“The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev.20:10)
“And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev.20:15)
“Then shall he say unto them [the goats] on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed ones, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. (Matt.25:41)
The Bible has many wonderful things to say, and we like to dwell on those things to the exclusion of verses such as those quoted above. They create a strong sense of fear or abhorrence, which often drives sensitive believers to their knees, praying that they will never be amongst that company. Now let’s “face the music” bravely and find out what truth lies behind the vivid picture language.
One thing I find most offensive is an attitude often expressed, of unmitigated joy at the thought of the sufferings of the wicked. Suddenly a person can shed his more normal pleasantries, and adopt the face of a savage hound slavering at the thought of bestial revenge on others. I hope that sincere believers in Jesus will also be revolted by such an attitude.
We have already seen that God’s fires have a purgative, cleansing, and refining action on all, whether believers or the rest of the world. We have seen that no one is exempt from these fires, because they are God’s antiseptic way of dealing with sin, wickedness, and abominations.
If God declared that the Devil and his angels would best be utterly annihilated, He would have said so. But no. The Destroyer’s name is Apollyon, not Jesus. Instead He consigns them to the Outer Darkness where they are no longer able to exercise their bestial ways, and this, coupled with the tormenting work of His fires accomplishes the universal law – “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal.6:7)
God’s fires may indeed be frightening, and rightly so for inveterate criminals, but the very fact of their consignment only proves what Solomon said, “I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.” (Eccles.3:14) If the annihilation of any intelligent being is abhorrent to, and utterly absent from the Divine Mind, then we are left with the only alternative, that of the gradual cleansing of the Cosmos by the operation of the Fires of the Almighty.
Maybe some will be offended by the thought that the Devil might one day be cleansed and refined, but we need to ask ourselves whether our view of justice is greater than God’s. If God’s love and forgiveness are said to be unending and boundless, then it is right and proper to say that He will not rest until His very last enemy shows tears of repentance. And if this be the case for the Devil, then of course it is equally true of all other less-evil beings consigned to the Lake of Fire. Let us not demean the Majesty of God.
More to come.