution of the Innocent citing Amnesty International and Applied Unfairly citing (US) Justice Harry Blackmum