A Weekly Meditation of Pastor Chang
<Witnesses of Life After Death> (62)
Last Sunday I shared some of the biblical understanding and meaning of “Sheol,” “Hades,” “Hell” and “Lake of Fire”. Now let me briefly describe. These are the places for those who are not saved in Christ; after their earthly lives pass away, they will go there to stay. Sheol and Hades are the same place, which is a temporary place for unsaved souls to stay. It is already a terrible and frightening place to stay. The Lake of Fire is another name for Hell.
The relationship between Hades and the Hell is like this: According to the Bible, Jesus Christ’s description, Hades is a temporary place for unsaved souls to stay. Still, it is already a terrible place for unsaved souls to be tormented (Luke 16: 19-31.) However, it is still a little better than the Hell (the Lake of Fire.) All creation and creatures await the second coming of Christ, the end of the world. After the last battle, there will be a great white throne established for final judgment. All human souls will be resurrected with “spiritual bodies” to receive Christ’s judgment. All the evildoers and those whose names are not found written in the book of life, according to their works on the earth, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. There is no rest day or night there; they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Matthew 25:41; Rev. 14:11, 20:10.)
From the description, one should know that “Hades” is just like the “retaining center” for criminals before they are sentenced. They will wait until the final judgment then be removed into Hell, the Lake of Fire.
Now, we need to discuss “where” these places are: Hades, Hell, Paradise, and Heaven.
Before I share more, let us be reminded of a very important concept which is “the Spiritual Realm” or “the spiritual World.” Please remember: As we are still alive, now we live in “the physical world” which is totally different from the Spiritual World. The Spiritual World is much bigger than the physical world and affects our physical world. The Spiritual World is the working place for the angels of God and of evil. Of course, our Lord Jesus Christ is in control of this world too because He reigns over everything and everywhere in the entire universe. We as living human beings now live in the physical world cannot see angels or evil with our physical eyes. We cannot see them unless our spiritual eyes are open.
The Spiritual World is more complicated than our existing physical world. According to the Scripture, the Spiritual World can be divided into several levels. For example, the Apostle Paul describes that the places and the evils in the Spiritual World can be divided into four levels: the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).
These evils are not human nor do they have flesh. They are fallen angels. They have power to deceive, manipulate, kill, create conflicts among humans, then destroy them. They hold the power of death and Hades to kill and torment both the living and dead humans. Why? It is because of human sin and sinful behaviors that human beings surrender to evil, so that evil has the right to torture humankind, and the human become their slaves in sin.
Some people think that the Hades and Hell could be at somewhere under the earth. According to the Scriptures, in Exodus, when the group of Korah rebelled against Moses and God, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and they went down alive into the Sheol directly (Numbers 16: 28-35.) But does it really mean that the Hades (Sheol) is really located at somewhere under the deep earth? We don’t really know. I believe that it is in a very low place in the Spiritual World. It is a terrifying place.
Where are the Paradise and Heaven? I believe that it is always in the highest place of the Spiritual World. It is marvelous. Remember, after His Resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ spent 40 days with His disciples on this earth, then, He ascended into heaven by a cloud (Acts 1: 9,10.) There are many witnesses who have testified that when Christians pass away from the earth, their souls were led by the angels, departed and ascended from the earth, skies and planets, and finally arrived in Paradise. One can imagine how wonderful it will be. It is beyond our flesh and mind’s imagination. It is a wonderful place, on the top of the Spiritual World, which is the home of our loving God, the angels and of us. That is the place that we are longing for (Hebrew 11:16.)
(To be continued, Lord willing…)