Friday, March 31, 2017

God's adversaries

"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me."  - Luke 19:27 
"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

"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

"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) 

The Wicked - some specific verses concerning wicked people:

"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.

"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death."   - Rev. 20:14

"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).

For more studies on this subject:

The Wicked He Will Destroy

The Lake of Fire

What Really Happens to Satan?

The Adversaries (the original study on God's enemies)

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I understand this is a difficult subject and there are different views from folks who all value God's inspired word. I value your feedback, corrections and questions. Please leave a comment!