This may surprise you but Jesus Christ didn’t actually talk about Eternal Fire as the place for the accursed or sinners. He said, “Get away from me, you cursed ones! Go into the everlasting fire!”
Matt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
That Eternal Fire is not a place of torment or separation; it’s very clear though that it was prepared. And we can know that it’s not a location by looking at a parallel passage.
Jesus speaks about the invitation for the blessed. He said, “Come, my Father’s blessed ones, receive the kingdom prepared for you!”
Matt 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
So when Jesus talks about the Kingdom and the Eternal Fire, he speaks about an appointed judgment that was prepared from the foundation of the world. Those who were blessed are sentenced to a state of glory but those accursed are sentenced to a state of ruin or destruction.
This is the Lord’s execution of his sentence according to Paul the apostle (Rom 9:28).
First, there was a distinction between the vessels of wrath [cursed ones] and the vessels of mercy [blessed ones].
Secondly, we know that these vessels were made ready in advance for either a state of glory or a state of destruction.
Rom 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
Rom 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Paul’s concept would support Jesus Christ’s idea of a foreordained judgment. But does he speak as if this prepared Eternal Fire, this Everlasting Fire was ultimately fixed to go on forever?
Let’s consider this teaching before us in connection with the Law of Fire in Deuteronomy 33:1-2.
The Law of Fire
Deut 33:1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
Deut 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
You see, the “fiery law” [law of fire] or the “fire of law” came from God on Mount Sinai and it was mentioned by Moses when he pronounced a blessing upon the Israelites before his death. No reason to doubt now that this Law of Fire [aka Flaming Fire] is the basis of the prepared Eternal Fire that Jesus Christ and Paul talked about.
Well, in Deuteronomy, we know that the Lord had revealed himself as a Consuming Fire and spoke to the Israelites from the mountain blazing with fire. And having done so, Moses warned them not to provoke the Lord with corruption because he is a devouring fire. What would you think of such a symbol?
Here’s how God expressed His “fiery law” against idolatry:
Deut 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Deut 32:23 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.
Deut 32:24 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.
Deut 32:25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
Deut 32:26 I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
If you look at Deut 32:22, God’s anger breaks out like fire and it would burn to the lowest hell. In some translations, the lowest hell is the depths of the grave [Sheol]. This hell does not refer to a mythical place in the afterlife; it is connected to the earth and the foundations of the mountains.
It is clear that the idolatrous Israelites were to be burnt, devoured, and destroyed. They will be struck by famine, ravaged by pestilence or plague, and besieged by foreign nations (Deut 32:24)
So, for what purpose is God’s fire appointed or prepared for? Is it not to deter idolatry? No doubt this is the design of Eternal Fire. Is it, then, a foreordained sentence against wickedness and apostasy from God? Yes! And what is the connection of this prepared Eternal Fire to the devil and his angels?
If we read Deut 32:16-17, this is Israel’s crime:
Deut 32:16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
Deut 32:17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
The only way to understand the predicted judgment in Matt 25:41 is through Deut 32:16-17. Regarding the devils, we know that they are false gods. Like the molten calf [the sin of the Israelites], the devils [strange gods] would be burned with fire and be crushed thoroughly until it’s as fine as dust (Deut 9:21). The angels were the messengers of the Mosaic Law which, in the last days of the Jewish nation, were doomed to perish in the Jewish-Roman War.
To find the real meaning of the Eternal Fire, it is only necessary to examine its connection with the Law of Fire. You will understand that it is the execution of God’s judgment upon the idolatry of the Israelites. It is about the end of a perverse nation, a people in whom there is no faith (Deut 32:20)
Deut 32:20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
So if the accursed Israelites were cast into the Eternal Fire, it means that they were guilty of sin and destined to be destroyed like their false gods [the devils].
In A.D. 70, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of the Jewish nation were burnt to the ground by the armies of the Roman Empire; the Israelites who stayed there were slaughtered and their carcasses were, literally, cast into the fire (Matt 24:28; Luke 12:5).
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Tim Liwanag is the author of Why Jesus Came To Hell, an eye-opening exposition on Christ’s descent in ancient Helldom. His published work on the apocalypse of first-century Jewish nation gave him the recognition of being the first Filipino author to write a book on Fulfilled Eschatology.
Tim believes that you’re never too old to do something amazing for God’s glory and for people of any age to live a fulfilled life!
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