Eternal Punishment

Isaiah 66:24  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Q. J. H. (Blundellsands) questions the correctness of the BIBLE TREASURY, No. 415 (December 1890), p. 188; as the Lord's words quoted from Isa. 66:2424And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24) refer to “carcases”, i. e., (as hell also refers) to the intermediate state between death and resurrection. “Their worm” ceases to be theirs when the victim is consumed or destroyed, and its death then would in no wise weaken the true force of the words. The fire is everlasting and not quenched as was that of Sodom and Gomorrah. It consumes all and is everlasting, inasmuch as there is no recovery or restoration from it.
When the Lamb has literally taken away the sin of the world, every creature, everywhere, (then) will ascribe praise to the Lamb as shown in Rev. 5, which depicts the full eternal results of the redemption work of the Lamb, as chap. 4. the millennial glory of the Creator.
The apostle John (as Moses on the mount) is shown a picture of God's purposes, in time and in eternity respectively; then the succeeding chapters show how it is all going to be accomplished.
A. Our Lord in Mark 9 carefully rises above the letter of the Jewish prophet and gives nothing but eternal consequences for the lost.
Hence He expressly leaves out “carcases”, however important in adding to the horrors which the prophet unveils for those in Jerusalem at that future day. In neither is there a thought that their worm will ever cease to gnaw, or the fire to lack its object. The solemn warning is lost if we imagine the annihilation of the punished. For how is it “their” worm, or why the fire perpetual? We ought not to trifle with God's word and man's doom.
Again, Rev. 5 is wholly misunderstood. The vision of Rev. 4 v. is after the heavenly redeemed are seen above and before they issue thence (Rev. 19), when the Lord appears for the execution of judgment on the quick and dead. The ascriptions of praise in chap. v. are when the Lamb takes the hook before a seal is opened, a trumpet blown, or a vial poured out. The removal of the saints to heaven evidently furnishes the occasion, and the Lamb's taking in hand then to reveal the providential preparations to enforce the power of the kingdom. Verse 13 is therefore necessarily anticipative; just as our Lord, when the seventy reported demons subject to them in His name, could say, “I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:17, 1817And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. (Luke 10:17‑18)). Actually it is not accomplished yet, but is to be before the millennium. (Rev. 12) If St. Paul heard in spirit the groans of creation (Rom. 8) longing for its coming deliverance, here similarly St. John heard its joy when the liberated sons of God were translated. “And every creature which is in the heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things that are in them, heard I saying, To Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb [be] the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, unto the ages of ages.” Demonstrably this is not eternity either that is anticipated, for then will be no sea (Rev. 21); and what a wretchedly low and false assumption that eternity will have such creatures, distinct from angels or the redeemed! Not even men will then be in unchanged bodies. but incorruptible and glorious; whereas the verse in question contemplates the creatures of a lower kind, and all such, birds, beasts, animals that burrow under the earth as well as marine, all delivered from the bondage of corruption, as assuredly must be in the millennial day and only then as a fact.
On the other hand, the overwhelming fact is that Rev. 21 beyond dispute reveals as part of the eternal scene (1-8), that “for the cowardly and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolators, their part [shall be] in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” Nothing more solemn or sure. The lost wicked are devoted to a punishment without end, if we believe scripture.
This is the fullest picture God gives of eternity which knows no change; and the condemned are then in the lake of fire, as certainly as we see the blessed by grace in a new heaven and a new earth in the most absolute sense. To hope or believe otherwise is rebellion against God and His word. The second death is no more extinction of being than the first. It is the full wages of sin; it is perdition everlasting. Either annihilation or universalism is the foul dishonor of God and the cruelest deception of guilty man. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. And He employed some of the words of Isa. 66 in the unlimited sense of eternity, dropping terms which are to be literally accomplished in the kingdom that precedes, as we see in other N. T. applications of O. T. language. Both are accurately true.