Dearest Family, let’s take part of our time and consider the truth about Hell.
People believe many things about it. Some don’t believe in it at all. I am compelled to insure that my children are aware of and rejoice in reality. …that they are prepared to face their future (Proverbs 31:25 – AMP) holding onto the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 19:10), enabled to patiently endure (Hebrews 12:1) all sorts of situations (Mark 13) and perhaps to attain salvation from the second death (Revelation 20:14 ). This has become immensely important to me. So indulge your mother and read the WHOLE thing.
Part of the knowledge base you will need to know is a view of hell based on truth instead of conjecture, popular literature past or present, Saturday morning cartoons, movies or any other form of media targeting the subject that humanity is so good at publishing and promoting.
I began this study when your sister, Sharin, said, “… You can’t prove eternal torment and torture to me.” I wasn’t trying to. We were actually reading in 2 Peter. At that point I realized that the conditions surrounding earth’s future were different than I’d ever imagined. From there I studied the new earth references in Scripture and concluded that knowledge of these things should change me just as catastrophically.2 Peter 3:3-13 (NASB)
According to our study, we are standing on the place of judgment…the earth…the lower earthly regions.
Was that a reference to hell? I found myself asking, “Does Hell even exist? Does it exist beneath me? Are we all walking around on a ball of … hell?”
So… what does the Bible say H-E- double toothpicks is anyway?
The old testament has only one word for hell – 7585 (Sheol) while the new testament has three – 1067(geenna; Gehenna, Valley of Hinnom) ;86 (Hades); and 5020 (Tartaroo; to send to hell, hold captive in Tartarus– Tartarus is a Greek noun labeling a place of torment and torture lower than Hades in Greek and Jewish apocalyptic literature (This literature is considered mythological, or based on human imagination) but Strong’s computer generated version of the classic concordance says that this word is not found in the new testament. Word 5020 is only used once contextually as – cast down to hell.
Let’s make an effort to explore hell as it is Biblically described. We will follow each of these words through the Bible and go forward, book by book, making informed choices based on what God has to say about this place – reality not imagination.
What I’ve learned about Hell will be restated in RED.
Lessons that touch this conversation of Hell but deserve further study are highlighted in GREEN. Please let me know what you get from this information. You might see things or connect ideas that have eluded me. I’m always open to the, “… But have you thought of…?” conversations and I will never take my love away from you before, during or after those conversations.
7585- Sh-ol / grave; by extension, realm of death, deepest depths – transliterated, Sheol. It is mentioned 31 times.
The first mention of Sheol (hell) is in Deuteronomy 32:22 . In this “song of Moses” God is angry with his children, the Israelites, for making him jealous concerning the objects of their worship ( gods who were foreign, recently appeared, or ones whom their fathers did not fear) sacrificing to demons who are not gods, and making detestable idols. In this passage God’s wrath is so great that he destroys the earth by fire – a fire that burns to the realm of death. So then, even Moses knew about earth’s final destiny– the new city of God, the lake of fire and the whole Terra transforming process described in 2 Peter and Revelation. (Whoops. I almost gave away what I have concluded! Another letter is coming about the New Heaven and New earth where that information would be outlined. Today we’ll stick to one topic.)
Next we have 2 Samuel 22:6, David’s “song of praise”. This was a song that David would sing after God delivered him from the hand of all his enemies …and from the hand of Saul. I picture him making a ritual or habit of singing on his way back from a battle or when he found rest having returned home from battle (you can find evidences of this as you look to the words just under the chapter numbers in the Psalms). In the Biblical context we hear David proclaiming the willingness of a mighty God to help in terrible struggles – even battles with Death itself/himself – whenever David would cry out to the LORD. The entire chapter contains lessons on prayer and the psychology of mounting an effective offensive campaign. Again, where 7585 is used it references the “cords of the grave” suggesting that Sheol uses its cords against us. Also in this passage we see the fire of wrath coming from the mouth of God in anger but this time for the purpose of rescuing the one he delights in.
Fight on the right side. Amen?
Hell as Sheol is mentioned twice in the book of Job. In 11:8 Job’s friend, Zophar, challenges Job’s knowledge of God’s mysteries and his ability to probe the limits of the Almighty. Zophar reaches for the furthest thing he can think of – the heights of heaven and the depths of the grave (7585)to describe how much bigger God is than Job can even imagine. (by which description- at the end of the book we discover- God himself is insulted. We know this because God says none of Job’s friends spoke what was correct about God.) And in 26:6 Job replies to his friends, “Oh yeah!?! Beat this, Morons. Even Death (7585) is naked before God.” Ok- the first two sentences I paraphrased but not the third. Job is much more poetic than I am but just as biting.
So to review:
The realm of death – sheol – is real, and geographical.
The cords of the grave reach us and cause fear because of real harm inflicted.
God is victorious over Sheol.
God knows ALL about Sheol. Nothing about it is hidden from him.
Based on these teachings about hell, I’ve concluded that hell is real but because of the power of God I am free not to live in fear of it or its activity in my daily life.
Hell in the Psalms
Moving on, we enter the Psalms where ‘hell’ is mentioned seven times. That number association by itself is interesting but, again, a topic for another day. The first time we meet up with hell here is in 9:17. David is the author; the tune is, “the Death of the Son”. David experienced death of sons at least three times I can think of – 1. the child born to him of adultery with Bathsheba, killed by the hand of God 2. When Absalom murdered his brother, Amnon, for raping his sister, Tamar. And 3. When Absalom , who desperately wanted to be king, was routed, then found hanging in a tree by his hair. Absalom was killed by the commander of David’s army. This song may be a memorial to one or all of them or of none at all. I mention them to say that David was intimately acquainted with the death of family. This is a concept mentioned in the “song of Moses” as he recounts how one ceases to be a child of God which is also a very interesting study that flies in the face of modern church teachings. It is, none-the-less true and should be considered…another day.
Psalm 9:17 references the grave (7585) saying that the wicked return to it. Logically , one has to start at some place (Point A1) and go away from it (Point B) in order to be able to “return” to it (Point A2). Do the wicked return from whence they came… from the grave?
Certainly in all of the previous examples or events, wickedness and justice played a part. That concept of returning would be interesting to explore. “A dog returns to its vomit” and , “ …dust you are and to dust you shall return.” come to mind.
In 16:10 David rejoices that God does not abandon him to the grave (7585). This is a repeated passage in scripture (Acts 2:27,31; Acts 13:35,37) as it relates to Jesus Christ.
In 18:5 We are back to the song in 2 Samuel 22 and the cords of the grave (7585). Though the Psalm 18 version is shorter (50 verses vs. 51 verses). They would be interesting to compare.
In 55:15 a maskil – David is asking God to instruct Death to take his [David’s] enemies alive into the grave. Here the ‘grave’ is this same ‘Sheol’, word 7585…the place where Death lives. He also describes this place in verse 23 as ‘the pit of corruption’.
Next in 86:13 David’s prayer is that God rescue him from ‘the depths of the grave’.
In 116:3 ‘cords of death‘ is when the ‘anguish of the grave’ (7585) comes upon us…. it feels like being overcome by trouble and sorrow. You may have this feeling and know why – just causes like a death in the family or the loss of something or someone you hold dear – or you may have no clue why you are heavy in despair. The cords of death are Death’s weapons. They are destructive and the ONLY effective response is, “LORD, save me!” LORD in all caps refers to the One who exists and causes all things to exist. This is in contrast to ‘Lord’ which is simply ‘master’. When fighting Death, using the proper name of the LORD is an absolute essential.
Moving on to Psalm 139:8 we find that David acknowledges God’s presence. God is not bound. Sheol cannot keep him out in a “my side” – “your side” kind of way. God can go anywhere. Sheol cannot.
So to review:
The wicked return to Sheol. Do they come and go? Did they start out from Sheol?
All we get here is that there are pathways into and out of Sheol.
Anything else is pure conjecture at this point.
What a treasure that God never abandons his own – not even in Sheol.
The cords of the grave can surround a person
The grave and the pit of destruction are in Sheol.
David asks God to send a person who betrayed him to Sheol…alive.
“LORD save me!” is the only effective tool to fight off the anguish of the grave
God can be found even in Sheol.
Based on these teachings, I’ve concluded that hell has parts and that humanity can come and go from hell – resurrected in body, mind and spirit. If I find myself in hell or embattled with it, God knows and will respond to my cry for help. God’s power can and will save those who call on him. I can trust God’s description of and power over hell because he’s been there and been victorious.
Hell in the book of Proverbs
Solomon’s first communication point is a traveler whose unknown destination is ‘the grave’, via the home of “the adulteress”. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life. Her paths are crooked but she knows it not – Proverbs 5:5,6. And in today’s environment, women like her are increasing in number. She appears – uh –as spiritually aware as the chicks in all those “blonde” jokes are aware of real life. Maybe that’s because of adultery’s direct effect of searing the morals and disabling a person’s ability to worship in spirit and in truth. I have found that these people are more interested in selfish pleasures than anything else….
We are warned about her again in chapter 7 verses 24-27. Verse 26 – many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. Here we have one starting point on a high speed, “locked in”, crowded journey leading unsuspecting souls to certain slaughter. STAY AWAY!
The Bible has much to say about adultery. In some cases it is the deception of physical pleasure that wrecks relationships. In some, it is the self-oriented hardness of heart that brings an end to family unity. In still other places, adultery is the giving up of true worship for imitations which ultimately cloud the brain as well as the heart resulting in spiritual cessation of being. Do NOT choose these paths!!! When adulterous thoughts first enter your mind – and they will try to invade each of us at some time – immediately trap and kill that thought by making it submit to our Lord, Jesus Christ. Sex thoughts are good. Worship thoughts are good. Adulterous thoughts are evil and if given any opportunity will kill you. Seriously. Without thinking twice about it.
This passage mentions chambers of death. This is interesting as now we have a new image of a house when talking about hell.
When we get to Proverbs 9:13-18, Solomon’s next communication on the topic, we meet another woman who “gathers” victims in her house; the foolish woman, (3687 –foolish, folly, stupidity, insolence, with a possible implication of rebellion).
She is loud in her invitation which she extends specifically to the simple and to those who lack judgment. Here we do not have a highway on-ramp, we have a teleportation device – enter and go straight to hell, Sheol, the depths of the grave 7585. I’m picturing a “Beam me [down], Scotty… uh… Folly,” kind of scenario. Again, deception is her tool, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious.” This “logic” is totally absurd BUT people listen and are fatally trapped.
If we define ‘water’ by previous verses, it makes more sense.
Water is not really water here. (Proverbs 5:15-20)It is not urine either. Contextually, he is talking about casual sex. You don’t share your body with just anybody. You don’t let anyone steal it. You don’t steal it from other people. Make sure you guard your body, your ‘seed’ (descendants), your heart, and your soul.
Is the word “food” that is used here really what we eat to sustain our physical bodies? I doubt it. Food would taste the same whether you ate it in public or in some secluded retreat.
What does Jesus say about “bread” (the KJV rendering of this word, “food”)? Man shall not live by bread alone but by God’s words (Matthew 4:4) It is not right to give the children’s bread [deliverance from demonic possession]to their dogs ( Matthew 15:26) Bread equals teachings in Matthew 16:12. It is a daily gift of God to and for his people (Luke 11:3).The true bread of eternal life from heaven is Jesus ( John 6:48). Bread or “food” is the meeting of needs not purchased with money (Luke 15:17; John 6:5) Jesus’ food is to do the will of God and finish the work God gave him (John 4:33,34) The food God’s children eat is another great study for another day as is completed work versus dead works.
Secrecy (5643 – hiding place, secret place, shelter; covering, veil:- covert, secret place, hiding place, backbiting, privily, protection) – where you eat your food – seems to be the enticing element.
Make sure that your fellowship with your lifetime mate and with others is appropriate. As you eat together specifically like the LORD desires, do not get caught up in secrecy. This is true on both the physical (i.e. daily needs) and spiritual (the cleansing power of God plus his nutritive Word of Truth) levels of existence.
Proverbs chapter 15 mentions hell twice. First, in 15:11 to say that God knows EVERY thing. If Sheol (7585) and Destruction lie open before him, what makes you think your inner most heart-thoughts are out of bounds for him? ….and the hearts of men in general? Huh? The incredulous nature of this implied question within the text is almost comical.
Second, in Proverbs 15:24, Solomon explains one quality of the “path of life”. It leads upwards for a reason; namely so you won’t go down to hell. Wise people take on the hills.
If we picture two paths – one of which leads up and the other down, then we see that these trails are ‘different’. Seeing differences is helpful data when making choices. Hebrews says the mature have trained themselves to “distinguish good from evil”. Moving upwards does involve training because it is seldom – if ever- easy. This is a larger topic than I thought but it is well worth the effort of thought and study.
In Proverbs 23:14 our actions matter. Parents who punish children with the rod ( Currently viewed as an unloving activity) actually save the child from hell by doing so ( an act of truly incredible love). Correcting kids is what loving parents do. So, in your parenting, don’t cave, save. If you discipline them when they are young and are consistent, life will be so much more pleasant later on for everyone.
His concluding thought about hell… it just does not quit! “Sheol and Destruction are never satisfied, … never full”. The interesting thing here is that the eyes of man are just like it, never full. If our eyes act similarly to how Sheol behaves, then we have a window into hell’s behavior. “Insatiable”, “curious”, “roving” are some of the descriptors that come to mind.
Sheol and Destruction keep trying to fill us with heaviness, trouble and sorrow (the cords of Death). They keep recruiting women….and men… to kill us. They want the numbers within their chambers to be spectacular as they lead the “lemming” procession into the lake of fire which is the second death, a process and a place by which everything about a person ceases to exist. Everything that is, except their bones through which very happy worms crawl, foraging as they go (See Revelation and Isaiah).
So to review:
12. One pathway into Sheol is through adultery’s door.
13. Sheol has “rooms”
14. Folly recruits victims for Sheol.
15. Folly’s deception involves taking personal sexual treasures that do not belong to you.
Folly entices with secrecy using teachings and actions that suppress the truth.
These will teleport you to Sheol.
16. God knows everything about Sheol.
17. Look for the upward path. It keeps you out of Sheol.
18. Accept correction with the family “Rod”. It will keep you out of Sheol.
19. We learn about Sheol’s behavior by watching our own.
Based on these teachings I’ve concluded that “good company” does not live at hell’s door. Hell’s recruiters exploit our most basic functions, desires and needs. Though we rely on God’s help to get out of hell, there are things we can do to stay out of it. In fact, family testimonies (adventures, strengths and weaknesses, victories and failures – the Rod) play a key role in keeping other family members out of hell. It is OK to learn about family. It is OK to learn about hell. This knowledge is important to our survival.
Your eyes will see many things in this life and what you do with what you see is very important. Choose life. PLEASE.
Hell in Isaiah
Moving on, we come to Isaiah’s perspective in 5:14, the great vineyard chapter.
In this case, the grave eats. (7585) Our fat lady does not sing, she eats. She enlarges her appetite as men of rank die of hunger and God’s people go into exile for lack of understanding. Into “grave’s” mouth fall the nobles along with the masses. It is interesting to note that God is exalted because of this event. It shows his righteousness and his justice. I suppose that if you want her to go on a diet, then you should pay attention to things like ‘understanding’, ‘righteousness’, and ‘justice’ — a concept that is repeated in other portions of scripture.
Isaiah is granted another picture of this Realm of Death Isaiah 14. She is all astir and rouses the spirits of the “the departed” (dead) to greet the newbie – Babylon, the Oppressor (verse 4) – while earth above rejoices.
In my own creative imagination, I can picture a dominant female character whisking her way through underground caverns, her gauze-like ash colored outfit blowing in the breeze she makes as she hurriedly passes through. She doesn’t stop long, but passes by quickly, smacking unfortunate spirits out of their slumber, calling them to assembly.
So there they all are in hell’s “Great Hall”. Finally, Babylon enters making a great show – flowing robes, the puffy chest, squared shoulders, stately stride… Proud even at the last as he descends the steps purveying such a massive crowd assembled in his “honor”.
Back to the Biblical account. What he really gets is a chorus of taunting. “Haha. You’re weak just like us!” they say. It goes from bad to worse as the reality of his situation sinks in…literally.
Just in case you thought the “chosen” were off-the-hook, they are not. In chapter 28 we hear about Ephraim’s “covenant” with Sheol (7585). He wants to save his own tookus by making lies his refuge and falsehood his hiding place. Death is not a stranger to these tools. As we’ve seen before, she is skilled at deception.
But now, God steps in and disallows this covenant permitting the grave to be her normal voracious self Isaiah 28:18.
Morning after morning God’s scourge sweeps through. It causes terror. It floods the secret place.
God will never allow you to save yourself. In point of fact, it is a task beyond the power of mortal man. Nor will he allow that which he hates to be the salvation of those set apart for HIS glory. Rather, as we see in verses 26 and 29, God himself instructs his children and teaches them the right way.
Isaiah is slightly sarcastic in his reasoning as if he can’t believe how dumb some people are. It is like he would say, “…so follow God. His way is the path of life, Idiot.”
Isaiah 57:9 brings attention to just how interested in the Grave his people are…and this time his plea is an emotional, heart-felt word from the LORD essentially saying, [Why? Why are you doing this to me? Wickedness is really stupid. Those people will be blown away by a breeze] and he counters saying, “the man who makes Me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”
Making Yahweh your refuge is one way…the way… to fight effectively against Sheol. This reiterates David’s “LORD save me!” battle strategy. Interesting.
So to review:
Sheol enlarges her appetite through hunger and exile. She eats rich and poor, happy and sad because they regard not the works of the LORD neither do they consider the operation of his hands.
The departed don’t always sleep in Sheol. They are roused for special events.
The King of Babylon, a man, enters Sheol with pomp but descends to the recesses of the pit. Cast out of his tomb v.19 because he ruined his own people v.20 (His behavior riles my sense of justice as well. How dare he turn against his own people! We are so blessed that God is just.)
People can make covenants with Sheol.
Whether those agreements stand up is God’s decision though.
God disallows his people to make those covenants.
Seeking refuge in Sheol is misplacing your trust and insulting to God.
Based on these teachings, I’ve concluded that knowing what God does and how he works is important in the regulation of hell’s voracious appetite and helps to ensure our survival. Those inside hell sleep and taunt (…and people say heaven will be boring! Oy-vay….) Hell is interactive. Its rooms are allocated – assigned for special people with specific intent. How I interact with hell has a bearing on my relationship with God.
Hell in Ezekiel
Did you know that God mourns for kings who go down to the pit? He did for this guy in Ezekiel 31. In a message to Pharaoh and his hordes, the prophet puts forth an account of another king -Assyria. God is essentially letting Egypt know that it is He who sets kings up and makes them fall. God also ( and this is important to our discussion of hell) mourns for kings who fall, who go down into the pit. In verse 15, he shows his hurting heart for them by covering the deep springs with mourning and holding back its waters. He covered Lebanon with gloom and the trees of the field withered away and all the nations trembled…. but the other trees were consoled.
Wow. I’m thinking this is rather epic. The way God gets emotional about world leaders….amazing. This is a curious blend of care and impartial judgment and declaration about God’s true authority and power. What we learn about this grave/pit/ hell (7585) is that – as stated before– it has sections. These categories or “rooms” would be – at least in this passage- as follows: trees of Eden ( a way of talking about Earth’s kings) / nations/ uncircumcised/those killed by the sword.
Ezekiel’s only other mention of hell is in the next chapter Ezekiel 32, a lament for Pharaoh. This king is taken on the grand tour of the grave (7585) of those who spread terror among the land of the living. Even though God is the one who caused them to spread terror, they still have an arrangement in hell – the king surrounded by his hordes. Ezekiel shows us the layout: the nation (or king) entombed in the center with his hordes laying about all around him.
This too, is Pharaoh’s lot (v. 28, 32) and at the end of his tour, he is OK with it… comforted by it.
That last bit strikes me as odd. The word used for comfort 5162 – is more confusing. This word, translated “comforted” means to repent, relent, change one’s mind; be grieved/ to comfort, console, express sympathy; to be comforted or consoled; to console one’s self , to change one’s mind; avenge oneself. It is the same comfort that Isaac experienced when he married (he was comforted after his mother’s death) and the same comfort that David comforted Bathsheba with after the death of their first son. It would seem that Pharaoh needed the tour.
When confronted with the truth of our situation, our perspective changes; how did Pharaoh think of God from the vantage point of hell? How will anyone who spreads terror in the land of the living? Hitler comes to mind because he is the great ethical conundrum of those who speak of eternal judgment and punishment – to which I will now reply, He is assigned his portion by the One True Judge. I think his view will be similar to Pharaoh’s but that’s not my call or yours either, for that matter.
This passage kind of makes me not want to join any army though …. I wonder if the soldiers and kings of God’s people – the circumcised in heart – have a different place they go to when they “fall”. I take comfort in David’s psalm – God has not abandoned him to the grave. Perhaps He will not abandon us to it either.
So to review:
25. Sheol has special rooms for kings and their armies
26. Ezekiel’s wailing or Lamentation for the multitude of Egypt brings it down to the “nether world/the pit” (verse 18) just like the prophesy to the dry bones brought those bones to life. Ezekiel 37 The power of the word is amazing Here is another pathway into hell.
27. There is speech in Sheol… from the long dead and fresh dead.
28. Elam takes shame with him when he is set in Sheol.
29. The “hordes” take their weapons of war with them into Sheol and their swords are laid under their heads. Their iniquities are on their bones.
30. Those in Sheol include Kings and their armies (the uncircumcised and those that cause terror in the land of the living) The king in the center and his hordes lay around him. Those named are: Asshur, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, the Zidonians each people group with their own space or “room”.
Based on these teachings, I’ve concluded that hell has special arrangements. Both things and deeds can be taken into hell and stay with the departed. This concept introduces the thought that hell may not be as whispy or non-tangible as some have led us to believe.
Hell in the Minor Prophets
Amos warns the people of Israel (Amos 8-9) that bad times are coming. Times when God will be silent. Times when God will find them and punish them with death-by-sword for their sin… for swearing in the names of other “gods”. In the last chapter, he goes into detail about their intense desire to get away and just how futile that pursuit is. Even digging to the depths of the grave (7585) won’t work because God’s hand will take them…even from there.
This part of Amos is a direct counterpart to David’s prayer in Psalm 139. They both talk about God being everywhere but Amos is all about the punishing hand of God finding those who seek refuge away from God while David is all about finding belonging and peace taking refuge in the LORD. It is incredible to me that people seek a refuge in the depths of hell but it is a consistent thought spanning cultures and seems to rise in different ways with each generation. Awful. Tragic. May this never be true of the family that God has given us.
Jonah 2:2 God hears what goes on in hell. Jonah cried to the LORD for help from the grave and God not only heard him but listened to Jonah…two different concepts by the way. The prophet’s body may have been in the big fish but his spirit was definitely in the realm of the departed. That is interesting to note because this is the very sign that Jesus references when the spiritual leaders around him called for a sign. Part of Jesus’ testimony is that he has descended (Ephesians 4:9,10) into the lower earthly regions- i.e. hell – yet also ascended and led captivity captive (Psalm 68:18) and given gifts to men….. A wonderful deed I am eternally grateful for.
Habakkuk too, points out the appetite of the grave calling it greedy and never satisfied (Habakkuk 2:5). God presents through the revelation to this prophet the Biblical idea of “karma”… what goes around comes around. In answer to Habakkuk’s complaint about how the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves, God points out that the final event in the oppressor’s journey is that what he has done will be done to him. Whether they come from earth above or hell beneath, taunts are his lot. It reminds me of Babylon’s entrance to the realm of death.
So to review:
Sheol cannot keep God out of Hell if He wants to go there.
God hears his people from Sheol.
Being there and being victorious over Sheol is part of Jesus’ testimony.
Sheol eats human kind. Her residents taunt.
Based on these teachings I’ve concluded that Scripture is consistent on these points about hell. Repeated items are repeated so that we will learn them well. Pay attention. God does.
Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth
Yes. Now about that taunting thing…. Rabbit Trail ——- Weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I read an article where this man rants about having proved that hell does not exist but one thing he forgot to address is this little gnashing thing. Isn’t that connected to hell? …to torture and torment in hell? That’s what I’d been taught. Could the teaching I blindly accepted as truth be wrong? Now, I had to investigate.
Wow. What a study! So I just have to share. Ready?
2786 – hāraq:- to gnash, grind (teeth)
1031 –brychō:-to gnash, grind
5149 – trizō – to gnash, grind
1030 – brygmos:- gnashing, grinding
Those definitions sound pretty boring… but wait! The old testament gives us more insight.
What causes gnashing?
9 He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. Job 16:9 King James Version (KJV)
About that tearing thing… it’s what gnashers do.
A mom who teaches her children to “tear the prey” ends up a dry withered vine. Ezekiel 19:3,6; 22:25,27…. That’s all about how we treat people with our words, isn’t it? Destructive and damaging words never end well for anyone.
Psalm 22:13:- Jesus’ thoughts on the cross prophesied. This is how God views those that taunted His son – roaring lions that tear their prey.
- Anger in response to the truth
54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Acts 7:54 King James Version (KJV)
Now read it in the Amplified version
54 Now upon hearing these things, they [the Jews] were cut to the heart and infuriated, and they ground their teeth against [Stephen]. Acts 7:54Amplified Bible (AMP)
“Gnashing of teeth” is an idiom for angry complaining or malicious mocking ( Psalm 35:16) in the Hebrew while the Greeks associate it with sarcasm – a type of biting mockery. Hence the reference to teeth?
Anger apparently is a catalyst for such biting behavior. This mom says be polite and gracious. Give your anger to the LORD and let him deal with little nasties. It is a much healthier strategy.
- Hypocrisy [being non-conformist to one’s own moral creed], and ridiculing someone to get a laugh are all traits of the gnashers.
16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth. Psalm 35:16King James Version (KJV)
Shakespeare had it right when one of his characters declares to his son, “To thine own self be true”. Turning your back on your own moral standard creates opportunity for gnashing of teeth; that is to say the intensity of the self inflicted conflict vents inappropriately.
In our own family, grandma Webster/Rose/Shields is an example. She deeply despised anyone who drank. Her father-in-law lost the love of his life and when he became a widower lost himself in bottles of booze. Your grandma had to take care of him and she hated it. In some sense, she hated Grandpa Frank.
Fast forward several years and her husband, Grandpa Ed Webster died young leaving her to care for five children. Grandma was devastated. In a last ditch attempt to survive this awful trial, she went to her family doctor. He told her to go get a bottle of whiskey. She did. She polished off the whole thing…alone…in one night. That whiskey bottle remains as a monument to this pivotal moment in family history enshrined within her eldest son’s china hutch to this day.
When her head finally lifted off the table she was a changed woman. She was never the same and neither were her children. Added to her other flaws (and we all have flaws) was a harsh treatment of people, a disrespect, and an increased self focus that sent her children into a tail spin. Hypocrisy and the fine art of gnashing killed them all…killed their self-worth, their moral anchors, their joy of being themselves. Tragic.
Ridicule can be grinding can’t it? Trying to manipulate our own comfort by lessening the comfort of others is actually self defeating. Our sense of humor does need boundaries…this is a great launching point.
Guard your morals! DON’T GNASH.
Gnashers are social
Gnashers are their own social category or grouping of people (wicked enemies) and certain things are true of them…
- Plotting against the just
12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. Psalm 37:12King James Version (KJV)
Watching the righteous in an “eagle-eye” and “stalking” kind of way, jealous, upset, melting away, focused on their own dashed desires
10 The wicked shall see it [the fearlessness, blessing and generosity of the righteous], and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish. Psalm 112:10King James Version (KJV)
Off kilter and perhaps unfounded, definitely inappropriate gloating
16 All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it. Lamentations 2:16King James Version (KJV)
Where do we find said Gnashers?
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 8:12King James Version (KJV)
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:48-51King James Version (KJV)
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 25:30King James Version (KJV)
God ‘says the kingdom heaven is within us, right(Luke 17:21)? Could this place of gnashing-of-teeth be the proverbial “hell within” people talk about? … or the ‘hell on earth’ that has become a catch phrase? The Bible does say a lot about grumbling and complaining…even mockery. Never once are they sought after qualities that gather favor from people or God. I guess God lets them grouse and then he puts an end to their clamor. Our earthly ears might appreciate it too.
- IN the Jewish nation … the spiritual leadership
28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. Luke 13:28King James Version (KJV)
Important to note that Jesus was talking to the religious elite when he spoke these words. When you identify gnashing in religious leadership, be faithful to the truth and stand apart from them. for they are headed to the realm of the dead just like the rebellious, self aggrandizing Levite, Dathan and his crew.
IN the fire … tossed out like trash
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:42King James Version (KJV)
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:50King James Version (KJV)
IN outer darkness … tossed out like trash
13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 22:13King James Version (KJV)
… lots of tossing by the angels of these folk who are labeled as worthless, lazy and unprofitable…those who only do their duty. They do not have proper wedding clothes (an association with good deeds is valid here). They will be bound before the tossing. They can no longer use their hands or feet but they CAN make noise – weep, wail, gnash…grind.
Gnashing is a demonic destruction tool
18 And wheresoever he( the evil spirit) taketh him (the man’s son), he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. Mark 9:18King James Version (KJV)
Jesus cast it out! Praise God He can get rid of this gnashing business.
The tricky part is where we come to eternal punishment. This has been taught to me as equal to eternal or everlasting torture.
(2851:- kolasis – punishment. Sometimes translated as ‘torture’ this word comes from the word 2967-kōlyō – to hinder, stop, restrain, forbid; oppress; to be prevented, kept from). Everlasting torture is NOT what it says. If I am putting this together correctly, and I am confident that I am, this ‘punishment’ is a type of Divine disallowance of face time or fellowship with God.
But here is where translation becomes an issue. eternal (166:- aiōnios – eternal, long ago ) can actually mean, “long ago” and comes from a generic term that is also controversial (165:-aiōn – eternity, age (time period); ‘this age’ can mean the universe or even the current world system).
It reminds me of a passage in 1 Peter 3 and even in 2 Peter 3 that talks about those people outside the ark …. long, long ago. From that frame of reference, the Matthew 25 comment about eternal punishment of those tossed outside makes total sense. But because the translations differ and the term is suspect one cannot prove anything either way. Suffice it to say, “No bueno” applies.
Has this information about the Biblical “hell” been life changing for you too? Wow. It has changed how I think about people, increased my boldness, decreased my fear, and helped me to ask God for his help more often along this upward path I’ve chosen.
Thank you for joining me in this gathering of information about hell in the Old Tstament. Please join me for an investigation of hell in the New Testament. I love you all so much. Please tell the grandkids everything.