Summary: The other day I heard a song on the radio that brought back some great memories, one that a very good friend of mine used to sing..."Look for me, for I will be there too..." ...after we've been there...
ACTS 17:16 21
The other day I heard a song on the radio that brought back some great memories, one that a very good friend of mine used to sing..."Look for me, for I will be there too..." ...after we've been there...
When I get to heaven I want to look my old friend up and spend some time sharing with him...it'll be a great time. I also want to look up Sis Lewis...and my grandpap who died way back in 1983. Come to think of it, there are an awful lot of people I want to see.
But you know, there are a lot of people I'd like to see up there that won't make it to heaven. There are so many that I know...family, friends...people that come to my services in these churches. That's something that isn't pleasant to think about, but it's true.
And you know what...I also believe that it won't be long until it'll happen. I'm even more convinced than ever that the rapture of the church is close...I honestly believe it will happen in my lifetime.
There are many others who also believe it...at least partly. Because even though part of us believes in the imminent return of Christ, there seems to be another part of us that believes we've got time without end.
And I think we see the evidence of this in the fact of our complacency when it comes to sharing the gospel. And I think that we need to get our act together.
We've designated February "Friendship Month" ...a month where we are encouraging each of you to invite as many people as possible to come to church and hear the salvation message. But I think that before we even begin to do that we need to get a few things straightened out in our own minds regarding eternity.
This past week as I began to prepare for the messages I'll be giving in February I began to think about eternity...and for some reason I began to think particularly about hell. I know this is something that even Christians don't talk about much, and I don't know for sure why. After all, it is a real place.
What is it really like? We hear a lot of stories, and jokes about hell and what it will be like. And even when there is a serious consideration made there are many misconceptions about this place.
There are actually 3 words in Scripture which are commonly translated hell, and I'd like to just briefly take a look at them.
The first one is Sheol...which occurs 65 times in O.T. Scripture.
In the KJV it is translated 31 times as "grave" 31 times as "hell" and 3 times as "pit"
The general idea is the "place of the dead"...not the grave as we think of it (hole...) but the place of those who have departed from this life.
The Hebrews regarded this as a place where both the righteous and the unrighteous go at death. However, God is present in sheol. In Ps 139:8 David says that even if he makes his bed in hell "sheol" God is there.
There are many references to the difference in conditions of the departed. And it shows that even in death God's people remain under his care, and the wicked never escape His judgment.
The second term for hell is Hades...which is a N.T. word that refers to the underworld, or region of the departed. It is the intermediate state between death and the resurrection.
Jesus, in certain of His words, associated judgment and suffering with the condition of some of the inhabitants of Hades...such as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the beggar.
So Sheol and Hades both describe an intermediate state prior to the judgment and the eternal state. The third word found in Scripture is Gehenna.
The distinction between Hades and Gehenna is very important...not only to understand all the many Scriptures in the N.T. but also to properly understand Christ's teaching in regard to the future state of the unsaved. It is also important to properly understand Christ's descent into Hades.
The word Gehenna comes from the Hebrew word for "Hinnom" that refers to the Valley of Hinnom just south of Jerusalem. It was in this deep, narrow valley that the Canaanites worshiped Baal and the fire god Molech by sacrificing their children in a fire that burned continuously.
Even Ahaz and Mannaseh, kings of Judah, were guilty of this terrible practice. It was converted by King Josiah into a place of abomination in order to make it unfit even for pagan worship. It became a place where dead bodies were thrown and burnt and came to represent the place of lost spirits.
In the time of Jesus the Valley of Hinnom was used as the garbage dump of Jerusalem. It served as a receptacle for all the filth and garbage of the city, including the dead bodies of animals and executed criminals. They had a terrible problem with maggots that would work their way into the midst of all this filth.