Would a loving God burn people forever? This is a question that must be answered. The idea of a God that burns people forever has turned away millions from Him and creates a misrepresentation of His character. God is a God of Love and when something doesn’t fit that character attribute, we must look deeper into our own interpretations and reconcile them.
Check out the video above for some insight into this subject. Also, I have provided some Bible text and more explanation below.
- Malachi 4:1 “’For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be STUBBLE. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch.'”
- Malachi 4:3 “‘You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ASHES under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
- John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not PERISH but have everlasting life.”
- Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is DEATH; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Isaiah 1:28 “The DESTRUCTION of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, And those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.”
- Psalm 104:35 “May sinners be consumed from the earth, And the wicked be NO MORE. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!”
- Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be NO MORE PAIN, for the former things have passed away.”
What about the word “unquenchable?” Obviously, there is a conflict in our own understanding so we have to let the Bible interpret itself. So we look to the Scriptures to see what it means. The Bible tells us that we must gain knowledge by “…precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line,” (Isaiah 28:8-11).
Jeremiah 17:27 says, when speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, “then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” This was prophetic and fulfilled: “They burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire. … To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah.” 2 Chronicles 36:19.
Obviously, that fire is still not burning so we must have to conclude that unquenchable means a fire that can not be put out until it had consumed everything.
Same thing about Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude 7 says that their sin resulted in “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” But that fire is not burning anymore either.
I found the following explanation about “for ever” and why it doesn’t necessarily mean eternity. I know this is long, but the explanation is clear.
When Moses gave Israel the law regarding the relation of the master to his manservant, it was stipulated that the servant could not be held in servitude more than six years without his consent. If at the end of the six-year period the servant should desire to continue in the service of his master, it would be necessary for them to fulfill the following requirement of the Mosaic law: “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.” [Exodus 21:6]. How long does “for ever” mean here? It evidently means as long as both parties should remain alive. Else, how could a living servant serve a dead master? Or how could a dead servant serve a living master? This law was given to the Hebrew commonwealth more than 14 centuries before the birth of Christ. Surely the masters and servants who entered into such agreements that long ago are not now fulfilling them.
When Naaman, the Syrian leper, had been healed, he desired to give to Elisha a costly gift as a token of his appreciation of the prophet’s kindness. Elisha refused to accept pay for what God had done for Naaman. But his covetous servant, Gehazi, slipped away from the house after the man had gone, and overtaking him on the way, obtained the gift by telling him a lie. Returning to Elisha after hiding the present, Gehazi lied to the prophet, saying that he had been nowhere. Thereupon the seer reproved the wicked servant, and added: “The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out of his presence a leper as white as snow.” [2 Kings 5:27]. This took place nearly 900 years before Christ. Is Gehazi a leper today? The only reasonable meaning that “for ever” can have here is that Gehazi would be a leper until death.
David, in delivering his charge to Israel and to Solomon, declared: “Howbeit the Lord God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever.”[1 Chronicles 28:4] David’s death is recorded, and it is expressly stated that “the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years.” [1 Kings 2:10, 11; 1 Chronicles 29:27, 28] Peter, on the day of Pentecost, said: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. . . . For David is not ascended into the heavens.” [Acts 2:29, 34] Paul remarks that David “fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.” [Acts 13:36] How long, then, did God mean that David should reign when He said that this king would rule over Israel “for ever”? He meant that David should be king over that people as long as he should live. And it was so, for he reigned over them 40 years, that is, until he died.
Jesus said of sinners in the judgment, that “these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” [Matthew 25:46] Some have interpreted this to mean eternal torment. But this passage does not speak of everlasting punishing; it speaks of “everlasting punishment.” “The wages of sin is death,” [Romans 6:23] says Paul. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20] says Ezekiel. That means that the sinner will suffer everlasting death, from which there will be no recovery whatever. No resurrection from the second death is promised to any one.
Paul makes clear what is meant by everlasting punishment when he says that “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” [2 Thessalonians 1:7-9] The everlasting punishment to be meted out to the ungodly will be eternal destruction.
Some have inquired about the “everlasting fire” spoken of in Matthew 25:41. This means a fire that will constantly burn until it shall consume everything upon which it feeds, and none shall be able to hinder its destructive work until it is finished. Sodom and Gomorrah, the wicked Canaanite cities that were destroyed nearly 1,900 years before Christ, “are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” [Jude 7] And Peter declares that God turning “the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly.” [2 Peter 2:6.]
The annihilation of those cities is an example of the fate-eternal destruction by fire-that awaits those who shall be turned to ashes in the lake of fire. —Robert L. Odom, Biblical Research Institute General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists