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The Gospel From Patmos
Everyday Insights For Living
From The Last Book Of The Bible
Daily Devotional
Friday, November 27, 2015

            And the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and burning sulphur, where also the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev 20:10.

            A 10-year-old boy named Robert needed serious confrontation and ended up better for it. He was wild and uncontrollable. When a dentist ordered the boy into the dental chair, he refused repeatedly, finally threatening to take his clothes off if the dentist made him get into the chair.
            “Take ‘em off,” said the dentist. The boy took off everything but his pants.
            “OK, son, get into the chair.”
            “You don’t understand, if you make me, I’ll take all my clothes off!” said the boy.
            “Son, take ‘em off,” said the dentist. The boy complied and got into the chair, naked as the day he was born. When the procedures were finished, the boy asked for his clothes back.
            “I’m sorry, we’ll be keeping them for the night, your mother can pick them up tomorrow!”
            You can imagine the shock in the waiting room and the parking lot as the boy left with his mother. The next day the mother returned for the clothes and reported, “Robert has been blackmailing me about his clothes for years. You are the first person to call his bluff. You have no idea what an impact this has had on him.”1
            Our text for today contains strong and disturbing language. Some sincere Christian thinkers take it to mean that the lost will be literally tormented for an eternity of time, never dying, never a break, never released from their suffering. But this is a misunderstanding of the Hebraic concept of “forever.”
            The language of fire and sulphur recalls the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which thoroughly destroyed the cities and their inhabitants, but did not leave them twisting in the fire forever like a chicken in a rotisserie (Gen 19:24). Jude 7 tells us that Sodom was destroyed by “forever” fire (same Greek word as Rev 20:10). The language also recalls the destruction of Edom, which was to be burned “forever” (Isa 34:8-10), yet one finds no fire there today. “Forever” in Hebrew is not so much an indication of time as it is an indication of thoroughness. When God confronts evil the last time, He will make a full end, it will never return.
            Many people today would prefer that language like this didn’t appear in the Bible. But evil will not go away quietly, it must be confronted. Like Robert, the universe will be a better place for its destruction. The righteous will have dealt with the evil inside before the End.

            Lord, I realize afresh that I can make no compromise with evil. Send the fire of Your Spirit to cleanse me today.

1Adapted from “Family News With Dr. James Dobson,” Focus on the Family Newsletter, March, 2001, 2-3.


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