Is it hot?
June 20, 2014
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My wife and I went away for the day, leaving our four-year-old daughter with Grandma. When Grandma started to make dinner, our daughter saw the electric element on the stove glowing red hot, asked “Grandma, is it hot?” and placed the palm of her hand on the element.
I guess she really never understood what hot was until that moment. Her hand didn’t stay in contact with the element very long so the burn wasn’t deep and healed without leaving any scars. Grandma did what grandmas do so well in caring for the wound and comforting a little girl, but we wished that we could somehow have made it more clear what hot meant so she didn’t need to find out in such a painful way.
How can we make it clear to others how hot hell will be? The Biblical image of a lake of fire and brimstone seems to have lost its impact over the years. Cartoonists have had fun portraying how certain individuals or groups of people might be tormented in hell, but they are not really intended to be taken seriously. Nothing much about hell is taken seriously anymore, not even by Christians. Perhaps we have been talking about the torments of a lake of molten sulphur for so long that we don’t really believe it ourselves?
What the Bible is really telling us is that we live in a world polluted by sin. If heaven is to be a place of beauty and happiness, another place had to be prepared for all that would pollute the purity of heaven.
Think of hell as the toxic waste dump for all that is evil in this world, and for all the people who have willingly polluted themselves with that evil. Heaven will be a place of peace, joy and love, unmixed with sorrow or pain. Hell will be a place characterized by hatred, envy, anger, lust and fear. All the spirits that have so long tormented this world will be there and all the people who thought to find some advantage or self-justification in yielding to those spirits. It will be a place of sheer, unmitigated terror.
Is that hot enough? Consider this also: everyone in hell will remember clearly the moment they made the choice that sealed their doom. No one will accidentally find himself or herself in hell.
There will be people in heaven who never lived long enough to make a choice. It is the great mercy of God to welcome all those who never reached a level of maturity where they could know what their choices were. The innocent will be in heaven. No one in hell will be able to claim innocence.