Lesson Four – The Destruction of the Lost

The Destruction of the Lost

Lesson Aim:  To trace the movement and monitor the condition of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God from their physical death through Hades, Judgment and into Gehenna.


See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.  For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.  And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’  And this expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.  Heb. 12:25-29

We have seen how physical death, or the return of Jesus before our death, will be a great blessing to little children and faithful Christians.  Judgment will be a great day of rewards for us.  Our future in eternity will be more wonderful than we can imagine because we have citizenship as a son of God in His kingdom – a kingdom which cannot be shaken.  We will investigate these great blessings in the following lessons, but in this lesson we will see how “our God is a consuming fire” in regard to those who refuse to accept Him as their Father and those who are not true to their pledge to be His children.  We will study about Hades where God holds people and other beings until judgment.  We will then study the factors that will make the sinner’s final place, Gehenna, so terrible.


From Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus we found a place called Hades possibly divided into two compartments; although, we recognize Jesus did not say Lazarus was in Hades (Luke 16:19-28).  The Old Testament writers used the Hebrew word Sheol as the symbol for Hades.  It was separate from heaven and it received all the dead.  Consider the following scriptures:

If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.  Psa. 139:8

Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; and Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry, and the jubilant within her, descend into it.  Isa. 5:14

We might be led to believe all of Sheol is bad, except for the fact David prophesied Jesus’ soul would not be left in Hades (Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:27).  We can assume Jesus did not go where the rich man is suffering; therefore, there must be a division in Hades.  We know Hades and the abyss are the same place because the Apostle Paul said, “Or ‘Who will descend into the abyss’  (that is to bring Christ up from the dead).”  Rom. 10:7.

The demons Jesus cast out of Legion asked that they not be commanded to depart into the abyss (Luke 8:31).  Abyss is translated from the Greek word abusso.  It means an intensive depth, a bottomless pit.  When the seventh seal was broken the fifth angel sounded a trumpet and a star fell from heaven to earth.  This star was given a key to the shaft of the bottomless pit, or abyss.  When he opened the pit locusts came forth.  It was announced; “They have a king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he has the name Apollyon.”  Rev. 9:1-11.  Abaddon means a place of destruction and Apollyon means destroyer.  Job said, “Naked is Sheol before Him and Abaddon has no covering.”  Job 26:6.  He also said, the departed spirits tremble under the waters with the inhabitants.  Please consider the following scriptures in regard to other inhabitants of the bad place in the abyss.

The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction.  And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.  Rev. 17:8

And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.  Rev. 20:1-3

Since Job made a connection between Abaddon, the place of destruction, and Sheol, we might conclude the place in Hades where the rich man is suffering is, or has been, inhabited by Satan and the beast.  If we are able to place both Jesus Christ and Satan in the abyss, we must conclude the abyss, Hades or Sheol, has at least two different types of abodes.  All people who have died, except perhaps the martyrs in the fifth seal, have gone to one of these two places in the abyss.  Enoch may also be excluded, “for God took him.”  Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5.  Even Jesus went to Hades; however, He broke forth and has now become the Christian’s hope of overcoming the grave or nether world (Acts 26:23).

God has graciously provided a rest for all people.  Many will miss it and go to hell because of their disobedience – the result of their unbelief (Heb. 3:18, 19).  The Hebrew writer warns Christians it is possible for Christians to “come short of it.” Heb. 4:1, 11.  A “fruit test” will be made for those of us who are enjoying God’s blessings in Christ.  If we fail this test we will miss our rest; like thorns and thistles in the wrong field, we will deserve to be burned (Heb. 6:4-8).

We do not have explicit information in God’s word about the destination of Christians who will be judged unfaithful at Judgment.  We wonder about their abode immediately after they die.  It does not seem reasonable to think they will enjoy the rest Lazarus is enjoying; however, Jesus taught they would be gathered out of His kingdom upon His return.  Please read Matt. 13:40, 43, 47-50.  Whether it happens at their death, or on Judgment Day, the wicked Christians, along with the lawless and all stumbling blocks, will be found weeping and gnashing their teeth because of their expulsion from God’s kingdom.

The following scriptures provide an explicit list of sins preventing mature people from inheriting God’s kingdom.  Since God’s kingdom has a society with a high quality level of life, that is, zoe, we can understand why these people must be excluded.  Still they do not cease to exist after their physical death; therefore, they will surely become inhabitants in the bad place of the Hadean world immediately after they die.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  I Cor. 6:9, 10

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these; of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  Gal. 5:19-21

Of course, all who have not been born again are excluded from God’s kingdom even though they may be good moral people (John 3:3-8).  After undergoing the trauma of having their spirits leave their body, they will immediately go into the hot dark Hadean realm along with all of the vile people who have the character defects listed in the foregoing scriptures.  They may find themselves sharing a compartment with the devil, the false prophet, the beast, disembodied demons or perhaps an infamous criminal from among mankind.

Everybody and every being will be extremely unhappy because none of their needs will be satisfied, nor will they have a hope of being satisfied in this place.  Paul said, “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil.”  Rom. 2:9.  These people will be in agony and at the same time they will be conscious of their surroundings.  They will remember their past lives on earth and their families still living.  Some may join them when they die.  All people can know about their upcoming Judgment and final separation from God because the Bible is the most printed book in the world.  They can know about the Day of Judgment and a place called Gehenna.  Unfaithful Christians and Bible students who did not obey what they knew will probably be wailing and gnashing their teeth in Hades.  They know very well what will happen to them when Jesus returns.  They will remember the following warnings of Jesus.

And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.  Mark 9:47, 48

And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Matt. 10:28

The word “hell” in the foregoing scriptures is translated from the Greek word Gehenna.  There does not appear to be a comfortable resting place in Gehenna.  Jesus referred to it as a place of eternal unquenchable fire “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”  Matt. 5:22; 18:9; Mark 9:43-48.

When Jesus appears those who committed the evil deeds will be resurrected to a resurrection of Judgment.  Each person will give an account of themselves.  They will be told what they did wrong (II Cor. 5:10; Col. 3:25; Matt. 25:41-45).  Finally, all sinners will bow to Jesus as Lord and praise God.  Then He will tell them to depart into the eternal fire.

For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ Rom. 14:11

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’  Matt. 25:41

Paul said, “But to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil.”  Rom. 2:8, 9.  Wrath is translated from the Greek word orge and it means an abiding anger.  Indignation is translated from thumos and it means hot anger; therefore, on Judgment Day, God’s abiding or stored up anger will be manifested along with His hot anger.  The result for the losers will be tribulation, or pressure.  There will be distress, or anguish, for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also the Greek.  Daniel said, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”  Dan. 12:2.  God has not given us any information about the type of body the lost will have at their resurrection for Judgment.  Perhaps they will not be clothed at all.  If so, this will be unpleasant, because as Paul said, “We do not want to be unclothed.”  II Cor. 5:4.

John gives us his revelation of the final judgment in Revelation 20:11-15.  In this scene we see all people standing before a great white throne.  We are judged from two different books, or perhaps, set of books.  One book will contain a record of our deeds and the other will be the book of life – with or without our name in it.  The latter book will reveal what is life; how life should have been lived.  The other book will show how we actually lived.  Christians can be happy our repentant faith in the blood of Jesus has blotted out our evil deeds from the memory of God (Heb. 8:12).  Woe to those Christians who turned back to sin and died in this condition (II Pet. 2:20-22).  Everything will be listed in the books about the mature people who have not made use of the blood of Jesus.  John said, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”  Rev. 20:15.  Death and Hades were cast into this place.  The lake of fire is the second death.  Jesus has promised Christians “who overcome shall not be hurt by the second death.”  Rev. 2:11.  This lake of fire sounds very much like the place Jesus called Gehenna.  He gave the following warning:

But I will warn you whom to fear:  fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell (Gehenna); yes, I tell you, fear Him!  Luke 12:5

When Jesus comes again the future inhabitants of hell identified in the following scripture will be cast into it.  These first three characters, the devil, the beast and false prophet, would be enough to spoil any community, but other undesirables will also be forced to enter.

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  Rev. 20:10

Peter spoke of a group of angels who have been cast “into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.”  II Pet. 2:4.  Jude commented on these wayward angels when he said, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”  Jude 6.   In this case the English word “hell” has been translated from the Greek word tartaroo.  It refers to a pit of darkness where these angels are now in bonds.

After Judgment these angels and every vile sinner who ever lived will take up permanent residence in Gehenna.  People who do not believe there is a hell will be there along with the self-righteous.  There will be no change of address for a resident of Gehenna.  Since the mental healthiness of a society is strongly affected by its inhabitants, we can understand why Gehenna is a place to avoid at all cost.  We remember God wanted all of these people to be His glorious children.  He had put an innate need within them for the glory He prepared for them; however; they sought it in this world.  In hell they will have no hope of ever satisfying this inherent need or any other of their needs.  In an attempt to make light of the reality of hell, we may hear someone say, they want to go to hell when they die because this is where their friends will be.  It is doubtful if anyone will be very friendly when social acceptance on the death level of existence is the only drive they have a hope of satisfying.

Another influence that will make hell a bad place will be the absence of God’s goodness (II Thess. 1:9).  It is God’s righteous and holy influence through faithful Christian people that makes this world a bearable place.  All of this will be missing in Gehenna.  Today, in this mad world for material gain, Christians should contemplate the following question asked by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?   Matt. 16:26

Most of the people who will be residents of hell will probably never study this lesson; therefore, it will not be of much value to them.  If we believe there is a place like Gehenna then surely we will be constrained to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people who are lost in the world.  If we saw their house on fire we would surely warn them.  Are we willing to let them go to the fires of hell without saying a word?  We need to face up to the fact where this mind-set exists, we do not believe in a literal hell.  If we are not constrained to preach to the world, then perhaps, we will heed James’ following exhortation and visit a brother or sister who may be in trouble.

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.  Jas. 5:19, 20

Questions for Discussion

  1. How do we know Sheol is divided into at least two parts?
  2. How does the abyss relate to Sheol and Hades?
  3. Who are some of the inhabitants of the abyss?
  4. Where do people go when they die?
  5. Why will many people miss “the rest” God has provided?
  6. Where do you think lost Christians will go immediately after their death?
  7. What are some of the character defects of people who will not inherit God’s kingdom?
  8. Where will good moral mature people who are not Christians go when they die?
  9. Why will people in the bad compartment of Hades be unhappy?
  10. What is the difference between Hades and Gehenna?
  11. What is the purpose for the Judgment of mature non-Christians?
  12. What will happen to the losers at Judgment?
  13. In John’s Revelation about our Judgment we found two books.  What will be the content of the two books for God’s Judgment of mankind?
  14. What is the second death?
  15. In what way does the lake of fire appear to be the same place as Gehenna?
  16. Who are the three characters who will be thrown into the lake of fire?
  17. Where are a group of angels being held at this time; who are reserved for Judgment?
  18. List the inhabitants of Gehenna after Judgment is finished.
  19. Why will Gehenna be a bad place?
  20. Why should Christians contemplate the question Jesus asked in Matt. 16:26?

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