The most overused word you hear during church sermons is “Salvation” or “Kaligtasan.” Each lesson is geared towards it followed by obedience and faithfulness to the church. And for the doubters, the warning of burning in fire and brimstone for all eternity!
But as they say, first things first. Let’s talk about fire and brimstone. Some call this place Hell. Can you really prove that such a place truly exists or will exist? Or was it just instilled in our young minds while growing up attending sermons every week conditioning our minds to its true existence? There are many verses in the bible that reference Hell. Let’s touch on one.
“One of the most key passages used to defend the traditional view of hell is Revelation 14:9-11.
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. (NASB)”
Quite a grim picture isn’t it? But maybe it wasn’t meant to be taken literally. In an article. “A Primer on Revelations..” the author expounds this theory quite convincingly.
“But that aside, it does make sense that one would see this and infer that it teaches eternal burning (and therefore eternal torment) – that is, if the language is meant literally and is not referencing any sort of Old Testament idiom that referred to destruction.
The Old Testament Background Changes Everything
However, the image of rising smoke, and even the claim of smoke rising forever, is in fact an Old Testament idiom that describes destruction, not ongoing burning (let alone ongoing torment).
It really is that simple. We have precedent from elsewhere in scripture to see smoke rising forever as figurative of destruction, not ongoing burning. And we must allow scripture to interpret scripture. This does not prove that it was meant the same way in Revelation 14:9-11. It does, however, make such a conclusion reasonable.
The key passage is Isaiah 34:9-10, a prophecy against the kingdom of Edom:
‘Its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, And its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever. ‘
You can see some key parallels to the destruction of Edom and the fate of the beast worshippers in Revelation. For example, both warnings include a declaration that the harmful, violent activity against those in view will not be stopped “night or day.”
Of most significance, however, is Isaiah’s declaration that after Edom is burned and destroyed, “its smoke will go up forever.” Wait a minute; following the traditionalist logic applied to Revelation 14:11 (and it is reasonable logic on its own), if the smoke rises forever, the fire must continue burning forever. And yet, that is not the case in Isaiah!
Isaiah is speaking of a kingdom that was to be destroyed. We know from history that Edom was destroyed, as Isaiah (and Obadiah) predicted. We also are all pretty sure that there is not some pit in the Middle East that is still burning to this day. How then could Isaiah be correct when he says that the smoke will rise forever?
The simplest explanation is that Isaiah, probably the most poetic and hyperbolic of all the Old Testament prophets, was being figurative, perhaps relying even on an idiom that may have existed at the time. The smoke would not actually rise forever. It wouldn’t even rise for such an extended period of time that one would reasonably call if “forever” (more on that below). Nevertheless, the smoke rising was figurative of the destruction of what had been burned, so Isaiah was being really emphatic by saying the smoke would not only rise, but would rise forever”
By the way did you know that heaven is actually hotter when compared to Hell (brimstone)? There is mathematical proof if you didn’t know. Here’s comic relief for the rest of us not-so-gooders –
“Isaiah 30:26 reads, Moreover the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days. Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as the Earth does from the Sun and in addition seven times seven (forty-nine) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or fifty times in all. … The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed but it must be less than 444.6°C, the temperature at which brimstone or sulfur changes from a liquid to a gas. Revelations 21:8: But the fearful and unbelieving … shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be below the boiling point, which is 444.6°C. (Above that point it would be a vapor, not a lake.)
We have then, temperature of Heaven, 525°C. Temperature of Hell, less than 445°C. Therefore, Heaven is hotter than Hell.”
So, what are we pointing out here? That there is no Hell or Heaven? No afterlife? No Salvation? No God?
What we are pointing out here is that we not be too gullible to teachings that sow fear into our hearts, that teach us to hold tightly to the doctrine of Salvation come Judgment Day and holding on to the faith that your religion succeeds all things – material wealth, family, friends, and everything in between. Because the truth is, it does not. God holds supreme over everything. Religion is merely a process by which we serve our Creator. But if that process runs contrast to that invisible ticker inside all of us which we call a conscience, maybe it’s high time we review our priorities.
Doesn’t it bother you when –
- Your pastor gets a week off (Family Week) from church function every year, fully paid, while you a lay officer do not? A pastor is a 24 hour function they say, isn’t a lay officer the same?
- A pastor and their family is completely supported by the administration in terms of health, food, shelter, and clothing. Even their widows are supported. How about the lay officers? Who pays for your medicine bills, death expenses, etc. after you gave your whole to the church?
- Spiritual blessings is not enough to put food on the table.
- The King and his henchmen have their own planes and private cars for personal and official visits while you have to walk or commute on a public transport to make personal or official visits.
- There is a separate yearly minister’s night for ministers and their families with raffles to boot while the lay officers have to content themselves with their meager treats come December.
- There seems to be a box of offerings for every occasion or project of the church – lingap, wordwide walk, chapel building, renovations, etc. simultaneously endorsing tickets for concerts, events, and celebrations some NOT related in anyway to religion. Take the coming Guns and Roses concert to be held at the Arena come November. If it pulls through that is.
- Your Facebook posts are monitored. You are not allowed to like, share, or post anything which the administration may conceive as detrimental to its interests. They approve who your friends should be. Try adding any of the expelled members in your FB friend list and see what happens.
And on a more serious note, doesn’t it bother you that persons who were personally involved in giving aid to the King’s expelled mother and siblings were brutally killed. Three have been identified while one still remains missing.
These are few of the reasons why religion or Christianity has become the butt of many jokes and critics these days. Not because of the abusive Pastors and Preachers but mostly because of all those gullible followers who continue to have faith in their leaders despite seeing the obvious.
“Religion is the brainchild of fear, and fear is the parent of cruelty. The greatest evils inflicted on humankind are perpetrated not by pleasure-seekers, self-seeking opportunists, or those who are merely amoral, but by fervent devotees of religion.” (Emmanuel Kofi Mensah)