The Horrors and Habitat of Hell: Some Details You May Not Have Considered

Hell is seen as the great scarecrow of Christianity, an antiquated tactic used by preachers of yesteryear to frighten people into making professions of faith.

Some of these attempts to air condition Hell include universalism (everybody is saved in the end, and all roads lead to Heaven), annihilationism (sometime after death a person’s soul simply ceases to exist), and viewing Hell as merely a place of spiritual torment rather than physical. Some will go so far as to deny Hell altogether. They maintain that books about Hell, including the Bible, belong on the same shelf as books about werewolves, vampires, and Harry Potter. Hell is fiction, fantasy, and fake.

 

In Dante’s classic work Inferno, the ancient Roman poet Virgil gives Dante a tour of Hell. When Dante first passes through the gate of Hell, he reads a chilling inscription: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Inferno, though a fictional work with many extrabiblical descriptions of Hell, captures a critical biblical truth in this inscription. For the sinner, there is a day when hope ends, the day he or she passes through the portal of Hell.

In recent years, the biblical concept of Hell has come under fire. Hell is seen as the great scarecrow of Christianity, an antiquated tactic used by preachers of yesteryear to frighten people into making professions of faith. Those who view this as illegitimate fearmongering have responded by reinterpreting biblical passages on Hell to make it more palatable and less offensive.

Some of these attempts to air condition Hell include universalism (everybody is saved in the end, and all roads lead to Heaven), annihilationism (sometime after death a person’s soul simply ceases to exist), and viewing Hell as merely a place of spiritual torment rather than physical.

Some will go so far as to deny Hell altogether. They maintain that books about Hell, including the Bible, belong on the same shelf as books about werewolves, vampires, and Harry Potter. Hell is fiction, fantasy, and fake.

But Scripture teaches that Hell couldn’t be more real and gives great detail about the horrors of this habitat of certain torment. Below are some details you may not have considered:

Eternal Fire

All fires that we know of—kitchen fires, campfires, and even the greatest wildfires in history—come to an end. Hell, on the other hand, is called “the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43) and “the lake of fire” in which people are “tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev 20:10) The pain from the burns is so great that it leads to weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 25:30) For those who have had the severe misfortune of being burned alive, at least death came as a relief. In contrast, God will resurrect the wicked and give them new, immortal, and indestructible bodies suited to endure the eternal flames, so the relief of death never comes. (Rev 20:11-15)

George Whitefield comments on this sobering reality when he writes

Consider the torment of burning like a livid coal, not for an instant or for a day, but for millions and millions of ages, at the end of which souls will realize that they are no closer to the end than when they first begun, and they will never, ever be delivered from that place.

Once you are in Hell, there are no grounds for appeal, no hope of release. The judge has slammed his gavel, and your case is closed forever. There are no exit signs in Hell.

God’s Absence

Hell is so horrific because it is the exact opposite of what makes Heaven so amazing. The apex of joy and the height of believers’ experience in Heaven is that God “will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.” (Rev 21:3)

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