Hell, the Lake of Fire and Universalism Part 4
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
September 22, 1997

Last Updated :
February 11, 2012

Disposal Of Bodies Following Battle Of Gog And Magog, Seven Full Months To Bury The Dead, Great Burial In The Valley Of Hamongog Or Valley Of The Passengers, A Great Feast For The Fowls And The Beasts, Valley Of Hamongog Burial Surpasses Valley Of Hinnom, The Wicked Transformed Into Red Maggots?, Ghehenna Is Not The Literal Lake Of Fire, Skolex Maggots, Lake Of Fire Is Not Derived From Sheol, Hades, Ghehenna Or Tartaros, Lake Of Fire Is Literal Translation Of The Greek Words "Limne Pur", Enoch's Vision Of The Fiery Abyss Where The Fallen Angels Are Imprisoned, A Jehovah Witness's View, How Death And Hell Can Both Be Cast Into The Lake Of Fire, Valley Of Hinnom Reignited?, Will Global Fire Consume The Earth And Atmospheric Heavens?, Problems With Word "Cast", Theories Regarding Possible Location Of The Lake Of Fire, Center Of The Earth And Black Holes, Gravitational Collapse And Supernovas, Will The Earth Someday Collapse Into A Black Hole At Its Core?, Possible Significance Of Death Swallowed Up In Victory, Children Of Light And Children Of Darkness, Lucifer: Rebellious Prince Of Darkness And His Demons, Jesus Is The Light Of The World, Morning Stars And Sons Of God, God Is The Father Of Lights Who Is Symbolized By The Sun In The Bible, Jesus Reflects God And Is Thus Similar To The Moon

Having now discussed the destruction of the weapons of war that occurs following this great Battle of Gog and Magog, let us now consider what is done with all of the dead bodies which no doubt result from so great a conflict as this war. Continuing in the Book of Ezekiel, we read the following:

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search."
Ezekiel 39:11-14, KJV

Just imagine; there are so many dead carcases scattered upon the mountains of Israel, that it requires seven full months to bury them all. It is evident that this is considerably worse than Ghehenna -- or the Valley of Hinnom -- because this tremendous burial campaign occurs all over the land of Israel. No doubt, it is one stinking mess. In fact, we are told that it is so bad, that people have to stop their noses. The carcases and stench and maggots are everywhere; at least for a few weeks, if not for a few months, until all of the dead bodies have either decayed, or have been consumed by the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field. Notice where they take the remains of these dead bodies:

"And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog. And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land."
Ezekiel 39:15-16, KJV

Here we discover that all of the dead carcases, or at least what is left of them, are carried to the Valley of Hamongog to be buried. This name in Hebrew actually means "multitude of Gog". Previously in verse eleven, we saw that at the time that Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, this valley was called the Valley of the Passengers. Research reveals that it is located on the east side of the Dead Sea. We are also informed that a city is built called Hamonah -- which means "multitudes" -- to commemorate the Lord's victory over Gog and Magog. As I mentioned previously, being as it takes such a long time to locate and bury all of the dead, Ezekiel informs us that the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field engage in a fantastic feast of human flesh for at least a few weeks, as we see by the following verses:

"And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD."
Ezekiel 39:17-20, KJV

So it is evident that just as occurred one thousand years earlier following the Battle of Armageddon, God is going to require the assistance of the ravenous fowls of the air and the beasts of the field to clean up this foul-smelling and putrifying mess. Based upon this description, it is easy to determine that the Valley of Hinnom cannot compare to the magnitude of the aftermath of the Battle of Gog and Magog.

While it is speculation on my part, I would venture to say that just as the Valley of Hinnom was set on fire in order to burn the garbage and the dead bodies which were cast into it, the same thing probably occurs in the Valley of Hamongog for sanitation purposes as well. Once again, disease-ridden, filthy maggots will be crawling throughout this valley, and throughout Israel.

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes it is very easy for us to fall into the error of misinterpreting the Scriptures. As an example, I recall reading one particular commentary a number of years ago in which the writer was likewise endeavoring to understand hell, where the worm dieth not. This person -- who has written a number of excellent commentaries -- erroneously concluded that the souls of the wicked will be reduced to red worms -- or maggots -- which will writhe in agony in a hell of literal fire and brimstone. While I too believe that some passages in the Bible are meant to be understood in a very literal sense, I honestly do not believe that God is going to transform the wicked into red maggots, or anything similar.

Thus far, I have demonstrated through two infallible proofs, that Ghehenna -- that is, the Valley of Hinnom, which has been translated as "hell" in the New Testament -- is not the same place as the Lake of Fire. It is not the literal Lake of Fire. As we have seen, the fire in the Valley of Hinnom has not burned for a very long time; and thus it cannot be considered unquenchable, as Jesus plainly stated. The "worm" Jesus was referring to were maggots -- from the Greek word "skolex" -- which, while they easily survived in the Valley of Hinnom, could not possibly survive in a literal Lake of Fire, contrary to what some people -- who have allegedly gone to "hell" -- claim.

The third way to prove that Jesus was only using the Valley of Hinnom as an example, and not actually saying that it is the literal Lake of Fire is simple indeed. In this series I have examined four different words which are translated as "hell" in the Scriptures; that is, sheol, hades, ghehenna and tartaros. Considering all of the Scriptural examples I have provided in this series, doesn't it seem likely that if the literal Lake of Fire is any one of these, that the phrase itself would be derived from one of these same ancient words? Yet, the fact of the matter is that it isn't derived from any of them whatsoever. It stands all by itself. It is something separate and unique.

In the New Testament, the word "lake" finds its origin in the Greek word "limne". This word has only one meaning: lake. It does not mean valley or gorge, as in the Valley of Hinnom. It is believed to be derived from the Greek word "limen", which signifies a harbor or a haven. In similar fashion, in the New Testament, the word "fire" is translated from the Greek "pur". It too has a single meaning: fire. Thus we plainly see that the phrase "Lake of Fire" is a very literal translation of the original Greek words "limne pur". It has absolutely no connection to the other four words which we have examined in this series.

The only connection we can really find is in the fact that Jesus compared Ghehenna -- or the Valley Of Hinnom -- to the Lake of Fire; and this is because they are both places of fire and destruction; but they are not the same place. In fact, as I mentioned in part three, the Book of Enoch also contains many references to fire; and some descriptions in Enoch's writings sound just like the Lake of Fire; that is, terrible places which are filled with fire and destruction. Enoch spoke about deep gorges and burning stones, and many other amazing sights. Some of these places appear wondrous, while others are quite horrendous. Consider the following graphic example which appears to be describing the judgment of the Watchers, or the Fallen Angels:

". . . And from thence I went to another place, which was still more horrible than the former, and I saw a horrible thing: a great fire there which burnt and blazed, and the place was cleft as far as the abyss, being full of great descending columns of fire: neither its extent or magnitude could I see, nor could I conjecture. Then I said: 'How fearful is the place and how terrible to look upon!' Then Uriel answered me, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: 'Enoch, why hast thou such fear and affright?' And I answered: 'Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of the pain.' And he said unto me: 'This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever.'"
Book of Enoch 21:7b-10

The fourth reason concerning why I believe that the fiery gorge that is known as Ghehenna is not the same as the Lake of Fire, but only a foreshadow of the same, can be found simply by reexamining the Greek roots of some of the words that are used in Revelation 20:14. Here is the verse again:

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
Revelation 20:14, KJV

A number of years ago, a Jehovah's Witness told me that the Lake of Fire is meant to be understood in a symbolic sense. Part of her reasoning was that there is no way that hell can be cast into itself; that is, if we assume -- as she did -- that hell and the Lake of Fire are referring to the exact same thing. Furthermore, she proceeded to say that neither can death -- which is not a solid object -- be cast into the Lake of Fire. Finally, she concluded that the Lake of Fire must not be a place of actual torment, because when we die, we lay in an unconscious state in the grave -- or sheol -- and have no thoughts or feelings. I partially discuss this last topic in the article entitled "What Really Happens When We Die?".

There is some merit to part of what this woman said, and it will be covered more thoroughly. However, for the time being, allow me to point out that once we understand what is really meant by each term, and realize that hell and the Lake of Fire are not referring to the same thing, not only does the confusion disappear, but we realize that both death and hell can indeed be cast into the Lake of Fire. If you are still a little confused, please just keep reading, and your eyes will hopefully be opened.

In the previous verse from the Book of Revelation, the word "hell" is derived from the Greek "hades". As we saw earlier in this series, based upon the original meaning of the word, Hades is the multilevel physical and spiritual abode of the dead that is located within the bowels of the Earth. Hades extends from our graves on the surface level, to the deepest level -- called Tartaros -- where the most wicked spirits -- such as the Fallen Angels, or Watchers -- are kept bound in chains in utter darkness, until the Great Day of Judgment.

So how can the insides of the Earth -- or hell -- be cast into the Lake of Fire? Even more troubling, how can death be cast into the Lake of Fire? Obviously, the act of dying cannot be cast into anything. However, you may recall that the Greek word "thanatos" not only refers to the actual act of dying, it also refers to the state of death; that is, the state of laying dead in the grave. So in effect, by casting the insides of the Earth -- that is, hell or Hades -- into the Lake of Fire, death is likewise being cast into the Lake of Fire, because hell -- the common grave -- is where dead bodies reside, unless, of course, they have been cremated.

Quite some time ago, I read a commentary which suggested that what may possibly be implied by Revelation 20:14, is that at some point in the future, Ghehenna -- the Valley Of Hinnom -- may be reignited, in order to begin burning the bodies of the wicked. Then, according to this theory, in the Lord's time, this valley of fire will spread until it eventually engulfs the entire planet; thus consuming it -- and the atmospheric heavens -- in flames, just as the Apostle Peter describes it for us in his Epistle. While this theory may seem to have a degree of merit, personally, I am doubtful concerning it.

For one thing, I don't see how a fire that is burning in a little valley in Israel could possibly spread to engulf the entire planet, and much less burn up the heavens; that is, the atmosphere which surrounds the Earth. Just the simple fact that the continents are divided by natural barriers such as the vast oceans makes it physically impossible for a fire to spread from the Valley of Hinnom in Israel. Furthermore, what the Apostle Peter describes for us in his Epistle is considerably more catastrophic, as we will discuss again in a moment.

Another problem with this theory is the word "cast" that is found in Revelation 20:14. It may seem insignificant, but it isn't. It is a definite action word which must be addressed. Derived from the Greek "ballo", its primary definitions are to cast, to throw, or to thrust. These words indicate an intentional action of force. Even if it were possible for the flames of the Valley Of Hinnom to somehow spread until they engulf the entire world -- which it isn't -- it still does not sound like a forceful action where something is being cast, thrown or thrust.

After giving this perplexing issue further thought, I arrived at several possible scenarios which may explain how the very bowels of the Earth -- hell, or hades -- can be cast into the Lake of Fire. Bearing in mind that what I am about to share with you is only personal speculation at best, allow me to share my thoughts with you.

One possible explanation that is worthy of our consideration is that the Lake of Fire may be located at the very center of the Earth. This idea of a terrible place of sadness and torment that is filled with smoke, and fire and brimstone, which is located deep under our very feet would certainly be in agreement with the understanding that is embraced by many religious people. Furthermore, science has long theorized that the very center of the Earth consists of a molten or semi-molten core, which is composed primarily of iron. As a result of this superheated core, the temperature rises as we penetrate deeper into the Earth's crust.

But consider this interesting question: Being as no human has obviously ever been to the center of the Earth, and being as radar technology can barely scratch the surface of the Earth -- a few centimeters to several hundred meters at best -- is it possible that men of science have simply misunderstood what is actually there? While volcanoes indeed spew forth molten rock in the form of magna, is it possible that deeper down -- in the actual core -- there is something else?

As many of you will already know, another interesting theory which has received considerable attention in recent decades concerns the existence of Black Holes. Some astrophysicists now believe that the nucleus of certain stars, and even the centers of galaxies, are characterized by Black Holes. It has even been suggested that the molten core of the Earth itself may be characterized by just such a Black Hole. According to this theory, Black Holes are of such immense density, that they possess an extremely powerful magnetic field. Theorists state that this magnetic field is so great, that absolutely nothing can escape from it, not even light rays. Once matter -- planets, stars and other spacial matter -- reach the event horizon of such a Black Hole, they are simply gobbled up. In a word, Black Holes are like insatiable monsters.

While to my knowledge there is no clear, physical proof of the existence of Black Holes -- that is to say, there are no photographs of actual Black Holes, but only circumstantial evidence, such as from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory -- what if these theories are correct? It may interest you to know that a number of months ago, while I was conducting astronomical research for a website that I was designing at the time, I learned that astrophysicists believe that some day, many many years from now, when our Sun finally uses up all of its hydrogen fuel, it will undergo a stellar process -- known as a supernova -- whereby its outer layers will be suddenly expelled, while its inner core will contract due to gravitational collapse resulting from the loss of hydrostatic equilibrium. According to the theory, the end result of this stellar process will be that our Sun will be converted into a high density neutron star or Black Hole.

Assuming that all of the previous information is correct, and that Black Holes really do exist, and that a Black Hole does exist at the Earth's core, what if by God's Design, at some point in the future, just such a gravitational imbalance were to occur so that the Earth were to be sucked into itself? If you think about it, the Earth and its surrounding atmosphere being violently sucked into its molten core may possibly be what the Apostles Peter and John are describing for us when they inform us that death and hell are cast into the Lake of Fire, that the heavens and the Earth are "reserved unto fire", and "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." Peter even states that "these things shall be dissolved".

Obviously, this is only a personal theory, which I certainly cannot conclusively prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. For all I know, it may not even be scientifically plausible, not that God is in any way limited by man's current understanding of His Creation. While the Bible offers us few clues regarding exactly what physical mechanism God will use to activate the chain of events which will ultimately result in this total destruction of the Earth and the atmosphere, there is one verse which may possibly support the aforementioned scenario involving a Black Hole which is theoretically located at the Earth's core. The Apostle Paul writes the following in his first Epistle to the brethren at Corinth:

"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."
1 Corinthians 15:54, KJV

The question is this: Is Paul speaking in a figurative sense when he says that "death is swallowed up", or should we take a more liberal approach in our understanding, and connect the phrase "swallowed up" to the Apostle John's words concerning death and hell being cast into the Lake of Fire? If for the sake of argument we adopt the latter position, then death being swallowed up in victory could also equate to death and hell -- the state of laying dead in the earth, and the bowels of the Earth itself -- being "swallowed up", or sucked into, the theoretical Black Hole which certain scientists say is located in the molten core of the Earth.

As intriguing as the aforementioned theory may seem, there is one major problem with it. Based upon my limited knowledge of astrophysics -- and it is indeed very limited -- it seems to me that if the Earth were to actually be sucked into a Black Hole that is located at its core, then the molten core itself would likewise disappear into the Black Hole as well. If we equate the Earth's molten core with the Lake of Fire, then the end result is that the Lake of Fire would cease to exist. The Bible does not say anything about the Lake of Fire ever being destroyed. For this reason, perhaps we need to consider an alternative solution in order to explain how death and hell can be cast into the Lake of Fire.

While I am not absolutely certain what the Lake of Fire is, or where it is even located, taking into consideration the various Hebrew and Greek words which we have studied in this series, I am relatively certain that I know what it isn't. As I noted previously, the Lake of Fire appears to be something which is totally different from the meanings of hell we have examined thus far. Allow me to offer another speculation for your consideration:

As I mention in a number of other articles, such as "Dracula: Fighting Fear With the Word, Faith and Love", "The Children of Light: Are You One of Us?" and "This Little Light, Glory of the Lord and Our Bright Future" throughout the Bible there are many references to the contrast which exists between the light and the darkness, and the Children of Light, and the Children of Darkness.

The Children of Light are of course represented by people who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and who humbly submit to His Authority in their lives. In contrast, the Children of Darkness signify those spiritually blind people who rebel against God, who reject the Light of Jesus Christ, and who choose instead to follow after Lucifer. As I explain in a few other articles such as "Satan: His Origin, Purpose and Future", Lucifer -- who is also known as the Devil and Satan -- is God's former Lightbearer, who through his pride and own rebellious choice, became the Prince of Darkness, and God's most staunch adversary. This Demon of Darkness has an army of Fallen Angels and rebellious spirits of an uncertain size.

If there is one thing that we know from the Scriptures, it is that these Children of Darkness and the demons who influence them, cannot stand the light. In fact, they hate the light -- both physical light and spiritual Light -- and they refuse to come to it. Consider what Jesus said in the third chapter of the Gospel of John:

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
John 3:19-20, KJV

Of course, when I speak of spiritual Light, I am referring to Jesus Christ, who is the "Light of the world" and also "the bright and morning star". Consider the following verses:

"In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
John 1:4-9, KJV

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
John 8:12, KJV

"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
John 9:5, KJV

"Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth . . . I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
John 12:35, 46, KJV

"The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended."
Isaiah 60:19-20, KJV

"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there."
Revelation 21:23-25, KJV

"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."
Revelation 22:16, KJV

"Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:"
Psalms 104:2, KJV

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
Isaiah 9:2, KJV

"And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;"
Isaiah 10:17, KJV

To take this analogy a step further, we also learn from the Bible that the created Angels -- that is, the sons of God -- are also symbolically referred to as the morning stars, or celestial lights, who were present at the time of Creation, as we see by this verse that is found in the Book of Job:

"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Job 38:7, KJV

Of course, we know that the Greatest Light of all, the most Brilliant One of all, is God the Father; and thus, He is represented by the Sun in the following verse that is found in the Book of Psalms:

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
Psalms 84:11, KJV

In fact, in the previous verse, the word "sun" is derived from the Hebrew root "shemesh" which means "brilliant". One thing which makes the Sun rather different from all of the planets in our Solar System, besides the fact that it is the giver of both light and heat due to the processes of nuclear fusion which occur within it, is that being as it is a star, and not a planet, it does not go through phases. Instead, it is constant, invariable and unchanging. Thus, because God the Father is also constant, invariable and unchanging, the Apostle James refers to Him as the Father of Lights, as we see by this verse:

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17, KJV

Well, if God the Father is represented by the Sun, what would Jesus be represented by? As you may recall, in the Gospels, Jesus often reminded the people that He only did those things, and spoke those things, which were shown to Him by His Father, as we see by these verses:

"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel . . . I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
John 5:19-20, 30, KJV

In other words, while Jesus was on the Earth, He reflected His Father's Power, Light and Glory. Thus, just as God the Father is symbolized by the Sun in the Scriptures, it is easy to see how Jesus can also be symbolized by the Moon; because not only does the physical Moon reflect the light of the Sun, but it is also referred to as "the lesser light" in the Book of Genesis, as we see by these two verses:

"And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good."
Genesis 1:17-18, KJV

Notice that God created these two lights in the heavens not only to rule over the day and the night, but also to divide the light from the darkness. So in a symbolic sense, we can say that between God the Father and Jesus, we have spiritual protection twenty-four hours a day. The Lord constantly keeps His Children of Light protected by keeping them divided from the Children of Darkness.

Please go to part five for the continuation of this series.

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