Sounds crazy, I know, but we have to understand that hell is really a man-made doctrine taken off of some of Jesus’ misunderstood words. It has been taught by the church as a place of burning that goes on forever and ever, “eternal torment.” Two words that could not be used together as far as God is concerned.
When Jesus talked about hell he used “Gehenna” which was the garbage pit that continually burned, because trash was always being added. “The worm doesn’t die and the fire is not quenched” was quite literal because nobody ever put it out.
His parallel is in the final showdown which I interpret from Revelation as the third coming, happening 1,000 years after His second coming ( described as a galactic event, and may be equated with the rapture, but according to him will certainly not be secret).
Scripture says that those who don’t want God’s love or way are killed by the energy at his second coming. Not at all surprising, because God coming here is going to tear up our whole solar system. He won’t be veiled in humanity. It will be a rescue in process. Those out of harmony with love will be killed by the energy and won’t live for a thousand years until He calls them up again.
Why not just leave them dead if they are just going to die again? Here is the clue that God does not delight in torment or suffering. If this existence here wasn’t terribly pregnant with meaning, then he would leave them dead. Sometimes called the judgment, it is really the denouement, to use a term from literature, which means the unraveling of the climax.
The climax is the second coming, so called because the first coming was as a baby growing into a man who came to show us what God was like. We have always wanted God to be our conquering hero as I said last time, to come and save us from the bad guys–the theme of most of our stories. That is why the Jews missed their Messiah, they wanted that conquering hero.
But because God hates evil and suffering, and because he has tolerated it and asked us to go through it, not by our own choice, but by the choices of others, to help him clear up all the misunderstanding that was already rampant in the universe at our creation, there is a judgment or a denouement.
In this “judgment” God is not deciding who goes and who stays, that has already been done by us–the choices we make every day–choices for or against love. This denouement is simply the discerning of God. I imagine it will be like a huge 360 Imax–the history of our world. And at the end everyone will agree that God has been fair. (Scripture says everyone will bow the knee and admit that God is just.)
But then the next scene is where Satan stirs up the great generals on his side to take the city from God and his people. As they rush into God’s presence they explode and burn up (like trees do in an intense fire). God doesn’t go after them, they go after him.
It all burns up, the people, the world, everything. And it must not take terribly long because then God recreates the world. And I have an idea it will be a replay of the first time, with us (his friends) watching.
Now, if all of this was only significant to the life on this planet, I doubt God would raise everyone who denied Him, again. That doesn’t sound like him. So I think it must be terribly important in some way to the whole watching universe. (In 100 billion galaxies there must be other inhabitants who are watching this whole lesson in separation from life and restoration in fairness.)
I imagine that those who are watching need to see how thoroughly separation from God destroys moral fiber, that those who have just acknowledged God’s justice could immediately be turned to take his city and tear him off of his throne. (They are impossible to restore.)
The war was won at the cross, but there were still many questions that remained in the universe. I’m guessing from what Paul says in Ephesians that the questions have something to do with our fitness to inhabit eternity. Sometimes we think it’s all about us–we just have to learn to think bigger.