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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Lake of Fire


The throne of God in heaven is referred to twice in the scriptures – John’s description in the Revelation and that of Daniel in chapter 7:9-10.  The adjectives employed to describe God, the throne of God, and the nature of God, are words depicting fire and flames.  The type of fire is unknown.  Although the phrase “burning flame” or “burning fire” may be used in scripture, there is no description of any object in the vicinity actually burning up into cinders.  The burning bush noticed by Moses did not actually burn to a crisp to my knowledge.

The Stream of Fire
After Daniel views the four beasts rising from the sea, he has a vision of the Great White Throne judgment also spoken about by John in the Revelation.  The throne of the Ancient of days was like (or as) a fiery flame, the wheels of the throne were as burning fire, and a stream of fire (or a fiery stream) issued or emanated from the throne (or before the throne).  Green’s literal translation issues this verse as, “A stream of fire went out and came out from before Him”.  The stream of fire appears to come from God and before God simultaneously.  It may be the stream of fire is the essence of God, that is flowing from before Him.

Daniel 7:9-10 KJV  I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: 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.

In verse 10, it should be noted there are multitudes more people standing before God than the number ministering to God.  This would be the second resurrection and judgment at the end of the Millennium.  “Ten thousand times ten thousand” is 100 million and is most likely symbolic.  Green’s translates as “myriad”.  The Word Study definition is shown below.

ribbô: An Aramaic feminine noun meaning ten thousand; a myriad. It refers to an innumerable host of persons. Ten thousand is employed figuratively.

The Lake of Fire
The verses referring to the lake of fire in the Revelation could be considered confusing.  There is much debate concerning them due to supposedly inaccurate translation issues.  I will not be able to adequately cover the pros and cons of this debate other than point out the issues and offer my opinion.

In Revelation 20:10 we find the devil (literally diabolos; Satan perhaps) cast into the lake of fire with the addition of brimstone, which is literally the word “sulfur”.  The word for brimstone, actually sulfur, in Greek is theion with the root word being theo which refers to God as in “theology” which is the study of God.  The Thayer definition below indicates that brimstone was considered a purifying agent and was used by the ancient Greeks to consecrate for divine service, to purify, and to cleanse.  The Greeks used it to purify their temples and rubbed it on their bodies for consecration.

Thayer Definition:  1) brimstone  1a) divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease

Further in verse 10 we find the KJV stating the devil, the beast, and the false prophet shall be tormented.  It is true, the word basanizo can be defined as tortured or tormented but it can also mean physical toil, punishment, giving birth, or examine with scrutiny.  Our carnal hearts may hope the three evil stooges are tormented forever but that may not be the case.

Revelation 20:10 KJV  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (sulfur), where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Word Study Dictionary:  Tormented  basanízō; fut. basanísō; from básanos (G931), an examination by torture, torment. To torture, afflict with pain, vex, harass (2Pe 2:8); used metaphorically meaning to examine, scrutinize, either by words or physical torment (Rev 9:5); vex physically with toil (Mar 6:48); of a vessel tossed by the waves (Mat 14:24); spoken of disease (Mat 8:6); of the pains of giving birth (Rev 12:2); of punishment (Mat 8:29; Mar 5:7; Luk 8:28; Rev 11:10 [see also Rev 11:6; Rev 14:10; Rev 20:10).

The final issue with verse 10 are the last three words, “ever and ever”.  As one Bible teacher commented, ‘if something is forever, how can it be forever forever”?  This is apparently another misunderstanding of the Greek word aion.  The Hebrew equivalent is olam and both aion and olam are usually translated as ever or forever. 

The Greek olam literally means “age” and some versions actually translated the word correctly such as Young’s Literal, King James 3 or Literal version, and the Hebrew Roots to name three translations.

Revelation 20:10 YLT  to the ages of the ages.
Revelation 20:10 KJ3  to the ages of the ages.
Revelation 20:10 HRB  for ages to ages.

An interesting anomaly of translating olam as “forever” can be found in Jonah 2:6.  For the record the Hebrew word olam literally means “obscure” or “an obscure period of time”.  If Jonah had stayed in the belly of the fish forever, he would not have made it to Nineveh.  Within the belly of the fish, Jonah would not have any concept of passing time and a translation of “an unknown period of time” would be more accurate.

Jonah 2:6 KJV  I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever (olam): yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

Revelation 20:14 indicated that death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire after the second resurrection and the White Throne judgment.  This appears to indicate there will be no more death since death is either done away with or is purified to be no longer in existence.  Verse 15 indicates that all not found in the book of life are also cast into the lake of fire. 

Revelation 20:14-15 KJV  (14)  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  (15)  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Is this the instance when the unrighteous are tormented or is this when the nations are purified? It is my opinion this is when the nations of all past ages, many of whom never heard the name of Jesus, will be able to learn of Him. As a result, they will accept Him as King of the Kingdom at some point during the age.  When this finally occurs, and it will, they will have access to the city of God and the tree of life as indicated in Revelation 22:14.

Revelation 22:14 KJV  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

It should be kept in one’s mind that many prophecies concerning the Millennium and the second resurrection do not make sense if the unrighteous are literally placed into a state of eternal torture and torment.  One argument of skeptics is “what about people who never heard the Gospel”?  The answer should be, “they will be dealt with in a fair and righteous manner to learn the ways of the Lord”.

The recorded words of Jesus in John 5:29 refer to the second resurrection where the sheep and goats are separated.  Those unrighteous individuals who have done evil (i.e. foul or wicked deeds) will go to judgment, condemnation, or punishment for a period of time until they learn that Jesus is the King of the Kingdom and the Lord of salvation.  They will not be raised to immortal life but rather to a judgmental learning process.

John 5:29 KJV  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil (foul; wicked) , unto the resurrection of damnation (judgment; condemnation; punishment).

Thayer Definitionkrisis  (translated as “damnation” in the KJV)
1) a separating, sundering, separation  1a) a trial, contest  2) selection  3) judgment  3a) opinion or decision given concerning anything  3a1) especially concerning justice and injustice, right or wrong  3b) sentence of condemnation, damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment
4) the college of judges (a tribunal of seven men in the several cities of Palestine; as distinguished from the Sanhedrin, which had its seat at Jerusalem)
5) right, justice

The Laver or Molten Sea
The laver, originally used in the tabernacle, was of brass containing water with which the priests washed their hands and feet when they entered the tabernacle.  In the temple of Solomon there were ten lavers used for the sacrifices, and the molten sea for the ablutions of the priests.  The "molten sea" was made of copper.   No lavers are mentioned in the second temple.  The molten sea was a large bowl not accessible from the top.  All things in Solomon’s temple were supposed to be a replica of those in the temple of Heaven.  There is a commonality between the temple molten sea and the Revelation’s lake of fire and they could be the same with the temple version being a symbolic representation of the heavenly lake of fire.

This type of “water baptism” set up in the days of Moses, was a symbolic earthly manifestation of the heavenly purification or baptism, the baptism of fire.  John describes the temple laver and calls it the lake of fire, or more precisely, he is describing the Refiner’s Fire.

Zechariah 13:9 KJV  And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

1 Peter 1:7 KJV  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Proverbs 17:3 KJV  The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

Malachi 3:1-3 KJV  Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.  (2)  But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:  (3)  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Matthew 3:10-11 KJV  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  (11)  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 KJV  (12)  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  (13)  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  (14)  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  (15)  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Hebrews 12:29 KJV  For our God is a consuming fire.

“Both the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon used water in their lavers, rather than molten gold. Yet the water was meant to portray molten gold. Gold is the divine nature, and so the laver itself would portray God’s refining process. In our fleshly state, we could not survive a baptism of fiery gold, and so water baptism became the substitute and type of the true baptism of fire”.  From Dr. Stephen Jones, Creation's Jubilee

In the days of Solomon’s Temple, the laver was called “the molten sea” (1 Kings 7: 23). When gold has been refined to its absolutely pure state, molten gold is as clear as crystal. If Solomon would have filled the Temple’s laver with pure gold and melted it, it would have looked like “a sea of glass like crystal” (Revelation 4: 6). In Revelation 15: 2 John described it as “a sea of glass mixed with fire.”

Revelation 15:2 KJV  And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

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