“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” –Matthew 25:41
According to the Bible, though, Hades is just the first, temporary second death and Matthew indicates God will definitely send people to eternal damnation. If Hades is the warm-up (pun intended) for the permanent second death, what must this final second death like? Apparently, it’s a whole lot worse than Hades. It’s really hard to imagine anything worse than the Hades described previously. Then again, it’s really impossible to accurately describe how great Heaven is based only on earthly components. For example, we can all imagine streets of gold and jewels but the Bible says it will be a whole lot better than anything we can imagine. Likewise, the fact that Hades is eternal torment by fire is about as bad as I can imagine.
Apparently, the Lake of Fire is worse. Hades is temporary, the lake is forever. That may be the most distinct difference but it’s probably easiest to describe how bad the lake of fire is simply by who will live there. In Matthew, Jesus says it will be a place for demons and the cursed of God, the goats of the world. Think Biblically of people and places that have been cursed by God. You’ve got to believe Sodom and Gomorrah were on the list of cursed places. All the inhabitants of the earth in Noah’s day probably made that list. Pharaoh Ramses and his army of chariots probably made the Top 10 list. Being on God’s top cursed list is not a Hall of Fame list.
So, who makes God’s cursed list?
“But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” —Revelation 19:20.
The first two who will find residence in the Lake of Fire are the beast and the false prophet. If you’re even vaguely familiar with the end times prophesy of Revelation, you know the beast. The name, itself, strikes fear in most people. He’s the one instructed by Satan himself to lead the world into the most ungodly debauchery since the days of Noah. The false prophet and the beast are so effective in bringing down the world that there is no other way for God to save it other than to completely destroy it once and for all. God won’t be sending his only son to save the world on a cross this time either. Instead, he’s sending Jesus to win the greatest battle of good and evil in the history of the world.
Make no mistake, Jesus will again save the world, this time in a very literal, physical sense. The beast forced the entire world into worshipping his image and receiving his mark under the threat of not being able to carry on a way of life and the false prophet was right there with him the entire time. Together they brought all the kings of the earth together to fight against Jesus, riding on his white horse! So, it’s really no surprise that the two who have brought cataclysmic sin upon the entire world will be the first two sent to the Lake of Fire. If one single white lie can send any of us to Hell, then bringing unparalleled sin to the world surely merits the first tickets to eternal damnation in the new Lake of Fire.
“And 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.” — Revelation 20:10.
A chapter after the beast and the false prophet find permanent residence, Satan finally meets his fate (like this was really ever in question). Have you ever wondered: Does Satan really know this fate is about to befall him and is he just trying to bring as many lost souls with him to Hades and the Lake of Fire? Or, does he really think he can ultimately win the war with God? While many of the final chapters of the Bible are pretty gruesome, the Revelation 20:10 passage paints the ultimate victory of good versus evil. God wins, Satan loses. Unlike all the other earthly battles between God and Satan, though, the devil goes away forever after this epic, but really anti-climactic, battle.
In this verse God adds a few dramatic descriptions of the Lake of Fire. The seriousness of the eternal torment part has been addressed and that’s the worst part of it. That leaves the alarming description of burning sulfur. Think about the unpleasant characteristics of sulfur itself. It stinks, bad. Like rotten-eggs bad. It is a primary component of a very dangerous acid. It’s used in gunpowder and matches. It oxidizes metals. It can be a serious element.
In Biblical times, sulfur is referred to as brimstone (yes, as in fire and brimstone). When it burns, sulfur melts to a blood-red liquid and I don’t think that should go unnoticed in God’s uncanny symbolism. Also when it burns, sulfur produces a suffocating odor, probably exponentially worse than the smell in its natural state. So, in the Lake of Fire, people are not only burning not-to-death but they are being suffocated as well.
Oh, yeah, and the Lake of Fire is Satan’s final “resting” place. It’s the place from which he will never escape to ruin the world again. This is the final, eternal punishment for the being that has been the downfall of the entire world since God created it. He’s ruined everything. God created the Lake of Fire for him and all of his followers of every kind. The fact that Satan will be there permanently is all you really need to know about how bad it will be to reside there.
“The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” — Revelation 20:13-15
God’s book of life dates back a long way through the Bible. Exodus 32:33 reads, “The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.’” We can safely assume God’s book dates back to Genesis 1:1 but even if it just dated back just to Moses, there are still a lot of names not in it. That’s a lot of people standing before God in judgment. Hades has a lot of inhabitants.
Revelation 20:13-15 are probably the scariest three verses of scripture in the Bible. Every single person who has not accepted Jesus as their lord and savior will be judged by God himself and thrown into the lake of fire for eternal torment. How many of them will stand and be judged to whom I could have reached out and brought up the topic of salvation? This is it. This is final. No more chances. No excuses. Not even the chance of Hades as a temporary holding cell. One single sin without repentance leads to being blotted out of the book of life. Being blotted by God is the boat dock on the lake of fire where souls get launched.
Oh, also recall, the world’s worst sinners, Satan, the beast and false prophet, will be there too…forever. Hell, Hades, Lake of Fire. Whatever, wherever it is, it’s surly real bad and not a place I willingly, or unwillingly, want to populate!