Question

Was hell created after Adam sinned? Had God already created a place of torments. God said we would surely return to the dust due to sin. So many times in the bible it says that the wages of sin is death. That the dead are unconscious. God’s own law states an eye for an eye, equall restitution. As awesome and strict as the Lord is, He is also gentle and kind would He in fact punish us with torments instead of just blessing us with everlasting life. 

Answer

The Bible doesn’t say when hell was created, but it does say why. It was “prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41). But God also prepared something else for a different class of people (Matthew 25:34 “…Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” This was at the judgment scene. Before Jesus was crucified he told his apostles one to the reasons He was going back to heaven was to prepared that place for them. (John 14:2-3). And Paul we can not comprehend what God has prepared for “them that love him (1 Cor. 2:9). What about those that do not love him? And John says those that love him will keep his commandments. (John 14:15) The choice is ours. God will not more “send anyone to hell” than he will “send anyone to heaven.” Both places have been prepared and we make the choice.

The wages of sin is death. Sin brings death. Death is a separation. (James 2:26) We die spiritually when we sin because sin separates us from God and we no longer have fellowship with Him. Eternal death is not annihilation, but eternal separation from God, symbolized by God saying “Depart from me ye cursed…” (Matt. 25:41).

We don’t want to believe in hell because (1) We don’t understand God. (2) We don’t understand sin. God is a loving God, but He is also a faithful God. And being a faithful God He must be faithful to his covenant.

In Daniel 6 King Darius made a decree that if any prayed to their God for 30 days they would be cast into the lions den. And once he signed the law, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, it could not be altered (verse 8). Those, who were envious of Daniel, that had gotten the king to sign such a law, told the king that Daniel had broken the law. The king tried to figure out a way to not have to punish David (verse 14). He could have just let Daniel go free, but that would have meant chaos for the kingdom, because any could have broken his laws and he would have been powerless to punish them. God could have ignored Adam and Eve’s sin and every other sin and allowed everybody go to heaven no matter how they have lived. And for God to have ignored their sin would have obligated Him to ignore the rebellion of Satan and his angels. God threw them out of the garden because He could not fellowship sin then nor can He now or will He ever. To ignore sin and allow all to go to heaven would have God fellowshipping sin in heaven. And his character will not allow that.

So what was to be done? Romans 3:26 “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” God had to deal with sin in such a way as not to diminish the seriousness of sin nor to encourage indulging in sin. God had to handle the problem of sin and remain just (not violate his righteous character).

We don’t see the need for hell because we don’t see the enormity of sin. In (Isa. 6:1-6) only when Isaiah came to see the holiness of God did he understand that he was “…a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” It is hard for us to understand what Jesus gave up in leaving heaven in order to provide the sacrifice needed to redeem man. (Phil 2:6-11)

2 Timothy 2:11 “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:” 2 Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:” 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” These verses show that what God does is always in keeping with his character: “he cannot deny himself.” Whether or not I believe in Him will not change the situation in any way. Likewise whether or not I believe in heaven or hell will not matter. God will be faithful to himself. He will reward the faithful and punish the unbelievers. Verse 19 shows the very character and being of calls for man to live a righteous life.

The only passage I could find about the dead not being “conscious” is (Ecclesiastes 9:5) which mentions “…the dead know not any thing”.” This is a misunderstanding of (a) what the phrase means (b) what the book of Ecclesiastes is about. Read verse 5 and 6: (Ecclesiastes 9:5) “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:6 “Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

It is saying at death the soul no longer dwells “under the sun” because [v. 5] is also modified by “under the sun”. The key to understanding the book of Ecclesiastes is the phrase “under the sun”. Solomon is talking about the emptiness of life if this life were all there is to our existence. If that is all there is to life, then once we die whatever we might have accomplished whether good or bad has ceased and whatever reward we might have received for them has perished.

You have the same phrase in (1 Sam 20:39) “But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.” They did not know what their mission was. The dead do not know what was going on on earth. This is not saying that the lad was unconscious, but he was not conscious of what was going on. That is he was not aware of what was going on. When a person dies he is not aware of what is going on on earth, but that does not mean he is unconscious or that he is not aware of what is going on wherever he is whether in torments or paradise. Read Luke 16. Both the rich man and Lazarus were conscious, aware of their surroundings.

Exodus 21:24 “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,”

The verse is not teaching if someone puts out my eye I have a right to put out his eye. Or if a person knocks out my tooth I have a right to knock out his tooth. The things mentioned in this chapter actually are to control a persons revenge for evil done to him. It is regulating the amount of punishment that can be meted out for a crime. It was to guard against revenge and retaliation. It was for the judges to decide the punishment and the punishment must fit the crime.

Matthew 5:38 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:” Matthew 5:39 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:40 “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” Matthew 5:41 “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Matthew 5:42 “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

The Jews at the time of Christ were using this to say if one does evil to them, that person had a right to retaliate. Jesus is saying that was never in the mind of God. When one is hurt or insulted self gets in the way and the tendency is to retaliate. Jesus says “resist not evil” i.e. resist that desire to retaliate. “Turn to him the other (cheek) also” is an illustration of an attitude and a principle and we can see why Matt. 5:9 was given. We are not to retaliate, but to rejoice! The very opposite the way mankind thinks. But we don’t want to pay the price. Our feeling have been hurt. We are thinking about self, not about why a person would do such a thing and what can I do to help them see their error. “Go with him…give to him” and it will totally confuse that person (Prov. 25:21-22)

By Danny Stanford

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