Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The adversaries

"Your enemies… Your foes… You will burn them up as in a blazing furnace. The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, and His fire will consume them."  - Ps. 21:8-9

What is the final end of God's enemies?

There are basically two options we can explore from Scripture: a) God's enemies will be kept in existence (alive) and tormented for ever and ever in hell, or b) God will punish His enemies which includes a final destruction in the lake of fire.

So, let's pull out all the Scripture support for option 'a': Rev. 20:10.

Okay, so I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek here. There are a handful of verses that traditionalists would choose to support their doctrine. However, many of those could also be used to support option 'b' above, which is called conditional immortality. (Example: The Bible speaks of 'eternal punishment'. Traditionalists would say this means the punishment goes on forever. Conditionalists believe that the punishment is eternal - of the age to come and permanent (never-ending). So, since death (destruction in the lake of fire) is the punishment, that sentence will be final and there will never be a reversal.)

The thing to ask as we study is: where does the weight of Scripture fall on this subject? The nebulous, allegorical or symbolic verses are then viewed through the light of the clear and plainly-stated verses - and their meaning comes into focus.

Let's start with some general verses concerning God's enemies.

"The LORD your God... repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face."  Deut. 7:10

"If I sharpen My flashing sword, 
And My hand takes hold on justice, 
I will render vengeance on My adversaries, 
And I will repay those who hate Me."  Deut. 32:41

"Your enemies… Your foes… You will burn them up as in a blazing furnace. The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, and His fire will consume them."  - Ps. 21:8-9

"As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; 
As wax melts before the fire, 
So let the wicked perish before God."  Ps. 68:2

"Speaking of the wicked: "I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! " - Read all of Psalm 73

"For, behold, those who are far from you will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You."  - Psalm 73:27

"For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD,
For, behold, Your enemies will perish;
All who do iniquity will be scattered."  - Ps. 92:9

"Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side…" Ps. 97:3

"O LORD… fire will devour Your enemies." Is. 26:11

"The LORD will go forth like a warrior,
He will arouse His zeal like a man of war,
He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry,
He will prevail against His enemies."   - Is. 42:13

"According to their deeds, so He will repay, 
Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; 
To the coastlands He will make recompense."  Is. 59:18

"Your hand will be lifted up against your adversaries,
And all your enemies will be cut off." - Micah 5:9

"A jealous and avenging God is the LORD;
The LORD is avenging and wrathful.
The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies."  - Nahum 1:2

"Therefore they will be like the morning cloud 
And like dew which soon disappears, 
Like chaff which is blown away from the threshing floor 
And like smoke from a chimney."  - Hosea 13:3

"For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says the LORD of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch."  - Malachi 4:1

“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”   - Matt. 3:12   No one can put out the fire; it cannot be resisted.

"Then the end will come, when He hands over the Kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power."  - 1 Cor. 15:24

"…they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction."  - Phil. 3:19

"[…there is] a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God's enemies." - Heb. 10:27

The Beast

Those familiar with Revelation know that it says the beast and the false prophet are 'thrown alive into the lake of fire' and in 20:10 along with the devil 'will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (see Greek definitions for 'ever and ever'' below under 'Satan'.) Because of the symbolic language of Revelation and because of other verses in the Bible, it is understood that they will eventually suffer the same fate as wicked people: destruction in the lake of fire, which is the second death. It is clear, though, that they will suffer a greater punishment (longer duration perhaps) than God's other enemies.

"And the Ancient of Days took His seat… A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him… I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire."   - see Daniel 7:9-11

"Your enemies… Your foes… You will burn them up as in a blazing furnace. The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, and His fire will consume them."  - Ps. 21:8-9

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming."  - 2 Thess. 2:8 (Is. 11:4)

"…the man of lawlessness…the son of destruction."  -  2 Thess. 2:3  This could mean that he caused destruction, which he does, but look at the following verses.

"The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction." - Rev. 17:8

"The beast… goes to destruction."  - Rev. 17:11


Some facts to keep straight: Satan is thrown into the lake of fire. Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. We are told specifically that death is the last enemy to be abolished (see below). We know that death was abolished by being 'thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14), thereby fulfilling the Scripture "death is no more" (Rev. 21:4). What can we deduce about Hades, Satan or anyone/thing that also gets thrown in the lake of fire (which is the second death)?

You may ask, what about the rest of Rev. 20:10… "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."?
Taken from "The Greek word translated as forever is aion (G165), which does not always mean forever as we understand it. From this Greek word aion we derive the word eon. An eon is an unspecified, indefinite period of time, but it does have an end. Geologists use the word to describe very long periods of geologic time or ages, but one eon does end and another begin.
From Strong's (emphasis is mine): 165. aion, ahee-ohn'; from the same as G104; prop. an age; by extens. perpetuity (also past); by impl. the world; spec. (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future):-- age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end). Comp. G5550.
Here is another case for aion meaning an age, but not in perpetuity: The term Aeon appears in the New Testament where Paul refers to "the rulers of this age (aion)" [1 Cor 2:6]. "
Let's look at some other verses that shed light on the final end of Satan, the devil:
“You were the anointed cherub who covers, 
And I placed you there. 
You were on the holy mountain of God; 
You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
You were blameless in your ways 
From the day you were created 
Until unrighteousness was found in you.
By the abundance of your trade 
You were internally filled with violence, 
And you sinned; 
Therefore I have cast you as profane 
From the mountain of God. 
And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, 
From the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; 
You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. 
I cast you to the ground; 
I put you before kings, 
That they may see you.
By the multitude of your iniquities, 
In the unrighteousness of your trade 
You profaned your sanctuaries. 
Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; 
It has consumed you
And I have turned you to ashes on the earth 
In the eyes of all who see you. have come to a horrible end
and will be no more."  - Eze. 28:14-19

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush his head, and you will strike his heel."   - Gen. 3:15  (NIV)  When a head is crushed that means death. See also Rom. 16:20: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."  Heb. 2:14 (KJV)

"Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power…"   - 1 Cor. 15:24 (NIV) 

"Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away."   - 1 Cor. 2:6

"[…there is] a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God's enemies." - Heb. 10:27

The Wicked

"But the wicked will perish; 
And the enemies of the LORD will be like the glory of the pastures, 
They vanish—like smoke they vanish away."  Ps. 37:20

"Surely God will shatter the head of His enemies,
The hairy crown of him who goes on in his guilty deeds." - Ps. 68:21

"But he who sins against me injures himself; All those who hate me love death."  - Prov. 8:36

"Moses said, 'THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN: TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. 'And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'"  - Acts 3:22-23

"For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things."  - Phil. 3:19

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction…"  - 2 Thess. 1:9  The complete end lasts forever; once destroyed there is no hope of recovery or life ever again.

"But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men."    - 2 Pet 3:7

"The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever."   - 1 John 2:17

"And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."  - Rev. 20:15

"…the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one… So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age."   -  Matt. 13:40

"O LORD… fire will devour Your enemies."  - Is. 26:11

Death, the last enemy

Death is an enemy that can cause agony (Luke 16:24-25). Death caused Jesus agony, but death couldn't hold him. Death will be abolished. It will be abolished by Jesus in the lake of fire. There will then be no more death. See verses below.

"God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."  - Acts 2:24  

"The last enemy that will be abolished is death."  - 1 Cor. 15:26

"…our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death…"  - 2 Tim 1:10

"…and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death…"  - Rev. 21:4

From this study, it became clear that God was going to wipe out all enemies: wicked creatures, death, hades, sin and the like... "for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). His mercy and compassion run deep. But even now as "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13) there is coming a Day of wrath, "a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries" (Heb. 10:27).

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