By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.
7 And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying,"Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality."
9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."
12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.""Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"
I humbly bow before the Lord as I write on this most dreadful and awful subject, which is nevertheless from God Himself. I chose to use the passage above to show hell’s reality and its nature.
In v. 6 a mighty angel proclaims the glorious eternal gospel in order to give mankind one last chance before the dreadful day of Judgment—“the hour of His judgment has come.” He who created all things, and owns all things, has come to render His verdict on every human who has ever lived. It is indeed a dreadful day, and anyone who can speak of hell without tears, should refrain from speaking of it,.
This entire text speaks of the reality of hell. Throughout history, man has tried to get rid of hell from their thinking by ignoring it, or by watering it down. Think of how unreasonable it would have been for a resident of the Florida Keys to ignore the clear warnings of the impending devastation of Hurricane Irma. It is infinitely more unreasonable to think that ignoring hell in our thinking,will make it “go away.” It won’t.
This text is agonizingly clear in presenting hell as really real. And has been often pointed out, Jesus spoke more often of hell then He did of heaven. If we are to be faithful to God’s Word, and compassionate towards others, then we must be gripped by the terrifying reality of hell.
Jesus came on a mission of desperate urgency: to save us from God’s wrath. We live in an age in which hell is seldom mentioned, but this is a reflection of our generations diminished view of God’s burning holiness, and His infinite hatred of sin.
It is my perception of the New Testament that the vast majority of mankind is headed toward hell, and most of those who claim to profess Christ, do not posses Christ. “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord…” (Matthew 7:21ff)
13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.(Matthew 7:13-14, emphasis added ESV)
Let us now look at what makes hell, hell—the hellishness of hell.
First, the damned will be the objects of God’s wrath, infinite anger and hatred. The distinction between sin and sinner will be obliterated. In v. 10 it speaks of the cup of His anger being poured out full strength. Whatever mercy and grace we may have received on earth will only haunt them, as God’s justice is poured out in full measure.
Whatever else the significance of the mark of the beast and its image signifies prior to Jesus’ return, it basically is a reference to all who have not been sealed with the Holy Spirit, which all believers have. So, any person who has not bowed the knee to Christ as their Savior and Lord, is a child of wrath (see Ephesians 2:1 ff).
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved
God, Satan, and other damned sinners will torment the damned, but God’s wrath is by far the worst punishment.
God Almighty will look upon them with utter contempt and holy hatred, and His wrath will be poured out in full measure.
Second, those in hell will suffer in body and soul. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
Whether the fire and brimstone is literal or not, the reality will much worse than the imagery used…which is horrible enough.
The deceased souls are either in heaven or hell, awaiting the Final Judgment. At this public pronouncement, all will be reunited with their bodies. The saints will receive a glorious body that will enrich their pleasures of heaven. But the damned will be united with hideous bodies which will accelerate their misery in hell. The torments of hell will be partly physical.V.10 “…he will be tormented with fire and sulfur.” All five senses will be inflamed with agony.
The soul, or essence of a person, will feel the infinite hatred of God, as well as their remorse for rejecting countless opportunities to respond to God’s mercy. This agony of both soul and body will be unspeakable, and sinners will yearn to die but will not be able to.
Another trait of hell is restlessness.(see v.11) They will yearn for some respite, some rest from the horrific torment, but it will continue, night and day.
Their lack of rest will be aggravated from knowing that the saints have rested from their labors. Starting in Genesis 2, entering into God’s rest was integral to the inheritance of God’s people. But rest-lessness is reserved for this who have committed spiritual adultery with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Imagine feeling utter restlessness, in body and soul. No rest.
This may surprise you, but it will be the presence of God in hell that will make it truly hellish. (tormented…in the presence of the Lamb, v.10)We’ve all heard the phrase “Christ-less eternity”, implying that God won’t be in hell. However, this text says otherwise. Besides, if God is omnipresent, He cannot NOT be in hell. It is His presence which mainly makes hell, hell.
For the saint, heaven is God. For the sinner, hell is God. Cursed are the impure in heart for they too shall see God.
Seeing God face-to-face, the beatific vision, is the main goal and pleasure of heaven. However, sinners in hell shall see the stern face of God who has nothing but infinite hatred for them. This language may disturb you, but may I suggest that we have presumed upon both the mercy and grace of God. We deserve neither—indeed, we all deserve hell.
Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of hell is its unending nature.V11 speaks of their torment going up forever and ever. The torments and agony of the damned sinners will never, ever end. They will last through all eternity.
Ten million years from now, the damned sinner will be no closer to ‘parole’ then when he first arrived. If visualizing the eternality of hell does not break your heart, then I don’t know what will.
In Matthew 25 we have another picture of the Last Judgment…the sheep and goats.
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:46) ‘aiownion’ is the exact same Greek word used to describe the eternal nature of both heaven and hell. If one denies the eternal nature of hell, then to be consistent, they must deny the eternal nature of heaven as well.
Theologians have tried to take either the pain out of eternity or the eternity out of pain. Even some the most respected evangelical theologians of our day, have fallen prey to this tendency to water down the utter hellishness of hell.
Yes, this eternal nature of hell does cause me anguish, as well it should. However, we forget the infinite heinousness and sinfulness of sin before an infinitely holy God.
But whatever I say about the justice of the eternality of hell, I must confess that it causes deep and visceral pain (which I can feel physically).
As Jonathan Edwards said, “we can’t scare people into heaven, but it’s reasonable to try to scare them out of hell, and start seeking heaven and love for Jesus (the only proper motive). Is it not reasonable to tell your loved ones if your house is on fire?”
I plead with you from the depths of my soul, to flee from the wrath to come. Do not read these words, only to regret for all eternity that you failed to respond appropriately.
Today, I urge you to seek the Lord, your Creator. It is only a thin thread that separates all of us from eternity—
Please bow before the Lord and take hold of the free gift of eternal life, purchased by the finished work of Christ in the cross.
1. Acknowledge that you have sinned. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
2. Acknowledge and trust from your heart that Christ died and rose again to save you from your sins…as a free gift. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
3. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is your Savior and Lord (Romans 10)
4. We can have confidence that our union with Christ will usher us into eternal rest, if we persevere to the end. God preserves His elect to persevere.
5. Jesus Christ, and only Jesus, can rescue us from eternity in hell. Out of gratitude for God’s free salvation, commit to serving and loving Him with all your being.
6. Lastly, I pray that this short vision of hell will compel you to seek every opportunity to reach out to the lost…and examine your own heart to make sure that you possess the Christ that you profess.
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.