The Satisfaction of the Justice of God
- Yeshua haMashiach (Yeshua the Messiah) is a Satisfied Saviour, having paid the full penalty for sin (which is death), not merely for the Messianic Community (the "Church"), but for all humankind.
The Scriptures are explicit concerning the cross event. They tell us in no uncertain terms that Our Lord Yeshua underwent the full and complete punishment of sins for everyone who has ever lived (Jn 1.29; 3.16,17; 1 Tim 1.15; 2.3,4,6; 4.10; 1 Jn 2.2; 1 Cor 15.28; Col 1.20,21 cf 1 Cor 15.22; 2 Cor 5.19; Rom 8.19-26; 11.32; Eph 1.11). Certainly all believers in all denominations of the universal Christian Church agree that Christ died for us.
"In due time Mashiach died for the ungodly" (Rom 5.6). "We thus judge, that if one [the Messiah] died for all, then were all dead" (2 Cor 5.14). "But God commends this love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Mashiach died for us"
(Rom 5.8). "Mashiach also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh" (1 Pet 3.18). "We see Yeshua, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb 2.9).
Arminius may have been in error with his doctrine of the free-will of man exercised in the acceptance of God's salvation in Messiah (for he did not understand God's purposes in election), but Calvin was equally wrong in his belief in an election to hell (for he also was ignorant of God's purposes in election). When the fourth-century Gentile Constantinian Church jettisoned the Jewish thoughtforms from the Hebrew Scriptures, they rejected both the original Hebrew concept and meaning of salvation, replacing the essential idea of salvation with a crude view of "heaven" for the "good," and "eternal hell" for the "damned." But this was not doctrinally sound and this teaching cannot be located in any of the early Church Fathers, either in Rome or Alexandria. But Mashiach died, not only for the elect, but for the sins of the entire world. This is unquestionably the truth of the Scripture, and frankly only a mental mutant devoid of spiritual discernment would challenge it, in our humble opinion!
"For God so loves the world, that he gives his uniquely-begotten Son, that everyone who is believing in him should not be perishing, but may be having everlasting life. For God sends not his Son into the world that he should be condemning the world, but that the world may be saved through him" (Jn 3.16,17 correct tense). "We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua the Messiah once for all...This man, after he has offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Heb 10.10,12). "[Mashiach] when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high" (Heb 1.3).
Now we know that Rav Shaul wrote that death is the wages of sin (Rom 6.23). Well, actually, its not. What Paul wrote in the Greek was not wages but, rather, rations. You see, in the Jewish thoughtform of the day Satan never was viewed as giving his slaves wages for the work of sin. He merely eked out rations. "For the ration of sin is death." But not content with this cover-up, the Adversary went a step further and confused the issue of sin altogether by suggesting
- that hell-fire as a form of death was the real wage (ration) for sin, transgression and iniquity.
Yet the erroneous teaching concerning hell (Gehinnom) persists. All the major divisions of the Christian Church continue to promulgate, in one form or another, that the Lake of Fire is the penalty, or consequence, of sins against God. Yet if this is so, and the Messiah paid the penalty of our sins for us, then he must have gone to hell when he died. For, those who believe that an eternity of fiery torment awaits the unforgiven sinner, then for Yeshua to have paid that penalty fully and completely he would need to be still in hell burning in torment. And, for those who wish to believe that being burned up in a fiery holocaust so that nothing at all remains (not even consciousness) as the penalty of sin, then for Mashiach to have properly paid the penalty he would have had to have been burned up completely in hell.
What a heinous idea! It is utterly repugnant to the converted Christian mind. But we know this is not the case. The Messiah did suffer in a fiery hell in his own body on the tree in separation from God, but in no way did he go to some place called Gehenna to a fiery pit of sulphur and brimstone to appropriately become our Substitute! The idea is totally ridiculous.
The Scriptures openly declare that Mashiach died for our sins. It does not imply in any way shape or form that he suffered in a fiery inferno for our offences.
"Hell" in the Scriptures
Many of our English translations and versions of the Bible translate as "hell" three distinct Greek terms,
- and Gehenna.
The Messianic Scriptures (or "NT") reference for the first of these, Tartaroo, is located only in 2 Peter 2.4. It is intriguing that the Apostle Peter freely utilises a term found in classical Greek mythology which refers to a subterranean prison wherein reside the Titans who rose up in rebellion against the chief of the gods, Zeus. Certainly, that such an under-ground vault does exist beneath the surface of our planet is attested to in the Apocalypse by another of Messiah's very own chosen Apostles, John.
"And I saw an angel come down from the heavens, having a key to the bottomless pit [Greek, abyss - the underworld beneath the ground and earth's oceans] and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that ancient serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him [as an imprisonment] a thousand years" (Rev 20.1,2 See also Rev 9.2 which mentions certain creatures from this region surfacing upon the earth in a menacing way).
We also know that Moses was well aware of this environment, for he postulated that this subterranean area was located in the vast oceans (Ex 20.4) and many scholars point to further NT evidence to support this in Paul's recognition that "At the name of Yeshua every knee shall bow, of things in the heavens, and things in earth, and things UNDER the earth" (Phil 1.10).
In regards to this latter reference, we have some measure of hesitation, for this statement by the great Emissary to the nations could very well refer to the region or state of Sheol and not necessarily be limited to the realm of the Titans. How-ever, we do know that Enoch visited this region, thousands of years ago, for of him it is recorded from oral tradition (which finally found written expression in 1 Enoch chapters 12-16 and 2 Enoch 18) by none other than Peter himself who wrote,
"It was in the Spirit that Enoch also went and preached to the imprisoned spirits" (1 Pet 3.19 Moffatt).
Scholar Goodspeed translates this verse accordingly: "...alive in the Spirit. In it Enoch went and preached even to those spirits who were in prison." Bowyer, Rendel Harris, M.R. James, Spitta, Cramer -- these Greek specialists all agree that the original Greek mss were in one accord that it was Enoch, not Our Lord, whom Peter had ascribed this journey into the subterranean world of the Titans. Be this as it may, Mashiach will one day reconcile all things in this universe to himself, and this includes the presently imprisoned Titans (Col 1.20).
The second Greek word translated "hell" is Hades. Essentially our English word "hell" came from the Anglo-Saxon hel which meant simply enough, a hidden place or, the unseen. In medieval times the English would bury potatoes in "hell" (under the ground) for the winter. Today our familiar word "hole" is a derivative of this word "hell." A hole in the ground. But in the Hebrew Sheol is the equivalent of the Greek term Hades which goes beyond the Anglo-Saxon terminology.
Of course, there is a tension within the Word of God itself concerning the teaching about Sheol. For one thing according to Acts 2.27,31 and Luke 16.23,26 all of the dead, whether good or bad, are located in Sheol. But John disagrees for according to him, only the spirits or shades of the ungodly are presently in Sheol (Rev 20.13f). It is in this prime section of Scripture that John tells us that at the resurrection Sheol must give up its dead, and therefore Sheol or Hades cannot be an eternal state or condition but obviously the implications are that it is purely temporal. One thing for sure, the basic idea of Sheol as a continued shadowy type of existence beyond death's doors is common to other contemporary peoples. The Babylonians called this place of the shades Arallu. The Egyptians referred to it as Amenti. It was, in a word, a view shared by other nations -- not merely the Hebrew people.
The third word we are considering is Gehenna. This is the Greek form of the Aramaic gehinnam which in turn is reflective of the Hebrew ge-hinnom. Originally this denoted a valley lying to the south and the west of the walls of Jerusalem (today it is known as Wadi er-Rababi) the valley of the son, or sons, of Hinnom (Josh 15.8; 18.16; Isa 31.9; 66.24; Jer 32.35;2 Chron 33.6). It was in this valley that child sacrifices were offered to the demonic god Moloch (2 Kings 16.3; 21.6; 2 Chron 28.3). An altar raised up for the murder of little children gave the region the appellation Tophet (Isa 30.33). King Josiah desecrated the region (2 Kings 23.10). This valley will be the place of God's judgment (Jer 7.32; 19.6f) and Jew-ish apocalyptic expected that this general area would become, subsequent to God's judgment, the fiery inferno of hell
(Eth. Enoch 90.26f; 27.1ff; 54.1ff; 56.3f). It was for this reason that gehenna came to be identified with the eschato-logical fiery inferno, even when it was no longer localised at Jerusalem (2 Esdras 7.36; Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch 59.10; 85.13; The Sibylline Oracles 1.103). At the time of Yeshua the southeastern area of Jerusalem was utilised as a sewerage outlet and general garbage dump where fires continually burned. Into this area the corpses of criminals were tossed in order to be consumed by the heat as well as eaten by worms and maggots. This portrait of a fiery judgment on criminals also gave the idea of "immortal worms" for they generally propagated by living on dead body tissue (Isa 66.24 cf Jer 7.31,32; 19.11-14).
Due to the progressive revelation of God in terms of apocalyptic literature concerning Sheol, the judgment of God, and the new teaching of a fiery hell, (originating in the period between the conclusion of Ezra/Malachi's partial canonisation of Scripture and the emergence of John the Baptiser's Dead Sea sectarians at Qumran) the doctrine of a fiery purgatory arose in rabbinical circles (H.Bietenhard, NIDNTT, Vol.11., 208). Both Strack and Billerbeck acknowledge that alongside this fiery purgatory (we would refer to this as a degree of examination to be found in Sheol) we find the concept of an eschatological Gehinnom judgment, after the last judgment, but plainly limited in time (H.L.Strack & P.Billerbeck, Commentary of the New Testament, with Talmud and Midrash, 1926-61., IV, 1022-1118). It was centuries later that the Church would develop the idea of Satan as the prince of hell, to whom sinners are handed over for punishment in torment, and the equally blasphemous concept of an eternity of fiery damnation. It certainly does not appear in the documents of the first century Rabbis. In fact, the doctrine of eternal punishment or punishing is a reading back into these parchments ideas that are alien to the original Jewish thoughtforms. Of course, this of necessity brings us to some short, sweet comments on torment.
Some Short, Sweet Comments on Torment
We have stated explicitly (rather than suggest) that the very idea of eternal torment is right from the vitriolic heart of the Devil. If Satan can make our God of unlimited Grace and unconditional love out to be a sadistic, diabolical fiend -- yet doctrinally a God of understanding -- then he will have achieved a portrait of God in his own image -- both a creature of darkness and an angel of light. Our Ancient Foe has virtually succeeded in his aim of destroying Grace as the funda-mental and essential characteristic of God as Eternal Love. Most ministers of religion and their mindless mutants are in wholehearted agreement. We know a number of dear ministers of God and their wives who truly are on the verge of accepting God as the nature of Grace. They believe that God is a God of Grace but tragically only up to a point. He is "love" but, again, only up to a point.
- Beyond this point God becomes the proverbial Village Idiot burning up his mistakes on the Last Great Bonfire Day.
- This pornographic tripe is what these dear people in ministry -- and multiple millions like them -- sincerely believe. They may sincerely believe, but they are sincerely wrong.They are worshipers of the Lord God and the praise of God is on their lips daily. This lecturer does not doubt their sincerity, or their salvation. But he will not join them in their devilish, anti-Christian belief.
- These pastors refuse to recognise the Voice of the Shepherd. They continue to cling to the swansong of the Pied Piper of hell, the melancholic melody of despair.
- We trust that one day God will open their eyes to realise that the apparent darkness surrounding them is God himself, and suffering is his nearness.
The Greek for "torment" is basanos. It comes from an Egyptian word for a touchstone for gold (lydia lithos, Bacchylides Fragment 14, [5th century B.C.E.] ). This word did not always carry with it the idea of endless torment for torment's sake. Rather, it originally signified a means of testing and then torture as a means of examination. It equally meant to oppress. Indeed, that this is truly the case can be seen from a simple perusal of the use of basanos by the NT writers themselves.
Matthew Levi classifies basanos in the physical afflictions of the sick which, the record states plainly, Yeshua healed (Mt
4.24). The centurion's servant from Capernaum was tormented by his sickness (Mt 8.6). The demons were afraid that Yeshua would torment them (Mt 8.9; Mk 5.7; Lk 8.28). The disciples on the sea were hard pressed by the wind and the waves (Mt 14.24; Mk 6.48). Righteous Lot felt his soul tortured and oppressed by his observation of the dissolute negative activities of the inhabitants of the city of Sodom (2 Pet 2.8). Miriam, the Mother of Yeshua, experienced normal labour pains as she gave birth to the Christ Child (Rev 12.2). And, to top it off, the evangelist and physician Luke mentions the torments and afflictions experienced by the "rich man" in Messiah's parable in Luke 16.23,28. Needless to say, the "rich man" was suffering in a temporary Sheol as the place of the shades, not hell.
It is only now at the very conclusion of this age that this knowledge has come to light to be utilised in such a way as to give appropriate honour, glory and praise to the Great Intelligence and Love that brought forth this wonderful game of salvation. And it is imperative that this good news is to be shared with those with whom the Lord has brought us into spiritual communion.
Certainly the idea of torment is associated with Gehenna (Rev 20.10). There can be no escaping this conclusion, and that is because it is a biblical fact. God's fiery judgments on a base and hostile humankind have not been limited to a prophetic eschatological scenario. In no way! God, said the prophet Jeremiah, would bring utter destruction upon the city of Jerusalem in the form of "unquenchable fire" (Jer 17.27). This was accomplished in a precise way in the 6th century BCE (2 Chron 36.19; Jer 52.13). No local Hebrew or Jewish fire-brigade could extinguish these fires of God. They were absolutely unquenchable! They burned ferociously until they had performed their prophesied duty.
There can be no escaping the fact that the Lord has used fire as a judgment often in times past. One only has to ponder briefly the fate of "the cities of the plain" in the story of Lot in Genesis to make the point. And the Scripture tells us explicitly that the Cosmic Lord will again use fire as a judgment upon this earth. Peter tells us that an intensity of fire of some enormous magnitude will finally melt the very elements of our planet (2 Pet 3.10-12).
Today we can even view the fiery end of entire solar systems (along with unique and amazing civilisations) in our own Milky Way Galaxy on television, as they erupt in a holocaust of combustible conflagration. We live in times of miracles and wonders.
- There can be no escaping the fact that all of God's fiery judgments are purely intermediate.
God's judgments are always remedial, restorative. They are never punitive judgments for condemnation's sake. Even the "rich man" in Sheol was making important changes! Even Our Lord Yeshua made it clear that judgment is not to be equated with a never ending hell fire! In no way! For, he tells us that in the Great White Throne judgment the Queen of Sheba [the Egyptian Hatseptsu] "will rise with this generation in the judgment and will condemn it" for rejecting Yeshua (Mt 12.42). In the same breath he denounced those religious leaders who rejected him and stated that in this same judgmental period the people of Ninevah in Assyria "will rise and condemn" them (Mt 12.41).
There will be varying degrees of judgment and condemnation (Lk 12.47,48), but all of God's decisions are in view of the ultimate salvation of man -- God wills that no one will perish eternally (2 Pet 3.9). This is not a mere "desire" or "wish" on God's part! Mashiach died during the period of the Fifth Procuratorship of Judaea to save us, indeed to save the whole world (1 Tim 2.4-6), and ultimately to save the entirety of the universe (Eph 1.10; Col 1.15-20). And while it is more than possible for the Lord God to destroy man's body and soul in Gehenna (Mt 10.26) it is written "if any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by FIRE" (1 Cor 3.15). If there is everlasting fire it is a fire within God himself, a fiery righteousness that will continue to burn beyond Time as we know it. For only God is truly
We now come to the most important teaching concerning "hell." And that teaching concerns its location.
The Surprising Location of Hell
To properly appreciate our role as Messianic believers in God's redemption of the universe in Mashiach, we must
- firstly apprehend God's creation in Mashiach.
- Secondly, we must come to terms with the fact that in the Jewish thoughtform of the first century all creation dwelt in the very Mind of God [Infinite Intelligence].
Isaiah, another prophet, enquired "Who amongst us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who amongst us shall dwell with
everlasting burnings?" (Isa 33.14). He then replies to himself, "He that walketh righteously and speaks uprightly...he shall dwell on high" (Isa 33.15,16). This prophets lips were purified with coals of fire" (Isa 6.5,7).
The Spirit of God descended upon the Apostolic company, including Miriam the Mother of Our Lord, as tongues of fire (Acts 1.13-15; 2.3). Fires are depicted in the Bible as having a purifying, purging effect in human beings (1 Pet 1.7; 1 Cor 3.12-15). To be lost in God's fires is to be lost in God himself.
- Actually, even witches recognised that fire was their only friend. Not believing in the teaching of the resurrection, witches and warlocks preferred cremation. Burning to death at the stake, upon their conviction by representatives of the Church, was demanded by the witches themselves during the Middle Ages -- many of them at their own request were burned in the open air, in the centre of a stone circle (Arnold & Patricia Crowther, The Secrets of Ancient Witchcraft with the Witches Tarot, 1974,167,168). The stone circle, like the swastika, was a pertinent symbol of reincarnation. Many Christians are unaware that in a simple funeral ceremony, they continue to perpetuate the doctrine of reincarnation each and every time flowers are placed upon a grave site, or on a casket at burial. Flowers presented to the dead are an ancient symbolical gesture to the cycle of life, known in reincarnation circles since the dawn of time. And a custom of medieval witchcraft.
- But once we grasp that all creation is to be found in Mashiach (as Mashiach is to be found in God) then
- we can readily appreciate that there can be nothing in existence apart from consciousness of the Lord God.
It almost goes without saying that if all things are in Mashiach then hell is to be located in Mashiach as well. "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into the heavens, thou art there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yes, the darkness hides not from thee: but the night shines as the day. The darkness and the light are both alike to thee" (Ps 139.7-12).
If God's satisfaction in judgment for sin was found to be in the crucified God-Man at Golgoleth, which it is, then hell cannot be a termination for any who therein enter. The righteous Yeshua became the world's greatest sinner on that bloodied torture tree for you and for me. More so, he actually metamorphosed as sin itself (2 Cor 5.21 KJV). God's wrath was against his precious Son as the ultimate Reprobate Man. God's anger against sin was abated in him, and in him alone.
- Mashiach, not hell, is our final destiny.
16.22; 27.16) For, Messiah became every man and woman and child that ever lived or who ever will live. It was the cross that satisfied the divine justice. It is not hell. It was Mashiach as a corpse on the cross who paid the penalty for our sins. It is not thus with hell. The cross of Yeshua satisfied God the Father. Mashiach died for our sins, and for the sins of the whole world, and the sins of the entire universe including the angelic powers.
Our Lord Yeshua is a Satisfied Saviour!
- God is no longer angry!
May God haste the day when that judgment of fire will come to an end and its task will have been accomplished. For, at that time, "at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2. 10,11).