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Hell is full of Warm Worms
How is hell temporary?
by Craig C. White, contribution by Clark Callear
Clark Callear, my brother in the Lord, and tender of Last Day Bible Prophecy, recently sent me his brief commentary on hell. Clark wrote, “It appears that “the lowest hell” (bottomless pit of hell; Sheol) is temporary, but the “lake of fire” is permanent.” Clark also states, “I believe the bottomless pit (aka: hell, hades, Sheol, the abyss) is a temporary holding cell where one’s soul waits for God’s final judgment.” He uses the Psalm 86:13 as a reference.
Psa 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
I agree that hell is two places; one temporary grave for the wicked soul, and one everlasting harbor of torment for both body and soul. However, no mortal soul will escape hell (or Sheol) once they are there. Every soul who enters hell will be thrown into the lake of fire (body and soul). That being said, Jesus did escape hell. Psalm 83 describes Christ’s deliverance from hell as he suffered death for us. It does not describe an individual’s ability to escape hell once he discovers himself there.
God delivered Jesus from hell because he was holy and without sin. The wages of sin is death. It was impossible for hell to hold Jesus permanently.
Act 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
So, can a person be saved out of hell? Only if he is as holy as God. Once there, I believe that you are destined for everlasting punishment.
How then is hell temporary? It is only temporary as a “holding cell” as Clark writes in his commentary. You may consider hell (the grave) as a jail cell. After your day in court you will be thrown into prison (the lake of fire) forever. Hades and Gehenna are both translated as “hell” in the English Bible. Hades is the temporary grave and Gehenna (the lake of fire) is the permanent place of eternal punishment. After the Day of Judgment, Hades (or the grave) is thrown in its entirety into Gehenna.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell (that’s hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Clark also makes the observation that “Jesus called the part of a person that exists forever in the lake of fire a “worm”. I think of this as the smallest possible entity, even smaller than germ; the part of a person that says “I” or “me””. Clark references Mark 9:44.
Mark 9:44: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
I don’t think that Jesus is referring to a soul as a worm. Instead, he is describing the ongoing process of eternal damnation. It is like the decay of the body, as maggots eat your flesh until you are consumed. Only in the lake of fire, the maggots keep eating forever. The same can be said for fire. In the lake of fire, your body will be burned but not consumed, or it will be continually consumed forever.
More about worms:
Psalm 22 prophecies Jesus’ mistreatment and disdain that he suffered at the hands of men. Jesus counts himself to be treated as if he were a worm and not a man. A worm (maggot) is worth little and a lowly creature that lives in the dirt and eats waste. A man on the other hand is created in God’s image. A man has eternal value.
Psa 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Hades and Gehenna are both translated as “hell” in the English Bible. Both places are to be avoided. That is only done by accepting the blood sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross; His life, paying the price of our sin.