Fire and Brimstone: Demons, the Devil, and Hell

Well folks, today is Halloween.  Normally, when this time of year rolls around, we discuss ghosts, poltergeists, phantoms, monsters and mayhem.  This year isn’t much different.  However, today we’re going to take a look at what are decidedly the most terrifying things in the supernatural realm… the devil himself, his minions, and the place they call home… Hell.

essay on wildlife conservationThe Devil.  Known by many names… Lucifer, Satan, Ha-satan, the Evil One, the Beast, the Fallen One, the Morning Star, the Prince of Darkness, that old serpent….all suitable labels for this adversary of God.  While traditions about the devil vary, the Biblical account goes like this:

Lucifer was once an angel of light… an anointed cherub of God.  However, iniquity grew within him and he fancied himself an equal to the Most High God.  He was consumed by his own beauty, and wished to exalt himself to the very throne of God, if not higher, and managed to gain the following of many other angels.

Because he was vain, because he was prideful, because of his rebellion and iniquity, God punished Lucifer.

“Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.” Ezekiel 28:17

where can i order tramadol without a prescriptionLucifer was cast out of Paradise, along with a third of the heavenly host, and went on to become the ruler of the power of the air.  His mission is to destroy God’s creation and to take as many human souls into his dark control as possible.  Those who turn from God and embrace the work of the devil will join him in hell, while those who turn away from wickedness will one day enter Heaven.

Demons.  The minions of Satan himself.  They are his spiritual warriors, and do his bidding.  On Earth, their task is to tempt, torment, and torture human souls.  They work in his name, they seek to destroy humanity’s zeal for the Lord, and they are murderously filled with rage for the punishment that God assigned to them.

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 1:6

The exorcizing of demons has been popularized by Hollywood and the Catholic Church.  One often imagines growling, guttural screams and head spinning madness when demons inhabit a human body.  However, the Biblical view of a demon is somewhat different.  Demonic possession does not always manifest as a wild beast or a foul mouthed adversary.  More often, demons are intent on destroying a person slowly and with cunning deception.  Their goal is to make a person feel desperation, anxiety, hopelessness, and fear.  Sometimes demons will manifest as a physical illness which is designed to make the host doubt God’s mercy and grace.   People inhabited or tormented by these demons need deliverance just as much as those who suffer with the more outwardly aggressive types.

Hell.  Perhaps the most feared word of all.  Even those who do not believe in God seem to fear the prospect of eternal torment.  And why not?  The idea of Hell conjures images of fire, burning flesh, gnashing of teeth, screaming and writhing in pain.   The most overused curse seems to be “Go to Hell!’  But, if most of us considered the idea that the person we are cursing may actually live an eternity in such agony, we’d probably reconsider such a statement.

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William Blake (Paradise Lost): Satan, Sin and Death, 1808, watercolor.

So, we know what the think Hell is…but what does the Bible say?  This depends upon a few things.  1.  The translation you read will largely determine your view of the Biblical Hell.  For example, the King James Bible translates three different words to Hell:  Hades, Sheol, and Gehenna.  Interestingly, there are three distinct definitions for these words.

Hades was considered at the time to be a place for the dead… an afterlife.  This may be meant to be a place where the dead await judgement at the Second Coming.  Sheol means the “grave”, “pit”, or “abyss” in Hebrew.  When the original authors of the Bible used the word Sheol, they were likely referring to a state of being dead and in the ground, or perhaps a transitional state for a person after they die.

Gehenna was a burning garbage pit outside of ancient Jerusalem.  Refuse, dead animals, and perhaps even convicted criminals were thrown into this burning pit and were consumed by the flames.  When scripture refers to Gehenna, it is a euphemism to what one can expect in the eternal Lake of Fire.

These statements are always up for debate, and I do not pretend to know the definite answer to what Hell is.  One thing the Bible makes clear is that Hell will be a place for unbelievers, and that in Hell there will be an eternal separation from God.  Jesus also describes Hell as a place of  unquenchable flame.  It is the outer darkness…. a place where the worm does not die.  Think about that for a moment.  Does this mean that there are immortal worms in Hell?  No.  Worms (more accurately, maggots) feed on dead flesh.  In Hell, there is such an abundance of this flesh to consume that the worms literally will never go hungry.  Terrifying.

The Bible DOES make clear that Hell was not created for mankind.  The purpose of Hell was that of eternal punishment for Satan and his demonic counterparts.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS.” Matthew 25:41

God’s creation was never meant to see Hell.  To this day it is not His will that any of us should see Hell.   It was exclusively designed to punish the devil and his minions.  Sadly, with sin came death.  With death came judgement.  Those who turn from God in life will not have Him and His glory in death.

Whatever one believes about Hell, it surely is a dire alternative to a promised eternity in Heaven, where there is no more pain and no more death.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  Revelation 21:4