Sermons Series 3:65, 18 November 2006
The Fire of Yahweh
Part 1: Refinement, Hellfire and the Jubilee
"The wicked, who have committed evil the whole period of their lives, shall be punished until they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear Elohim, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of grace. For He never would have said, 'Until thou hast paid the last farthing' (Mt.5:26) unless we could be released from punishment, after having suffered adequately for sin; nor would He have said, 'He shall be beaten with many stripes' and again 'He shall be beaten with few stripes' (Lk.12:47-48), unless the punishments to be endured for sin will have an end" (Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, AD 392-428, Fragment IV).
Shabbat shalom and welcome back as we pick up from an earlier theme we were studying a few weeks ago concerning the Fire of Yahweh, which as you will remember is of two kinds: purifying and punitive. In the quotation I have just read you, Bishop Theodore confirms the doctrine of universal salvation that was believed by the early Messianic Community and sub-apostolic fathers. Like Dr. Stephen E. Jones, I believe the good Bishop was in error in applying the verses he quoted from Matthew and Luke to all men and women - rather, Yah'shua is saying that believers shall be thus punished for their refusal to stop sinning. The important principle to understand here is that sin, once the debt for it is paid for, must - in a just universe - cease. Those who rebel and continue wilfully in sin will receive their 'stripes' and inherit the Second Resurrection whilst those who love Yahweh with all their hearts, cleave to Yah'shua, and obey Torah will receive the First Resurrection and forego any 'stripes' - there will be no punishment for them at all.
Today, as in ancient Israel, the chief sin of Christians and Messianics is the sin of idolatry. And you will recall that Israel, in spite of her many abominations, her failure to be obedient, her disloyalty to Yahweh, and her utterly rebellious spirit, was punished, not destroyed. She was sent into exile - to Assyria and Babylon - to suffer so that she might obtain forgiveness for sin through the Law of Restitution. Now most Christians are strangely unaware of this Law because they do not bother to seriously study the Tanakh or Old Testament; yet hear what Yahweh says:
"Comfort, comfort My people, says your Elohim. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from Yahweh's hand double for all her sins" (Isa.40:1-2, NIV).
I want you to notice two things here: Firstly, the nation is punished collectively as though it were a single person because of the Sinai Covenant. We too are under a similar covenant when we come to New Covenant Shavu'ot or Pentecost and receive the anointing of the Ruach haRevee because at that point we become individually and collectively responsible. That is why at Jericho all of Israel was punished for the sin of one man, Achan, who looted the plunder of the fallen city which had been consecrated to Yahweh and was His. Who we therefore associate with is important, especially if we place ourselves in a submissive position under leaders who are false and are bringing their congregation under condemnation. Thus, for instance, if a believer places himself under the authority of an atheist, so he will receive an atheist's punishment. Do you remember what I told you how those who bless a prophet receive a prophet's reward (Mt.10:41)? It is the same principle in reverse. What we join ourselves to is what we partake of ourselves, either the blessings or the cursings, or both, because this is the Law of Restitution on the communal level. Yes, we are individually judged for our sins, but we also fall under the umbrella of Yahweh's judgements for the body we join ourselves to, whether it is to a husband, church denomination, local assembly, political body, or whatever. As I told you recently, divorcing ourselves from false authorities is very important.
The second thing I want you to notice is that the Law of Restitution for those who refuse to repent is "double for all (your) sins". Those of you who have been reading this year's Torah portions will remember this law concerning theft in the Torah which states:
"If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession -- whether ox or donkey or sheep -- he must pay back double" (Ex.22:4, NIV).
If you have the idea that Yah'shua somehow 'did away' with this law, as Protestants teach, you have only to turn to the Book of Revelation and read the same Torah principle in operation under the New Covenant or B'rit Chadashah:
"Then I heard another voice from heaven say: 'Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and Elohim has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup'" (Rev.18:4-6, NIV).
There are also categories of sin where the punishment is sevenfold:
"If you (Israelites under covenant) remain hostile toward Me and refuse to listen to Me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve" (Lev.26:21, NIV).
"If in spite of these things you do not accept My correction but continue to be hostile toward Me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over" (Lev.26:23-24, NIV - see also v.27-28).
Not only does the Torah teach that you will be punished for the sins you accuse the innocent of, but also that you will be paid back double or seven times depending on the nature of the sin - double for theft, seven times for open hostility to Yahweh. However, once the debt has been paid - once full restitution has been made - the sins of the wicked are no longer remembered. They are blotted out. Such is the power of forgiveness. Thus there will be no 'ex-convicts' in a truly Torah-obedient nation - no such stigma hangs over one judged and punished for transgression. And those who are the true children of Elohim will, like Yahweh, also forget, remembering that they too were once sinners and that Yahweh has blotted out their transgression.
Please note, however, that there is no cheap grace being spoken of here: saying 'sorry' but still feeling sinful thoughts or feelings does not constitute repentance. And even if we misjudge, and forgive prematurely or presumptuously, Yahweh does not, until there is a proper turning away from sin so that the inclination to sin no longer exists. Only then are past sins buried in the deep and forgotten completely. Indeed it would not only be wrong, but folly, for example, to forgive a murderer or an adulterer who still has the inclination to murder and commit adultery, and admit him back into the Congregation of Israel or into your own home. To do such would be to bring a curse upon the whole Messianic Community and risk the safety of your family. That is why surface forgiveness is not only irresponsible but highly dangerous.
So, to be clear about this: the restoration of the sinner is accomplished by means of the Law of Restitution (Ex.22) which satisfies the Law and then demands forgiveness and restoration. It's justice, it's love, it's common sense, and it's Yahweh's derech or way. When Yah'shua says that He is the Way or the Derech, that includes the Law of Justice. He is perfectly just, which is why He is our Shophet or Judge who comes, as the Apostles' Creed testifies, "to judge the living and the dead".
So we must here correct an old Protestant error which says that the Torah or Law cannot forgive sin. That is plainly wrong. The Law can forgive sin provided its demands are met. The weakness, if not impotence, of the Torah is its total inability to forgive sinners. It cannot acquit the guilty because it's purpose is to convict them. However, the sacrifice for sin can satisfy the Torah. In the Mosaic Covenant this was accomplished through blood sacrifices, and when Yah'shua the Messiah came along, the blood of goats and lambs was replaced by the Blood of an Infinite Atonement made by the Son of Elohim. A soul who refuses to place his faith in the redeeming blood of Yah'shua must pay the penalty for their own sins according to the demands of the Torah, whether it be double or sevenfold. Then they will receive a measure of forgiveness that the Torah is capable of dispensing. But there is a problem as James the Apostle reminds us:
"For whoever keeps the whole law (Torah) and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10, NIV).
What does that mean? Well, to commit adultery or to steal is also to covet, which is idolatry and spiritual adultery. This also shows a lack of love, which is ultimately hatred, and therefore the spirit of murder (Mt.5:22). Because of this truth, it would be true to say that the sinner cannot possibly pay the full penalty of any sin, even the least infraction. The Torah still demands that the sinner pay restitution to his earthly victims. How do you pay the price for murder? Have yourself executed twice? What about adultery? Can you repair the broken hearts and shattered confidences of a ruined marriage? As you carefully think through the price you would have to pay for just one sin, you will come to realise that in fact you can never fully repay the debt to Yahweh that the Torah demands. It's utterly impossible. It is for this reason that mankind, stuck in this hopeless situation, is in need, as Dr. Stephens calls it, of "a final Creation Jubilee at the end of time where all debts to the law are cancelled purely by grace alone" (Creation's Jubilee, p.18).
So let's make a summary here so that we have the central points clearly in view. If you reject Yah'shua, you have to pay for your own sins double or sevenfold. The Torah stipulates the kind or duration of the punishment. Such souls go into hell to pay for those sins. Christians likewise who are in open rebellion must similarly pay. So both the unbeliever and rebel believer serve their sentence in hell. The fire of hell is not, however, merely punitive but redemptive. The fire cleanses and brings the sinner to all truth. Finally, because the price of no sin can fully be paid by man, Yahweh in His mercy and loving kindness appoints an end to the punishment at the Cosmic Jubilee, by which time will come to understand their sin and accept His righteous judgement. They are, in the end, fully acquitted and receive a reward with which they will be satisfied, even if it is only as menial servants in the Kingdom. They will be grateful merely to have been acquitted by grace and to be out of hellfire.
As a Mishpachah we have been blessed by our daily Torah studies and though some of it can be a little heavy going, within it are keys to eternal life and eternal living. As we are seeing now, it exposes the lie of eternal damnation which ministers of antinomian (lawless) churches use to threaten people into the Kingdom, denude the Gospel of love, and darken the Name of Yahweh by making Him out to be an ogre who loves torturing people for eternity. In Yahweh's universe there is no judgement without remedy. Men punish, Elohim purifies. Does Yahweh 'punish'? Definitely:
"I, Yahweh your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me" (Ex.20:5, NIV).
But unlike men's punishment, Yahweh's is ultimately remedial because His disciplinary punishment gives hope for the future. This does not mean that everyone gets the same reward at the end of time when everyone is saved - we are rewarded according to our works. But neither are we punished forever. At the end everyone will be satisfied, accepting their judgement, like one of the thieves on the cross who had to remind his fellow criminal that they were guilty and deserving of what they got.
When men judge, they determine penalties that are invariably too harsh or too lenient. Indeed, how successful is the prison system in any country? Does the system actually reform people? Or does it make them worse criminals than ever? Criminals do not leave prison penitent but hardened and when prisoners do amend their ways it is usually in spite of the system. The prisoners who do reform are, in most cases, reformed when they receive the Gospel. The prison system is simply the fruit of man's wrath and indifference because it punishes without purifying. It spends vast amounts of money, at taxpayers' expense, to obtain 'justice' only to destroy the sinner totally or partially. It is a system not motivated by love but by hate. And when Christians are keen to 'send' sinners to an eternal torment it testifies that that the spirit which moves them is not the same as the Ruach haQodesh.
It is of interest to note that the ancient Greek word for fire is pur. Can you think of any English words beginning with 'pur-'? Well, it is the root of many words in our language which include 'purge' and 'purify'. This, brethren and sisters, is what the fire of Yahweh-Elohim does, for it characterises the very nature of Elohim and His Torah. It may appear terrible on the outside, but when its purpose is understood, and what it is that His heart desires, the soul is filled and given hope. The writer of Hebrews said:
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship Elohim acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'Elohim is a consuming fire'" (Heb.12:28-29, NIV).
We have been told the lie that it consumes men - destroys them - when the truth is, even when it is punishing, it is ultimately redemptive. This is good news - very good news! So let's summarise what we've talked about today and a little from last time so that we keep the overview. We have seen now that the Fire of Yahweh-Elohim describes both His divine nature - His heart - and his Law, Torah or Word - His Logos or Dabar. It is the full expression of Himself. We have seen from Isaiah (26:9) that the purpose of our Heavenly Father's judgements - His penalties for sin - is not to arbitrarily torture but to bring mankind to a place where it will eventually learn righteousness. We have seen how this set-apart or holy fire purifies us, for Yahweh sits as a Refiner of gold and silver (Mal.3:2-3).
So where did this 'eternal hellfire' belief come from? Well, it's Roman in origin. A civil authority, which puts a man in prison for 5 years for theft is more just than one which condemns a man to burn in hell for all eternity. The eternal hellfire doctrine, like our civil system of justice, was invented not to reform but to deter. The fallacy is that if the judgements are severe enough, people will be frightened enough into being orderly and obedient. It's how all totalitarian systems work. And yet they fail. How different is Yahweh's Torah which restores lawful order not by threats but by restoring lost or stolen property to the victim, whilst restoring the sinner to grace and forgiveness!
When I was in the Ukraine at the end of the Soviet era, I met a man who was sentenced to 5 years in prison for stealing a single coin worth no more than about $1! His family life was totally destroyed. His wife left him, his children were without a father for 5 years. In Yahweh's system, he would have been forced to pay $2 and the matter would have been settled and forgotten. Now if you want a real deterrent, this is surely the best. A terrorist who destroys $1 million worth of property after letting off a bomb would think twice knowing he would have to personally amass wealth of $2 million to pay his debt off to society. He would also know that if he premeditatedly killed anyone that Torah would demand his life too. And a false accuser would think twice knowing that he would have to pay the penalty for the accusation he made. Thus the accuser of an innocent person accused of being a pedophile, for instance, would pay the price for that sin: execution. People would be a lot more careful what they said. No wonder we are told to fear Yahweh and respect His Torah because we will all be judged by it. False accusers have a severe sentence hanging over their heads at the Judgement of Yahweh. We should not trifle with words for Yahweh holds us accountable for every one of them. Let us then remind ourselves of what is to come:
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev.20:11-15, NIV).
The judgements of Yahweh here are all based on men's deeds - the things they did whilst on earth. Whilst we are saved by grace apart from works - for no man can earn his salvation - when it comes to judgement, those not justified by the blood of Messiah are judged according to their works. Yahweh does not lump everyone together and give them the same judgement. It's not as simple as 'heaven' or 'hell' because as we know there are at least three different resurrection glories, and the third is as diverse as the brightness of the different stars in the night sky (1 Cor.15:41-42).
Now at first glance, as we study the passage we just read from the Apocalypse, it may seem as though everyone receives the same judgement. But if this were so, how could they be judged "according to what they had done"? It would make no sense, would it? 'Joe, you are condemned for stealing a pen'. 'Fred, you are condemned for murdering your boss'. 'Both of you go to the same place of punishment.' No, the Lake of Fire is a general picture for the process of judgement, not a specific judgement in and of itself. The Lake of Fire is the FIERY TORAH ITSELF, the Torah which contains many types of judgement as we have been seeing every day in our Torah portion studies - judgements that fit the specific crimes. The prophet Daniel, who described the same White Throne Judgement, confirms this picture:
"As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened" (Dan.7:9-10, NIV).
It sounds a bit like the description of Yah'shua that John gave in our sermon last week, doesn't it? Here what John calls a "lake of fire", Daniel calls a "river of fire". Indeed, the Throne of Yahweh Himself is pictured as "flaming with fire" which then flows like a river out upon the people standing before Him! Now your average Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox is not very likely to describe the Lake of Fire as Daniel did, are they?
The meaning is self-evident. The river, or lake of fire, is Yahweh's justice being administered to sinners. This begs the question: what is the nature of Yahweh's justice? Well, read your Bibles and see. Yahweh's justice is always defined by His Torah or Law, for all sin is judged by the Law, isn't it? What is a throne? A throne is a symbol of the law by which a King rules or judges. Thus the fiery law from Mount Sinai (Dt.33:2) is pictured conceptually as a fiery throne in the Book of Daniel (7:9) because they are one and the same.
It is perhaps appropriate that we take a look at the nature of this 'fire'. We know that the lake of fire is Yahweh's judgement upon sinners. The problems come in defining the nature of the judgement - the details of the punishment, how it is administered, and so on. Is it a literal fire as Catholics and many Protestants teach, with devils poking men and women with tridents, or is it a spiritual fire? Well, what is it that condemns a sinner? It is the Torah. Is the Torah or Law spiritual or literal? Well, Paul says it is spiritual (Rom.7:14). Therefore, whether it is a spirit or resurrected person being punished and refined by fire, that fire must also be spiritual.
It is clear as you read Scripture that death is the worst punishment than could ever be inflicted on a soul. Most people fear death more than anything else because it means a total loss of control over the physical life. Indeed the physical life becomes extinct. Paul says that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom.6:23) and that "the person who sins will die" (Ezek.18:20). When a person was guilty of multiple murder in the Mosaic Covenant, what was the penalty? Death. The Bible nowhere says that any sin deserves punishment by burning at a stake, as the Catholics and Calvinists used to delight in doing, much less being burned in a torture chamber for eternity. It's just not in the Torah and it is far from Yahweh's mind and heart. Yes, dead bodies of offenders were sometimes cremated (Josh.7:25; Lev.21:9) and in New Testament times the bodies of dead criminals were cast into the valley outside Jerusalem called Gehenna which Yah'shua used as a symbolic representation of hell, not a literal one:
"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell (Gehenna). And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of Elohim with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (Mark 9:42-48, NIV).
I have a lot of myths to dispel today so I hope you will bear with me. Yah'shua is not here talking about cutting off hands, plucking out eyes, or burning in a literal, physical fire in hell. These are all metaphors. All it means is remove your hands and eyes from circumstances where you are likely to sin because of unresolved sin issues - stay away from temptation! If you can't watch TV without turning to some porn channel, or using a VCR to watch some porn video, then get rid of the TV and VCR. Remove the stumbling blocks totally out of your life even if it requires radical action. Be radical to save your soul from sin that leads to spiritual death. And what is all this talk about worms? Does it mean that sinners are eaten alive by worms in hell in the same way that Herod was when he died?
Remember that Yah'shua is describing the city dump which constantly burned, and in the places where the fire hadn't reaches, there were worms or maggots to consume the garbage. Please note that the worms were neither immortal nor fireproof. There is no evidence anywhere that anyone was ever cast into the city garbage dump as a means of torture except in ancient times when the pagan Canaanites sacrificed their children to the demon-god Molech by throwing them into the fire as we read in Jeremiah:
"They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter My mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin" (Jer.32:34-35, NIV).
Please note that Ben Hinnom (meaning 'Son of Hinnom') is the Hebrew for the Greek 'Gehenna' - they are one and the same place. This Canaanite practice stemmed from a pagan religious doctrine of a fiery underworld that comes from Egypt, Babylon and Canaan. It has nothing to do with Hebrew or Christian truth. In fact, when Yah'shua spoke of Gehenna he was simply quoting the Isaiah where the prophet speaks of the final battle at the end of the age, and closes with this description:
"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against Me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind" (Isa.66:24, NIV).
Context is everything and it's amazing how ignorant most Christians are of the Old Testament which is the foundation of the New. Now this is hardly a description of 'eternal punishment', is it? This is not a description of some torture chamber. Yet Yah'shua uses it as an illustration. This is very much an earthly scene, the kind of place you might go and view after a battle. Yet at the same time it is certainly representative of the lake of fire, as we shall see. Torture was not a lawful biblical judgement - ever! That's what Satanists and wicked governments do, not the eternal Father of Love.
Now some other things to note. Yes, there is a parallel between Gehenna, the City Dump, and the Lake of Fire, yet the Valley of Ben-hinnom or Gehenna was nothing like a 'lake'. Yah'shua used the parallel in order to illustrate two aspects of this lake. Firstly, the people thrown into it would be outside the New Jerusalem just as the rubbish dump called Gehenna was outside the earthly city of Jerusalem; and, secondly, it would be a place of shame. Please also note that the apostle John did not call the Lake of Fire 'Gehenna', did he? Why not? Because it did not adequately describe the fire flowing from Yahweh's throne, nor was gehenna a part of the Temple symbolism which was John's primary theme throughout the Book of Revelation.
We must constantly remind ourselves of the fact that all revealed truth comes out of a Hebrew mindframe and not a Greek or Egyptian one where very different views of the afterlife were entertained, including views of hell and torture. As we read the Book of Revelation we must also remember that John's focus is upon heavenly things of which the Temple was a model. In it he describes the true Temple in heaven. So we must view all these things through the temple symbolism that Yahweh revealed through Moses and to which John the Apostle restricted himself. John viewed all history as a fulfilment of prophecy displayed in the ceremonies and vessels of the Temple.
Is there in any of the ceremonial liturgy or items of the Old Covenant Temple anything that could possible connect to the Lake of Fire? If the Temple does indeed contain a complete model of the spiritual universe, then we should expect to find such a connection. To understand better the lake of fire we need to focus on the lava (Ex.30:18,28; 31:9; 35:16; 38:8; 39:9; 40:7,11,30; Lev.8:11; 1 Ki.7), which was the place of cleansing and purification of the cohanim or priests as they washed or immersed (baptised) themselves. We must also look at the vessels and sacrifices. Now this 'water baptism' was established in the days of Moses and was a temporal or earthly manifestation of the 'heavenly baptism', which we know as the baptism of fire.
And so the writer of the Apocalypse points to the Temple lava - a large bronze basin containing water - and calls it the Lake of Fire. What this picture is supposed to portray is the Refiner's Fire, complete with the cauldron of alloyed mineral and its impurities, as Yahweh the Refiner begins His work. John, who we have every good reason to believe was a Priest and therefore Levite, was intimately familiar with all the rites and ceremonies of the Temple in Jerusalem. Polycrates, a later Bishop of Ephesus, where John also ministered, testified:
"For great luminaries sleep in Asia, and they will rise again at the last day of the advent of the Master ... And there is also John, who leaned on the Master's breast, who was a priest wearing the mitre, and martyr and teacher, and he sleeps at Ephesus" (Eccl.Hist., III, xxxi).
This word 'mitre', which might give the false impression of a Roman Catholic bishop's hat, is in fact the petalon which is used in the Septuagint of the Cohen Gadol's or High Priest's diadem. When Eusebius quotes Polycrates he uses the word 'breastplate' for petalon which of course contained precious stones, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. What's clear is that John was viewed as a kind of 'High Priest' in Ephesus in subsequent generations since he was the Presiding Patriarch and senior apostle.
Both the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon used water in their lavers, rather than molten gold. Yet the water was meant to symbolise molten gold. Gold, scripturally, is always the divine nature, and so the lava itself would portray Yahweh's refining process. In our fleshy state, we could not survive a baptism of fiery gold, and so water baptism had to become the substitute and type of the true baptism of fire.
Now in the days of Solomon's Temple, the lava was called the "molten sea" (1 Ki.7:23). Did you know that when gold is refined to its absolutely pure state, that molten gold is completely transparent? It's as clear as crystal! So if Solomon had filled the Temple's lava or 'molten sea' with pure gold and melted it, it would have looked like "a sea of glass like crystal" (Rev.4:6), just like John described it in his vision! And do you remember how John described it later on in Revelation 15:2?
"I saw in heaven another great and marvellous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues - last, because with them Yahweh's wrath is completed. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by Elohim and sang the song of Moses the servant of Elohim and the song of the Lamb" (Rev.15:1-3, NIV).
What John saw in heaven was the lava, the lake of fire, as pictured in the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon.. The lava was used to wash or baptise in order to be cleansed, or purified ceremonially. The purpose of the Torah or Law, as we have seen, was to teach righteousness to the inhabitants of the earth. The purpose of fire is to purify. So it really doesn't strain our imagination too much to consider both the lava and the lake of fire to be for the purpose of divine purification, rather than a place where men and women are tortured forever.
We are forced to the inevitable conclusion in simply letting scripture explain itself, that the Lake of Fire is the final place where Yahweh, the Great Refiner, sits to purify the hearts of men and women and so prepare them to dwell in the new heaven (2 Pet.3:13; Rev.21:1) when this current world and heaven all pass away. Then those of the highest resurrection - the first resurrection, which in brightness is after the glory of the sun, will dwell in the presence of the Elohim day and night; the children of the second resurrection - the rebellious believers and unbelievers - will live in the two lower heavens. The lava exists for these. Only the true priests of Yahweh and of Yah'shua have access to this heavenly lava - the 144,000 and their wives:
"Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of Elohim and of Messiah and will reign with Him for a thousand years" (Rev.20:6, NIV).
Even as the Levitical priests of the Old Covenant purified themselves daily at the lava, so also are we baptised by full immersion in water to signify to Yahweh that we want our hearts purified. Baptism is our consent for Him to do so - it is our commitment to let Him do what He will, even if we don't like it, even if our flesh pulls back. But we are bound by covenant. The lake of fire will be applied universally to everyone whether they remain eternally in the outer court (the unbelievers), are admitted to the Holy Place (Yahweh's cleansed sons and daughters of the Second Resurrection), or to the Holy of Holies (Yahweh's cleansed firstborn sons and daughters of the First Resurrection, the 144,000, who are cleansed by that fire whilst alive). This fire will cleanse all in the end making high priests under the High Priest, priests, and the rest. All will be delivered from death in the end, for death and Hades are themselves thrown into the Lake of Fire, are they not? (Rev.20:14) This means that those who are in hell will be thrown into the Lake of Fire! The punishment for sin is the remedy - purification. To get around the Jubilee Principle, there are those, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, who argue that the wicked will be annihilated, yet another 'deterrent' and threat used to force people into accepting heaven. That could only be true if the Lake of Fire was a destroying agent. But we have seen it is not.
One last objection that is thrown in against what I have been arguing here is 'brimstone'. You all know what that is. They say that the existence of brimstone in hell proves that the fire of hell is literal. This is the scripture they quote:
"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev.21:8, NKJV).
Modern translations render the passage, "the fiery lake of burning sulphur" (NIV). Now the original Greek for sulphur or 'brimstone' is theion. Now what does that word remind you of? It's root is theo which is the same word we translate into 'God' or 'Elohim'. And you all know that 'theology' is the study of God or the Elohim. This sulphur or theion was sacred to the ancient Greeks and was actually consecrated for use in divine service to purify and cleanse. They used it in religious rites to purify their temples and would even rub it on their bodies to signify consecration to their deity. Indeed, in its verb form, theou, the word means to 'hallow, make divine, or dedicate to Deity'.
Any ancient Greek reader hearing this passage would immediately associate a lake of fire and brimstone or sulphur with a lake of divine purification or consecration to Deity. Virgil confirms as much in The Aeneid (741-2, 745-7). It was only the uneducated who literalised this fire. Sadly, the priests who knew better, allowed the ignorant masses to be deceived, as we have seen, in order to terrorise them into being more religiously motivated. I am not sure that this was purposeful in the beginning for as we know the first Christians adhered to the Doctrine or Reserve. And what that means is that early ministers withheld some teachings from the novices until they were mature Christians so as not to choke the spiritual babes with meat (e.g. 1 Cor.3:2). Some of them subsequently did this with the teaching on fire, allowing novices to take their words literally, rather than spiritually, so that they would be better motivated to turn to Yah'shua. There is no doubt that this was wrong because it distorted the fundamental principle of the Gospel, namely, the primacy of love. We can see where it led the Church over the centuries, taking it into generations of darkness, fear amd murder. Out of this error was born the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and the vile abuses which finally led to the Protestant Reformation. It is a doctrine right out of hell and is by no means a new one. Scholar Jacques de Goff writes:
"The Egyptian Hell was particularly impressive and highly refined ... Confinement and imprisonment played an important rôle. The tortures were bloody, and punishment by fire was frequent and terrifying ... When it came to the topography of Hell, the Egyptian imagination knew no limits ... Intermediate states or phases in the other-wordly process of purification did not exist" (The Birth of Purgatory, pp.19-20).
The doctrine of hell as a place of punishment and torment is Egyptian in origin. Next week we will look into the supposed eternal nature of this punishment and see it for the demonic doctrine it is. The sub-apostolic fathers like Clement of Alexandria (150-213 AD), Origen of Alexandria (180-253 AD), Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD) and Gregory of Nyassa (335-394 AD) flatly repudiated it, and all taught that the fire was for purification, not torture:
"Elohim does not wreak vengeance, for vengeance is to return evil for evil, and Elohim punishes only with an eye to the good" (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 7.26).
Origen knew the scriptures well and wrote:
"The Sacred Scripture does, indeed, call our Elohim "a consuming fire" (Heb.12:29), and says that "rivers of fire go before His face" (Dan.7:10), and that "He shall come as a refiner's fire and purify the people" (Mal.3:2-3). As therefore, Elohim is a consuming fire, what is it that is to be consumed by Him? We say it is wickedness, and whatever proceeds from it, such as is figuratively called "wood, hay, and stubble" (1 Cor.3:12-15) which denote the evil works of man. Our Elohim is a consuming fire in this sense; and He shall come as a refiner's fire to purify rational nature from the alloy of wickedness and other impure matter which has adulterated the intellectual gold and silver; consuming whatever evil is admixed in all the soul" (Against Celsus, IV.13).
This was the majority opinion in the Greek-speaking Assemblies. Unfortunately, many in the Latin Church of the West did not read the Bible in Greek or Hebrew but only had a very inferior Old Latin version which Jerome eventually retranslated as the Latin Vulgate. I will not go into the complex history of the doctrinal twists and turns that took place at this point in time. None of these theologians and spiritual fathers in any way tried to minimise the pain of this refinement process, because it is painful for those who rebel or refuse to believe the truth, but did at least deny it was vindictive torture and had, rather, as its purpose, to bring enduring salvation. Indeed, they rightly called it the 'baptism of fire'.
We believe that all punishment is redemptive and based in love. It's purpose is to deliver from sin and misery. Moreover, Yahweh is full of mercy and grace. We believe in the Jubilee Principle as taught in the Torah. We do not believe in an Elohim of torture. We believe in an Elohim of justice and love who, at the end, will be satisfied. Death, pain, sickness and all that makes afraid will be gone out of the whole Creation for ever. Amen.
- Dr. Stephen E. Jones, Creation's Jubilee, 1991, Minnesota, USA).
Click here for Part 2
|Glossary of MLT Hebraic, Greek and English Terms |
For other terms and full details please see the Micropedia
AGlossary Copyright ©2007 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved
Adon(ai) = Master, a pagan fertility god, Adonis; used by many Messianics but not MLT
(a)eon(ian) = 7 dispensation- or age-long time periods, not forever (see le-olam-va-ed)
Alef-Tav = Alpha-Omega, A-Z, first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet = Yah'shua
Amen = truly, let it be so, written Amein by some Messianics
Apocrypha = Hebraic Scriptures not a part of the Protestant canon (e.g. Baruch)
Anti-Messiah = Hebraic term for the end-time Antichrist or anyone opposed to the Messiah
antinomian = lawless Christian who disregards all or part of Torah/commandments
Ashkenazi Jew = East European Jew descended from the Turkic-Japhethite Khazars
Assembly = church, congregation, ekklesia, community, fellowship, koinonia, gathering
Azazel = the Yom Kippur scapegoat
Baal, Ba'al = any other master than Yahweh, usually demonic in MLT terminology
Bachor(im) = firstborn son(s)
Bar/Bat Mitzvah = Son/Daughter of Commandment, covenant to obey Torah at age 12
being = soul, the whole person (spirit and body), e.g. "my whole being"
Beit, bet, beth = house, e.g. Beit Yisrael (House of Israel), Beth Lechem (House of Bread)
Beit haMikdash = Yahweh's Temple in Yerushalayim
B'rit Chadashah = the New Covenant; B'rit Chadashah Scriptures = New Testament
B'rit Milah = circumcision - abolished in the B'rit Chadashah, replaced by Mikvah
canon = authoritative Scripture (Heb. qaneh, Gk. kanŰn = measuring instrument)
Catechumen = a serious, covenanted investigator seeking Mikvah or Baptism in MLT
Chag haMatzah = Feast of Unleavened Bread, second of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Chavurat Bekorot = MLT's Priesthood Order, Holy Order and Assembly of the Firstborn
Cohen = priest; Cohen Gadol = High Priest (also spelled Kohen)
Council of Yah's elohim = the heavenly Assembly of the Firstborn or Chavurat Bekorot
demon = fallen malek or angel in rebellion against Yahweh (Heb. shad; see l-Shaddai)
derech = the Way, Path or Road - Yah'shua and the Gospel are the Way
Drash = moral or homiletic interpretation of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Echad = One, Union of two or more in one (as opposed to Yachid) - see Elohim
Echad Godhead Doctrine = Father Yahweh, Son Yah'shua and Sevenfold Ruach (Mother)
Êl, Eloah, Elah = God the Father, Yahweh
Êl-Elyon = Most High God, Yahweh
Êl-Shaddai = Master/Lord over all shads or demons
Elohim = God, the Godhead (Father, Son & Holy Spirit), lit. 'Mighty One(s)', 'Ruler(s)'
elohim = Israelite judges, rulers, angels or gods (false deities, idols, demons)
emunah = faith, actively trusting, clinging or adhering to (especially Yahweh or Yah'shua)
emet = truth, Yah'shua is the Emet
Ephraimite = descendant of the patriarch Ephraim and head of Messsianic Israel
Feasts of Yahweh = the 7 annual Moedim (Pesach, Chag haMatzah, Yom haBikkurim, Shavu'ot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot)
Gan-Eden = Garden of Eden, Paradise and state of the purified heart in Messiah
goy(im) = nation(s), Israelites or gentiles not born in or converted to the Covenant
hallelu-Yah = praise Yah(weh)!
Heylel = proper name of Satan or haSatan = the Adversary, the devil
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Hochmah = Wisdom, title of the 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
IDL = International Date Line, false man-made time division in Pacific Ocean
IDL Zone = Area between the true Divine Date Line (Lake Van/Eden) and the false one
Israeli = citizen of the modern Edomite-Khazar Republic of Israel (not Biblical Israel)
Israelite = citizen of biblical state of Israel or a modern follower of the Messiah
Jew = post-biblical term describing descendants of Edomite and Khazar converts to Judaism
Johannine = pertaining to the Apostle Yochanan (e.g. Gospel of John)
Josephite = descendant of the patriarch Joseph, the head of Messianic Israel
Judahite = a person in direct descent from the patriarch Judah, forefather of the Messiah
Judaism = a Talmudic-based religion rejecting Yah'shua the Messiah
Judean = a citizen of the Kingdom or Province of Judah until the 2nd Century diaspora
Kadosh la Yahweh = set-apart or dedicated to Yahweh, 'Holiness to the Lord', MLT motto
Karaites = Jews (from 700 AD) who reject the Talmud and accept only the Tanakh
kashrut = keeping kosher, food laws of Yahweh and correspinding lifestyle
Ketuvim = Writings or Hagiographa of the Tanakh
Khazar = a Turkic convert to Judaism ~700 AD forming the Ashkenazi Jewish community
kosher = clean foods authorised by Yahweh for human consumption
Lashon Hara = evil-speaking, gossip or slander
legalism = false route to salvation through works (self-salvation)
le-olam-va-ed = dispensation- or age-long, aeonian, not eternal, forever or for eternity
Lev = heart, as in Lev-Tsiyon = heart of Zion
Lev-Tsiyon = Heart of the Fortress [of Yahweh], Hebrew name of MLT's founder
Master = Lord, Sir, Adon(ai) - (one in authority, a ruler - a king, husband, prophet, judge)
Malak(im) = Angel(s), heavenly supernatural messenger(s)
manna = wafers of honey, bread from heaven (lit. 'what is this?')
matzah = unleavened bread, see Chag haMatzah
Menorah = 7-armed candlearbra = the 7 annual Moedim and 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
Messiah = Christ; Anti-Messiah = Antichrist
Messianic Community = Body of Christ, sum total of all true believers; all true fellowships
Messianic Israel = all who worship Yahweh, trust in Yah'shua, obey Torah and overcome
Messianic Jew = Messianic convert from Judaism still clinging to Talmudic traditions
Midrash = aggadic interpretation of scripture vi‚ Drash, a scriptural discussion
Mikvah = baptism by immersion of convert into Yah'shua or of wife into husband
Mishpachah = family: nuclear, congregational, tribal or the whole of Messianic Israel
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon = family of the heart of the fortress [of Yahweh]
Mishpat = right-ruling or judgement
mitzvah/mitzvot = commandment(s)
moed(im) = appointment(s) of Yahweh, 7 Annual Feasts, Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh
Nefilim, Nephilim = giant offspring of materialised demons and human women
Nevi'im = prophetic writings of the Old Testament or Tanakh
New Birth = spiritual conversion in the Ruach haRishon, being 'born again' with new heart
Nidah = a woman's menstruation period during which no intercourse is permitted
Olive Branch = collection of revelations, prophecies and visions published by MLT
Paraclete = Comforter, Advocate (NEB), Counsellor, Ruach haQodesh (Gk. paraklÍtos)
PaRDeS = method of textual interpretation (homiletics) - see P'shat, Remez, Drash, Sod
Patriarch = a father who is head of his family, clan or tribe (lit. 'father-ruler')
Pentateuch = first five books of the Tanakh (Genesis-Deuteronomy), also called Torah
peribolaion = headcovering worn by daughters/wives in submission to fathers/husbands
Pesach = Passover, first of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Peshitta = an Aramaic version of the Bible
Prototrinitarianism = early, simplified MLT formulation of the Echad Godhead Doctrine
Prush(im) = Pharisee(s)
Pseudepigrapha = Non-canonical Hebrew writings additional to the Apocrypha
P'shat = literal, contextual, philological, exoteric, outer meaning of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Qadosh Qadoshim = Holy of Holies, most sacred set-apart room of the Beit haMikdash
Qodesh, Kodesh = set-apart, holy (see Ruach haQodesh)
Rabbi = Teacher, term used by Messianic Jews and some Messianic Israelites = Pastor
Refuge, the 12 Cities of = divinely protected MLT fortresses during the 7-year Tribulation
Remez = hint or allegorical level of Hebraic understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Rosh Chodesh = monthly New Moon appointment of Yahweh
ruach = spirit of a person (lit.'breath')
Ruach Elohim = Spirit of God (the Spirit of the collective Godhead or Elohim)
Ruach haChamashee = 5th Ruach presides over Yom Teruah and Yom Chamashee
Ruach haQodesh = the Sevenfold Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (lit. 'Set-Apart Breath')
Ruach haRevee = 4th Ruach presides over Shavu'ot, Yom Revee and Bar Mitzvah
Ruach haRishon = 1st Ruach presides over Pesach, Yom Rishon and the New Birth
Ruach haShanee = 2nd Ruach presides over Chag haMatzah and Yom Shanee
Ruach haSheshi = 6th Ruach presides over Yom Kippur and Yom Sheshi
Ruach haShleshi = 3rd Ruach presides over Yom haBikkurim, Yom Shleshi and Mikvah
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Satan = rebel archangel Heylel, father of lies, devil, chief demon (lit.'Adversary')
Sephardic Jew = West European Jew of mixed blood containing many Judahites
Septuagint = Greek translation of the Tanakh, LXX
Shegal haShabbat = 7th Ruach (Sabbath Queen) presides over Sukkot and Yom Shabbat
Shekinah = Divine Presence and Glory of Yahweh-Elohim
Set-apart = holy, sanctified, consecrated, dedicated, separated (to and by Yahweh)
Shabbat-Shabbaton = High Sabbath (e.g. Yom Kippur)
Shalom = heavenly peace, standard Hebraic greeting invoking Yahweh's peace
Shamash(im) = servant(s), deacon(s), attendant(s)
Shavu'ot = Pentecost or Weeks, fourth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Sheol = grave or pit, euphamism for Hades or hell - also see Tartarus
shofar = ram's horn, blown during Yahweh's Moedim
simcha = joy, keynote of Sukkot
Sod = mystical, anagogic, inner or esoteric understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Sukkot = Tabernacles or Booths, seventh of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Synagogue = Greek word used by Jews and Messianics (but not MLT) for a meeting house
talmid(a) = male/female disciple or student
Talmud = scriptures, teachings and commentaries belonging to non-Messianic Judaism
Tanakh = acronym for Old Testament Scriptures - Torah, Nevi'im & Ketuvim
Tartarus = place of imprisonment under the earth for rebellious angels and Nephilim
teshuvah = repentance, remorse and contrition leading back to Torah obedience
Torah = Yahweh's teachings or Law; New Covenant Torah includes Yah'shua's teachings
Tribulation, the Great = the final 7 years of the present aeon when Anti-Messiah rules
Trinity = Catholic Godhead formula - see Echad Godhead Doctrine and Prototrinitarianism
Tsiyon = Zion, a fortress, a name of Jerusalem and a prominent hill
Tzitzit/Tizitziyot = tassel(s) worn by men in remembrance of Torah
Universalism = salvation of all at the cosmic Yovel, with different rewards and punishments
Yachid = one, single person or item, as opposed to Echad (many in one, unity)
Yah'shua the Messiah = Jesus Christ (the Son)
Yahudah = Judah - see Judahite
Yahweh, Yah, YHWH = the true Name of our Heavenly Father, also carried by Yah'shua
Yahweh-Elohim = LORD God (the Father, Yahweh as Head of the Godhead or Elohim)
Yahweh haQatan = the sent Yahweh = Yah(weh)'shua, Malak of Yahweh's Presence
Yam Suf = Sea of Reeds, the true Israelite Exodus water crossing, not the Red Sea
Yarden = Jordan River (lit. 'meanderer')
Yerushalayim = Jerusalem
Yisrael = Israel (lit. 'ruling with l') = true believers under the New Covenant
Yom Chamashee = 5th day of the week (Thursday, Friday in IDL Zone)
Yom Din, Yom haDin = (the) Day of Judgement
Yom haBikkurim = Feast of Firstfruits, third of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Revee = 4th day of the week (Wednesday, Thursday in IDL Zone)
Yom Rishon = 1st day of the week (Sunday, Monday in IDL Zone)
Yom Kippur = Day of Atonement, sixth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Shabbat = 7th day of the week and Sabbath Rest (Saturday, Sunday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shanee = 2nd day of the week (Monday, Tuesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Sheshi = 6th day of the week (Friday, Saturday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shleshi = 3rd day of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Teruah = Day of Trumpets, fifth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yosef = Joseph - see Josephite
Yovel = Jubilee or Year of Jubilee
Zaqen(im) = elder(s) of an assembly or congregation, or senior members of a community
ZoŽ Life = Greek term for spiritual life in the Messiah
Commonly Used MLT Abbreviations
For additional abbreviations and explanations,
please see the Micropedia
Amp.V(er). = Amplified Version of the Bible
Aram. = Aramaic
AV = Authorised Version of the Bible - see KJV
BCAY = B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh - see NCCG
BoA = Books of Abraham (e.g. 1Abr., 2Abr., etc.)
cp, cf = compare with
CB(Q) = Chavurat Bekorot
CEV = Contemporary English Version of the Bible
ch. = chapter
CJB = Complete Jewish Bible
CLNT = Concordant Literal New Testament
CYe = Council of Yah's elohim
Eng. = English
ff. = and onwards/forwards
fn = footnote
Gk. = Greek
GNB = Good News Bible - see TEV
Heb. = Hebrew, Hebraic
HEM = Holy Echad Marriage, eternal marriage
HO = Holy Order - see Chavurat Bekorot
HOC = Holy Order Collection of revelations - see OB
HRV = Hebraic-Roots Version of the Bible
ibid. = ibidem (lit. 'in the same place'), referring to a book previously cited
ICJC = Independent Church of Jesus Christ, earlier name of NCCF
ISRV = Institute for Scripture Research Version of the Bible
JB = Jerusalem Bible
JBP/Phillips = J.B.Phillips translation of the New Testament
JNT = Jewish New Testament
KJV = King James Version of the Bible - see AV
LB = Living Bible
lit. = literally or literature
LXX = Septuagint, Greek translation of the OT
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon
Moff. = Moffatt translation of the Bible
MRC = Messianic Renewed Covenant Version of the NT
MS(S) = Manuscript(s)
NASB, NASV = New American Standard Bible/Version
NC&C = New Covenants & Commandments - see OB
NCCF = New Covenant Christian Fellowship, earlier name of NCCG
NCCG = New Covenant Church of God, earlier name of MLT - see BCAY
NCP = New Covenant Press, publishing arm of MLT
NCW = New Covenant Witness, MLT magazine
NEB = New English Bible
NIV = New International Version of the Bible
NKJV = New King James Version of the Bible
Nor. = Norwegian
NT = New Testament, B'rit Chadashah
NWT = New World Translation of the Bible, unreliable Jehovah's Witness version
OB = Olive Branch - see NC&C
op.cit. = opere citato (lit. in the work cited)
OT = Old Testament, Tanakh
p(p). = page(s)
pl. = plural - see s.
PWNC = Prophetic Words of the New Covenant, revelation cataloging system - see OB
QED = quod erat demonstrandum (lit. which was shown to be proved)
RCF = Restoration Christian Fellowship, earlier name of ICJC
RhQ = Ruach haQodesh, Holy Spirit
RSTNE = Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition of the Bible
RSV = Revised Standard Version of the Bible
RV = Revised Version of the Bible
s. = singular - see pl.
S&G = Smith & Goodspeed Version of the Bible
TEV = Today's English Version of the Bible - see GNB
Vulg. = Biblia Vulgata, Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible
WEB = World English Bible
This page was first created on 19 March 2007
Last updated on 19 March 2007
Copyright ©2006 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved