Where is Hell?
Does Hell exist? What is it really like? How could a loving God create such a terrible place? What is it's purpose? The truth about Hell came as a rather pleasant surprise!
It seems Hell is nothing like I was led to believe. It is definitely not a place for pointy-tailed, red suited devils, jumping around on hot coals and poking people with tripods.
Yet the truth about Hell has never been hidden. It has always been right out there in open for anyone to see. It’s woven all through the Bible, yet it’s nothing like the brimstone fantasies that dot traditional religious teaching.
Hell is an attribute of the personality of a kind, loving and powerful God. It has nothing to do with vengeance or considered punishment. It has everything to do with protection.
When we understand the Holiness of God, we understand Hell!
Holiness is an attribute of God’s nature; the core or centre of who he is and everything he does. In Scripture holiness depicts perfectly every good thing people can know about God and those who love him are endowed with his Holy Spirit.
He is referred to as Holy God.
His words are referred to as Holy Scripture.
The angles bow down before him crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord.”
So what is holiness? And why is it like Hell?
There are many places in Scripture where the presence of God’s holiness is described as fire; it is a continuing general theme throughout the Bible from start to finish.
Moses describes God’s holiness as a consuming fire.
Isaiah describes it as everlasting burning.
The prophets throughout Scripture warn in various ways that God’s presence is a devouring flame.
Fire, flame, everlasting burning…hmmm…that sounds a lot like Hell!
What is Hell but an everlasting fire?
What is Hell but a place where you burn continually but are never consumed?
What is Hell but a place that extends to the furthest reaches of God’s existence?
THE BURNING BUSH – Ex.3:1-6
As Moses was walking in the desert he saw a tree burning, the flame was intense yet the bush was not being burned. As he approached the bush, God warned Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS – Ex.19:16-25
When Moses was called by God to go up on Mount Sinai to write the Ten Commandments, the top of the mountain was consumed with fire and smoke and became holy. Everyone was warned that if they or their animals put even one foot on the mountain they would die.
AARONS SONS – Lev.10:1-3
Two of Aaron’s sons saw the power Moses and Aaron had, and decided they would try it for themselves. As soon as they tried to mimic what Moses and Aaron had done, fire came out from the Lord and consumed them. Then Moses said, “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy.”
ARC OF THE CONVENANT – 1 Ch. 13:9-10
The Arc of the Covenant, which held the Commandments, was holy and could not be touched. When it was moved by King David it was lifted by poles onto a cart and pulled by oxen and the priests who guarded it were warned not to touch it lest they die. On one occasion, while it was being carried, one of the oxen stumbled and a priest put out his hand to steady the Arc and prevent it from falling. Immediately fire came out from the Arc and consumed him.
So what do all these examples tell us?
Many Biblical descriptions of God’s holiness include the warning that God’s holiness will be deadly to those who are not invited into his presence. This is because his holiness is so pure that everything impure or tainted with sin is destroyed instantly on contact with his holiness.
The destruction is an automatic result because God’s holiness can never be contaminated with anything impure. Otherwise God himself would no longer be holy and that is just impossible.
Yet, God does not set out to destroy, ever. God is not vengeful, but protective.
If God wanted us to suffer and die in the flames of his holiness he wouldn’t have warned people all through history that his holiness could kill them.
He wouldn’t have sent Jesus to take away our ‘unholiness’ and give us his Holy Spirit so we could ‘be holy as he is holy’, and therefore immune to the fire of his holiness.
His holiness is a wall of protection...
The Bible describes God’s holiness as being like a protective wall of ‘fire’. And this description gives us a clue to where Hell actually is.
Like the protective ozone layer around the earth, which can't be seen by those who live on the earth but burns to oblivion objects that try to cross from outer space, so Hell is like an invisible ring of fire surrounding Heaven.
There is a wonderful symbolism in the following verse which shows God describing himself as the protective wall of fire that guards Heaven.
Jerusalem (symbolic of Heaven) will be a city without walls…and I myself will be a wall of fire around it, declares the Lord, and I will be its glory within. (Zec.2:3-5)
So is Hell a terrible place? Yes!
But it’s not a place of vengeance and punishment. Rather, it’s a place of protection, to keep those who are unholy from contaminating Heaven with sin.
When we understand the purpose of Hell, it's no longer frightening...
If God is love, and love created the universe and everything in it, this means love existed before human emotions, feelings, sex and families. And if the fire of his protection is part of his loving nature, then what is love? You can read more in LOVING What Does It Mean?