Those living in unbelief have a certain picture of God imprinted in their minds and they won’t let go of it, but there is a second picture they need to see.
THE FIRST PICTURE
Man can be assured of one inescapable thing, without any shadow of a doubt. God is going to destroy the earth in order to renew it, but before He does so He will remove all human beings who do not have any interest in Him and the plan of redemption that He had set in motion through Jesus Christ.
This manner of God’s Judgement and its purpose is a picture that the world at large is laughing at. It is a picture that seems too ridiculous for inclusion in the imagination of those who, first of all, do not even believe in the existence of a higher being, let alone some kind of judgement to come by such an entity.
Many argue, that should there indeed be a God, then taking such action against all who oppose Him would be the mark of a dictatorial monster wishing to annihilate all who refuse to honour and serve him..
This is the overall picture of a supposed God as seen by those in the world who despise those who would dare to convince them otherwise. But there is another picture, already painted, that they need to see. It concerns the reason for God’s severe judgement upon the world and the unbelieving human element therein.
THE SECOND PICTURE
For those that do not believe, let’s for a moment tolerate the idea that the God of the Bible does, in fact, exist and then consider the picture as it unfolds on the canvas before us.
We start with a background. God did not create a place called hell as a destination for unbelieving humans. It was established as an eternal place of separation for those in the spirit world who rebelled against God at a time prior to the creation of man. At this point in time it does not yet hold all of them, only some. Every single one of them will end up there soon enough. I’m referring to Satan and the rest of the fallen angels.
Man is a spirit being created in the image of God. Man’s physical covering was formed by God from the elements of the earth, referred to in the book of Genesis as the “dust of the ground”. A human’s physical body, therefore, is made up of earth and water. Angels, also, are spirit beings, but their bodies have a spiritual substance created from fire and air. Psalms 104:4 & Hebrews 1:7 attest to this fact. “He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.”
When we die our physical bodies return to the dust from which it was made and our spirit returns to God. Our spirit, therefore, does not die.
At the last judgment, Satan, and the fallen angels will return to their basic element of fire and be confined, collectively, forever, in their basic element – a great big furnace of fire called hell prepared just for them as made clear in Matthew 25:41. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’”.
Their spirits, also, will never die.
Lucifer (who became Satan) was the first angel created by God. I believe most people are familiar with the Bible account of Satan’s fall together with a third of all the created angels. What most people do not know is that man was created (afterwards) higher in stature to the angels. This added to the ire of Satan and it became one of the chief reasons for plotting the downfall of man. As we know, he succeeded in doing so. Man’s allegiance and fellowship switched from God to Satan and he started operating in Satan’s image. This act installed Satan as the prince or god of this world. Man became a servant of Satan as is evident when we consider the depravity of man in his acts of wickedness in this world ever since that moment of deceit in the Garden of Eden.
God could easily have banished Satan and his angels to hell immediately after that event in the Garden of Eden, but He didn’t. God had a plan. It was man who lost his birthright and it was going to be man who would regain it.
Now let’s add more strokes to that canvas so that the picture becomes clearer.
THE GREATEST LOVE THERE IS
Have you ever had your greatest treasure taken away from you – stolen by someone or something with no respect for you as the owner of that treasure? Perhaps you’ve lost a spouse or child at the hands of a drunken driver or a gang of thugs. They received their sentence by a court of law, but showed no remorse, laughingly being led to jail. They still live, but the loved treasure you lost cannot be reclaimed, nor do you have the power to get it back.
Satan stole God’s greatest treasure from Him – the treasure being the man God created in His image and with whom God wanted the pleasure of loving fellowship that would last forever. “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him but little lower than God, And crownest him with glory and honor. Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet:” (Ps 8:4-6)
We are the spiritual offspring of God and He greatly loves his offspring. If it weren’t for this great love, He could simply have forsaken all, allowing us to completely destroy ourselves. But God was not going to let go of us – His love for us was and is too great. He had the Power to revive and retrieve His most-loved treasure.
Although the sword of sentence was already hanging over the head of Satan, he is out on “bail” until the Court of the Universe, presided over by the Supreme Judge of the Universe, convenes to deliver that sentence, but not before God would introduce to the world a Man who would strip Satan of the dominion and authority He had given to man.
That Man was Jesus Christ – the Word of God made flesh. He dwelt among us to bring us the Good News – and then paid the penalty of death in our place so that we could live a renewed life, reconciled to the God Who loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
We are now living in the Dispensation of God’s Grace. It is all but over. Those with a preference for living in the image of the prince of darkness are actually one with him and, therefore, one with the fires of hell. And that is the only reason why they will share space with Satan in the blazing corridors of hell as spelt out in Matthew 25:41. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’”.
We see, therefore, that God has done everything He can and that it is not He, but we, ourselves, that determine our eternal destiny. The time of departure to that place prepared for the devil and his angels can arrive at any moment, that is, upon the demise of our physical bodies through illness or by accident. Or, should we make it for another few years, God’s imminent Judgement will take care of the matter – unless we have seen the Light and have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
That then, is the second picture.