In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.
Is it possible that people in Heaven could see the horrors of Hell? To answer that question, let’s remind ourselves of why Hell exists.
Hell was not a part of God’s original creation. Hell was necessitated by the angels who joined Lucifer in his revolt against God, along with people who chose to rebel against God. Warren Wiersbe explained the necessity of Hell this way: “Hell is a witness to the righteous character of God. He must judge sin. Hell is also a witness to man’s responsibility, the fact that man is not a robot or a helpless victim, but a creature able to make choices. God does not ‘send people to hell’; they send themselves by rejecting the Savior.” Hell is a place to quarantine those who choose to separate themselves from God.
The English word “Hell” is a translation of three different Greek words. First of all, “Hades” refers to the temporary place of the unsaved. When an unsaved person dies, he immediately goes to Hades, as the rich man did in Luke 16:23. Jesus said, “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.” Hades is a place of physical suffering, but it is not the final place of the unsaved. Hades is the immediate and temporary place of the unsaved.
The second word translated “Hell” in the Bible is “Tartarus.” In 2 Peter 2:4, Peter wrote, “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” Peter was not talking about the angels who joined Lucifer in his revolt and were cast to earth; we call them demons. Demons are free to roam the earth and influence believers and unbelievers alike, except for the group of demons Peter described. These fallen angels committed a particularly heinous sin recorded in Genesis 6, and God confined them to a place of judgment.
What will that final judgment be? It is the third word translated “Hell” in the Bible: “Gehenna,” the Lake of Fire. Just as Hades is the temporary location of the unsaved, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, is the final place of the unsaved. After the Great White Throne Judgment, every unbeliever in Hades will be cast into the Lake of Fire. In Matthew 8:12, Jesus described Gehenna as “the outer darkness,” a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mark 9:48 says it is “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” This is the final destination of the unsaved.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Do People In Heaven Know What Is Happening On Earth?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Warren Wiersbe, “The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament” (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2007), 1079.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)