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Tormented Day and Night forever?

November 27, 2009

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.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2009 3:58 pm

    Just curious, what do you believes happens to the lost? And where are people who have died now, whether saved or the lost?

    • November 28, 2009 12:06 am

      Well, the lost will be like verse 9 in Rev 20 says, punished by a fire that consumes or devours them.

      I’ll write a post on the state of the dead, but to answer your question quickly, the dead, both saved and lost, “sleep” as Jesus says in John 11 (Lazarus). They know nothing of what is going on around them, waiting for Jesus’s 2nd coming (1 Thes 4) and in the case of the wicked/lost, their final punishment. It should be a comfort to know that your relatives that may be lost are not burning in hell suffering right now, that’s why Paul says in verse 18, “comfort one another with these words”

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 24, 2012 2:16 am

    Are you serious? You believe there is no hell? Why then did Jesus talk of Himself one day separating the goats from the sheep, as we see in Matt 25: 31-46? Is Jesus lying when He suggests hell in Matt 13: 37-43; 47-50? Why then does Jesus bother telling us about Lazarus and the rich man? One in paradise and the other in torment (Luke 16: 19-31). This by the way is not a parable, because here the characters actually have names. Now if there’s no hell, then explain to me why after the devil is cast into the lake of fire, do we have the Great White Throne room in Revelation. The purpose being that if your name is not found in the Book of Life, you’re thown in the lake of fire (Rev 20: 11-15). If hell and the lake of fire do not exist, what happens to those who die while still in their sin? If hell and the lake of fire are not real, then what was the point of Christ’s death?

    • January 7, 2013 1:33 pm

      Christ saves us from death, not hell. What are the wages of sin? All the images of hellfire are symbols, that were prevalent at the time: Think Greek/Roman influence.

  3. jarod permalink
    December 27, 2013 2:15 am

    my fellow anonymous, please revisit your verses….hell is a ‘when’ not a ‘where’! yes Christ speaks about Lazarus and the rich man; bt what was the point in the story? to teach that God will torment the wicked forever? Nooooo, see Ezekiel 33:11 for this.

    or to prove that God designed a situation whereby the saved will be communicating and seeing forever the tormented in hell? God is love fellows and He certainly has no pleasure in the death of the wicked!

    or to prove that when we die we god to Abe’s bosom literary? Nooo. Or to prove that a tip of water a quench the tormented?

    the story of lazarus and the rich(Luke16:19-31) IS A PARABLE!!!1 a story with a meaning and it is apparent to see that Jesus was teaching using these …….from the start of the chapter He speaks a parable in the same way ‘There was a certain man’. See also chapter 15!!!

    HELL IS A WHEN AND NOT A WHERE FELLOWS AND IS COMING FOR REAL!!! STUDY REVELATION CHAPTERS 20, 21 AND 22, you will see that it will be a one time event and will be forgotten. see also Job 21:30, Jude 5-7, 2Peter2:4-7 etc etc. amen

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