Jesus Christ began his ministry by preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven and filled the Gospels with parables about that Kingdom. He came bringing promises about the future glory of the Kingdom of Heaven and told us how we can have our citizenship there, by believing in Him. However, He also mentioned hell and gave us warnings about punishment after death.

There are two words in the New Testament which have been translated hell; I will deal with them in two monthly articles. The first is the Greek word Hades, which is equivalent to the Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament. Jesus used this word to describe where the rich man went after death in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell (Hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:22-23. One example of where the word Sheol is used in the Old Testament is Psalm 16:10, in which David prophesied about Jesus Christ. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” In the New Testament, the apostle Peter commented on that Psalm. “For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Acts 2:25-27. Peter went on to say that Jesus Christ came out of hell (Hades) at the Resurrection. “He seeing this before spake of the Resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (Hades), neither his flesh did see corruption.” Acts 2:31.

Sheol, or Hades, has different levels, the bottom level being the most horrible. One reference to this is in Deuteronomy 32: 22. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell (Sheol), and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” I believe “the foundations of the mountains” refers to false religions and false gods. They form the foundations of heathen nations (mountains are symbolic of nations in prophecy). It appears that Sheol is the place where Lucifer, the fallen angel goes in the prophecy of Isaiah, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell (Sheol), to the sides of the pit.” Isaiah 14:15. Many people believe Lucifer is another name for Satan. After the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ, Hades or Sheol, will be cast into the lake of fire, as prophesied in the book of Revelation. “And death and hell (Hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Revelation 20:14. Jesus spoke of Hades as being the opposite of heaven. “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell (Hades).” Luke 10:15.

There is a division in the Israel truth movement about what happens to a person after he or she dies. Some say your soul goes to either heaven or hell. Others say we just go to sleep until the Resurrection. One man told me he would close his eyes in death and his next waking moment would be Resurrection morning. He died a few years later and I wondered if his belief was accurate. Now that there is resuscitation after heart failure, many people have reported going to a place of either bliss or torment after their hearts stopped. There have been a number of books written by Christians explaining their life after death experiences and they are always good if the person has a personal relationship with God through believing and trusting in Jesus Christ. However, there have been accounts of hell experiences by people who do not know the Lord. If people are afraid of a hell experience after death, the answer is to get down on their knees, confess their sins, and ask Jesus Christ to come into them by the Holy Spirit.

Through Jesus we overcome hell and death. Only in Him is there eternal life.