Have you ever thought do the wicked really burn forever? Have you ever thought, how can a just God require eternal punishment for a sin that has only been committed for 70 or 80 years? Perhaps you thought the Scripture is clear about everlasting fire as the Scripture is clear about everlasting life. If you think that everlasting fire is only temporary and does not last forever, couldn’t you also conclude that everlasting life does not last forever as well? This concept of everlasting fire has confused many people. It’s important for us as Christians to rightly divide the word of truth and that we compare Scripture with scripture so that we are not ashamed. The Bible gives some very clear indications that this everlasting fire is what is going to happen at the end of the world. Some people believe that it is now but 2 Peter 3:7 says this earth as it now is, is reserved unto fire and the perdition of ungodly men. This planet is reserved for a certain day and when Jesus comes he will bring his reward with him. We don’t get rewarded for our evil works or our good works until Jesus comes.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
We can see that there is a day of punishment, the day of the Lord and the day of judgment. This day is in the future. As for the eternal fire, it says the elements will melt with fervent heat. All the works of this world will be burnt up. Jude 6 and 7 gives us an example and something to look back on.
Sodom and Gomorrah
It talks about Sodom and Gomorrha. They were living in fornication and the lusts of the flesh and they suffered the vengeance of eternal fire as an example for us. The entire old Testament it is an example for the end of the world (Corinthians). Looking back at Sodom and Gomorrha we see that the fire that came from heaven came from the presence of God.
Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
When we look at the Old Testament typology, we can see in Leviticus 10:1-2 that when Nadab and Abihu went before the Lord offering strange fire, a fire came out from the Lord. This fire devoured them. There is another example in the Old Testament where Elijah was to build an altar, pray and offer a sacrifice. Whichever God answered by fire was the true God. The scripture says fire came out from God and devoured the offering, the wood, the stones and even the dust of the earth was consumed.
We can see that this fire consumes the ungodly people of Sodom and Gomorrha that walk after the lusts of the flesh as well as the religious people that do not obey the Gospel of Christ in the last days because these things are an example of what will happen in the future. The rock and the dust would also be consumed. All three examples say the fire came from God. How can it be?
Hebrews 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.
What does the Scriptures say about the throne of God?
Daniel 7:9 … his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
The fiery stream is issuing out from God. There are angels ministering unto him. Even the Son of Man comes before him (v.13). He comes into the presence of this consuming fire. We get an understanding of what the destruction of the wicked will be like when we read Revelation 20:9. Fire comes from God and devours them. God is this consuming fire. The fire that comes from God is to be the torment of the wicked.
Revelation 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
The presence of the Lamb, Jesus, God and the angels is torment to evildoers, sin and anything that is sinful. The earth is being cursed with sin and therefore when God comes this earth will be burnt up. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus comes to a demoniac and the demons say:
Matthew 8:29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
The demons say, you’re coming here to torment me before the time? There is obviously a time that the demons know they are reserved unto. Jesus’ presence is a torment to the wicked. Can you relate to that? Cain was wicked, Abel was righteous. Cain was really annoyed. It was a torment to him and he slew his brother. Righteousness and wickedness are opposed. The flesh and spirit are contrary to one another. When you put them together there is a torment. Jacob and Esau was also an example (Obadiah 1:18). Jacob would be to Esau as a fire. This is a typology of good tormenting the bad. This eternal fire is the presence of God. Does God ever go out? Does God ever cease to be burning?
Isaiah 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
Who is it that will be a live during these everlasting burnings? Is it the sinners who are afraid or God’s people? Who will be alive in this everlasting fire, the fire of God’s presence that never goes out?
Isaiah 33:15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; …
Here we have a fire that cannot destroy God’s people and it will devour the wicked and they shall be as though they had not been (Obadiah 1:16). They will be consumed away but the fire will not stop. The wicked will be turned into ashes. There will be no more of them, but the fire will continue. It is everlasting. The torture and suffering is not everlasting. When we compare Scripture with Scripture, we see that this everlasting fire is something that the righteous will be living in with pleasure and joy. The challenge to you and me is to purify our lives and prepare to meet God, so that when he comes we will be able to seek him as he is and not die.