The End of the Enemy
Robert Wurtz II
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41 NKJV)
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10 KJV) […] Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Revelation 12:12 KJV)
Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. (Revelation 18:20 KJV)
Our first passage from Matt. 25:41 raises two important questions that I wish to address. First, why did God “prepare” a place for the devil and his angels that consists of everlasting fire? Second, why are human beings sent there too? Our next passages from Rev. 12:10-12, 18:20 deal with the appropriate response of the saints to God judging the enemy.
Setting the Stage
Most Christians are familiar with who Satan is. The world on the other hand has a very twisted notion of who Satan is. He has been portrayed in all kinds of misleading ways in Hollywood and in the music industry. As usual, these depictions are designed to distort reality. Everything trustworthy that we know about Satan and his history is found in the Bible. There we find him described by numerous names such as the serpent, the dragon, the devil, Lucifer, the accuser, the adversary, Beelzebub, the god of this world, the wicked one, the enemy, tempter, ruler of this world, the power of darkness and the prince of the power of the air. There are others, but this list will suffice.
Satan began, according to Ezekiel 28, as the anointed Cherub who covers. He was the greatest of God’s creations. In fact, God said to him, You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. (Ezekiel 28:12 NKJV) For some unexplained reason, Satan became self-conscious and “iniquity (lawlessness) was found in him.” Whereas he once worshipped God, he turned to desire worship for himself. Isaiah 14 gives us five “I wills” that Satan said in his heart. The most shocking is that he determined to ascend to the throne of God and “be like the Most High.” God responded to Satan’s musings saying, Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. (Isaiah 14:15 NKJV) These basic facts in Revelation, Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, and a few other places are all that God has chosen to reveal about Satan’s origin.
Obviously, God would not tolerate the enemy trying to overthrow Him in Heaven. Satan has power but God is all powerful. In other words, God is infinitely more powerful than Satan. In fact, the power that Satan does possess he has on loan from God. Nobody possesses anything that they did not receive from the Creator. Nevertheless, before God cast Satan out of Heaven, he deceived countless angels into following him. Depicted as “The Dragon” he is said to have drawn one third of the stars (angels) with his tail. (Rev. 12:4) His evil campaign of lies led to the fall of millions and millions of angels. They will share in his destiny.
Satan: that Old Serpent
Ezekiel 28 reminds us that Lucifer (Satan) was also in Eden. While there, posing as a Serpent, he seduced Adam and Eve into desiring to “be like God” just as he had done. He apparently figured that it worked for him and the other fallen angels, so it might work to bring man down too. He was right. Just as Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven; Adam and his wife were cast out of the garden of Eden.
Satan not only took on the form of a serpent, but he also transforms himself into an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14) Just as he was cast out of the presence of God with his angels, mankind followed with them and were cast out of God’s presence – separated from God’s unique presence. Satan’s murderous, hate-filled nature entered the human race. As a consequence, by Genesis 6 the world was so wracked with perversion and violence that God had to destroy it and begin again with eight people (Noah and his family). (Genesis 6)
Working to Get God “Cursed”
Even God’s people have not been immune to Satan’s antics. He went before God to accuse them in the time of Job. Before it was over he had destroyed everything meaningful to Job trying to get him to curse God to his face. What kind of character works tirelessly to get other creatures to curse God to His face? Satan is described as a murderer and a liar. (John 8:44) He is the “god” of this world. In fact, the whole world is pictured as lying in his lap. In other words, the whole world is under the sway of his influence. (1 John 5:19)
Ten eternities would probably not be enough time to fully comprehend the magnitude of Satan’s evil and it’s disastrous consequences for everyone. Even God has suffered because of him. Understand that he is infinitely less powerful than God; but he is the closest thing God could have to an arch enemy. Satan reigns in this world and expresses himself through the world. He is the father of lies and of darkness. His children love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3). The same can be said of Satan. This will suit all of them well, for Jesus told of a time when Satan and his followers will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30) Outer darkness in the Greek New Testament is strongly emphasized: “Into the outer darkness” (eis to skotos to exoœteron). Just as Jesus went to “prepare a place” for the saints where He will be the light of it (John 14, Rev. 21:23); Satan and his followers have a place prepared eis to skotos to exoœteron (into darkness the outer).
Called Out of Darkness
In contrast to Satan and his followers, Peter tells the saints, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV) This and many like verses makes one wonder why so many modern-day youth workers, worship leaders and Charismatic ministers have started blackening the walls and ceilings out in their meetings. For about the last 20-30 years they have increasingly shut the lights out where people are then led to worship and (or) prophesy in near complete darkness. It would be superflous to list off the verses that show God as being of light wherein is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
In the Old Testament God dwelled in the “thick darkness” where only He was the light. His glory had to be shielded to keep people from being consumed. He dwells in a light that no one can approach. Is it any surprise then that Satan would identify himself with darkness? Why do you think children are often afraid of the dark? They have been told that bad things lurk in the darkness. Paul reminds us, For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:7–8 NKJV) Even the world has a saying that “past midnight the only people who are out are cops and crooks.” Why? Because much crime takes place under the cover of darkness.
Satan loves darkness. His servants often perform their Satanic rituals in darkness. I would not stoop to post several pictures here to prove my point. How many scenes of a seance have we seen where the place is pitch dark with only a few candles lit? This is really just a foretaste of the outer-darkness that Satan and his followers are destined for. Paul added this reminder, “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5 NKJV) Although carnal professors of Christ wish to mix light and darkness, God separated them in Genesis 1:4. If we are someplace where we have no means of light, that is one thing. The Catacombs in Rome were a favorite Christian meeting place in the early days, not because it was dark, but because it was a safe place to meet in times of persecution. They did not intentionally darken the meeting. We are not of darkness, Satan is.
The Power of Darkness
When Jesus was crucified it was described this way, “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:53 KJV) This cross event enabled Jesus to give the promise, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12 KJV) Paul was given the task, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18 KJV) Paul was not disobedient to his God-given commission and neither should we be. I think we needs to ask ourselves once again, “What communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV) Satan may have been cast out of God’s presence, but his influence and darkness is found more and more in the very place where Christians attempt to enter God’s presence.
The End of the Enemy
For a professed Christian to insinuate that God has erred creating hell is to demonstrate how evil and adulterous this generation has become. True and righteous are all of His judgments. (Rev. 16:7, 19:2) Jesus never gave any disclaimers for having created hell; though He did weep for those who refused to be gathered to Him. Some day this will change. In fact, as Jonathan Edwards has demonstrated in his classic work, “The End of the Wicked Contemplated By the Righteous,” the Saints will not weep over hell when they get to Heaven, but will be encouraged to rejoice as God judges His enemies. (Rev. 18:20)
Satan is a murderer. Murderers are not allowed to walk the streets on earth and they will not walk the streets of Heaven. Children are safe in Heaven. Hell, on the other hand, was created to dispose of everything that “defileth or maketh a lie” (Revelation 21:27). Hell is necessary because Heaven is necessary. So long as they are things that defile God’s sanctuary, rebel against His will, and bring suffering to His creation – there will be a need for hell. We have jails and God has hell. What most people do not comprehend is that following Satan means that they will share his destiny (destination). What is his destiny? What is Satan’s final exit? We have more clues to discover.
Payment for Sin
Sin earns wages (Romans 6:23) and God will not withhold payment. The book of Hebrews tells us that the unsaved will receive a just repayment and reward for every single act of sin they commit (Hebrews 2:3). The book of Revelation tells us that sometimes God pays double dues for sin. As it is written… Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double (Revelation 18:6).
In the story of the rich man and Lazarus we have a fearsome picture of what hell is truly like. We learn that people go either to heaven (Paradise) or hell (Hades) immediately after death. Some have so feared this passage that they have tried to translate the Greek word Hades as “the grave.” This makes nonsense out of a perfectly understood passage.
There are two primary Greek words that deal with hell; they are Hades and Gehenna. By way of analogy we will consider Hades as God’s county Jail and Gehenna as God’s Federal Penitentiary. Hades is the abode of the dead and it is divided into two compartments: Abraham’s Bosom and hell. We read of the rich man in Luke 16:22-24:
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
The Greek word for torments is basanois and it is in the plural. It means “to torture.” (See BDAG, TDNT, EDNT) It was used to describe the hideous instruments of torture used to extract information from prisoners (such as a rack). Ancient Greeks believed that the way to extract the purest truth was by torture. Loyalty could be proven by this means. Some people will not tell the truth unless it is tortured out of them. Such was the case with the rich man who humbles himself in Hell and begs for mercy.
We notice from this passage that there is no water in Hell and that the flames are affecting the man’s soul – though flames generally only affect physical objects. This sheds light on the passage Jesus taught in Matthew 10:28: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell. So we see then that the pain is in the soul at this point; but later, after the judgment, the soul will be reunited with the body at the resurrection of damnation and both will be cast into the lake of fire–reunited (Revelation 20:14).
Having finally chosen to follow Satan to his destiny, unbelievers are vessels of wrath perfected for destruction (Romans 9:22). Such were we all until God created us as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:21).
a. Tophet the Precursor of Hell
Another of the most terrifying ways Jesus chose to describe Hell was that of Tophet and Gehenna. Tophet was a small valley south to southwest of Jerusalem, which belonged to the sons of Hinnom. Tophet and Gehenna came to be designations of Hell because of the terrible things that occurred there.
The backslidden Israelites of old went to Tophet to sacrifice their children to the god Molech (Jeremiah 7:31). At Tophet, the idolatrous worshippers had placed a large, bronze statue of Molech, shaped like a man with outstretched arms and hands. A fire would be built within the statue. When the statue was red hot, the idol-worshipers would place their baby sons and daughters onto the outstretched, red-hot arms and hands. Their little infants would die the most painful, excruciating death imaginable. Their skin would be seared off their bodies and their flesh would be roasted, as they were burned alive.
The screams, cries, and screeches of their children’s agony was unbearable, even to these wicked, debauched parents. Therefore, drums were played to drown out the babies searing – hideous screams. Hence Tophet, in the Hebrew, signifies the beating of drums.
One of the most disturbing pictures of hell is drums drowning the screams. The enemy has long used distraction to keep people from hearing either their conscience or the Holy Spirit. Today music is played loudly, even in churches, unwittingly doing Satan’s work. People are blasted by so much sound that they can’t even focus on God. Sometimes they can’t even think. This is one of Satan’s oldest strategies. He played music and beat drums to drown the sound of screaming babies at Tophet, and today he uses the same strategy to drown the voice of God in a meeting. Instead of leading the people to heaven, unscrupulous Christians use Satan’s devices to lead the people to hell. Darkness and loud music is Tophet in microcosm. It is a 20th century “Screwtape Letter.” (see C.S. Lewis “The Screwtape Letters”)
b. Tophet before the Foundation of the World
Although Tophet became associated with judgment and slaughter in Israel’s history, God created the true Tophet before the foundation of the world. As it is written… For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it (Isaiah 30:33). Further Isaiah described this place saying… And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. (Isaiah 33:12-14).
c. The Historical Tophet and it’s Eternal Counterpart
Historians tell us that the armies of Babylon would come and slay so many people of Israel that there would be too many bodies to bury. Thousands upon thousands of bodies would lie in the open fields to be consumed by birds and animals. Tophet would be filled with the bloated, rotting bodies of rebellious Judah. Again it is written… “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away’” (Jeremiah 7:32-33). Because of the great rebellion against God there is further evidence of this place given by Isaiah when he prophetically spoke these words… Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it (Isaiah 5:14).
The historical Tophet and the gruesome events that occurred there are a foretaste of the destruction and torment of Hell. God Almighty’s proclamation of damnation against unbelieving, rebellious Judah will echo forth from the lips of Jesus Christ against all those who reject the gospel. As it is also written… And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24).
3. God’s Cosmic Trash Dump
We learn by tradition that by the time of the birth of Jesus Christ, Tophet (or Gehenna) had become a garbage dump for Jerusalem. Gehenna was also used to dispose of the dead bodies of criminals. Fires burned continuously to consume the garbage. The garbage and dead bodies were also consumed by worms (maggots). In the same way, Hell is the ash heap—the garbage dump—of all history. It is a bottomless pit with the heat of a burning furnace (Revelation 9:1). We are told seven times in the New Testament that those who go there will weep and gnash their teeth (Matthew 8:12).
4. Everlasting Fire
The most terrifying aspect of the torment in Hell is that it never ends. It goes on forever and ever. The words used by Christ and the apostles to describe the duration of the suffering in Hell clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally teach that the punishment in Hell is eternal, unending and everlasting.
Jesus Christ describes the suffering in Hell as: “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46); “everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8); “the fire that will never be quenched” (Mark. 9:45); “the worm that never dies” (Mark. 9:46). The apostles totally agree with Christ when they describe Hell as: “a flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:8); “everlasting chains” (Jude 6); “eternal fire” (Jude 7); “the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13); “the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever” (Revelation 14:11; 19:3); “the lake of fire and brimstone, in which the devil, the beast, and the false prophet ‘shall be tormented day and night, forever and ever’” (Revelation 20:10).
C. Satan’s and His Followers Final Home
Satan has done much more than draw a third of the angels to be cast out of heaven and into Hell. He has lured countless multitudes of human beings. Millions are following their leader. Satan’s final home is a place of eternal fire, a place where the fire is not quenched. “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:40-42)
When the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001, scenes of people preferring to fall to their death rather than be burned alive horrified millions of people around the world. it was a nightmarish scene. Burning to death is a terrifying thought. Throughout history, death by burning was reserved for what the world perceived to be the most wicked of criminals. Yet the fire in Hell is much worse than earthly fire. Earthly fire consumes the flesh of its victims. When the nerve endings are consumed, the pain ceases. But for those in Hell, the pain will not cease, because the fire of Hell does not consume. We read in Mark 9:48-49 “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.”
It appears that the fire of Hell does not consume the flesh, but rather, it preserves the flesh as would salt. Rather than being consumed by it they are preserved to burn and suffer and be tormented on and on, forever and ever. “They are to be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever” (Revelation 14:10). The fire of hell, whatever its nature, is much worse than an earthly fire. The fires on earth will someday burn out. The flaming sun and all the stars of the universe will someday spend their fuel. But the flames in Hell will continue. “They will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
There will be no rest from the torment of the flame, no sleep, because it burns “day and night forever and ever.” This place of punishment will bring final closure to the rebellion that began in heaven and spread to the earth. It is the apex of ironies because Hell is an end that never ends. Is there any wonder John the Baptist asked the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7 KJV)
Schwertley, Brian. The Biblical Doctrine of Hell Examined. http://www.reformed.com/pub/hell.htm © Brian Schwertley, Lansing, Michigan, 1996
Cockrell, Milburn. The Doctrine of Hell. http://www2.tnweb.com/pbc/MCockrel/hell.htm