The concept of Hell has it’s presence in numerous religions around the world, not only Christian. The Christian faith believes, for the most part, that the Wicked will suffer Eternal torment in the Lake of Fire to burn forever and forever, through out the ceaseless ages of eternity. Is this what the Bible truly teaches or is this an error that has filtered into the Christian church? We need to let the Bible explain and interpret itself so we can understand what the truth is about Hell. Contrary to current Christian belief, Hell Fire does not exist yet!
Hell was not initially intended for Man, but rather for Satan and his fallen Angels which rebelled against God in Heaven. It was during the course of Sin on Earth, that Mankind’s identity became entangled with Sin. The Lake of Fire, or Hell, is a place that God will create at the end of time to destroy Satan, his fallen Angels, the wicked and Sin all at once.
(Matthew 25:41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
The Bible uses the term “for ever” to symbolize a length of time. It can mean a short stretch of time, a time span from generation to generation, or the span of time from the creation of the Earth to its conclusion. If you remember your Bible stories, for ever even symbolized a stretch of time that Jonah was in the belly of the Whale. In fact, let’s take a look at the story of Jonah. In this story, scripture recounts Jonah’s experience in Jonah 2:5,6…
(Jonah 1:17) Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
(Jonah 2:5) The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
(Jonah 2:6) I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
As we can see Jonah is in the belly of a great fish in this passage. Jonah’s reference to “bars“ in this passage refers to the ribs of this great fish. (Note: Some like to refer to this great fish as a Whale.) Notice that he says the bars were about him “for ever“. Now did Jonah really stay in the belly of this great fish for ever? NO, he didn’t… but to Jonah, it felt like a long time. Jonah was in fact, in the belly of the fish for 3 days, after which, he was spit up onto shore by this fish. Now, the concept of “for ever” here does not mean endless does it? Here, “for ever“ in context to the story really means just “Three Days“.
(Jonah 2:10) And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
Let’s take a look at another instance of the word “for ever“and see how it is used… Remember the story of Samuel? In 1 Samuel 1 there is a story of a woman who was barren of child. The woman’s name was Hanna and she was the wife of a man named Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives and one had children and the other, Hanna, did not.
(1 Samuel 1:6) And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb
Because she was barren, Hanna cried out to God to open her womb so she could bear a child. God blessed Hanna, and she eventually gave birth to a child she named Samuel. Because of her joy and happiness, Hanna dedicated her child, Samuel, to the priest so that Samuel could serve the Lord “for ever“. (See: 1 Samuel 1:22 and 1 Samuel 1:28)
(1 Samuel 1:20) Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.
(1 Samuel 1:21) And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.
(1 Samuel 1:22) But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.
(1 Samuel 1:23) And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.
(1 Samuel 1:24) And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.
(1 Samuel 1:25) And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.
(1 Samuel 1:26) And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.
(1 Samuel 1:27) For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
(1 Samuel 1:28) Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.
In the story of Jonah, “for ever“ represented 3 days. Here in the story of Samuel, the term “for ever” represents the lifetime of Samuel, in other words, as long as he liveth, the span of time until Samuel dies.
So we can see that “for ever“ can mean a finite amount of time, not necessarily, an eternal timeframe. If you do a study on the word “Ever” in Strong’s Concordance and other commentaries, you will find some interesting information.
The Complete Word Study Dictionary – ever
— A preposition and adverb meaning as far as, up to, unto, until, while. It is used of time meaning until
— It may indicate the time while something is being done
— A masculine noun meaning a very long time. The word usually refers to looking forward, but many times expresses the idea of looking backward. It may cover a given person’s lifetime
— A period of many generations
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary – ever
— (used as a preposition, adverb or conjugation; especially with a preposition); as far (or long, or much) as, whether of space (even unto) or time (during, while, until) or degree (equally with):
— It may indicate the time while something is being done
— properly concealed, that is, the vanishing point; generally time out of mind (past or future), that is, (practically) eternity; frequentative adverbially (especially with prepositional prefix) always: – always (-s), ancient (time), any more, continuance, eternal, (for, [n-]) ever (-lasting, -more, of old), lasting, long (time), (of) old (time), perpetual, at any time, (beginning of the) world (+ without end).