CHAPTER 8-THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN-NUMBER 3
We are hearing much about the complacency of the American public concerning the outcome of this war. But there is a complacency far more prevalent and in the face of infinitely greater danger. There is a complacent attitude towards HELL that is so alarming as to be shocking and heart-breaking. And it is our firm conviction that this complacency is the result of failure to preach the truth on the solemn and momentous subject of eternal punishment. Those denominations that deny eternal punishment have literally sown the country down with their pernicious proaganda. They have put their "no hell" doctrine in nearly every home in the land, while we Baptists and other evangelicals have hardly raised our voice in giving the truth on the subject.
We have our theme songs for certain occasions; why not have our theme texts for the present distress? And let them be after the order of Mt 10:28: "And fear not them which kill the body, but fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Gehenna). Too much of our preaching is for entertainment rather than for information. We are trying to have conversions without conviction. We are calling the self-righteous into the church when we ought to be calling sinners to repentance. We are breaking alabaster boxes and filling our sermons with the odor of spikenard when we ought to be telling the truth about human depravity. We are tying pink ribbons of perfection about the necks of our people when we ought to be waving the red flag of warning. We have let our prejudice for heaven hide the terrible realities of hell.
Those who oppose the truth of eternal punishment make a show of wisdom and confuse the average person by their use of Hebrew and Greek words. We make no claim to scholarship, and anybody who can even use Young's Analytical Concordance can follow us in this study of words.
SHEOL is the Old Testament word for the unseen state, and is the place of departed spirits. It never means the grave; although in the King James Version it is wrongly translated grave 31 times. In the Revised Version it is brought into the English text without being translated.
Man has both body and soul and in death QEBER is the word used of the disposition of his body and SHEOL speaks of the disposition of his soul.There is conclusive evidence that the two words are not interchangeable. QEBER, the grave, refers to locality; SHEOL, the state of disembodied souls, is a condition.
QEBER occurs in the plural 27 times; SHEOL never occurs in the plural. The burial of one hundred bodies in a cemetery would mean one hundred graves, but the entrance of one hundred souls into SHEOL would not mean one hundred SHEOLS, but the one state of disembodiment.
QEBER is referred to as the exclusive QEBER, or grave, of an individual. For example, "my grave (qeber)" in #Ge 50:5; "grave" (qeber) of Abner #2Sa 3:32; "their graves" (#Jer 8:1). etc.
SHEOL is never spoken of as the exclusive SHEOL of any person. The one condition of disembodiment is common to all who have died.
QEBER is never associated with suffering, for the body in the grave is unconscious, and cannot feel pain or experience sorrow. SHEOL is always connected with the soul, never with the body. "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol)." (#Ps 16:10). QEBER is never connected with the soul, but always with the body.
These are New Testament Greek words and are identical with the Old Testament Hebrew words SHEOL and QEBER. Hades, like SHEOL, means the unseen state of the disembodied soul; MNEMEION, like QEBER, means the grave. All that has been said about QEBER may also be said about MNEMEION, for both are connected with the body and mean the grave. And to prove that SHEOL and hades are identical it is sufficient to compare an Old Testament Scripture with the New Testament quotation:
"Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption, "(#Ps 16:10).
The reference in the above verses is to our Lord. His soul was in SHEOL or HADES between His death and resurrection. His body was in the grave, but it did not see corruption. This condition of body in death was peculiar to Christ. Of David it is said that he "fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he whom God raised again, saw no corruption" (#Ac 13:36,37). "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption" (#Ac 2:27-31).
This is the name of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament made by the Jews of Alexandria, about 280 B.C., under order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt. In this Greek translation, out of the 65 times in which the word SHEOL occurs, the seventy render it Hades 61 times. Not once do they translate it grave (MNEMEION).
This is a new word introduced by our Lord. Gehenna is translated hell nine times and hell-fire three times. It belongs almost exclusively to the vocabulary of our Saviour, being found only one time: "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell" (#Jas 3:6), when not employed by Him. Gehenna is the place of eternal punishment, and the only word rightly translated hell. It is not the grave, the place for dead bodies; nor is it hades, the place of departed souls. It is the place for both soul and body of the wicked after their ressurrection and judgment. Hades is temporary, as also is physical death. "And death (thanatos) and hell (hades) were cast into the lake of fire" (#Re 20:14). Gehenna (hell is eternal). "...two hands to go into hell (gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched" (#Mr 9:43).
Gehenna is the Grecianized from of Ge-hinnom (valley of Hinnom), which became a place of the heathen worship, not far from Jerusalem. Ahaz and Manasseh were promoters of foreign religions and set up the horrible worship of Moloch, the god of the Ammonites, in this Valley of Hinnom. Moloch was represented by a hideous ox- headed human figure made of iron and hollow. A fire was built in this image and when it was red hot a living child would be cast into its arms and thus sacrificed to this heathen god. The good king Josiah put a stop to this idol worship "And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech" (#2Ki 23:10). This valley later on became the city dump for Jerusalem and the garbage of the city was kept continually burning. And because the fires never went out, our Lord employed it as the symbol of the lake of fire, the place of eternal punishment. While a fit emblem of hell, it must be carefully noted that our Lord in speaking of Gehenna never referred to the city dump of Jerusalem except as an emblem to designate that place of eternal torment for the wicked. He was not saying that all the lost will be thrown into the valley of Hinnom. The city dump of Jerusalem is not the place of eternal punishment, but only an emblem or figure of it.