A future judgment is clearly indicated by the Holy Scriptures, but the degree and purpose of this judgment is a subject of great controversy. Part of the confusion is the sad results of faulty versions of the original manuscripts made available to the public by translators who either lacked much vital spiritual insight and information or were biased by the religious tradition of the carnal leadership of their day.
Many years of successful research, both of Bible history and of ancient customs, have helped supply today’s Bible student with sufficient information to guide him or her into all truth and light. But many Christians, bound by the theology of a false religious system, remain behind the prison doors of tradition and superstition.
Considering the volume of information that has been opened to the truth-seeker in our day, it is difficult to believe that so many Christians continue to dwell in the ignorance and gloom that dominated the dark ages. Many persistently refuse to take advantage of the abundance of anointed data, nevertheless, valuable records have become available to the public through the efforts of anointed Christian historians and gifted Bible scholars. It is obvious these people were called and chosen to do the work they did. The fruit of their devotion and sacrifice, not unlike other fragments of revelations, was faithfully delivered to a rebellious and hostile religious society under stress and great persecution, yet they remained dedicated and consistent in their call. Their work should hold a place of authority and high esteem among all Christians.
I think of the contribution James Strong S.T.D., LL.D. made to the Church when he delivered to us his Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. It furnishes an unlimited source of information to the truth seeker, yet I am often met with hostility when I introduce it to Christians who are so obviously in desperate need of its contents. This problem could be diminished, if not completely eliminated, if pastors would inform their congregation of its importance.
The discoveries made by genuine scientists and researchers are Yahweh’s source of truth and light which offer us an edge over our forefathers. This information has opened doors of knowledge that have never been opened to mankind before. All truth is vital to the development of the creature, and opens doors that allow us to progress into a higher spiritual understanding.
The Veil that Hides
We cannot receive spiritual truth by lowering the Scripture into a realm of natural history, nor can we garner truth from them if we see them as carnal predictions of future conflicts and coming events. The spiritual word must be accepted as a spiritual message written by the Holy Spirit in a pictorial and symbolic language. If we do not view the written word with spiritual eyes, it becomes a veil that hides the truth from the carnal mind while it continues to be the source of revelation and light to those who have become attracted and influenced by it.
It is through this source that we are able to receive a deeper spiritual insight, while those bound by fear and unwilling to deal with reality turn to a natural interpretation produced by the reasoning of their natural understanding. These people are unable to see that glory which is hidden behind the veil of flesh; the veil which was rent when Yasha died and overcame flesh.
“Yasha, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves ‘after’ his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many,” Matthew 27:50-53.
“Seeing then we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: and not as Moses which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart (mind or center of affection). Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord the veil shall be taken away,” 2 Corinthians 3:12-16.
“And he (Yahweh) will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up ‘death in victory;’ and Yahweh God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off the earth: For Yahweh has spoken it,” Isaiah 25:7-8.
A Distorted Image of Yahweh
By prayerful use of the Hebrew and Greek concordances and other informative sources, today’s unbiased Bible reader can easily see that most of our more popular translations are often misleading. Sometimes the translators seem to have been unaware of the pictorial and symbolic phrases in the Bible. In an effort to present their version of the Holy Bible in simple terminologies that would be more easily understood, the translators sometime gave literal interpretation that veiled the spiritual meaning of the word and distorted the true image of Yahweh. One example of this is the very inconsistent manner by which the Hebrew word sheol—translated hades in the Greek manuscript—was mistranslated as hell or grave in many of the more popular versions. It seems it would be reasonable to examine the full context of these scriptures and their setting before forming a fixed opinion as to the true meaning of these words.
Before I attempt to look at the meaning of the word sheol through the eyes of the prophets who penned the Old and New Testament books, I want to establish the fact that I personally believe sheol is a real place, but it is not a fire, neither is it the grave. Sheol, according to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible and the Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, simply means the unseen state of departed spirits. Whether there is more than one realm, or if there are marked divisions in the state of death, I do not know. I have not found all the information that I would like on this subject, but the one thing I did find brought comfort to my spirit, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God (Elohiym) who gave it,” Ecclesiastes 12:7.
We must also be mindful that the resurrection of Yasha changed the spiritual condition of the adamic creation, including both the dead and the living. According to the gospels, he was and still is sovereign over all.
“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by Yahweh, saying, I ‘am’ the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? Yahweh is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine,” Matthew 22:31-33. Here, our Lord was speaking in the present tense and took his listeners back to a conversation between the angel of Yahweh and Moses (Ex. 3:2-16). I will quote verses 13 through 16 from the Hebrew Interlinear.
“And Moses said unto the Lord, Behold I shall come to the son’s of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me unto you and they shall say to me, what is his name, what shall I say to them? And said Yahweh unto Moses, haYah (I am) who haYah (I am) and he said thus, You shall say to the sons of Israel, I haYah has sent me to you, And Yahweh said to Moses you shall say this to the sons of Israel, Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever, my title from generation to generation. Go and gather the elders of Israel and say to them, Yahweh, the God of your fathers has appeared to me, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob….”
Yasha reasons that if Yahweh was the God of these three patriarchs and still present in Moses’ day, it established the fact that he was eternal and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were present with him.
Another interesting scripture along this line of thought is John’s quote of the words of Christ in John 5:25-29: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the ‘Son of Yahweh:’ and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself; And has given him authority to execute judgment also, ‘because he is the Son of man.’ Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the ‘graves’ shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (judgment).” The idea of “damnation” here is the language used in 1611 by the translators for “judgment” and does not mean eternal torment; the true meaning of the word is tried or judged, to be made to face and acknowledge ones actions and to bear the responsibility of the consequences.
Our Lord proved the above statement when he went into sheol and preached to the rebellious souls that were living in the time of Noah (see 1 Pet. 3:18-20 and Acts 2:27-31).
The modern theory is that Yahweh sends evil people to sheol when they die and good people go to heaven. It cannot be denied that our Savior went to sheol (hell) after he was crucified. If sheol is for evil people only, then why did our sinless Savior go there?
The Sanhedrin court could sentence Yasha to death, but after the death of his flesh body didn’t Yahweh take over and decide his destiny? A person can kill another person, but should we believe the judgment of evil men supersedes the power of the Father? If sheol is a lake of fire prepared for sinners, why did the Father send his Son there and then refuse to leave him there?
Let us read what Paul said in Acts 2:26-32: concerning Yasha’s descent into hell. “Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because you (Yahweh) will not leave my (Yasha’s) soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that Yahweh had sworn with an oath to him (David), that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his (David’s) throne; he seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (sheol), neither his flesh did see corruption. This Yasha has Yahweh raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Yahweh would not allow his holy (sinless) Son’s body to decompose in the grave.
A True Image of Yahweh
As birth-children of the Almighty Creator, we desperately need to understand something of his attributes. Though Yahweh receives our love and responses to him from different levels of our understanding, it is yet essential that we form a correct image of him. He judges us according to our honesty and sincerity and not according to our intellect; the more accurate our perception, the more relaxed and blissful is our relationship with him.
The words a minister uses in his message creates an image of Yahweh in the mind of his listeners. Then the image becomes the standard by which we judge right and wrong; this image rules over the subconscious mind and dictates our social responses and the image we hold of ourselves and of others. It does this by creating the opinion we form of Yahweh’s characteristics.
If the image that is being created by a minister does not measure-up to our own concept of Yahweh’s image and attributes, or if it seems too high and lofty for us to attain, we usually reject the minister’s image and retain the one we previously held. Therefore, if we are to grow in wisdom and integrity we must seek an intimate relationship with Yahweh on a level which will enhance our personal image of him.
We can also form a more accurate concept of Yahweh’s grace and reality by researching his word. The level we see Yahweh on is the highest level we can inhabit. Our perception of Yahweh’s attributes governs over our own attributes.
As I was growing up, the image I formed of Yahweh was one of a very stern and unrelenting god; his laws were many and each stood as firm as solid stone. The god I knew back then suddenly lost all love for any individual who died without having experienced a birth from above. In fact, he was filled with such loathing and contempt and revengefulness for them that he took great pleasure in tormenting them forever. Based on the rule book that I had received in my religious training, I hardly knew anyone that was good enough to win the prize of his favor. I could not deal with that thought. Oh, I had no doubt in my mind that it was true, but I refused to think about it.
In February 1941, the disaster came that broke my heart; my beloved brother-in-law died instantly in a hunting accident. Being raised as an orphan and spiritually neglected, that twenty-one year old man was not qualified to enter my concept of heaven. I was positive that I had his destination figured out; I knew where he was going and where he would spend eternity. Loving him as I did brought grief and misery to my heart. Although the Christians who were concerned for his welfare tried to convince me that he might have repented and received the new birth that morning while he was hunting, I never was too good at believing fairy tales; therefore, their words fell on deaf ears.
When I was seventeen I lost the best grandfather that a child ever had, as far as I was concerned. My grandpa was one perfect man; he had all the characteristics of a perfect grandfather and a saint, but I was not too sure he would be allowed to enter Yahweh’s heaven. He had one enormously bad flaw according to my instructions; he chewed tobacco. To me that was not a big deal, but to Yahweh it was. I thought the reality was obvious; it disqualified him from my god’s heaven. I could not deal with that one either. The thought of burning a fine man like my grandfather forever for chewing tobacco was a little severe in my mind; even so, I could not deny he was guilty.
I carried my concept of Yahweh into my new birth and on down the road a ways while more of heaven’s rejects passed on. One day while I was remembering my collection of beloved rejects, a question popped into my mind. If I still had this ever-present love in my heart for those that were hopelessly lost and being tormented and if Yahweh didn’t love them, from what source had I received this love that I was experiencing? Was it possible that I, a created being, could have a deeper and more compassionate love than my Creator possessed? I knew the answer could not be that my love came from a carnal source—my flesh—for those dear ones had never entertained me in the flesh. I loved my grandfather because of his good qualities; with the exception of tobacco, I saw no sin in his life. My brother-in-law was not too spiritual, but he respected other folks and knew how to make me feel accepted in his home. He also knew how to love his wife and baby. My love for him was pure. I knew then, for sure, my Heavenly Father’s love filled my heart and manifested itself in a deep affection and continuous love for my beloved dead. I also knew they were not burning.
Even though I love with the love that flows from the Father’s throne, my love is surely less than his. I knew Yahweh was the source of all love and I was at peace. In the light of truth, the one flaw in Yahweh’s character vanished forever. Now I could truly love him.
With my revelation of Love being extended beyond the grave came many unanswered questions, and when I have questions I always throw them around. I threw one at a dedicated minister friend of mine. I asked him, “How is it that I, a created being, love my unconverted deceased very deeply and Yahweh hates them? What is the source of my love; from where did it come?”
He was taken aback. “God does not hate them, why do you think that?” he probed.
“He must hate them if he is torturing them. Is he not torturing them?” I asked.
“Well, yes, he certainly is, but not because he hates them. God is love, he cannot hate, but he has to torture them for our sake,” he quickly affirmed.
I was aghast, “He is torturing them for my sake? How does their suffering benefit me?” I asked.
He was schooled with a ready answer. “We must see them suffering the most severe degree of misery before we can fully recognize and enjoy the highest degree of heavenly bliss by comparison.”
I promptly assured him that their pain would, by no means, enhance my bliss.
“Oh, but it will,” he replied. “We deserve the highest degree of bliss for our faithful service to the Lord. It is God’s responsibility to reveal his highest glory to us as reward for service. It is only through comparison with the worst that we can recognize the highest of the best. “This,” he went on to explain, “was the reason that God made it possible for us to continuously have a clear view of hell throughout eternity.” The conversation bogged down there.
This minister’s concept of love prevented him from understanding Yahweh’s nature. I explained to him that I consider my salvation a big plus for me and not a debit. As a Christian, my Father has blessed me daily. My life as a Christian excels so far above my life before conversion that there is no comparison. He is not indebted to me for blessing me and rescuing me from carnality and death; I am the indebted one. Everyone on earth has problems and suffers because of them to some degree and Christians are not exempt. But if we will recognize problems as just problems, then we have the plus of a Comforter and the benefits of heaven’s wisdom to overcome. These give us a big plus.
My friend left me with my questions still unresolved. I finally decided to research the scriptures concerning hell; that was thirty two years ago. Throughout the years I have continuously sought for revelation, prayed, and probed through history, through many people’s opinions, and the Bible and have been rewarded with answers that have satisfied my spirit’s longing for truth. Therefore, I feel there are others out there that have accepted the torment theory and are just as concerned now as I was back then about the state of the unconverted dead and Yahweh’s feelings toward them.
If you are among this group, I pray that you are unwilling to continue on in the misery that is ever-present in the heart of anyone who truly believes that their beloved dead are being tortured night and day in hell’s miseries. If you are, I pray that you will follow me through the Bible as I go from scripture to scripture, looking at each one that speaks of hell (sheol); for in doing so, you will find peace through the reality of the written word.
I have prayerfully jotted down my discoveries. I pray that if they do not give you all the answers that your kind heart must be asking, that they will, at least, give you some previously unthought-of of questions along this line of reasoning that will inspire or provoke you to do your own research.
The Use of Literary Form in the New Testament
My most enlightening revelation on the subject of hell came with the discovery of a wide variety of literary forms that were used in Hebrew manuscripts and also by our Lord. We are familiar with the patriarchs’ and our Lord’s use of parables. Hebrews 10:1 speaks of the Old Testament’s use of shadows. Paul ministered with the aid of an allegory in Galatians 4:21-31 and taught with the use of types or parables in Romans 5:14 and in Second Corinthians chapter three.
Fire is used symbolically in several scriptures. For example, Peter sees our trials and testing as fiery experiences, saying, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12.
In James 3:6, we find some strange allegories concerning the tongue: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” If we take this to be speaking in the natural, we might say, “Oh my, this is awful! When will my tongue catch on fire?”
The trials we go through are said to be fiery, but if we understand this to mean they are severe and destructive to our flesh we do not need to find Bible proof of it; we all learn this by experience.
In First Corinthians 3:11-15, Paul also uses fire to speak of tests and of trials. In this particular text, Paul uses several words symbolically, including fire. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Yasha Christ. Now if any man builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abides which he has built there upon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” Fire is also used in other scriptures to represent judgment.
In the above scriptures, we must acknowledge that the gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, and fire are used symbolically or in other words spiritually. Even the building part here is to be spiritually understood. Most of us do not think of the things we do each day of our lives as building on a spiritual house, nor do we think of the trials and persecutions as the fire that is destroying our wood, hay, and stubble, yet, if we are to garner any meaning from these scriptures we must accept the facts as they are, keeping in mind as we read that the natural mind cannot understand the spiritual things. Therefore, we must not allow our natural understanding to take over.
If the above material is to be taken literally, and I must build my spiritual dwelling place in Heaven with noncombustible materials that are here on earth, my situation is hopeless. I will have to camp out alongside the streets of gold when I get to Heaven. I will not have a building to dwell in. I have no gold, silver, or precious stones at my disposal. But we understand our buildings are not made of these earthly materials; their substance is used here symbolically. As spiritual minded Christians, we understand the meaning of all these things; they need not be explained. But how about the fire, do we really understand the spiritual meaning of fire? The Christian is baptized in it, says Matthew, in chapter 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
I have never heard a minister say this fire was a natural fire. Can you imagine the reaction of potential converts if we told them that the Savior loves them and is anxious to have them baptized in a natural fire?
I do not expect my Lord to take me down to Ge-henna or to a lake of fire in the heart of the earth when it is time for my fire baptism and submerge me in liquid fire.
“But,” says Christian theology, “it is different with the transgressors, their fire is a natural fire; they deserve to be tortured.”
Well now, do they? Was I not once in the same spiritual darkness that they are in now? Believe me, it was the unmerited favor of my Redeemer that pulled me free from the blazing fire. I had done nothing to deserve redemption. I was too blind and ignorant to accept the light of truth on my own. I did not have the ability to help anyone else find the way; I was lost in darkness. Why should I think that others must merit the light before they can have their eyes opened? No one does!
Listen to the words of our Redeemer: “…there is none good but one, that is, Yahweh: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments,” Matthew 19:17. “Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of Yahweh leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4.
Thank Yahweh, there has been a change since we believed; our acceptance and reaction to the Word has cleaned us up a bit so that we have now become the righteousness of Yahweh in Christ Yasha. “For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of Yahweh in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Please notice Yasha’s earthly ministry ended with the echo of doom, reverberating over every city and countryside of Israel. The toll of the bell lingered in the ears of every adult. Israel was lost and without hope. Was this the final blow sounding over Yahweh’s chosen people? Let us consult the Word for an answer.
“For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins,” Romans 11:25-27.
Have all Israelites accepted their redemption at this point in time? Obviously not! When will this promise be fulfilled? If redemption is speaking of deliverance from carnal mindedness, which is the inclination to sin, it is certainly at a later date than we have been able to mark on our calendars. If Israel’s present mindset renders them sinless, I care not to spend eternity in such an environment. Shall they, like so many of the rest of the world, be saved by fire? I do not deny that there is to be a fiery judgment ahead, but I certainly reject the possibility that it is a natural fire or that it is an act of vengeance, and I certainly reject the notion that it is eternal.
The word “eternal” appears forty-three times in the New Testament, with the exception of one scripture in Romans, which came from two Greek words aion and aionios and speaks of limited times. I will deal with the two scriptures that truly speak of eternal first.
In Romans 1:20-22, Paul wrote: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his ‘eternal’ power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew Yahweh, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”
The second one is in Romans 2:6-7: “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, ‘eternal’ life.” The meaning of the word “eternal” is ever enduring, forward and backward. The other forty-three times the word is from aion and aionios. These words mean age and ages but have been mistranslated into many different words.
As night and day are opposites, so are age and eternal. Eternal is the antonym of age. Eternal cannot be used in the plural, yet we find aion translated worlds in Hebrews 1:2: “(Yahweh) has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the ‘worlds’ (aionios – ages).” And also in Hebrews 11:3: “Through faith we understand that the worlds (aionios – ages) were framed by the word of Yahweh, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Try replacing “worlds” with “eternal” in these two scriptures. It doesn’t fit.
Notice Second Timothy 1:8-10. Aion is said to have a beginning: “Be not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of Yahweh; who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Yasha before the ‘world’ (ages – aionios) began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Yasha Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” Again try replacing world with eternal in this scripture.
With the help of a good concordance you can find other scriptures where the use of aion will substantiate my statement that aion and aionios do not mean eternal. In the light of this truth, the eternal torment theory is proven to be a fallacy that is only supported by the mistranslation of the Greek word “aion,” which speaks of a limited time.
Sheol In the Old Testament
There is no mention of sheol in the creation story, and it is almost bypassed in the book of Genesis, even though it is introduced to us there, but not as a place of torment; it appears first in Genesis 37:35.
Sheol’s introduction is recorded in the story of the broken-hearted Patriarch, Jacob, as he grieved for the firstborn of his beloved wife, Rachel. His older sons, being jealous of young Joseph, secretly sold the precocious lad into slavery. After accomplishing their ruthless scheme, they deceived their grief-stricken father into believing that his much-favored son was dead. In anguish of heart, the old man cried, “I will go into ‘sheol’ unto my son mourning.”
Did Jacob mean to imply that his beloved son had passed on into a fiery judgment of a burning eternal hell? Did he expect that he, upon his departure from his toil and labor here, would join him there in his prison of leaping flames to await the resurrection and final judgment? I hardly think so. The translators were reluctant to leave such a ghastly impression and spared him by translating our word sheol as grave. But that it did not refer to a grave is also evident, for it would be impossible for him to be with his departed dead while they were yet in the grave, unless he was buried in the same grave. It is evident that Jacob did not intend to be buried in the tomb with Joseph if we take into consideration that the old man thought wild beasts had devoured the body of his son.
In Genesis 42:38, Jacob being concerned for the safety of Rachel’s second son, Benjamin, lest he should be deprived of this son also, expressed the same thought again as he said, “…If mischief befall him by the way in which you go, then shall you bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to sheol.”
Guilt ridden Judah, while pleading with Joseph to allow his brother to return to Jacob, repeats his father’s statement twice, first in Genesis 44:29 and again in verse 31 of this same chapter. Here again, the translators, not willing to cast a shadow over the testimony of the faithful old patriarch by implying he was about to go down into a lake of fiery judgment, translated the word sheol as grave.
We go to the book of Numbers to find that sheol was translated twice as pit. Our scene opens in the sixteenth chapter. It was in the days of Moses when the law was being established and Korah was rebelling against Moses’ leadership (28-33).
Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that Yahweh has sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then Yahweh has not sent me. But if Yahweh make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into sheol (the pit), then you shall understand that these men have provoked Yahweh.
“And it came to pass, as he (Moses) had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into sheol (the pit) and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.” Though the house of Korah was judged severely, there was no indication that their suffering was to be extended eternally.
The next scripture where the word sheol is found is in the fifth book of the Bible. Here the translators took their liberty to translate it into a Greek word with a much stronger meaning to the mind of modern man; for the first time in the Bible sheol was translated into the Hellenistic word hell.
Now, in considering the dreadful prospect of Yahweh’s beloved creation slipping into transgression and its incomprehensible consequences of eternal torture, one would think that we would find a warning early on in the Bible, perhaps in the first and no less than the second chapter. But instead we find it in the fifth book of the Bible, which was written fourteen hundred and fifty years after Adam’s transgression. At this late date we still have not found any real description of sheol’s severity.
“For a fire is kindled in my anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell (sheol), and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischief upon them; I will spend my arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and ‘devoured’ with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust,” Deuteronomy 32:22-24. Here for the first time in the Old Testament we find sheol used in connection with fire. Is the prophet implying that there will be ferocious beasts, serpents and dust in hell? There is one other place where a scripture could be said to connect sheol with fire; we will deal with it later.
The writer of this passage was using the word symbolically, as is evident in verse twenty-four, “They shall be burnt with hunger.” A carnal interpretation always robs this word of its spiritual value, but even a natural understanding forces a person to admit we can read no more into this scripture than Yahweh’s judgment on the rebellious house of Israel. But, if by the Spirit, we can look beyond the natural and see Yahweh dealing with the whole of the adamic system, which natural Israel symbolizes (Gal. 4:21-26), we then could see Yahweh’s judgment on carnality and the final harvest of the fruit of the earth, which is produced through man’s carnal effort to please flesh and at the same time appease Yahweh without submitting to the Spirit of Truth and Light.
If we view Deuteronomy 24 through the eyes of the Spirit, we will see sheol being used in this particular text to symbolize Yahweh dealing with the lower realm, where human nature expresses its vileness, even as we now use the words death and pit to symbolize a low moral or a very stressful situation. We would then see our Sovereign Creator dealing with corruption and death (carnality) in its lowest form and consuming its deadly sting.
Romans 8:6 tells us that carnality and death are the same: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O sheol (grave), where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law,” 1 Corinthians 15:54-56.
Down Into Hell and Up Again
Moving into First Samuel 2:6, we find our word sheol again as barren Hannah sought Yahweh through sore travail and anguish of heart to be blessed with a man-child. She received her petition from Yahweh and lifted her voice in exhalation and praise unto him who has dominion over life and death, saying, “Yahweh kills, and makes alive: he brings down to sheol (the grave), and brings up.”
In this text, sheol is translated grave for obvious reasons; for if we use the word hell here and it carries with it the idea of eternal torment or judgment, whither with or without fire, it would contradict the theory of it being either eternal punishment or obliteration.
“He (Yahweh) brings down to ‘sheol’ and brings up.” In this expression, Hannah seems to be referring to her own personal experience; once barren, she likens the deadness of her womb unto sheol, and having her petition granted, she has now been brought up out of sheol. Again the deeper meaning of the Spirit shines forth to the coming resurrection of the Holy One.
The next time sheol is translated hell is in Second Samuel 22:6 in a song written by King David. I insist that this is a prophecy fulfilled only by our Savior, for the description fits no other. To see the beauty and depth of the meaning in these scriptures, please bear with me as I quote them in their setting.
David spoke unto Yahweh the words of this song in the day that Yahweh had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul, saying, “Yahweh is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Savior; you save me from violence. I will call on Yahweh, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies.
“When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; The sorrows of hell (sheol) compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; In my distress I called upon Yahweh, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears,” 2 Samuel 22:3-7.
I am keenly aware that the language David used here is highly symbolic and pictorial, but please notice, Dear Reader, that instead of reading of an eternal place of flames or annihilation, our narrator is speaking of deliverance.
Matthew 27:50-53 tells us of the terrible earthquake that shook the earth and opened graves after the crucifixion of our Lord, and the prophecy quoted by Peter confirms that our Savior was delivered out of sheol. For this reason I firmly believe this song was given to David concerning the resurrection of Christ.
David’s Judgment on Joab and Shimel
Twice sheol is translated grave in First Kings 2: 6-9. This time it is used by David, the most beloved king of Israel, as he is about to die and is counseling Solomon, his son and successor, as to the administration of justice in dealing with his two unfaithful servants, Joab and Shimel. “Let not his hoar head go down to sheol in peace. But his hoar head bring down to sheol with blood.” David’s request for the execution of his two servants had nothing to do with their future judgment. These instructions to Solomon were rather commands for him to see that these traitors were not allowed to die in honor and dignity. Being exposed as unfaithful servants, they were to be brought down to death in shame and disgrace.
My Dear Friend, please notice that we have passed through the first seventeen books of the Bible, which covers three millenniums of time, yet we have found the word hell used only twice and that briefly, without a description of its severity. In my opinion, this is amazing. If sheol is, as we are told, a place of extreme torture that hopelessly goes on and on for trillions of trillions of years, it seems that the Father should have made its severity clear, especially since it is said that we all were born in sin with a strong inclination to resist his will. We are told he knew man’s sinful nature early on, “And Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5.
One could easily be misled about the consequence of disobedience since the penalty for Adam’s transgressed was to turn back to dust. If we are still convinced of the eternal state of sheol’s torment or of annihilation that awaits the disobedient souls that pass on without conversion, Peter’s statement concerning our Lord’s visit to sheol to minister to the victims of the world’s greatest catastrophe, which was produced by the flood, must present some questions to the honest seeker, especially since about twenty-five hundred years separated these two great events.
Job Yearns for Sheol
Eight times sheol is recorded in the book of Job, but only twice was it translated hell. Once the term pit was used, and the other five times it was grave. The latter term is used in Job 7:9, “As the cloud is consumed and vanishes away: so he that goes down to sheol (world of the dead) shall come up no more.”
A casual glance at the above scripture would lead us to believe righteous Job was expressing a very negative concept of sheol and that he did not believe in the inevitable resurrection from it. However, by no stretch of the imagination can we read into this text a proclamation of a fiery judgment. Yet some might attempt to use it to establish their doctrine of annihilation; that is if they believe in the annihilation of the righteous also.
In Job 14:13-15, we glimpse a bit of his attitude toward sheol, as he seeks its solitude: “O that you would hide me in the grave (sheol), that you would keep me secret, until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. You shall call, and I will answer you: you will have a desire to the work of your hands.” It cannot be ignored that Job desired to go to sheol.
When we look at Job’s testimony in its true setting, we will plainly see that he believed in a future resurrection, as he states here in Job 19:23-27: “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, ‘yet in my flesh’ shall I see Yahweh (my Redeemer): Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins (mind, intellect) be consumed within me.”
A better arrangement of these words would be, “Though within me my mind is consumed,” or “I am overwhelmed, my power to reason has forsaken me, this magnificent truth transcends so far above my finite mind so as to render it useless.” If “consumed” is to infer that Job’s mind is ended or destroyed, it contradicts the statement “yet in my flesh I shall see Yahweh: whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold.”
If our minds have been destroyed, we would not be able to see or know anything; we could not exist. Job was speaking of an experience he would have in a flesh (mortal) body, not in a resurrected body.
That Job looked forward to a change is proven by the above statement, and many other texts could be quoted. Being faced with multiplied afflictions and grievous torments, he sought a temporary escape from his sudden and unexplained agony, which had become so greatly intensified by the cruel and unfounded accusations and condemnation of his belligerent and foolish friends.
Job yearned for the solitude and rest he hoped to find in sheol where morning after morning he would not be confronted with the grief of having lost his family and all that was near and dear to his heart, from the pain and misery of his afflicted body, and the unwelcome consultations and reproach of his loquacious, but unenlightened tormentors. This did not alter his faith in Yahweh’s faithfulness and mercy, as he expressed in Job 14:13-16. “Oh that you would hide me in ‘sheol (world of the dead),’ that you would keep me secret, until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. You shall call, and I will answer you: you will have a desire to the work of your hands. For now you number my steps: do you not watch over my sin?”
Job affirms his faith in Yahweh’s love and mercy that was to be manifest toward him at a future date. “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, tell my change come. You shall call, and I will answer you: you shall have a desire to the works of your hands.” Seeing sheol as a place of darkness, our narrator evidently believed it was a place of quiet and rest, where corruption and decay will have finished their grim and devastating work upon this frail and temporal vessel of clay. Yet he saw hope that reached beyond the duration of his experience there.
This thought is again stated in the last four verses of chapter seventeen where we find the word “sheol” used twice. Once it was translated pit, the other time it is grave. “If I wait, sheol (world of the dead) is my house: I have made my bed in the darkness, I have said to corruption, you are my father: to the worm (maggot) You are my mother, and my sister. And where is now my hope? As for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the pit (sheol), where our rest together is in the dust,” Job 17:13-16. Either Job is dramatizing the effect of the decaying of the body after death by indicating his body would be exposed to the working of maggots, or his sores had become infested with these worms. He stated that they would die, or cease to be active, when they entered into sheol with him. This seems to affirm this conclusion, but whether this is true or not, it would not alter the statement that he, the worms, and corruption would cease from their labors as they rested in the dust of sheol. If Job was persuaded that sheol was either a place of judgment or torment, he made no indication of it in this text. He seemed to identify the disintegrating of his body in the grave (sheol).
It might be of interest to notice the word “bars” used in the above scripture comes from a Hebrew word “bad” and is translated only one time as bars. It came from a root word which means separation and is being used here figuratively indicating Job’s solitary wait for his change to come, a change that was to restore him to the sweet fellowship that he had previously enjoyed with his family and Yahweh, his Creator.
Job Seeks to Be Understood
Previous to Job’s testing, he was a very wealthy and influential man who was loved and blessed of Yahweh, but obviously envied by some of his incredulous friends.
Bewildered by the sudden and drastic change in the course of his life and the attitude of those whom he had trusted, Job pleads for the trust and sympathetic understanding of his presumptuous contenders while they continued to heap condemnation upon the one who Yahweh had judged perfect and upright. They had obviously presumed such extreme misfortune could befall only on the vile and wicked.
The insinuation given by Job’s envious friends was that Job, while outwardly appearing to be an honest and upright citizen, one who honored Yahweh, was surely receiving a just recompense for his hypocritical masquerade. This accusation prompted the statement Job made to the aggressive Zophar. “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of Yahweh upon them. Their bull genders, and fails not; their cow calves, and casteth not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to sheol. Therefore they say unto Yahweh, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” Job 21:7-15.
By this statement, Job was not complaining, but he hoped to point out that calamity is not to be contributed to Yahweh’s disapproval of ones life style.
The Genuine or the Counterfeit
In observing the trials and afflictions of the righteous, while the wicked and ungodly often enjoy abundant wealth and recognition, we might be tempted to agree with Job, that is, only if we have never been privileged to taste the heavenly manna and new wine of the Spirit and had not become partakers of the powers of the higher Life-realm of spiritual enlightenment. But after observing the situation, we are able to judge between the real and the counterfeit, the good and the evil, the temporal and the eternal. If we have received spiritual insight, we are able to discern that which is of the carnal realm; that is, we, by the Spirit, recognize and resist the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. All these are temporal things of the world of fantasy and dreams and not part of the Life-realm. Through the wisdom of the Spirit we are able to place all these things into their true perspectives and resist the temptation of the flesh-realm because of their inferior quality.
Reaching for the Birthright
If we truly understand the laws and principles that govern the higher Kingdom realm, we joyfully lay aside the things of the world and feel greatly honored and privileged to stand as the Living Word and testimony of the power of Love and Truth and count it all joy to receive the birthright blessing of the firstborn, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us,” Romans 8:18. Nevertheless, we groan within ourselves and travail to come to the full manifestation that is to climax this dispensation and usher in the glorious Kingdom age, the time when the firstborn company shall reign with Christ in his Kingdom as reigning priest.
Being aware of the true value of both the heavenly and the earthly things, we cry out in compassion and pity for all those who are blinded by the glitter of the temporal or counterfeit because we, through the Spirit, are able to see the glory of the birthright which they have so carelessly cast aside to enjoy (or, in reality, suffer in) sin for a season.
The Rich and Poor Are Equal in Sheol
Going back to our word “sheol” we again find it in a parabolic phrase uttered by Job: “Drought and heat consume (snatch away) the snow (water), so doth ‘sheol’ those which have sinned,” Job 24:19. Here Job is comparing the melting and evaporation of the snow, with the suddenness that death sometimes snatches away its victims. Though this verse offers no information on the severity of sheol’s effect on the human personality, we do know it surely brings them into an equality from which their wicked schemes do not allow them to escape through bribery, prestige, nor by other unscrupulous scheme that seems to profit them on earth.
In death, all flesh is equally consumed and all mortal beings must share the devastating work of sheol. Only the resurrected Word of Life, which is the Spirit of Love and Truth, can make a way of escape and supply life and redemption.
One would be presumptuous, indeed, to say that Job was promulgating the annihilation theory in the above text. In order to do so, one must, of a necessity, deny the resurrection and judgment of all unbelievers who go down to sheol. If the decaying of the body is their final destruction or annihilation and none but the righteous are to be brought back to face judgment, why would it be necessary for a judgment? The unrighteousness is already judged. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of Yahweh, that we should not be condemned with the world.” See also Daniel 12:2.
If sheol is a fiery place where the wicked are punished, are the righteous dead there with them also to await the resurrection unto judgment? If sheol is annihilation, it stands that the righteous are annihilated also and will not be resurrected. This text contradicts both the eternal torment and the annihilation by fire theories.
Before leaving the book of Job, we pause to examine the last text in which the word sheol is used. As is the custom of the Hebrew writers, Job makes a statement and then paraphrases it in another manner: “Sheol (hell) is naked before you, and destruction has no covering,” Job 26:6. If annihilation or eternal torment by fire is indicated here, I have failed to find the evidence. Instead of finding evidence of the sovereignty of the power of sheol, or death, we find a very comforting promise, especially if our hearts yearn for our loved ones who without having experienced the saving power of the Living Word have passed on into the darkness of death where neither human force nor the deepest longing penetrates the blackness. I rejoice in the revelation that there can be no secret place where death can hide his prey from the power and the love of our omnipotent Savior who holds the keys of both sheol and death. There is nothing hidden from his omniscient wisdom. Praise and thanksgiving to our living Savior, sheol is under the power of an all wise Creator and has not the power to hide or hold its prey.
Zophar, the False Witness
We have not, as yet, dealt with the last text in Job where sheol is used. It is in Job 11:7-8: “Can you by searching find out Yahweh? can you find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what can you do? deeper than sheol (hell); what can you know?” This is the account of the wicked Zophar’s opinion.
In his rebuke of Job, Zophar uses the word “sheol” in describing the depths of the knowledge of Yahweh and points out the impossibility of man’s efforts to comprehend or unite with his maker. We will not base any doctrine on this man’s theory when seeking truth. Yahweh condemns Zophar and says to him, “My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job,” Job 42:7. For proof that Yahweh was referring to Zophar in this statement read Job 2:11, where the friends of Job is named; however, we find nothing in the words of Zophar that would convince us sheol was a place of torture or of any other form of retribution even if Zophar’s statements were true.
Sheol In the Book of Psalms
Written in poetic form, the book of Psalms contains not only symbolic and pictorial phrases, but many prophetic utterances in which the Holy Spirit spoke through vessels of clay concerning the birth, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and throne of Christ as head over his many-membered body. One illustration is in Psalm 22:16: “…They pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalm 22:18: “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” How strange and meaningless these words must have sounded to David’s peers as his songs were set to music and sung in the congregation. David wrote these particular songs as if they were describing some great persecution he had experienced, but this prophet and king was anointed by the Spirit to voice those things that were to come. These things have lain unfulfilled and without meaning to the ears of finite man for more than a thousand years, after which they were fulfilled in Yasha our Savior. For the reasons stated above, it would have to be considered presumptuous to apply a literal or carnal interpretation to this poetic and prophetic book of the Bible.
Only the Living Praise the Lord
Let us consider a statement made by David in Psalm 6:5: “For in death there is no remembrance of You: in sheol who shall give You thanks?” David is pointing out to his Savior that it would be to Yahweh’s advantage to keep him alive so that he might commemorate and praise him; for if death should prove to be victorious, all lips would be silent. In the depths of it, this verse is also prophetic, but taking it at face value we find no reference to any form of torture in sheol.
In Psalm 30:3 it is written: “Oh Lord, You have ‘brought up’ my soul from sheol: you have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (sheol).” Here the writer was brought up out of sheol, but he was saved from going down to the pit (grave). If sheol is an eternal burning hell, and pit is the grave, how is it that David went to sheol while being kept alive and at the same time escaped the grave? How was his soul brought up from sheol while he yet lived in his body? We assume he is using sheol symbolically. Like all Psalms, this one is prophetic; the man is glorifying the Lord for bringing him out of an extremely difficult situation.
There is no record of David having gone to the grave or having been resurrected out of sheol. But our Lord was. Please notice the statement made in Psalms 6:5: “For there is no mention of you in death; in sheol who will give you thanks?” (NAU).
If David is dealing with the final abode of the soul and in sheol there is no mentioning or remembrance of the Lord, this will not support the idea that the unsaved dead are being tormented while they are remembering their sins and their rejection of the Lord. For if they remember their trespasses, they will, of a necessity, remember the one they have transgressed against.
According to the torment theory, the dead not only remember their former sins, but are being tormented in full view of both the heavenly host and their redeemed loved-ones which are in heaven.
If it can be proven that the wicked are in sheol, it is full proof that they yet exist, and if they exist, it contradicts the concept that the wicked dead have been annihilated. If the unenlightened have no memory of their past disobedience on earth, what is the purpose of tormenting them in fire?
Every Soul Will Praise the Lord
Revelation 5:13 gives us an account of every creature praising Yahweh and giving glory unto him. “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessings and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. ” While this scripture does not use the word “sheol,” I feel it is implied in the term “under the earth.” If “under the earth” is not referring to the abode of the dead, I need someone to enlighten me on this subject.
Psalm 22:29 tells us that “all” that go down to the dust shall bow before Yahweh. Now consider, if all that are under the earth shall give him honor and all who are in the dust shall bow before him, then sheol must be the unseen state of all souls, of both the good and evil.
Yasha said, “… the hour is coming, in which all that are in the ‘graves’ shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment,” John 5:29-30.
“Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed….” (Jude 14).
Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2)? “But the Judgment shall sit, and they shall take away their dominion, to consume, and destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an age-lasting kingdom, and all dominion shall serve and obey him,” Daniel 7:26-27.
While we are looking at the earth’s population suffocating under the authority of biased and unconverted administrators, it is hard to believe the Righteous Government of Yahweh will some day take full dominion over the earth and evil will eventually cease to exist, but it will and I am excited.
Though there is no place on earth where truth is fully tolerated (Yahweh’s name and brand of Love is scorned even in most Christian congregations) the Word of Yahweh stands sure and “when Yahweh’s righteous judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness,” Isaiah 26:7. We sincerely pray, “Lord, help us see and accept the principle by which the Kingdom children can become mature thinkers and qualified to execute righteous judgment.” This maturity will come when Christian leadership accepts the principles Christ taught as an alternative life style.
“I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek me in vain: I Yahweh speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell you, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? have not I Yahweh? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am Yahweh, and there is none else. (v.23) I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, one (they) shall say, in Yahweh I (we) have righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed,” Isaiah 45:18-24.
The translators of the King James Version added a few words to verse twenty-four that changed it and made it difficult to understand. Starting at verse twenty-three the original Hebrew reads, “I have sworn; has gone from my mouth the righteousness word, and shall not return, that to me shall bow every knee, every tongue shall swear, they shall say, ‘Only in Yahweh do we have righteousness and strength.’ ”
To continue on with our subject, the next scripture under consideration is Psalm 9:17: “The wicked shall be turned into sheol, and all the nations that forget Yahweh.” This text is often said to yield strong support to both the eternal torment doctrine and the annihilation theory, but if properly interpreted the opposite is true. The meaning of the Hebrew word “shuwb,” from which the word “turned” was translated, is “to be returned,” or “turned back.” If taken literally, this would imply that all the wicked would be returned to sheol after their resurrection and judgment, but this interpretation creates a problem for the thinkers. For it has been well proven that the righteous dead go into sheol also, as did our spotless Savior.
If after the unrighteous dead are returned to their former state in sheol (the place where the righteous and the unrighteous dead are waiting together for their judgment), we either put the righteous dead into the flames during their holding time or take the unrighteous dead out of torment.
If we assume that sheol is, as many believe, a burning lake of fire, it stands that the righteous dead who are awaiting their final judgment must suffer sheol’s misery until the resurrection. If sheol is not a place of punishment and the wicked are to be judged and returned unto their former state, it would not be annihilated or eternal torment, and the Old Testament would have no scripture to support the eternal torment or the annihilated theories.
If we could prove that sheol is not a place of judgment, but a state of oblivion, there remains an unanswerable question: “How can there be a resurrection of the righteous or the unrighteous if they have previously suffered annihilation?” If the first experience in sheol is not torment or obliviousness, the ones returning to sheol would not be returning to torment or annihilation. But some might argue there is a difference in annihilation and obliviousness, and they would be right in some respect, but not where sheol is concerned. What would be the difference in being wiped out completely and in being put to sleep and forever forgotten by your Maker? Should it not put a strain on our imagination to visualize Yahweh, who is an omniscient Spirit of love and mercy, placing an innumerable company of his unenlightened creation into either a furnace or in cold storage and forgetting they ever existed?
Could the thought in the above scripture be summed up in the words of Peter in Second Peter 2:22? “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
It is commonly taught that if the threat of eternal torment is eliminated, people will not serve the Lord. I say if you, or they, are attempting to avoid future punishment by your righteous works in this life, you are yet serving self; your motivation is self-interest and you have not been converted, that is, you have not experienced the new birth that would have translated you into the Kingdom of His Dear Son. You have not become a member of the new creation. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the Kingdom of his Dear Son,” Colossians 1:12-13.
If we are truly serving Yahweh, we are doing it because it is the right thing to do, regardless of personal sacrifice or future reward.
Another beautiful song of David is found in Psalms 16:8-10: “I have set Yahweh always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in hell (sheol); neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.” Compare the above scripture with Acts 2:22-27, “You men of Israel, hear these words; Yasha of Nazareth, a man approved of Yahweh among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which Yahweh did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of Yahweh, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom Yahweh has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because you will not leave my soul in hell (sheol), neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.”
Was David speaking of himself? “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that Yahweh had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up ‘Christ’ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his (Christ’s) soul was not left in sheol, neither did his flesh see corruption. This Yasha has Yahweh raised up, whereof we all are witnesses,” Acts 2:29-32.
King David, a man of strong passion, used the words: death, pit, and grave figuratively, as he did in Psalm 30. He remembered when his own base desires and uncontrolled passion led him to contrive and execute a ruthless and bizarre scheme that robbed his devoted and faithful servant, Uriah, of his beautiful wife and then his life. However, David’s sin was not hid from him whose “…eyes are in every place beholding the evil and the good,” Proverbs 15:3.
Yahweh, in his mercy, sent his prophet to the king to rebuke him for his madness, and at the word of Yahweh David’s eyes were opened so that he was able to look beyond the flesh to comprehend the spirit of his deed. He was quick to confess his sin and repent before Him who is faithful and just to forgive our trespasses and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we are chastened by Yahweh and refuse to submit our wills by hardening our hearts and searing our conscience, we are then returning to the ways of death to degrade ourselves and suffer in our own corruption until our backsliding becomes so distasteful and our corruption becomes so painful that the lack in our spirits create a need for love, life, and truth.
In Jeremiah 2:19, Yahweh said, “Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backsliding shall reprove you; know therefore, and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that you have forsaken Yahweh your God, and that my fear is not in you.”
Some of my readers, not comprehending the sovereignty and peace of Yahweh, will not be able to appropriate the above interpretation and will continue to believe sheol must be, as tradition affirms, some form of severe punishment. To a measure, we agree, but the plainness of his speech would warrant a quick glance at Hosea’s proclamation concerning the power and duration of hell or sheol: “I will ransom you from the power of sheol: I will redeem them from death: Oh death I will be your plague, Oh sheol I will be your destruction. Repentance shall be hid from my eyes,” Hosea 13:14.
Hosea 13:14 is picked up and quoted by Paul in First Corinthians 15:54-57: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to Yahweh, which gives us the victory through our Lord Yasha Christ.”
Paul, in his dynamic discourse concerning the restoration and triumphant kingdom of the last Adam, pens these words in First Corinthians 15:51-52: “Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment (atom), in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, so when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written (in Isaiah 25:8-9), He will swallow up death in victory; and Yahweh Eloheim will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for Yahweh has spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is Yahweh; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” If this was speaking of the saved only, why does our writer use the future tense?
Christ Has the Key to Sheol
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of sheol and of death,” Revelations 1:17-20.
According to the above scriptures, Yasha overcame the power of death and sheol through his own death and resurrection.
Now consider; if sheol is a fixed situation, an irreversible condition from which none return, why should Yasha bother with obtaining the key as he is said to have done?
If having the key to sheol gave Yasha the authority to unlock the door of sheol, what and who is able to prevent him from opening it? He is neither short on love nor limited in power. If one soul has ever come out of sheol (and he did) it cannot be said that it is impossible, and if it is possible, who can say it will never happen again? If we deny the resurrection of Christ, our faith is void; we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). One has come out of sheol; therefore, it is neither eternal, nor is it obliteration, and if sheol is not the place of eternal torment or annihilation, there is nothing in the Hebrew text that speaks of them.
If Yasha did not receive the key of sheol in order to release its prisoners, what was the benefit of having obtained it? Some would say Yasha only redeemed those that wished to be redeemed. Question: if a hundred million souls were being tortured night and day in intense flames of fire, what percentage, do you suppose, would be in favor of obtaining a release?
In Second Corinthians 5:14-21 Paul seems to be in favor of proclaiming Christ as the eventual and effective redeemer of all mankind. saying, “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things (‘things’ here was added by the translators) are passed away; behold, all (things) are become new. And all (things) are of Yahweh, who has reconciled us to himself by Yasha Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit (that is), that Yahweh was in Christ, ‘reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.’ Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though Yahweh did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to Yahweh. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of Yahweh in him.”
When confronted with choice, our decisions are always controlled by need and desire. I am convinced that both need and desire would be in favor of release if the choice was to burn or not to burn was offered to those confused souls of darkness.
My reader might still insist that only the righteous will be redeemed from sheol. I will ask, “Why did our righteous loving Father send his dedicated and obedient children to a place of torment for any length of time? The answer could be that he could not prevent them from going there. If Yahweh is not in control of our destiny, who is it that exercises a power above his?” If there is such a being that is able to alter or hinder Yahweh’s perfect will from being carried out or a being that possesses the power to lord over Yahweh to any degree, that being, whether he is devil or man, in reality is the all powerful one and Yahweh becomes his subject. But this concept does not enter our minds.
If you question Yahweh’s sovereignty, read again his oath in Isaiah 45:18-25: “For thus says Yahweh, who created the heavens, who is God (the Supreme One), who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: I am Yahweh, and there is no other God … I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, Seek Me in vain; I, Yahweh, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”
“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, which carry the wood of their carved image, and pray to a god that cannot save. Tell (speak) and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, Yahweh? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. Look to me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am Yahweh, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. He shall say, ‘Surely in Yahweh ‘I have righteousness and strength.’ To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed (to blaze hot with anger) against Him. In Yahweh all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory,” Isaiah 45:18-25 (NKJ).
Also see what Paul said about it in Ephesians 1:4-11 (NKJ): “Just as he (Yahweh) chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Yasha Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he has made us accepted in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, in him. In him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
Reality Verses Fantasy
Sheol is used three times in Psalms 49:14-15. Again the subject is the wicked rich verses the righteous or reality verses fantasy. King David was convinced that true wealth is accumulated through the avenue of spiritual development. Poor translations obscure the depths of wisdom and revelation in this prophecy, especially if we are unfamiliar with the uniqueness of old English terminologies and expressions. In such cases it would be a very rewarding endeavor to become acquainted with their literary style by doing a word-to-word study with the help of a good Hebrew and Greek concordance, such as the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. This would be much more rewarding than settling for some man’s crude and unyielding theory, which neither makes sense nor shows purpose of design, or to abandon the book as if it is a hopeless and confusing riddle that cannot be understood. We will, indeed, agree that it will never be comprehended by anyone who is not looking for truth and remains unwilling to adhere to Yahweh’s principles.
A Personal Letter From Yahweh!
We must study the entire forty-ninth Psalm if we are to understand the full scope of its message. Since this Psalm addresses itself to all inhabitants of the world, it becomes a personal letter from Yahweh to you and me. I am sure that anyone who takes the time to read it will be rewarded sufficiently for the time invested in reading his/her personal mail.
I will skip down and start at the twelfth verse in order to prevent the swelling of this study. “Nevertheless man being in honor (wealth) abides not: he is like the beast that perish. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings (follows and approves their principle), Selah. Like sheep they are laid in sheol; death shall feed on them; and the upright will have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty (strength) shall consume in sheol from their dwelling. But Yahweh will redeem my soul from the power of sheol, for he shall receive me. Be not afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dies he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him,” Psalm 49:12-17. In other words, the wealthy may glory over others in this age, but only after sheol has stripped them of their earthly and vain glory. And the righteous saints (not necessarily the poor) shall have dominion over them in the day of their consummation, when the king-priest ministry of the overcomers shall execute the righteous judgment of Yahweh in the earth.
We Shall Judge Angels
Though this theory may sound strange to the reader, it is not foreign to Bible prophecy, for the message is carried throughout the Bible, not only through many types, shadows, parables, and allegories, which is sometimes hard to be understood, but it is also taught in bold statements such as is found in these scriptures: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of Elyown (the Most High, Supreme Ruler), whose kingdom is an age lasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him,” Daniel 7:27.
“Do you not know the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know you not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life (1 Corinthians.6:2-3)?
“He that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father,” Revelations 2:26-27.
All Have Sinned
King David was a man that commanded great respect and honor; however, this did not exempt him from human weaknesses in regards to the corruption of the flesh’s excessive appetites and base desires. He surely identified, to some degree, with the wicked inclination in other men. For this reason it is very hard to believe he could have been capable of acting in a manner that showed no mercy or compassion for others of like passion.
If David was insisting that Yahweh should send his adversaries into a flaming pit quickly, his statement in Psalm 55:15: “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quickly into sheol, for wickedness is their dwelling” would neither show mercy nor normal human sensitivity, especially if he was aware that it was an irreversible condition where they were to suffer eternally in excruciating pain, both physically and mentally.
Many times kings and leaders made decisions to eliminate a troublesome and warring faction for the protection and welfare of the people and to prevent the overthrow of their kingdom, especially in the primitive times in which King David reigned. But does it not appear that any person that has lived and struggled against the temptations of the flesh, with its strong, base desires, would demonstrate a readiness to decree such severe judgment (as is described by the advocates of the eternal torment theory) against one of like passion? Even if he was his most dreaded and dangerous enemy, one would have to be void of any socially acceptable emotion or principle to desire one to burn forever.
Considering the development of the human intellect in David’s time period it would be comprehensible if a king, who understood something of the righteous judgment of Yahweh, should request the death of his active enemy for the protection and preservation of his kingdom. If David believed the dead would someday be convicted of the folly of their sins and suffer accordingly, and at the same time he was convinced they would also benefit from the righteous judgment of the Kingdom of Yahweh, his harsh judgment on his enemies would be understandable.
David, recognized only as a king by many Christians, was a dedicated prophet of Yahweh and as such looked forward to the fulfillment of Yahweh’s sworn statement: “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear (Isaiah 45:23).”
Paul states: “That at the name of Yasha every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue shall confess that Yasha, the Messiah, is Lord, to the glory of Yahweh the Father (Philippians 2:10). For it is written, as I live, says Yahweh, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to Yahweh,” Romans 14:11.
We know many have passed on without having obeyed this command, but the word of Yahweh stands sure and steadfast; therefore, those that have failed in this age must yet be convinced through the righteous judgments of the Kingdom age or yield to his command through the fiery judgments that follow.
King David had stolen Uriah’s wife, and in order to cover his transgression he committed a greater sin by having Uriah murdered. It was a while before David confessed his cruel deed; it stands that if he had died or been killed before he repented, he would have entered sheol as a transgressor, as guilty before Yahweh as the traitors.
David was responsible for the premature death of many people. Who can say that there was not a chance that some of them would have repented also, if they had lived longer? If death closes the door of salvation, mankind’s action can, and often does, determine the destiny of other men by cruel and unreasonable actions. If we say it is Yahweh who moves upon men to kill one another, we are justifying murder by making Yahweh the responsible source; therefore, it would have been Yahweh, not Cain, which murdered righteous Able. That conclusion also makes Yahweh responsible for all evil works that men do.
David says, in Palms 139:7-8, “Whither shall I go from your spirit? or whither shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in sheol, behold, you are there.”
Delivered From the Lowest Hell
Again we read in Psalm 86, which is considered a prophetic song or as a highly figurative and symbolic psalm, “For great is your mercy toward me: and you have delivered my soul from the lowest sheol.”
Whether the prophet spoke of himself or another, it will not be denied he spoke of someone coming out of sheol (v.13). As it would be hard to interpret this scripture literally, I understand it to be both symbolic to David’s condition as he yielded to his lowest base desire and was forgiven and delivered. But prophetically, in a deeper sense, as we see it through the eyes of the faithful and renown Apostle Peter on that commemorative day of Pentecost, he explained the meaning of this prophetic utterance of David in Psalm 16:10 and connected it with the resurrection of Christ, saying, “You will not leave my soul in sheol, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.” Please note—David was dead at the writing of this passage. He had not ascended into the heavens. According to Peter he was still held under the power of sheol (Acts 2:26:35).
Some may condemn the statement that this is a prophetic or spiritual interpretation of this scripture, but none dare say David had been resurrected from sheol previous to the writing of this Psalm. David had penned his song many centuries before Christ was manifest in the flesh. Yet Christ was the first to be resurrected from the grave and to usurp authority over sheol. He was changed in the chemical structure of his body (changed in his atoms) so that he was not hindered, inconvenienced, or restrained by his physical body, nor did its laws bind him. He was not bound by gravity, as we are in our earthy bodies; Yasha was the first to come out of death.
Matthew 27:51-53 speaks of a resurrection of many saints. The graves were opened when Yasha died, but the dead could not come forth until after he defeated the power of sheol by taking authority over his flesh body. “And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many.”
Yahweh is Not Deaf to Our Cry
Sheol appears again in Psalm 88:2-3: “Let my prayer come before you: incline your ear to my cry; for my soul is full of troubles: and my life draws nigh unto sheol.” According to the introductory at the heading and the center reference in my KJV Bible, this song was not written by King David—it was written by Heman, the Ezrahite, for the sons of Korah. Remember, these were members of the tribe of Levi, the priesthood order. Korah was the one that led the rebellion against Moses and Aaron and was destroyed in the wilderness.
King David reinstated the descendants of Korah in the temple service as musicians. This Psalm, if taken in the carnal, paints a very dismal and gloomy picture that would make it appear that Yahweh was deaf to the cries of some of his children. But if it was taken to symbolize the crucifixion of the first nature, of which natural Israel and the law is the type (the nature that Christ crucified when he went to the cross), this Psalm could be understood. Nevertheless, if carnally interpreted, there is found no description of a place of fiery judgment; in fact, we see nothing more in this scripture, when reading it in the dead letter, than a reference to the sleep of sheol (the unseen), just as the word “sheol” means.
Psalm 89:48 speaks of sheol and reminds us of our need for a Savior or deliverer from sheol: “What man is it that lives and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of sheol?”
Psalm 22:29 expressed the same thought but uses another terminology: “…And none shall keep alive his own soul.” This is not saying that there is no power stronger than sheol, but it reveals a common need we all share, that is, we must depend on a Savior. Paul reminds us that some will not sleep the sleep of death in First Corinthians 15:51.
Romans 8:18-25 tells us that the groaning creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of Yahweh and the redemption of their own bodies. That is, they are waiting for the manifestation of those who have matured into son-ship to become the first to receive a redeemed body, which is the prize purchased by the crucifixion of their first nature through the indwelling of the life of Yahweh, the same power that raised Christ from the grave.
Paul said, “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Yahweh dwells in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Yasha from the dead dwell in you, he (Yahweh) that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (make alive) your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you,” Romans 8:9-11.
Please be aware, we now have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, yet we continue to deteriorate; but when we receive the fullness of our inheritance, which is the attributes of the Father, that power will also make alive our mortal bodies.
Psalm 116:3-6 speaks of sheol: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of sheol got hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of Yahweh, Oh Yahweh, I beseech you, deliver my soul. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. Yahweh preserves the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.” This is a beautiful prophecy concerning the love and mercy of our Lord, but it is only for those who have spiritual ears to hear. Those who do not hear can never use it to support annihilation or eternal torment.
If I Make My Bed in Sheol
Twice more sheol is referred to in The Book of Psalms, once in Psalm 139:8 and again in 141:7; neither one has anything in them that will give support to the torment or obliteration theories.
First, we will look at Psalm 139. This is a very interesting Psalm, but the complete thought cannot be expressed by quoting the one verse where sheol is found, I must quote verses 1-13:
“O Yahweh, you have searched me, and know me. You know my down setting and my uprising, You understand my thoughts afar off. You compass my path and lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, Oh Yahweh, You know it altogether. You have beset me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
“Whether shall I go from your spirit, or whether shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven you are there: if I make my bed in sheol, behold you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
“If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hides me not from you; but the night shines as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to you. For you have possessed my reins (intellect): you have covered (to fence in, to hedge about) me in my mother’s womb.”
There are many wonderful and deep truths revealed in this psalm which the carnal mind cannot conceive. Confusion reigns when David’s beautiful song is subjected to a carnal interpretation. To try and visualize maggots squirming and flies buzzing around in sheol stretches my imagination beyond its limits, especially if at the same time I am assuming sheol to be an eternal lake of fire that is made more intensified by the adding of brimstone (sulfur). I confess to having had a few evil thoughts about these pesky little critters and have killed them on sight, but I cannot imagine the Creator torturing them eternally for following their preprogrammed instinct. But a more horrifying experience is to visualize the Beloved Son of the Divine Creator being sent to that awful place, even for seventy-two hours; this would far outstretch my ability to comprehend or even consider it reasonable. But for me to add to the scene a vision of the Most High, in the form of a man, sitting on a throne of majestic splendor, with angels continually ministering to him, while at the same time he is also in this unspeakable place watching over the bed of the wicked, demands an expansion of my imagination that I cannot attain to.
Christ the Redeemer
If eternal torment or annihilation is the penalty for my sin and Yasha did not experience either, tell me, did he take the penalty of my sin and bear it before the Father? The question here is not, Did Yasha redeem creation? but rather, What was the penalty that He alone could pay? It is spiritual blindness that separates us from fellowship with the Father and that spiritual darkness produces sin, and the wages of sin is death. We would have been eternally separated from the Father if the Son had not come into the world to reveal truth and life. Praises be to his Holy name! He did not suffer the pains of eternal torment nor was he annihilated, yet he paid the full redemption price, and I am redeemed by his supreme sacrifice.
If we are to attain to Yasha’s full stature (Ephesians 4:13) and be conformed to his image, we cannot say it is sinful to desire to know him as he is. We are told he is pure love and righteousness in the highest sense of the word. He is the highest form of intelligence. Why should we fear to know and understand his ways? Is this not what he bid us to do when he said, “Seek first the Kingdom of Yahweh and his righteousness?”
Where does it lead us if we accept eternal tormenting as the end results of the highest form of wisdom, love, and righteousness? How could we dare say that obliteration of the spiritually blind and confused are the highest forms of intelligent creating? With these theories as patterns to guide us into full maturity and the essence of what we are to become, as the Himself creatures, should we not desire a clearer understanding of what he is? Would he give up on us that easily?
Jeremiah 18:3-4 says, “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”
If I am to strive to bear Yasha image, I need to have some concept of perfect love, perfect wisdom, and perfect righteousness. If I do not have an idea of how he reacts to his enemies, I will not know how I should react to mine so that I will manifest his perfect attributes.
The Apostle Paul assures us we will some day, as finished products, bear Yasha’s image: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam a life giving Spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterwards that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly, Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Yahweh; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” 1 Corinthians 15:42-51.
For the reasons stated above, I will violate the laws of the carnal reasoning of the earthy man and elevate Psalm 139:7 to a spiritual level of interpretation. For it is more than obvious that the prophet is expounding on the love of the Father that reaches beyond the imagination of the finite creature, and through his severe judgment he watches over the souls of man to bring correction and restoration at what ever level the sin and rebellion demands, whether it would be the madding waves of adversities or the flaming sword of judgment.
This thought is penned again by the Apostle Paul: “Be not deceived; Yahweh is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap life age lasting,” Galatians 6:7-8. If we sow, we reap; the Lord will not harvest our crop, but he is always there multiplying the yield to meet the demand.
With this verse, found in Psalm 141:7, we have at last come to the end of the book of Psalms: “Their judges have been dashed against the rock; they shall hear my words; for they are pleasant. As when one plows and rips the earth, so our bones are scattered at the mouth of sheol. But my eyes are unto You, Oh Yahweh, my Lord: in You is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.”
I will comment very briefly on these verses; because it is clear if a person’s body is intact, as he is experiencing hell’s torment, his bones could not be scattered on the ground outside the gates of hell. It is quite evident our writer was in possession of his bones at the time he penned this text, yet he used the personal pronoun our as he includes himself in the statement. It is also clear that he was a man of faith and did not feel any threat of sheol if it is a place of eternal separation from Yahweh. Without dispute, the writer is speaking figuratively. His terminology was another way of saying, “Unless we receive special help from Yahweh we are as good as dead men; we are facing destruction. Our enemy will over run us unless Yahweh comes to help us. We are in a hopeless situation.” He then expresses his faith in Yahweh and hope for deliverance.
Sheol In Proverbs
Wise old Solomon used sheol nine times in his famous book of Proverbs. Three of these are translated grave and the other six are translated hell. Sheol is introduced in the first chapter as the voice of wisdom using the pen of the old patriarch: “My son, if sinners entice you, consent not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave (sheol), and whole, as those that go down to the pit,” Proverbs 1:10-12. Sheol and pit are used interchangeably here, as is the Hebrew style, which is, to make a statement and strengthen it with a paraphrased sentence. There is no description of sheol in this text, neither does it speak of a future judgment of the wicked, for those referred to here were innocent.
Proverbs 5:5, 7:27 and 9:18 deal with the pit into which lewd and depraved women can, and often do, lead foolish men that blindly follow the animal instinct of their base nature. But to the spiritual minded this message goes much deeper than the unspeakable affairs of these degenerates; it deals with the call of the harlot religious system. She stands in the broad way to allure and persuade young converts to forsake the ways of wisdom and understanding (whom the poet refers to as, a sister and kinswoman) to settle for the momentary thrills, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life. This is the systematic order of religious worship that has nothing to do with the crucifixion of the carnal nature (old man) and the putting on the mind of Christ. If we do not deny the flesh of its cravings and demands, we will not contribute to the development of the inward spirit of goodness, faith, and purity.
To avoid creating an impression that I am dodging these particular scriptures, I will quote them: “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow your ear to my understanding: That you may regard discretion, and that your lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, her mouth is smoother than oil. But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two edged sword her feet go down to death; her steps take hold of sheol. Lest you should ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that you can not know them.
“Hear me now therefore, O you children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest you give your years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with your wealth and your labors be in the house of a stranger: and you mourn at last, when your flesh and body are consumed,” Proverbs 5:1-11.
“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with you. Keep my commandments and live; and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them upon your finger, write them upon the table of your heart. Say unto wisdom, You are my sister: and call understanding your kinswoman: that they may keep you from the strange woman, from the stranger which flatters with her words.… Harkin unto me now therefore, O you children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she has cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to sheol, going down to the chambers of death. Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice? She stands in the top of the high places, by the way in the places of the path,” Proverbs 7:1-27 and 8:1-2.
“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knows nothing. For she sits at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call passengers who go right on their ways: Who so is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wants understanding, she says to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knows not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths sheol,” Proverbs 9:15-18.
Having seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3), Solomon could be considered as one having authority to speak on these matters. He too had fallen prey to his own lust. He not only went after strange flesh but became entangled with idolatry. Even though he, at least, regained some of his former wisdom, his carelessness brought about the fall of the Kingdom of Israel.
The other five times sheol is used in this book would also have to be considered figuratively speaking of corruption and low life. Note, sheol and destruction are said to be before the Lord: “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination before the Lord, but the prayers of the upright are his delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord, but he loves him that follows after righteousness. Correction is grievous unto him that forsakes the way: and he that hates reproof shall die. Sheol and destruction are before the Lord, how much more then the hearts of the children of men?” Proverbs 15:8-11. “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from sheol beneath (Proverbs 15:25).”
One would have to be in sheol before he could depart from it. In as much as the wise was said to be in sheol at some time in their existence, the thought disannuls the concept of an eternal condition.
Proverbs 23:14 agrees with and reinforces Proverbs 15:11 and 25, for here it is said if we properly correct the child we deliver his soul from sheol. Therefore, it carries that an untrained child is figuratively in sheol, which is another way of saying his mind is being swallowed up in death.
I wish that all parents would hear and heed the heavenly inspired warning of the wise old king before their neglect proves fatal to their innocent victims.
Proverbs 27:20 couples sheol with destruction and says neither are full. There is always that power that draws the unsuspecting and foolish into sin’s open mouth; therefore, sin and corruption are never satisfied. Sin and corruption are descriptions of spiritual conditions; therefore, they do not literally hunger, or have desire. The prophet is speaking symbolically. He is making a spiritual statement that can be understood by those people who are dwelling in the flesh-realm concept.
Another way of understanding the above thought is people who are under the power and control of evil spirits blindly labor to pervert and destroy the Spirit of Truth and righteousness. They condemn the just and invite everyone in hearing distance to join their biased defense attack by convincing their listeners that they are mistreated and preached at by those who dare to stand faithful to biblical principles by resisting their philosophy and condemning attitude. These are the corruptors of mankind. But the Word of Life tells us that the unconverted continually struggle against the truth. I pondered on this concept, wondering what would motivate common people to deliberately pervert the truth. The Spirit then revealed that they do not see themselves as perverting, attacking, or struggling against Yahweh. They are totally involved in defending and justifying selfhood, which is their only reality. Any statement that contradicts their carnal concept has to be rejected and disannulled quickly before it brings condemnation that demands a change. In their defense of selfhood, they refuse to connect with reality.
Christian parents who deny their child the right to be taught Yahweh’s righteous principles, which gives him or her the ability to cope with life’s trials and temptations, cheat their child out of life’s true meaning. Understanding Yahweh’s principles enhance the child’s potential to become a righteous witness and influence to society. This neglect often robs children of their right to happiness. These parents are numbered with the defilers of mankind.
Proverbs 30:16 expresses the same thought as Proverbs 27:20 and does not describe the condition of sheol as being a fiery judgment.
The Preacher’s Admonition
Ecclesiastes 9:10 is the only place where sheol is found in the writings of the Preacher: “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in ‘sheol,’ where you are going.”
If only the wicked goes to sheol, we would have to admit that the Preacher gave his admonition to work to the wicked and was encouraging them to work diligently and fast before they were brought down to the miseries of hell. Please consider what the works of the wicked are.
I prefer to believe that this writer is instructing the faithful to get as much done as possible to promote the Kingdom of righteousness while there is time, for sheol offers no opportunity for ministry.
Please consider, why would the Preacher encourage the wicked to accomplish as much destruction as possible before being cast into hell, even though the Bible opposes the encouragement of evil works?
Galatians 5:19-21 clearly teaches the works of the flesh-realm: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness ,Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness and revellings.” These works shall be burned up. First Corinthians 3:13-15 says, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by ‘fire;’ and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
Sheol in the Songs of Solomon
We now come to the beautiful songs of Solomon where we will find sheol used only one time; here it was translated grave: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as sheol: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame, Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it,” Songs of Solomon 8:6-7.
The subject here is love and jealousy. Jealously is compared with the cruelty of sheol. Vehement flames are ignited by the coals of jealousy which burn away in a man’s heart until it consumes his life. Sheol is only said to be as cruel as jealousy, but this in no way will support the eternal torment theory.
I am reluctant to deal with the highly symbolic notations of these songs. The Songs of Solomon are very spiritual and understood only by those who are spiritually mature. It is impossible to understand the message here by reading one verse. One should be willing to prayerfully study the whole book or decline the use of one text to establish a preconceived doctrine.
The Triumphant Expectation of Isaiah
Sheol is found eight times in the prophecies of Isaiah. Six times the translators made use of the word hell.
In Isaiah chapter five, I have included the whole subject from verses eleven through sixteen in an attempt to cover the entire thought: “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflames them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of Yahweh, neither consider the operation of his hands. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore, hell (sheol) has enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoices, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: But Yahweh of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and Yahweh that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.”
The prophet heralds his warning to the drunkards and revelers of his day, much like the faithful ministers of our day are heralding their warnings to the Christians which are engaging themselves in carnal entertainment. It seems they had entered into a time that reveling, sports, and musical festivities left no time to seek the will of Yahweh or for building a secure incubation system for developing honorable future leaders. The thought was added that because of this spirit of self-interest and lack of involvement with truth and righteousness, Yahweh’s people had been captured and taken into Babylonian captivity. The man of honor (leadership) had neither wisdom nor strength to lead Yahweh’s people. The people were spiritually dried to the bone. Sheol had opened her mouth without measure. It had swallowed up pomp and glory. Those that knew nothing more than seeking pleasure would fall into it. The mean man would be brought down; the mighty man and the lofty would be humbled. It is obvious these scriptures are dealing with the fall of Israel, but can we see a similarity with these primitive people and the modern mode of music and self indulgence displayed within the present church leadership?
Though it is clear the prophet is speaking to Israel, he prophetically uses Israel symbolically to describe the spiritual warfare and lack of character in the adamic creation. A carnal interpretation will not bear me out on this subject. Yet those who have spiritual ears can hear a voice sounding beyond the dead, or natural, letter of the word; they hear what the Spirit is speaking, and the message is crystal clear.
As Israel went into captivity, sheol truly opened her mouth without measure, and the glory and the pomp of that kingdom vanished. But such things as glory and pomp do not have substance and cannot be brought down to burn in a natural fire. When those kingdoms fell, their leaders were stripped of honor and killed; the glory and the pomp of their kingdoms had perished. But we know that material substances or a nation’s honor cannot be cast into sheol; only people can be judged or killed.
Exploding the Myth of the Fallen Angel
Another misconception that strengthened, if not invented, the concept of the two opposing gods struggling for power was the masterpiece created by one of the world’s great bards. The whole concept of the fall of a beautiful angel rests on John Milton’s imaginary angel, Lucifer. Lucifer’s whole story can be found in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah.
The Bible tells us that the devil was a murderer from the beginning and “never” abode in truth. “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a ‘murderer from the beginning,’ and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it,” John 8:44.
The Bible also says the adversary would masquerade as an angel of light in Second Corinthians 11:13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed (masquerading as) into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Let us look at this word “Lucifer.” It is found only once in the King James Version of the Bible in Isaiah fourteen. This word was never used as a proper noun in its original setting and should not have been translated into a proper noun.
The Interlinear Bible, a more accurate translation, helps us understand this text more clearly. This Bible is not easily found on the market, but I encourage you to find one and read Isaiah chapter fourteen so you can compare it with the proper word meaning in the Strong’s Concordance. The Interlinear Bible it is not a version, as is the King James Version; it is a translation. That is, it translates each Greek or Hebrew word as near to the true meaning of the original word as possible. It endeavors to go along with the correct word meaning found in the Strong’s Concordance. These translators translated into English in the same manner as the Hebrew manuscript going from right to left. You may find the translation on the side of the page very helpful, as it is usually very difficult for a person who has never worked with it to read it.
In Isaiah 14:3-8, Isaiah is addressing the people of Israel (please remember the nation of Israel did not exist until after 1600 B.C. or about 2400 years after the transgression of Adam): “And it shall come to pass in the day that Yahweh shall give you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear, and from the hard bondage wherein you were made to serve, That your shall take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How has the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! Yahweh has broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hinders. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at you, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since you are laid down, no feller is come up against us.”
Please pay close attention that it is the King of Babylon who was being spoken to. Also remember that Babylon was a real place at the time of this writing and the king was a real person who was ruling over it. Isaiah is prophesying to him concerning his fate; he had dethroned one little kingdom after another, but he was about to face his judgment.
“Hell (sheol) from beneath is moved for you to meet you at your coming: it stirs up the dead for you, even all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto you, Are you also become weak as we? Are you become like unto us? Your pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of your viols: the worm (maggot) is spread under you, and the worms cover you. How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For your have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of Yahweh: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to “sheol” (hell), to the sides of the pit,” Isaiah 14:9-15.
Please notice that Isaiah was addressing the king of Babylon. The Hebrew word “stirred” here in the Strong’s Concordance comes from number #7264 and means provoke, quake, rage, shake, tremble, trouble, be wroth. It was translated “moved” in the King James Version.
“From below” was evidently added because there is no number for it in the Strong’s Concordance; hence this paragraph should say, sheol is stirred for you, to meet you at your coming, it stirs up for you departed spirits.
“He goats of the earth,” comes from #6260 and #776 and means “leaders or chief ones of the earth.”
Notice, “it has raised,” in verse 9 comes from #6965 and means among other things, to rise up against. “It” is assumed by the translator and evidently speaks of the king of Babylon, because he had dethroned a multitude of weaker rulers and overran many nations. I take the “all of them” in verse ten to mean all the kings that the king of Babylon dethroned and slew. They, the people he had killed, are addressing the king of Babylon as he enters sheol, saying, “Also you are made weak as we are, to us you are likened, Your majesty goes down into sheol.” They chide him with the exalted title he had taken for himself ‘Your Majesty.’ This whole scene is plainly a reproach to the notorious king and had nothing to do with a beautiful angel falling out of heaven. The departed spirits are poking fun at him as they say (in verse 12), “How have you fallen from the heavens, oh shining one (Hebrew, heylel = shining (Latin, lucifer), son of the dawn, you are cut down to the ground who did weaken the nations.”
Please consider this man’s sin; it is far removed from the angel that some dreamer fantasized falling from heaven and that was supposed to be so extraordinary before he fell. Remember this passage of scripture (Isa. 14:9-15) and one other in Ezekiel chapter twenty-eight must support the fallen angel theory if it is to have any scriptural support. But in no way does either of them give support to a pre-adamic fallen angel theory.
Please notice verse sixteen of this text: “They that see you shall narrowly look upon you, and consider you, saying, Is this the ‘man’ that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;…?” This verse is supposed to be describing the fall of an angel. Yet this scripture says he was a man. The word translated man here is found in the Old Testament close to a thousand times, but never once was it translated angel. Would we be presumptuous if we assume the earthshaking events in the above scripture were the destruction of earthly kingdoms?
Luke 10:17-19 is describing an action that took place when the seventy disciples, which Yasha had sent out without purse or script, came back to give the Lord a report of their success: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through your name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
In this context, he is plainly speaking of mankind raising up against the adversary and taking their throne-rights. These men had just returned with news that the spirits were subject to them. Yasha’s response was, “The adversary has fallen before you; he has lost his position.” I do not see some angel tumbling through space toward the earth.
We use the term “falling” from certain positions fluently and never visualize the person falling through space or of them falling off of a stool when we speak of leaders being dethroned or demoted. Why should we read such a thought into the Master’s speech when he said, “I saw the adversary fall from the heavens?” The language that is used in this chapter is no more meant to be taken literally than an English expression such as “Saddam Hussein has ‘fallen’ from his exalted throne” is to be taken literally.
“Stars of heaven” in Isaiah fourteen is plainly speaking of the Israelites. A careful study in the King James Version suggests to us that he, the adversary, was in heaven: “How are you fallen from heaven;” at the same time his goal was to “ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of Yahweh.”
He was brought down to a grave (v.11). No one ever puts this beautiful imaginary angel, Lucifer, in a grave with maggots eating his flesh away, yet that was the fate of the King of Babylon. Please note, like David’s two unfaithful servants, he was not allowed to be buried with dignity, royal pomp, and honor.
There were many nations that he weakened before he fell (v. 12); we have no biblical record of this activity going on before Adam was created.
Verse fourteen says, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” A good question to ponder from this scripture would be: who teaches that there are clouds in heaven? The symbolic speech here is that this individual sought to rise above the Israelites. It is not unusual for the Hebrew writer or speaker to use the term “clouds” when they are speaking of people, such as a cloud of witnesses ( See Hebrews 12: 1, Jude 12 , Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:26 and Mark 14: 62).
Chapter fourteen verse fifteen: “He (King Ahaz) is brought down to sheol.” We do not see him here with one third of the angels of heaven following him; instead we see the kings and leaders that he had killed facing him with mockery and ridicule.
I will leave the rest of this chapter for you to analyze, but notice who was to be the recipient of this judgment in verses 22 and 25. Also notice this individual had sons and nephews: “For I will rise up against them, says Yahweh of hosts, and cut off (not remembered) from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, says Yahweh.”
Isaiah 14:28 dates this prophecy as “the year that king Ahaz died.” That would be about 700 BC, more than three thousand years after the rebellion of Adam.
Paul said, “For since by man (Adam, mortal) came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” 1 Corinthians 15:21- 22.
This does not say that sin came by a rebellious angel. The idea that an angel from heaven introduced sin in the world before Adam and Eve were created refutes this statement.
We now go to Isaiah’s next use of sheol found in Isaiah 28:14-18: “Wherefore hear the word of Yahweh, you scornful men, that rule this people which are in Jerusalem. Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with sheol (hell) are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with ‘sheol’ (hell) shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then you shall be trodden down by it.”
Though sheol is mentioned here in the fifteenth and eighteenth verses, there are no description of its severity, nature, or length. But the one thing I am positive of, no man in his right mind could not possibly be in agreement with eternal torment nor would he make a covenant with it for any reason, especially if he planned to be the beneficiary of it.
We see in the verses above a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem with its wicked system and the establishment of the Kingdom principle of Christ through the new birth.
We find our next scripture in Isaiah 38:9-20. This is such a beautiful testimony; I could not resist including it in its entirety.
When King Hezekiah was well again, he wrote this poem about his experience:
“My life is but half done and I must leave it all. I am robbed of my normal years, and now I must enter the gates of sheol. Never again will I see the Lord in the land of the living. Never again will I see my friends in this world. My life is blown away like a shepherd’s tent; it is cut short as when a weaver stops his working at the loom. In one short day my life hangs by a thread.
“All night I moaned; it was like being torn apart by lions. Delirious, I chattered like a swallow and mourned like a dove; my eyes grew weary of looking up for help. ‘O Yahweh,’ I cried, ‘I am in trouble—help me.’ But what can I say? For he himself has sent this sickness. All my sleep has fled because of my soul’s bitterness.
“O Yahweh, your discipline is good and leads to life and health. Oh, heal me and make me live! “Yes, now I see it all – it was good for me to undergo this bitterness, for you have lovingly delivered me from death; you have forgiven all my sins. For dead men cannot praise you. They cannot be filled with hope and joy. The living, only the living, can praise you as I do today.
“One generation makes known your faithfulness to the next. Think of it! The Lord healed me! Every day of my life from now on I will sing my songs of praise in the Temple, accompanied by the orchestra,” (The Living Bible).
This is an outstanding testimony; I think it is great, but please notice that Hezekiah’s main concern. Though he confesses he is going to enter the gates of sheol, he makes no statement concerning the flames he is about to encounter. His emphasis was on missing his friends in the fellowship of the Lord. He expressed no fear of the torment he was about to be subjected to. Does this not raise a question in your mind? If this man meant, by entering the gates of sheol, he would be there eternally writhing in flames, how is it that he did not express the fear he had felt as he gave his testimony?
We go to Isaiah 57:9 for our next scripture reading: “And you went to the king with ointment, and didst increase your perfumes, and didst send your messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto ‘sheol’ (hell).” The rebuke here was to a people that had debased themselves, and some sort of judgment was obviously imminent. Again the writer does not indicate that sheol is an eternal inferno of torment.
Though we do not find the word sheol in Ezekiel chapter 28, we feel it should be included inasmuch as it is used to support the fallen angel theory. Actually there are three chapters, Ezekiel 26, 27, and 28, which are records of the prophecies that were given to this man. These prophecies were written about 590 BC. This would be more than a hundred years later than when Isaiah wrote his famous prophecy to the king of Babylon. Ezekiel left us quite a history of this king and his great city that was destined to sink beneath the waves and there to sleep forever in its watery tomb.
I will quote a small potion which I feel will be sufficient to clarify my previous statement (Ezekiel 28:1-19): “The word of Yahweh came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince (ruler) of Tyrus, Thus says the Lord Yahweh; Because your heart is lifted up, and you have said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet you are a man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God: Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from you: With your wisdom and with your understanding you have gotten you riches, and have gotten gold and silver into your treasures: By your great wisdom and by your traffick have you increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches: Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh; Because you have set your heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon you, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and they shall defile your brightness. They shall bring you down to the pit, and you shall die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Will you yet say before him that slays you, I am God? but you shall be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slays you. You shall die the deaths of the uncircumcised (this man was an Israelite) by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, says the Lord Yahweh.
“Moreover the word of Yahweh came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus says the Lord Yahweh; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering (security), the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you was upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you (satan was a liar from his beginning). By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you. You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold you. All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more.”
Ezekiel’s prophecies are filled with symbolisms, which is not unlike the prophecies this prophet gave to other kings who were reigning in his lifetime.
As a child, symbolism was part of our culture, so maybe I have an advantage over a few other folks in reading it. I was fortunate enough to have a neighbor that was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He lived on easy street; everything he touched turned to gold. He ate high on the hog and spent Christmas and Thanksgiving in Pig Heaven. I imagine he lived out his life in luxury, that is, if he didn’t kill his goose that laid the golden eggs.
Evidently this king was put in a very strategic position and was blessed abundantly, but as he began to prosper, pride and greed took over. Verse fourteen tells us that this man was positioned, not only as a king, but as a spiritual leader; therefore, his failure touched the lives of many people. He was in a position that made them vulnerable to his scheming, and he quite obviously took advantage of it.
It seems pretty evident that this man’s deeds were done while he was in the flesh, inasmuch as he lived among people who were astonished at him and he was brought down to ashes before them.
Symbolism can be quite difficult to understand, but not nearly so difficult to understand as it would be for me to place this king of Tryus and the scenario described above in heaven, unless we can figure out a way to have this sinful angel to fall after Adam and Eve were created. Then, we would have the fall taking place on earth instead of in heaven. Scripture makes it pretty clear that the Garden of Eden was made as the home of Adam and Eve and was definitely on earth.
Sheol is found in each of these three verses in Ezekiel 31:15-17: “Thus says the Lord YAHWEH; In the day when he (Pharaoh, King of Egypt) went down to sheol (the grave) I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him. I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to sheol (hell) with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. They also went down into sheol (hell) with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.” We find no information in either of these verses that can be used to support any concept of sheol’s condition or its duration. So we will pass quickly on to chapter 32 of the same book where sheol is found.
In Ezekiel 32:21 and 27, the Lord is still dealing with judgment on Egypt and the surrounding kingdoms that were in agreement with her exalted attitude; therefore we will only quote the two verses where the word sheol appears: “The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of sheol (hell) with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword. And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to sheol (hell) with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.”
Four of the Minor Prophets, Hosea, Jonah, Amos, and Habakkah, mentioned sheol in their writings, yet none of them gave us a description.
I have already dealt with Hosea 13:14; therefore, I will go to Amos’ brief comment: “Though they dig into sheol (hell), thence shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down,” Amos 9:2. This scripture is not to be understood by the carnal mind; otherwise it would be extremely difficult for me to imagine someone digging into an underground inferno to escape the wrath of Yahweh. I cannot imagine what Yahweh or anyone else could do to anyone that would be less tolerable than eternal torment.
Jonah likened his three day stay in the whale’s belly to being in sheol. He also felt he had stayed there forever.
“Then Jonah prayed unto Yahweh his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of my affliction unto Yahweh, and he heard me; out of the belly of sheol (hell) cried I, and you heard my voice,” Jonah 2:1-2.
Habakkuk 2:5 is the last scripture in the Old Testament to deal with sheol. The word of the Lord came through the mouth of the prophet to correct a proud and wayward leader:
“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And Yahweh answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that read it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. Yea also, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, neither keeps at home, who enlarges his desire as sheol (hell), and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathers unto him all nations, and heaps unto him all people.”
Yahweh Rebukes the Israelites
In Yahweh’s rebuke to the Israelites, came the threat of judgment, saying, “Behold, my anger and my fury ‘shall be’ poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched. …Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people: and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
“Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore you shall speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to you: you shall also call unto them; but they will not answer you. But you shall say unto them, This is a nation that obeys not the voice of Yahweh their God, nor receives correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.
“Cut off your hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for Yahweh has rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, says Yahweh: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the ‘valley of the son of Hinnom,’ to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
“Therefore, behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. And the carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.
“At that time, says Yahweh, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth. And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, says Yahweh of hosts,” Jeremiah 7:20-34 and 8:1-3.
The fulfillment of these scriptures was surely in the minds of the people as the Savior walked among them saying, “…Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer them that are entering to go in.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation (condemnation).
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of Ge-henna than yourselves,” Matthew 23:13-15.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
What about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31? It is the only description of hell that we have, but it is in the Bible and it has to be reckoned with. Though it did not speak of duration, it surely made the flames visible.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple (indicating royalty) and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and sees 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 tormented in this flame.
“But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from there.
“Then he said, I ask you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
“Abraham says unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
“And he said, No, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
“And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Can you not see anything strange about the above text? This message does not sound like the message our Savior preached from the cross; “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
1. The beggar was not buried, but carried bodily by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. There was no mentioning of another judgment.
2. Both the rich man and Lazarus went to their destination while they were yet in their physical bodies. Unless we stretch the truth by saying our spiritual bodies will inherit the frailty of the natural body, we will have to confess that the mortal body deteriorates in the grave, yet the rich man obviously took his natural body to sheol.
3. The beggar went to Abraham’s bosom, instead of heaven.
4. Evidently Abraham had great authority, both over what went on there and in sheol also.
5. Nothing is said about Yahweh.
6. Nothing is said about the Savior.
7. Nothing is said about faith.
8. Nothing is said here about the beggar’s characteristics, his righteousness or love.
9. Abraham denied that the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ would be more effective in convicting sinners than the administration of Moses’ law.
10. The rich man thought a drop of water would be sufficient to cool his tongue while he was living in flames of fire.
11. Abraham condemned the rich man for his wealth, saying, “Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.” There were no other charges.
12. The inhabitants of Abraham’s bosom could see and talk to the tortured souls in sheol, which the Greeks taught and many Christians yet assume is in the heart of the earth.
13. This story indicates that Abraham and others had experienced a resurrection before Christ came out of the grave and was already in paradise.
14. It is the only scripture in the Bible that connects fiery torture with sheol. See 1st Samuel 2:6: “Yahweh kills, and makes alive: he brings down to sheol, and brings up.”
15. Lazarus did not ask the Father for his daily needs; he sought help from the rich man. Yet the instructions Yasha gave was, when in need, seek the Father in faith. “When you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret ‘shall’ reward you openly,” Matthew 6:6.
16. Lazarus was carried to the rich man’s gate every day. Evidently the rich man refused to help him day after day, because he continued to beg from him.
17. Lazarus went to paradise because he was poor and sick.
19. Both the rich man and Abraham witnessed that the rich man was the son of Abraham. Please notice Galatians 3:7, “Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” The point here is, if he was Abraham’s son he would have earned that privilege by his faith; therefore, he should have been justified with Abraham. Abraham was a rich man also.
Perfect faith gets results; “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his seed is blessed,” Psalm 37:25-26.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man not only implies that Abraham was resurrected, but it depicts him in paradise running the whole show. This story is a form of irony or sarcasm. Our Lord is taking the false doctrine of the leadership of the people and exaggerating it to a point that a fool can see the absurdity of their concept. They had done as some religious systems do today; that is, they brainwashed the multitude into believing their poverty and misery on earth would purchase a higher bliss in heaven. This concept was taught by the religious hierarchy in the days of Yasha so the people would hold still while the system robbed them, even though they themselves were living in luxury.
In Yasha’s story, he pointed out that if earth’s starvation and misery paid off with heavenly bliss, wealth, and luxury then in this case it should produce the very extreme opposite effect, which would be unlimited misery.
The rich man depicted the religious system of that day. The beggar was symbolic of the common people who, in a sense, were lying at their gate spiritually famished and dying from neglect, yet receiving no mercy from the religious system.
Being Abraham’s descendants was used as a cloak to cover their greedy and self-righteous spirit.
The gulf was that which was created by the rich hierarchy; it had been kept intact between the common people and the religious hierarchy for centuries. The leaders assumed the roll of being very elite, so that the common people had to depend on them to receive mercy from Yahweh.
The dogs, which represented the hated Samaritans, offered their condolence by licking Lazarus’ sores, which represented an act of kindness from a lowly creature. This spoke volumes to the greedy hearts of the religious system.
The story of Lazarus is not the only story in the Bible where irony was used. In the sixteenth chapter of his book, Luke quoted our Lord’s famous story of a man who cheated his master out of a fortune in a very selfish scheme. Our Lord’s summarization was, “And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations,” Luke 16:8-9.
The Lord used this parable to illustrate the thoughts of the perverted minds of the people. He was not telling his disciples that a man would congratulate his wicked servant who had robbed him. Neither did he ever, at any time, instruct his followers to cheat, steal, and lie so they could have eternal security from the natural created system. Yasha certainly makes it sound as if he thought the unconverted and unfaithful were wiser than the converted because they would protect themselves by cheating and stealing. Our Lord confessed he was using irony by refuting his own statement in his next sentence, saying, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much; therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?”
Yasha cleverly pointed out the ignorance in the actions of the unfaithful steward. The man thought he would buy security by making friends with other business men at the expense of his boss; but his scheme backfired by revealing his unfaithful spirit. No business man that had dealt with him would ever trust him enough to hire him as a steward. He slammed the door in his own face. This is what the religious system of that day was doing. They altered their standard and compromised the truth of Yahweh’s word to gain the friendship of the world and security.
The Greek and the Valley of Hinnom
The word “hell” appears twenty-three times in the New Testament. It was translated ten times from the Greek word “hades,” which replaced the Hebrew word “sheol.” Hades came into our Bible from Greek mythology, for the Greeks believed that Hades, a myth god, ruled over the underworld.
The other twelve times, hell was translated from the Greek word “Ge-henna” and refers to a valley just outside of Jerusalem where rubbish and the dead bodies of animals were burned in the time of the New Testament writings and was mistranslated “hell” every time.
In the Old Testament, sheol is known as the valley of Hinnom. The translators treated sheol and valley of Hinnom as if they meant the same thing, because they thought sheol and the valley of Hinnom were symbolic to the place where Hades ruled over the wicked dead.
Though never used symbolically as a place of eternal torture, reference to this valley of Hinnom sometimes appeared in the Old Testament Hebrew as the valley of the sons of Hinnom. This valley was considered cursed ground by the Israelites, because at one time heathen worship was practiced there and the Israelites became involved to the extent that they sacrificed their children to a myth god.
Also the Lord refers to Ge-henna in Matthew 23:33-38, saying, “You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation (judgment) of Ge-henna? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon ‘this’ generation.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that killed the prophets, and stoned them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house (progeny) ‘is’ left unto you desolate.”
As we read these texts, they do not convey the same thing to our minds as they did to the Israelites of that day. Being aware that their Savior was referring back to the Old Testament prophecies and to their fulfillment, especially to the prophecies recorded in the books of Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Malachi, it surely filled their minds with fear and agony.
Yasha was not bringing them a message of an eventual (after death) punishment. He was saying, in effect, “this is it folks!” His message was very precise and disturbing. They knew he was speaking of a judgment that was about to destroy their religious and social system, that is, if he was a true prophet of Yahweh. As they watched him heal every known kind of affliction, cast out spirits, raise the dead, control the very elements of nature by his ability to usurp authority over every force—both the seen and the unseen, they could harbor no doubts. Even the priests knew that the Spirit of Yahweh was with Yasha and that he possessed the qualifications of a true prophet.
Coming in Yahweh’s Kingdom
The disciples knew beyond all doubt that Yasha was genuine, but their question was, “When shall these things be?” The closest Yasha came to giving them an exact time that the ax of the total annihilation of their system would fall was when he said it would happen in their generation—the generation in which he lived. He said, “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom,” Matthew 16:28. “And some of you standing right here now will certainly live to see me coming in my Kingdom,” Matthew 16:28 (TLB).
“Oh,” some of you might say, “but Yahweh’s Kingdom did not come then and has not yet come. He could not have prophesied something that was false.”
The truth is, our Lord did prophesy that the judgment of Jerusalem and the coming of the Kingdom would come simultaneously. But if you are looking with carnal eyes, you will never accept this statement because “…The kingdom of Yahweh comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of Yahweh is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). “…For the kingdom of Yahweh is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” Romans 14:17.
The world is unaware that the Kingdom came and that it is here, and many of the religious systems have not, as yet, discovered it. The people of the world do not say, Lo here! or, lo there because they are unaware of Yahweh’s Kingdom. Only the faithful who have received Christ are aware that it has already come.
Notice the discourse between the Lord and his disciples concerning the Kingdom of Yahweh in John 14:15-23: “If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the ‘Spirit of truth;’ whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be ‘in’ you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also. At that day you shall know that ‘I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’ He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
“Judas (not Iscariot) said unto him, Lord, how is it that you will manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
“Yasha answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
Some will reject this because they will be aware that the Kingdom of Yahweh came on the day of Pentecost, and that is true, but what people fail to see is that the Kingdom which our Lord was dealing with has nothing to do with taking over the world systems and governments. He was dealing with the nucleus of truth and life that had been birthed into the hearts of men to replace the kingdom of Adam, or the dead letter system of religion.
Israel was not free to abandon her religious system until the Messiah appeared and fulfilled the prophecies that confirmed his priesthood. In rejecting him, Israel rejected the Melchisedec Priesthood.
Forty years after the crucifixion of Christ, a Roman general by the name of Titus marched in Jerusalem to complete the fulfillment of the prophecies to the letter, even to the piling of thousands of dead bodies into the valley of the sons of Hinnom. The altar was polluted as prophesied by Daniel; that carnal religious system lost its power and was replaced by the Kingdom of Yahweh.
The shadow of the old system that we look at today cannot replace the first. The ark cannot be found. The candlestick and the tables of stone are missing. That system lacks the power to stand on its own feet; it is propped up by the tax payers of America. For more information on this see Works of Josephus, volume VI, page 200, under Siege of Jerusalem.
Most of the clergy have parroted the phrases of our Lord concerning the coming of his Kingdom and the ending of that system and they have convinced their followers that the end time could come at any second.
As a small child I used to fear the harmless little clouds that floated through the sky. I never knew when the Lord would float down on one of them to destroy the earth and cast me into a pit of flames. This dreadful message came because the country ministers of that day did not know that the Greek word “aion,” that should have been translated “age,” had been translated as “world.”
One of these mistranslated scriptures is found in Matthew 13:37-43, where Yasha said, “He that sows the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world (#2889, kosmos, orderly arrangement); the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (#165 age); and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world (#165, age). The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all (things) that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear.” That was a very sad time, but when we glimpse the full scope of the transition that took place with the passing of the old and the birthing of the new we can understand why it was necessary to remove that carnal order.
The dawning of Yahweh’s Kingdom age was a beautiful thing, for until that in-Christed age arrived the candle of the earth had not been lit; the would-be followers of truth could not “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” They could not grasp the truth; not because our Father hid it from them, they just could not hear the Spirit of truth until their stony hearts were changed. But when Christ was resurrected and entered into his holy temples of flesh, mankind received the sperm of truth. Some folks who do not realize that Yahweh’s Kingdom came almost 2000 years ago will challenge this statement, but how could Paul say that we had been translated into the Kingdom at the time of his ministry, if it had not come?
Paul instructed his followers, saying, “That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of Yahweh; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering; Giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,” Colossians 1:10-13.
I am convinced that the Kingdom was birthed on the day of Pentecost, but at the end of the forty years, in 70 A.D., when that system was completely destroyed, the Melchizedek Priesthood fully replaced the Levitical order.
The translators of the Living Bible translated the text above using modern speech, saying, “We are praying, too, that you will be filled with his mighty, glorious strength so that you can keep going no matter what happens—always full of the joy of the Lord, and always thankful to the Father who has made us fit to share all the wonderful things that belong to those who live in the Kingdom of light. For he has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,” Colossians 1:11-13.
Remember, “the kingdom of Yahweh is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17.
Below I have several other Scripture quotes of the warnings of Christ concerning the end of the administration of the law age.
“And Yasha came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Therefore, go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age (#165, Aion, age). Amen,” Matthew 28:18-20.
As Yasha sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world (#165, aion, age)?” Matthew 24:3.
The natural mind cannot comprehend the spiritual depths of prophecy, and by lowering it into the natural realm they came up with a philosophy that the unconverted mind can cope with. Society, in general, is violent; this creates the need to have a violent god that justifies their lack of love.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of Yahweh; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of Yahweh. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of Yahweh: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:12-14.
The King James Version, not being in modern English, is sometimes difficult to understand. I was impressed with the way the translators of The Living Bible translated this passage in 1 Corinthians 2:11-16. “No one can really know what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like except that person himself. And no one can know Yahweh’s thoughts except Yahweh’s own Spirit. And Yahweh has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) to tell us about the wonderful free gifts of grace and blessing that Yahweh has given us. In telling you about these gifts we have even used the very words given to us by the Holy Spirit, not words that we as men might choose. So we use the Holy Spirit’s words to explain the Holy Spirit’s facts. But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from Yahweh, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can’t take it in. But the spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who can’t understand him at all. How could he? For certainly he has never been one to know the Lord’s thoughts, or to discuss them with him, or to move the hands of Yahweh by prayer. But, strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 2:11-16.
Daniel gave a fine illustration of the destruction of the old order and the establishing of the Kingdom of Yahweh in Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” Also Daniel 7:26-27: “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
Let us look at Matthew 5:22, 5:29-30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15 and 33. These six scriptures have to do with burning in the valley of the sons of Hinnom. The other two verses come from the Hebrew word sheol.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire,” Matthew 5:22.
Matthew 5:29-30: “And if your right eye offends you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” Matthew 10:28.
“Wherefore if your hand or your foot offend you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if your eye offends you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire,” Matthew 18:8-9.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of Hinnom than yourselves,” Matthew 23:15.
“You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation (judgment) of the valley of Hinnom?” Matthew 23:33. See also Mark 9:43-50 and Luke 12:5.
“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of sheol,” James 3:5-6.
Just in case someone stumbles on the idea that this could not be speaking of the valley of the sons of Hinnom, inasmuch as the fires of this so-called hell is not quenched throughout eternity, they should check to see where this expression came from. Let us re-read Jeremiah 7:20: “Therefore, says the Lord Yahweh; Behold, my anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.” See also Jeremiah 7:30-34.
When Jeremiah uttered those words he was not referring to eternal torment no more so than our Lord was. The fires of Ge-henna were kept burning until they consumed every fragments of filth and every carcass. When Yasha said the fire would not be quenched, he was saying the fiery judgment would come upon that system and no one could stop it and no one did.
Traditions have taken the biblical prophecies and misconstrued them to fit their theory. They had no authority to teach that aion meant eternal or that Ge-henna was speaking of eternal torment and should never have translated it as Hades. They had no authority to say that the biblical meaning of fire was referring to natural fire. But that is in the past and we cannot change it. But may I ask you, Dear Reader, if you believe and teach these things, by what biblical authority do you do it?
Sheol is never connected with fire in the Old Testament. It is there sixty-five times, mistranslated as grave thirty-one times, pit three times, and hell thirty-one times.
Now keep in mind as you read, sheol is the only word translated “hell” in the Old Testament. I want to establish the fact that sheol is a real place, but it is not a fire, neither is it the grave. It simply means the unseen state of departed spirits.
It is quite obvious that I have ended this subject without finding a description of hell as it is propagated by the multitudes.
Altogether there are sixty-six books in the Bible, over two thirds (45) of them neglected to mention sheol. The Bible contains 773,693 words and contains the word hell only fifty-three times, and twelve times (in the New Testament) it came from the word Ge-henna, not sheol.
The Gospel of Mark mentioned Ge-henna three times but never mentioned sheol. Neither Ge-henna nor sheol appears in the Gospel of John. Considering the nature of this subject, if it is indeed eternal torture, it seems it should have been the utmost subject of the Bible. How can so many believe that trillions of years can pass and yet not diminish, by one hair’s breadth, the suffering of the souls that are writhing in flames? This thought is inconceivable.
Sin and rebellion against Yahweh and truth is the destructive force of the earth. I do not doubt that there will be a time of judgment, and I sincerely advise you to prepare for it; but presenting Yahweh as a vicious villain that tortures his spiritually blind creation does him no favors, and neither does it awake the world to his true attributes.
Help me in my effort to convince the world that Yahweh is altogether lovely and worthy of their love and trust. Help me convince them that Yahweh alone is the solution to every problem that confronts mankind.