Tormented Day and Night forever?
In continuing my study of hell, today we’ll look at Revelation 20:10.
10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ( NKJV)
‘Aha!’ you say, ‘you may have shown otherwise in previous posts but you can’t get any other meaning out of this one’.
True, this verse is pretty clear. It says the devil, and the beast, and the false prophet will be tormented day and night, forever and ever. But before we come to a conclusion, we have to take a closer look, delve into the context, and let scripture be its own interpreter. Luckily for me, most of the work was done by the nice folks at www.thetruthabouthell.org and have incorporated most of their study into this post. Lets dig deeper.
There are three places in book of Revelation that say, “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever” (Revelation 14:11), “her smoke rose up forever” (Revelation 19:3), and “tormented day and night forever” (Revelation 20:10).
Everyone knows that Revelation contains some symbolism, such as its references to a seven-headed beast, a Babylonian harlot holding a golden cup, and a glistening woman clothed with the sun. Obviously, these aren’t literal. What about the ‘tormented forever’ texts? Could they be symbolic too? Here’s something significant: If you look closely at each ‘tormented forever’ passage, every one is connected to symbolism. Revelation 14:11 and Revelation 20:10 refer to “the beast,” and Revelation 19:3 states, “her smoke rose up forever.” Whose smoke? The Whore riding the beast. Will a literal Harlot sizzle forever? No. This is symbolism.
Here’s more evidence worth considering: While Revelation 20:10 refers to torment forever, verse 9 says the opposite and contains no symbolism.
9 And they [the lost] went up on the breadth of the earth [at the end of the Millennium], and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city [the New Jerusalem], and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Verse 9 has no symbolism and says the lost are “devoured.” Verse 10 has symbolism (beast, false prophet) and says they are tormented “forever.” Which is it? The literal truth lies in the text that contains no symbolism: “fire came down… and devoured them.” If verse 1o was literal, then we can say that only the devil, a beast, and a false prophet, will be tormented forever and ever.
Beyond this, after “the lake of fire” is again described in verse 15, the next verse says,
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” (Revelation 21:1)
Revelation 20:9 says the lost are upon “the earth” when God’s fire devours them. Thus “the earth” is the location of “the lake of fire.” Then Revelation 21:1 says the “first earth” passes away which must include the lake of fire! Then there will be
“no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Revelation 21:4).
The Bible would be lying about that if there were still people burning and suffering down below in hell, and we all know that the Bible has to harmonize to be inspired. Revelation 21:4 proves that “the lake of fire” will disappear.
So does Revelation 20:10 prove that there is a hell? Only if you take symbolic references literally. You’d then also have to accept that there’s a seven headed beast roaming the earth, and a harlot with a golden cup in a city somewhere (although the latter may be plausible).
Clearly when looking at the entire context, the verse is only symbolic, and thus there is no ‘hell’ as popularly believed. It’s just another tactic the devil uses to scare people away from knowing the true God.