Fiery Furnace

February 9, 2020

When we talk of furnaces, we refer to a device that is used to produce heat to keep the home warm in cold weather, or to smelt an object. When the Bible talks of a furnace, it refers to a device that removes dross and makes an object pure. It also refers to the afflictions that believers go through to purify their spirit and soul. But the Bible also mentions a fiery furnace, referring to hell. In explaining a parable, Jesus said of those who persist in doing wickedness, “They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42). As mentioned, hell is a place prepared for the wicked and not for the righteous. In another parable, the Lord Jesus emphasized this, saying, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt. 25:41).

When the Lord Jesus came, he did so for the purpose of saving people from hell. It must be noted that it is sin that sends people to hell. The only way to avoid it is to believe in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the shedding of his blood and his death on the cross that paved the way for us to be saved. The apostle Peter said, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Therefore, without Christ in our lives, we are all hell bound. While we certainly do not want to end up in hell, what does the Bible say about hell so that we should avoid it at all costs?

Hell is hot. In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, hell was so hot that the rich man pleaded with Abraham, saying, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 16:24). Hell is like the furnace that the three friends of Daniel were thrown into. It was heated seven times hotter than usual. It was so hot that it even killed the soldiers who carried the friends into the furnace. Amazingly, however, hell is not for the righteous. The friends of Daniel were not consumed by the fire and walked about freely inside the furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods" (Daniel 3:25).

Eternal flame. The flame of hell is never extinguished. Jesus said, “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:47-48). It will be an eternal fire that will torment those who choose to go there. The torment will be day and night, and even the worms will not die – a very terrifying scene. The Book of Revelations tells us that those who will receive the mark of the beast will suffer under this eternal flame. “And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:11).

Life in darkness. Hell is described in the Bible as a dark place. It is a place of hopelessness. Jesus said, “But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 8:12). Certainly, this is not a physical darkness that is being referred to, since fire produces light, but a darkness of distress, gloom and doom. This is what the Lord referred to when he said, “Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness” (Isa. 8:22).

Lake of fire. The Bible described hell as a lake of fire which is like lava, a hot liquid rock that comes out of a volcanic eruption. Towards the end of days, we are told that “the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). Just like in a volcanic eruption, no amount of water doused into the lake of fire can quench it. And when the end has come, we are told, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15).

Friends, choose this day to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from the pit of hell. Amen.