Is the All Consuming Fire Good?
The day I heard that the original Hebrew Scriptures had no concept of eternal Hell-fire, I googled the origin of this widely accepted doctrine; tracing it to the Greek, then to the Egyptian, and finally to the origin of all mythology – Babylon.
Babylon is where Noah’s decedents settled. Genesis 11:4 says they wanted to make a name for themselves by building a city with a tower. They were rebelling from God’s instruction to fill the earth, so He scattered them by confusing their language.
“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.“ Genesis 9:1
Before the incident at the Tower of Babel, “the whole world had one language and a common form of speech,” Genesis 11:1.
Noah and the Flood, The Tower of Babel, Eternal Hellfire? Who can know what is true? Names change in different languages and details morph, yet some of today’s mythological stories still retain a few telltale similarities.
Which Came First, Truth or Mythology?
What if Truth inspired all mythology, instead of the common belief that it is the other way around? Is it wise to automatically believe something, for whatever reason, without question? Would Truth ever lack evidence of its existence and require “blind faith?”
The Bible teaches quite the opposite. Our Creator has given mankind His Word and it’s called Truth. Reality can be tested, Isaiah 8:20; Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21, and it also tests us, 1 Corinthians 3:13; Exodus 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 6:5.
The Word of Truth has been established and it flat out teaches us how to spot a lie:
Jesus, His Hebrew Name Yehushua, meaning YHVH Is Salvation, confirmed the Hebrew Scriptures, the Torah, Prophets and Writings, as Truth:
“Set them apart by the Truth, Your Word Is Truth,” John 17:17.
If mankind has been given the Word of Truth then it can proven. So I began questioning my beliefs and holding them up to the original Hebrew of the Torah, Prophets and Writings, and that’s when my testing began.
It’s been difficult, to say the least, but I continually throw out whatever doesn’t match up and now I can actually recognize a lie when I see one, Psalm 119:43; James 1:18; Romans 7:14; Proverbs 8:23; John 1:14
Does Eternal Hell-fire Pass the Test of Truth?
Without a plum-line of Truth all we can do is guess about Spiritual things like eternity. Do those who were naughtier than nice, during their temporary stay on earth, go to eternal Hell-fire? Burning forever is a really long time, does the penalty fit the crime?
Our Creator’s Word says He Is Just, Zechariah 9:9. His Torah guides us like a compass in the right direction. It’s as unchanging as gravity and like a Plum-line and Level it shows us what is True, Straight, Right and Level.
This is what I found when I tested my belief in the afterlife to the Perfect Word of Truth. Where do people go when they die? The Hebrew tells us, all go to Sheol (the Grave) and return to the dust, Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ecclesiastes 3:20; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Genesis 3:19; Psalm 103:14; Job 34:15.
The Hebrew Word Sheol = Grave
Sheol is the place were our bodies go when we die, so why did the first Greek translators of the Hebrew Scriptures choose the word Hades, the abode of departed spirits? Wasn’t the Greek word Taphos, a place for burial or tomb, a better match?
Textual variation is common in every translation, because there are several different ways to say the same thing, but discovering translator bias helped me understand why it is called ones glory to search out what has been concealed:
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out,” Proverbs 25:2
A Little History Behind our English Translations
In the 4th Century B.C.E. the Greeks ruled and many Hebrews were Hellenized, taking on the language and culture. Hellenization began a need for the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Septuagint (meaning 70) was completed around 132 B.C.E.
Fast forward to the 1st Century A.D. and we read what Yehushua (Jesus) had to say about all that had been added, taken away, and misunderstood by the religious leaders, Matthew 23:2-4; Deuteronomy 12:32
Disputes between the traditional Hebrews and those who had combined Hellenism had caused division. One that is addressed by Paul in his letters to the Galatians and Ephesians; there is One God and we are all One in Him, Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 4:6.
When St. Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate from the Hebrew, in 380 A.D., his Latin word choice for Sheol was Infernum. English derives its word Inferno from the Latin, so you can imagine how much fuel that added to the eternal Hell-fire doctrine.
This translator bias has routed its way from Greek to German to Old English. The majority of translators would have been looking for an equivalent word for the Greek word Hades, completely unaware of the original Hebrew word Sheol.
When the Old English/Germanic root, Hel, Helle was chosen, Teutonic and Scandinavian Norse mythology came attached with the translation.
English Bible translators have substituted the word Hell for The Grave, Gehenna, Tartarus-The Pit, Abyss and The Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death.
An example of this can be seen by the differing times Hell is translated: 54 times in the KJV, 13 times in the NIV, and not even once in the Complete Jewish Bible. (www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_WordCount.htm)
When we compare today’s English word Hell = the place where Bad people go, to the Hebrew word Sheol = a place where All people go, Ecclesiastes 9:10, it doesn’t match up.
Who Can Dwell With a Consuming Fire?
“The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling grips the ungodly: “Who of us can dwell with a Consuming Fire? Who of us can dwell with Everlasting Flames?” Isaiah 33:14
We know Flesh cannot dwell with Fire and there will be no Flesh in the Kingdom of God, 1 Corinthians 15:50. So who can dwell with a Consuming Fire, with Everlasting Flames?
The answer is the opposite of what I thought:
“He who walks Righteously (צְדָקָה Tzedaqah) and speaks with sincerity/equity, (צְדָקָה Meshar) who refuses gain from extortion/oppression, (מַעֲשַׁקָּה Ma’ashaqah) whose hand never takes a bribe, (שַׁחַד Shachar) who stops his ears against murderous plots and shuts his eyes tightly against evil/bad, (רַע Ra)” Isaiah 33:15
Of course nothing bad dwells with YHVH. As Yehushua (Jesus) explained in His parables, the chaff perishes and only the Righteous, the metaphorical Wheat, will dwell with YHVH: Matthew 3:12; Matthew 13:30; Luke 3:17
Isaiah (YeshaYahu, meaning Salvation is from YHVH) also matches Torah. Those who do Right are Just (the Righteous are צֶדֶק Tzedeq).
Notice how YHVH appeared to Moses and the Israelites:
“Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke, because
the LORD YHVH had descended on it in fire. And the smoke rose like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.” Exodus 19:18; Exodus 20:18; Deuteronomy 4:11; Exodus 3:2
So how did fire go from representing YHVH, who is everything Good, to being a place of eternal torment?
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
One of Yehushua’s parables tells of a Rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. When both men die the Rich man goes to a place of torment, but is it eternal Hellfire?
When Lazarus was on earth he was in torment. He longed for the food that fell from the Rich man’s table, but now there’s a reversal, he is seated in the place of honor, (Abraham’s bosom) and comforted and the Rich man is in a place of torment.
Lets take a look at the Greek word Torment, (Basanos):
…for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of Torment, ( Basanos=Testing), Luke 16:28…
Basanos #931 is the Greek word for Touchstone, a dark stone used to test metals for purity. The touchstone reveals the word “Torment” means “Testing.”
In the story the Rich man sees Abraham and Lazarus from afar and begs Abraham to let Lazarus dip his finger in Water and give him a drop to cool his tongue.
Water is a Hebrew simile for Torah; the rich man is longing for a drop of the Living Water from Lazarus.
Abraham addresses the rich man as “child” and explains, the space between us cannot be crossed. The rich man refers to Abraham as “Father” and asks him to send Lazarus to his father’s house where he has 5 brothers.
(The Pharisees were listening and they knew Judah had 5 brothers from their mother Leah)
*Leah was Jacob’s/Israel’s first wife, Judah and his 5 brothers represent the 6 tribes of the religious leaders Jesus was addressing.
“But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses (The Torah) and the prophets; let your brothers listen to them.” Luke 16:29
The rich man’s final plea is for someone from the dead to go to them and then they will repent, but Abraham said,
‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Luke 16:31
This parable is a picture of the second death, which is the lake of fire, or the crucible, Revelation 20:14
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and
the LORD YHVH Tests (בָּחן Bachan #974) the heart. Proverbs 17:3
Why is Egypt Called the Iron Furnace?
God prophesied to Abram/Abraham that his descendants would be oppressed four hundred years, Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6. After that, He brought forth the nation of Israel, from the Iron Furnace, out of Egypt, calling them “My First-born son,” Exodus 4:22.
the LORD YHVH has taken you and brought you out of the Iron Furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of His inheritance, as you are today. Deuteronomy 4:20
Now that’s some figurative language! Both Israel and Yehushua are called YHVH’s “First-born,” Yehushua is called the “First-born from the dead,” and both were called out of Egypt, Psalm 2:7; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5; Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15.
Knowing the meaning behind the name Israel, and the meaning of the Firstborn, Israel’s oppression in Egypt, reveals a Spiritual mystery:
One may begin to wonder how many other ancient Hebrew Metaphors and Idioms have been taken literally, misunderstood and mistranslated. Click here for: Misunderstood Metaphors of the Bible.
The next word that has been mistaken for eternal Hellfire is Gehenna:
Is Gehenna Hell-fire?
Gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Ge Hinnom meaning Valley of Hinnom. Hinnom means Wailing or Lamenting. Synonymous with the Valley of Topheth, Gehenna is known as the Valley of Slaughter, Jeremiah 19:6.
YHVH (He Is, He Was, He Shall Be) called this a Detestable place. Temple prostitution was also a common practice to appease the angry gods. All these references refer to the valley of Gehenna: 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 19:4, Leviticus 18:20-22; Leviticus 20:1-32 ; 2 Kings 23:9-11; Isaiah 30:33; Jeremiah 32:34-36; Isaiah 66:23-2; Joshua 15:8, Matthew 5:22 & 29,30; 10;28; 18:9; 23:15 & 33; Mark 9:42-44 Luke 12:5; and James 3:6.
Gehenna Later Became the City Garbage Dump
Yehushua spoke in parables, using the physical example of Gehenna, the cities Garbage Dump, to describe Jerusalem’s coming destruction. He was speaking figuratively, saying it would be “Like” the garbage when it is Consumed by the fire and the worm, Matthew 13:34; Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:48-50.
40 Years Later Jerusalem Was Destroyed
Yehushua began warning Jerusalem of its coming destruction in 30 A.D. It came to pass in 70 A.D.
*(Jeremiah the prophet had also warned the people prior to the first Temple destruction in 586 B.C.E.)
Jerusalem did lay waste and not one stone of the Temple was left on the other. Everything combustible literally perished in the fire, Matthew 24:1-3.
Today, Gehenna, the place where trash was burned and maggots thrived on dead flesh is still called the Hinnom Valley.
It is no longer a garbage dump,
and the Refuse has forever perished.
Is Sodom and Gomorrah Burning Eternally?
“In like manner, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, who indulged in sexual immorality and pursued strange flesh, are on display as an example of those who sustain the punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7; Genesis 19:24
Anyone who visits the desert of Sodom and Gomorrah today will also notice it is not eternally burning. Before it was forever destroyed by fire the Bible says it was a well watered garden, Genesis 13:10.
*The Hebrew word, Olam, and the Greek words, Aion, do not always mean Eternal. They both refer to an age lasting, perpetual, from one point until the next or until death. What lies beyond our understanding is called L’Olam.
Tartarus is a Dark, Deep Pit or Abyss, but is it Hell-fire?
“O YHVH, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the Pit.” Psalm 30:3
The Hebrew word for “Pit” is “Bor” and often used as a synonym for “Sheol,” “the Grave.”
“For if God did not spare the angels (angelos/messengers) when they sinned, but cast them into Hell (Tartarus)...” 2 Peter 2:4
The Greek word, Tartarus, is translated into English as Hell. Originally an Egyptian word, borrowed by the Greeks, it refers to the darkest, deepest or bottomless pit. Below are two other references of a Dark Abyss or Grave.
“And the angels who did not stay within their own domain, but abandoned their proper dwelling, He keeps under Darkness, in eternal, (from aei #104) chains for judgment on that great day.” Jude 1:6.
“And the demons/adverse spirits, (daimonion #1140) kept begging Jesus not to order them to go into the Abyss.“ Luke 8:31
The Abyss/Bottomless Pit/Grave, are all referring to the same place. The place where the Destroyer Angel, Abaddon, Apolloyon, the Beast, the Devil and his angels, the Demons, the Dragon, the Serpent are destined…which are all synonyms for satan, meaning adversary.
“He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:2
Translators have taken the liberty of adding their mythological bias to our Creator’s spiritual metaphors. Words like demon, dragon and devil do not exist in the original Hebrew.
The serpent represented hasatan, the adversary, as first noted in the garden of Eden.
The Outer Darkness and Furnace of Fire
Yehushua uses the phrase, Outer Darkness, in His parables describing those outside of God’s Kingdom, a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30; Luke 13:28; Psalm 112:10.
“Weeping and gnashing teeth” describes some very upset and angry people. Not only are they cast outside the Kingdom, don’t miss the same description of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” that links the outer darkness to, “the Furnace of Fire,” or the “Crucible.”
What or Who Is the “Furnace of Fire?” We read of the Smoking Furnace in, Genesis 15:17. The Fiery Furnace that Consumes YHVH’s enemies, Psalm 21:9. “The Lake of Fire, or crucible, which is the Second death,” Revelation 20:14.
Did you notice Death and Hell, or the Grave, are destroyed in the the Crucible, the second death?
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death” 1 Corinthians 15:26
The Lake of Fire describes a Crucible. It’s called the Second Death, because now we are in the first death, or time of testing and purification.
The Outer Darkness also refers to the Crucible, (the lake of fire) which is the second death. Neither metaphor supports the Eternal Hell-fire doctrine.
Is the Fiery Furnace the All Consuming Fire?
The Torah and Prophets reveal the figurative language of ancient Hebrew. What does fire do? It cleanses away waste, it purifies and gives life to those who are freezing to death.
YHVH is the All Consuming Fire, Isaiah 33:14; Hebrews 12:29; the Fiery (אֵשׂ Esh) Furnace/Smelting Pot(כּוּר Koor) the Torch/Lightening (לַפִּיד Lapid) the Pillar (עַמּוּד Ammood) of Cloud/Smoke, (עָשָׁן Ashar) and the Fire-pot (תַּנּוּר Tannur); Exodus 15:7; 24:17; Exodus 13:21; Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; Deuteronomy 31:15; 2 Samuel 22:9; Psalm 97:3.
“See, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
“For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us like silver.” Psalm 66:10
When we shine our Creator’s Merciful Loving Kindness it’s like the Light of a fire. It’s that powerful, like the burning coals Isaiah described, Isaiah 6:7. Figurative burning coals don’t literally burn, they are spiritually convicting and ultimately purifying, Isaiah 6:7.
The mythological concept of eternal Hell-fire came from our ignorance of The All Consuming Fire. When tested it does not match up to the plum-line of YHVH’s Original, Perfect, Unchanging Word of Truth, Psalm 18:30; Deuteronomy 4:24; Isaiah 33:14
YHVH’s Judgments are corrective, they are not unjust, out of proportion or cruel, they teach us Righteousness, Isaiah 26:9. Like a loving Father, He corrects those He Loves, Deuteronomy 8:5; Hebrews 12:6, and our obedience leads to Righteousness, Romans 6:16.
“This third I will bring through the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My Name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD (YHVH) is our God.” Zechariah 13:9; Ezekiel 22:18; Jeremiah 11:4; Jeremiah 9:7; 1 Kings 8:51
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good,” Mark 9:49