Doug Batchelor - The Final Firestorm
- Amazing Facts Store
So what's the hottest place on Earth? Guinness World Records list the official winner as the Death Valley, California. On July 10th, 1913, the mercury there skyrocketed to 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Some parts of Death Valley have an average daily high of 115 degrees, but the ground temperature can get even more intense. In 1972, at a place called Furnace Creek, it registered a blistering 201 degrees, the hottest surface temperature ever recorded on the planet. Actually, there's a good chance there are other places in the deserts around the world that get even hotter, but most humans don't inhabit the hottest places on Earth so there are no weather stations or sensors to record the extreme temperatures. The Bible tells us that the ultimate global warming is still in the future. It's the time when God will cleanse the world with fire. The scripture says in that day, the very elements will melt with fervent heat and the Earth and the things that are in it will be burned up. Sound scary? Well, it doesn't need to be. To find out more, join me now as we explore the good news about Hell.
Before we get into the lesson, we always like to begin with a storacle from the Bible. These are Bible stories that help illustrate Bible truths. And you find this story in the Book of Genesis. Now the lesson is called, "The Final Firestorm". You remember Lot and his Uncle Abraham settled in the Promise Land. God blessed their flocks and herds so much that they just could not dwell together anymore. And Abraham said, "We don't wanna argue. We are brethren". And so what happened is Abraham said, "Lot, you go to the right hand, I'll go to the left. You decide where you wanna go". And it says that he lifted his eyes towards Sodom and he directed his attention towards the valley because there's a lot of pasture back then. Even though the Bible's pretty clear that the men of Sodom, and this is Genesis 13:13, were wicked exceedingly.
Now, I don't know if you're aware, but God had actually spared Sodom once before and they'd been rescued by Abraham. He delivered the cities when they'd been attacked by the Assyrian armies in the North. God gave them another chance, but they did not repent and they went deeper and deeper into sin and wickedness. And eventually, God sent two angels to Lot, said, "Get your family out of this place because God is gonna destroy it for its wickedness". Lot tried to persuade his grown daughters that were married to come with him and they thought that he was mocking. They wouldn't take him seriously. Finally, the angel said, "Time's almost up," and the angels took Lot and his two daughters and his wife by the hand, one angel had two in each hand, and physically pulled them out of the city and said, "Escape for your life. Do not look behind you". Very explicit command. "Nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains".
And as they were going back towards the mountain, the Bible tells us: Then the Lord rained brimstone, that's like sulfur, and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the Heavens. Later you read where Abraham said, or it says that Abraham looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah. There were actually four or five cities down there, Zoar and the other were, they're very small. But the principle cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and beheld the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. He saw the judgment. Abraham was praying that Lot and his family had made it out alive. Now you might be a little bit apprehensive. "Oh, Pastor Doug, you're gonna be talking about Hell"? I think you're gonna be encouraged when you find out what the Bible teaches about this regarding the justice and the love of God.
I think I shared with you the night that we talked about Heaven, that there are about twice as many people that believe in Heaven as those who believe in Hell. And that's understandable because there are two incredible extremes that are out there in the world, and even in the church, regarding Hell. One teaching says that if you're bad and you die, you go immediately to a place of everlasting torment where you will be plunged into a Lake of Fire and brimstone and you will have every nerve ending in your body sensing this incredible agony and pain. And you'll be writhing in this molten fire and brimstone, compounded by the anguish that you could have been saved but you are not. And that terrible experience will not go on for a moment or two or a minute or two, but forever and ever. Now just the thought of that, I think can make someone blow a gasket.
Think about that. Who would wanna burn for a minute? Can you imagine burning for a billion years? And then after a billion years go by, you swim to the surface of the molten lava and you say, "Lord, how long"? And He laughs and says, "How long? You haven't even started eternally". That's one view. The other view is that Hell is just the bad memories of what happened here on Earth that are gonna bother you or that some of the wicked might be vaporized at the end, and then they're gone. Between these two extremes, you'll find the Bible truth. There is a true teaching on Hell and the Lake of Fire. You find that in Revelation 20. You'll also find it in Revelation 22, and all through the teachings of Jesus as well. But we're gonna find out what the Bible says. Fair enough? To go to the first question in our lesson.
What two cities are given as an example for the destruction of the wicked? In our opening story, we looked at those two cities. You read in 2 Peter 2:6: And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes. Into what? Turn them into ashes, condemned them to destruction. Ashes, destruction. Making them an example to those who afterward live ungodly. So if we wanna see an example of what's gonna happen to the wicked, it says, "Look at what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. They were destroyed. They were turned to ashes".
Now here's my question, are they still burning today? Well, the Bible tells us they were burnt with eternal fire. The results of the fire were eternal. They're not still burning now. They were burnt up, they were destroyed, they were turned to ashes, never rebuilt.
So question number two. When will the wicked be destroyed in hellfire? Let's find out what the Bible says on that. 2 Peter 2:9: The Lord knows how to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. If you call a restaurant and say, "I'd like to reserve a table," that means they're holding it for you till you get there. And this is the same way it is with the wicked, that people are reserved for the day of judgment. They're not there yet. The judgment has not happened yet. When is that? John 12:48: Jesus said, "The word that I have spoken will judge him". When? The last day.
In fact, I'm gonna grab my Bible real quick. If you've got your Bible or your digital Bible, go to John 6. I wanna just show you something. It's amazing to me people don't catch this. John 6. These are all the words of Jesus. Start with, oh, verse 39. This is the will of my Father who sent me that all He's given me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up the last day. Verse 40. I will raise him up the last day. You go to verse 44. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up the last day. Go to verse 54. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I'll raise him up the last day. And I could go on.
All through the New Testament, it is so clear that people do not receive their rewards until the end, the day of the Lord. It's called the judgment day, the last day. It is future when there's this recompense that is given to the righteous and the wicked. You can read in Matthew 13:40. So it will be at the end of this age, the Son of Man will send out His angels and they will gather together those who practice lawlessness. That's the evil, correct? At the end of the age. They'll send his angels to gather together the wicked, cast them into a furnace of fire. Okay. That can't be misunderstood. Do the wicked experience fire? And we'll find out what happens. But when is that? Is anyone burning in Hell now? No. The Bible says it's future.
So considering that, question number three. If the wicked who have died are not in Hell yet, where are they? Well, let's let the Bible describe it. John 5:28, Jesus is speaking here. "The hour is coming". He's speaking future tense. "The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice". These are the resurrections all, good and evil. Future, they're gonna hear His voice. "They that have done good, the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, the resurrection of condemnation". And so we got the dead in Christ rise first and then the only ones left are the dead out of Christ, which is the lost or the wicked. They're in a second resurrection. Bible's very clear. There's two distinct separate resurrections. And again, look in Job 21:30 and 32. The wicked are reserved for the day of doom. He will be brought to the grave. Where is he brought? To the grave. And a vigil kept over the tomb. He's reserved, he's gonna be brought to the grave, until he comes forth in the second resurrection.
Question number four. What is the reward or punishment for sin? According to the Bible, it tells us the wages of sin is? Death. And the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Now, I just need to tell you, friends, this to me is one of the favorite sermons for me because growing up I didn't have a lot of religious training, but my parents did send me to a couple of different Christian schools. And in those schools they said, "If you're good," you know the principal teaching? "You're good, you die, you go to Heaven. You're bad, you die, you go to the other place". Well, I was curious. I said, "Tell me about that other place". "Well, you'll be thrown into fire and you're going to burn forever and ever". And when I heard that, I don't remember how old I was, I was pretty young, I just couldn't comprehend. I said, "You're telling me God is love in one class, another class you're saying that if I'm bad I go to Hell".
And I said, "Let me see if I understand this. Everybody sins"? "Yeah, all have sinned except Jesus". "So we're born with sort of a predisposition to sin? We didn't choose to be born. God created us. And if we can't get it right, He's then gonna burn these disobedient children forever and ever and ever and ever for the sins of one brief lifetime". Said, "That doesn't sound fair". I thought God was a sadist. I turned away from God. When I found out the Bible truth on this, it liberated me to love God. I realized that God was a just and a loving God. And that's why this subject was just so dear to my heart because I know there's others out there like that.
Now if the penalty for sin... what did we just read the penalty for sin is? The wages for sin are? Death. Good enough. But what if the penalty for sin is everlasting burning in fire, how could Jesus pay the penalty for our sin? He didn't pay the penalty for our sin. He died on the cross. He suffered, He died, He rose. See what I'm saying? The penalty's death. What are the only two choices for all of mankind? The Bible tells us whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. So if you do not believe, what does it say? Perish. By the way, you got a picture of Moses holding up the bronze serpent there because when Jesus said these words, He was talking to Nicodemus and He said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, that whoever believed would not perish but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes might not perish but have everlasting life".
He's very clear. Perish. Some of you've got things in your refrigerator because they're called perishables. And if they're not, some of you have things in your refrigerator that have perished a long time ago and they're still there. But the reason is you try to prevent them from perishing and otherwise, they decompose, they rot, they turn back into the elements of the Earth, cease to exist. That's what it means by perish. What will happen to the wicked that are in hellfire? For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more. The wicked shall perish into smoke. They will vanish away. The day is coming that will burn as an oven and all that do wickedly will be stubble. The day that comes will burn them up.
When something's burned up, what's left? It's gone. You shall trample the wicked for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet. This week Karen and I were up in the hills and we were doing some cleaning and we bought a refrigerator and we had this big refrigerator box and we said, "What are we gonna do with this big old cumbersome box"? And we said, "It rained up here, let's start a fire". It was amazing how quickly that refrigerator box had disappeared and blew away when you burn it. Perish. Good luck finding it now. It's gone with the wind, as they say. Where will hellfire be located? In Granite Bay. And in Washington, DC. Probably a little hotter there. And in San Francisco. Hellfire is on Earth.
I remember, I hope you don't buy them, but sometimes you know at the checkout stand they got those tabloid magazines. And I was in line and I saw the headline, I was real tempted to buy it to use for a sermon illustration. And it said, "Oil drillers in Siberia drill too deep and they reach Hell. Demons escape". 'Cause a lot of people have this idea that the Devil is in charge of this dark cavern down there. They got the god Vulcan, they saw a volcano. That's where you get the word 'cause this fire would come up out of the Earth and they thought the Devil, they kinda got him mixed up with Greek mythology and said, "Yeah, he's like the god Vulcan. He's in charge of how people get burned in Hell".
Is that what the Bible teaches? Revelation 20:9. Where is Hell gonna burn? They went up on the breadth of the Earth, surface of the Earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints and fire came down from God out of Heaven and devoured them. That fire rains down on the Earth. Everywhere surrounding the New Jerusalem, it's gonna be fire raining up until it rains down and forms a lake. You can also read in 2 Peter 3:10: The elements will melt with fervent heat. Both the Earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. The whole surface of the planet is gonna be purified by fire. So the fire is on the surface of the Earth in the last days. It's not a chamber off in the cosmos somewhere and it's not down yonder in a deep hole. It's on the surface of the Earth.
Will the fires of Hell ever go out? You can read here in Isaiah 47:14 says: It shall not be a coal to be warmed by nor a fire to sit before. It's consumed. There'll be nothing left. The fire burns up. I've had people say, "Yeah Pastor Doug, you're right. The bodies burn up. The bodies are consumed, the bodies turn to ashes, but their soul burns forever". Maybe some of you've heard that. Yeah, it's not a physical torment, it's their souls that are being tormented. But listen to what Jesus said, Matthew 10:28. "Do not fear those who kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy soul and body in Hell".
What happens to that individual? Jesus said, "Soul, body destroyed". Perish. Ashes. This idea of eternal torment is just a horrific teaching. The reason I think it also bothers me, it distorts the character of God. The Bible says God is love. I was up in my cave, lived for about a year and a half like a hermit in a cave. I used to cook my own food. And one night while I was cooking my dinner, my cat came in carrying a mouse. I had a cat named Stranger 'cause he just showed up one day. I didn't know where he came from. He lived with me for about a year and then he disappeared one day. But he used to like to catch these kangaroo rats. But you know how cats are a little sadistic? They like to play with their food. And so he would catch this mouse and then he'd be making these growling noises and then his eyes are real big and he'd let go of it. It would try to hop away and he'd pounce again and then he'd let go and it would try to escape. He'd pounce again.
You ever seen this before, you know? And I'm watching this, I'm thinking, I felt sorry for the poor little- Kangaroo rats are kinda cute. They're not like your common rats or a mouse. They kinda hop around like a little kangaroo, got a long tail with a furry thing on the end of it and cute little eyes. Long whiskers and... And the poor thing. I'm almost rooting for the mouse. And so Stranger's playing this game and the thing in its daze and confusion and desperation, it went to hop away and it hopped twice and landed in my fire. Listen to you. I see some of you right now, looking at your face and you're going, "Oh"! The anguish for the mouse for 10 seconds. You wouldn't do that to a rat! And yet people think God is gonna do that to His disobedient children through eternity.
For whom will hellfire be kindled? Is God saying, "I'm gonna start a fire and I'm gonna burn all the bad people"? Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. Who is it principally prepared for? The Devil and his angels. The Lord doesn't want anybody to be lost, but He has no choice for the Devil. Ultimately, it's gonna be those that follow the Devil are gonna join him in his fate. And you can read that parable where God separates the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25. Does the Bible phrase, "Unquenchable fire" indicate... Now we're looking at some of the anomalies that people get mixed up on. Does the Bible phrase, "Unquenchable fire" indicate that the fire never goes out? Let's read this verse here. Matthew 3:12, it says: He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, gather His wheat into the barn and He will burn up. Notice what burn up means. When something's burned up what's left? He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. I'll give you another verse here.
Look in Jeremiah 17:27. But if you will not heed me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and it shall not be quenched. Now what does it mean when it says that the fire is unquenchable and it shall not be quenched? Quench is a verb. It means to extinguish. Let me see if I can illustrate this. And I know you might get it on the screen. It's gonna be far away for some of you here. It's a regular pack of matches. I was surprised I found this. Best Western, probably 30 years old. And I got a match here. And I can do this very carefully here. All right, no Fire Marshall present, I hope.
All right, this is a match. Now I am gonna do my best not to quench this match, but this match is gonna be burned with unquenchable fire. So here it is. It's burning. I feel it. It's very real. Woo! Ouch. I'm not gonna quench it. You can't make me quench it. I refuse to quench it. What happened? Did I quench it? Quench is a verb. Are there any firemen in Hell quenching? No. The fire of Hell is gonna do its work with an unquenchable fire. No one can extinguish it. Typically when something catches on fire in our communities, we send fire people and they try to quench it. Will there be anyone to do that in Heaven? Or Hell is what I'm talking about.
Let's get those subjects straight. When Revelation 20:10 says that the wicked will be tormented forever and ever, doesn't that indicate endless time? Let the Bible interpret itself. Does that sound fair? Let's look at another verse. Jonah 2:6: The Earth with her bars closed behind me forever. How long? Forever. How long was Jonah in the big fish or the whale? And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. And I thought before, "That probably felt like forever". Not only was maybe Jonah on the menu, but he could have had appetizers that were stinging jelly fish and squid and sea urchins or something in there. And he's in there with all these things flashing and the stomach acid of a fish. That'd be awful. Three days and three nights. No watch to see how much time had passed. Probably felt like forever. And the sufferings of the wicked.
Think about it. For the wicked who know that they've lost eternal life, their final thought becomes an eternal thought that they missed out on eternity. Read in Revelation 14:11: The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever. These are the verses that people often use. When it says the smoke ascends up forever and ever, have you ever used the expression, "Well, I haven't seen them in forever"? Is it literally forever or is it a figure of speech? It's called hyperbole. And so the Lord is saying that here. You have to look at the context. So what does the expression forever and ever mean? Let the Bible explain it. Look for instance in Exodus 21:6. If a servant loved his master, even after six years where he would be allowed to go free, he went through a ritual and the Bible says he will stay with his master and serve him forever.
Well, forever there meant until he died. Didn't mean that in Heaven he's gonna still be serving his master. Forever had an end, with his death. Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:22. When his mother brought him to the temple to serve in the temple, it said there he will abide forever. Well, is he still there today? No. It meant as long as he lived. You still with me? And you look also again in 1 Samuel 1:28, it tells us how long it was. He'll serve forever. And then it says as long as he lives. The people who are cast into the Lake of Fire are punished varying amounts based on what they deserve. But they will ultimately be burned up, the Bible says. Bible says burned up. No more root, no more branches, ashes. You will go forth from the New Jerusalem, you will tread upon the wicked for they are ashes under the souls of your feet.
Also in Malachi. Forever and ever is a biblical expression which means until the end of the age. It's not necessarily an infinite, unending length of time. Praise God for that. After sin and sinners are destroyed, what will Jesus do for His people? This is a beautiful message, friends. Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for a new heavens and a new Earth in which dwells righteousness. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there'll be no more death. How much death? No sorrow nor crying. There shall be no more pain. How could God say there, "All things are made new, former things are passed away, all things are made new," if there's immortalized old sinners?
How can He say, "There'll be no more pain," if you've got this chasm somewhere where you've got ostensibly billions of people? 'Cause we all know more people are lost than saved. Do you know that? Wide is the gate that goes to destruction, narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it. And the idea that God would take most of the human race and put them in a torture chamber for ceaseless ages, screaming in agony and God says, "No more pain". No. There will be a new universe that is pure. There will be no more pain.