|Anyone familiar with the Bible realizes the Lord Jesus repeatedly warns of a place called hell. You can’t travel very far in the Gospels without crossing paths with hell. The Bible’s descriptions and careful details of hell plainly depict a real place. Someone that doubts Jesus Christ believed in hell concedes either gross ignorance or deliberate dishonesty. Billy Graham writes in his book, Storm Warning, “One cannot read the Bible and miss the references to hell. They are unmistakable in the teachings of Christ Himself.” (p. 263)
Throughout history, man has searched for a magical hammer to chip away at the place of hell. They’ve used mind and madness trying to douse the place called hell. Some have quietly declared hell as a mere state of existence. Others have mystically obscured hell as nothing but symbolism or religious fantasy. Others have taught hell as an endless termination or annihilation. Today’s Bible-rejecting churches bury hell deep in the murky mire of Hebrew and Greek word games, or self-serving scholarship. Whatever the method or whatever the message – the flames of hell are cooling rapidly. The first step in extinguishing the flames of hell starts with removing the place of hell.
Bishop Wordsworth, warned years ago of Satan’s attack on the place of hell:
“There is nothing that Satan more desires than that we should believe that he does not exist, and that there is no such a place as hell, and no such things as eternal torments. He whispers all this into our ears, and he exults when he hears a layman, and much more when he hears a clergyman, deny these things, for then he hopes to make them and others his victims.”
(Wordsworth, Bishop. Sermons on Future Rewards and Punishments, 36)
On July 28, 1999 Pope John Paul II used the mighty pen of religion to decree that hell was no longer a place, but simply a “state.”
“Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’” (n. 1033).
JOHN PAUL II GENERAL AUDIENCE, Wednesday 28 July 1999
Others have quenched hell using the deadly and deceitful duo of psychology and philosophy. The Los Angeles Times writes in, “Why a Fiery Hell Gets Cold Shoulder”:
“Hell’s fall from fashion indicates how key portions of Christian theology have been influenced by a secular society that stresses individualism over authority and the human psyche over moral absolutes. The rise of psychology, the philosophy of existentialism and the consumer culture have all dumped buckets of water on hell.”
(Why a fiery hell gets cold shoulder, Mike Anton and William Lobdell Los Angeles Times Service, Jul. 06, 2002
In the same article, The Los Angeles Times, also states the once believed place of hell is now a “state of the soul”:
“Where once hell was viewed as a literal, geographic location, it is more often seen now as a state of the soul.”
(Why a fiery hell gets cold shoulder, Mike Anton and William Lobdell Los Angeles Times Service, Jul. 06, 2002
InfoPlease online encyclopedia writes under the definition for hell:
“Many Christian churches now regard hell more as a state of being than a place.”
Even the popular evangelist Billy Graham sadly attempts to douse the literal fire of hell. In his book, Storm Warning, he states, “Jesus used this symbol [fire] over and over. I believe that it means a thirst for God that is never quenched.” (p. 263)
U.S. News and World Report, in a cover story titled, “Hell, A New Vision of the Netherworld” (Jan. 31, 2000), wrote that in 1997, 48% believed hell was a real place – but just three years later, that number dropped an astonishing 14 points to only 34%! The article said, “Edwards [Jonathan] would scarcely recognize the hell of today. After decades of near obscurity, the netherworld has taken on a new image: more of a deep funk than a pit of fire.” (p. 45) The article also states that 53 percent now view hell as simply “an anguished state of existence eternally separated from God”. This is the same teaching promoted by Billy Graham and Pope John Paul II.
The attack on the place of hell is widespread. And it is effective. . .
While man ridicules and redefines hell – the Bible speaks. Despite 6000 years of opposition, God’s Word continues the message of hell. It’s impossible to read the Bible and not realize the Bible describes a literal place called hell. You may reject it. You may refuse to believe it. But you can not ignore it. It is there.
In Luke 16, the Lord Jesus Christ tells of a terrifying place called hell. The rich man in hell asks Father Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brethren, lest they also come to “this place” of torment.
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Luke 16:28
People attempt to deny the “place” of hell in Luke 16 with the teaching that Jesus is speaking a fictitious “parable,” not an actual event. But Jesus never names the people in parables. And in Luke 16, Jesus says, “there was a certain beggar named Lazarus. . .” Jesus Christ begins Luke 16 with the definitive statement, “There WAS a certain rich man. . .” Luke 16 is no parable.
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
When the Lord Jesus speaks in “parables,” He later explains the parable. In Luke 16, the Lord Jesus gives no “parable” explanation. Luke 16:19-31 stands as told – a real event.
You’ll notice Jesus Christ calls Lazarus by his name, but not the rich man. John 10:3, the Lord Jesus says, “. . . he calleth his own sheep by name. . .” Matthew 7:23, He tells the unsaved, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The rich man in hell was just “. . . a certain rich man. . .” The Lord did not know him. He knew of him, but He did not know him.
In John 14, the Lord Jesus tells His disciples about the place of heaven. He instructs His disciples that He will go and “prepare a place” for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Heaven is a “prepared place.” It is no accident. It is not a state of reality. The Lord Jesus prepared a real place for His children. The Lord Jesus says in Matthew 25:41 that hell also is a “prepared” place.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Hell is a prepared place. It is a “prepared place” of judgment and wrath. Heaven is a prepared place gleaming with the love of God. Hell is a prepared place burning with the wrath of God. Hell is as real as Heaven. Hell is as much the work of a Holy God as is Heaven. If there is no hell – there is no heaven.
It is worth noting that hell was not a part of the original creation. Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis chapters 1-3 contain no mention of hell. The creation of hell apparently came as a direct result of the fall of Lucifer. The Lord Jesus told us in Mathew 25:41, hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” Any suggestion that hell was the “perfect” will of God quickly dissolves “In the beginning. . .” of the Genesis creation.
Every word the Lord Jesus spoke about hell clearly describes a real place.
In Matthew 13, Mark 9, and Luke 12, the Lord Jesus says the unsaved are “cast INTO” or “go INTO” a place – a furnace or a fire. Clearly, He is not referring to a state of existence, but a real place of fire that lost people are “cast into.”
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. . . .
. . .
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
The Bible employs the phrase “cast into” hell [fire] 14 times:
|cast into the fire
|cast into the fire
|cast into hell
|cast into hell
|cast into the fire
|cast into everlasting fire
|cast into hell fire
|cast into hell
|cast into hell fire
|cast into the fire
|cast into hell
|cast into the lake of fire and brimstone
|cast into the lake of fire
|cast into the lake of fire
The Bible uses the phrase “cast into” 44 times, and every time, it refers to a real, literal place. The following two scriptures are examples of “cast into” referring to a literal place.
And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.
Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
The following scriptures describe hell using words that undeniably reference a real location, such as, “in”, “into” or “to”—again, plainly indicating a real place.
|in this flame
|in the depths of hell
|down to hell
|down into hell
|down to hell
|body in hell
|brought down to hell
|in the fire
|cast them into the fire
In Matthew 5, the Lord Jesus warns of being physically and bodily cast into hell. The only valid explanation of Matthew 5 is that Jesus is describing an actual event. Any other reading completely destroys the text.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Scores of scriptures confirm hell is a real place. There remains no other conclusion. To read otherwise, demands either willful misinterpretation or the deliberate distortion of the scriptures.
HELL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT •
Hell is a major topic in the Word of God. And it should be. The Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament spends much time warning about hell. Jesus preached about hell more than any other subject. The Old Testament does not overlook the place of hell. The Old Testament contains over 67 direct references to hell. In the King James Bible, the word “hell” occurs 23 times in the New Testament – but 31 times in the Old Testament. The Old Testament includes some of the clearest and most horrifying pictures of hell.
The following scriptures are examples of “hell” in the Old Testament.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
16 I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.
17 They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.
Hell is just as real as heaven or the sea. In Psalms 139, David compares hell with heaven and the sea.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
39 times the Old Testament calls hell “the pit.” It never uses the plural “pits” or the indefinite “a pit,” but always the singular, specific place, “the pit.” The wording, “the pit” refers to one particular place.
Isaiah 14 describes the fall of Lucifer. Isaiah 14:15 reveals “the pit” is hell, “. . . thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Ezekiel 31:16 also confirms “the pit” is hell.
I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit:. .
As we can see, the scriptures teach a real place called hell. But the Bible does not stop there. The Lord gives careful details about the place called hell. The precise information the Lord provides dumbfounds many. They refuse to believe the simple Word of God. Many recklessly dig through Greek and Hebrew words searching for a morsel of bread. And like Esau, they sell their birthright, the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23), for one morsel of meat.
Evangelist and radio-preacher, Oliver Greene understands the Bible’s teaching about the place of hell.
“Hell is a place—not a state of mind; and the terms used in the Bible to describe hell prove this statement beyond any shadow of doubt.”
(Greene, Oliver B. Hell, 1973, The Gospel Hour: Greenville p. 25)
Amen, Brother Greene. . . Amen
THE LOCATION OF HELL •
Note: Our study on the location of hell deals with the present location of hell. The Lake of Fire described in Revelation 20:14 will replace the current place of hell.
The Bible does not describe an unknown, mystic place of hell. The Word of God gives specific and careful details concerning hell. The Bible even provides the geographical location of hell. As the Lord reveals the location of hell, He challenges us to examine the evidence.
Despite man’s massive efforts to disprove the Word of God, no fact has ever been proven contrary to the Word of God. Not one. Every discovery of true science, history, and archeology, agree with the Word of God. The place of hell is no different. In our next chapter, we shall examine the place of hell under the skeptical microscope of verifiable science.
As we study the following scriptures, I strongly encourage the reader to carefully read along in the King James Bible. Look up the verses. Read them. They may be the most important words you will ever read. If you have a different Bible version, you will see a deliberate attack on hell. (We will examine the perversion of Hell in a later chapter.)
The Lord openly gives us the location of hell.
In Acts 2, the Apostle Peter preaches the Holy Spirit filled message of Pentecost. In verse 31 he says, ” . . . seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in HELL.”
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, His soul descended into hell. To deny this fact, (as many do), is to deny the scriptures. What Jesus did in hell may be open for discussion, but the fact He went there is not. Where the scriptures speak—the critics remain silent.
In Matthew 12:40, Jesus Christ tells the apostles the geographical location where He will be after His death.
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Some Christians teach “the heart of the earth” signifies the grave. But Jesus is not referring to the grave. Nor is He talking about His body. His body was not in the earth, nor in the ground, but in a “tomb which he had hewn out in the rock.” It is not His body because His body was not “in the earth.” The Bible distinctly and plainly states that the body of Jesus Christ was in a rock – not in the earth.
And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
Another reason why Matthew 12:40 can not mean merely His body placed in the grave because the body is buried only six feet in the ground–not in the heart of the earth. The only accurate explanation is that the soul of the Lord Jesus Christ descended into the heart of the earth—exactly as the Bible said.
John Gill, in his popular, Exposition of the Entire Bible, acknowledges the difficulty of reconciling the “heart of the earth” in Matthew 12:40 with the “rock” tomb of the Lord Jesus. But rather than accepting the text as it reads, Gill rashly decides “inside the rock” satisfies Matthew’s “heart of the earth.”
“That Christ means himself by the ‘son of man,’ there is no reason to doubt; and his being laid in a tomb, dug out of a rock, is sufficient to answer this phrase, ‘the heart of the earth,’ in distinction from the surface of it; . . .”
(John Gill’s, Exposition of the Entire Bible, Matthew 12:40)
Because of the importance to firmly resolve “the heart of the earth” could not be the body of Jesus in the grave, let us observe the women’s visit at the tomb (sepulchre) on resurrection morning. In Luke 24, after the stone was rolled away, the women walked into the tomb. Obviously, this was no “hole in the ground” located in the “heart of the earth.” You do not “walk” into a hole in the ground – you “fall” into it.
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
A careful reading of the women’s arrival at the grave in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20 completely debunks the teaching that His body was in the “heart of the earth.”
It is amazing (and appalling) the effort some Christians exert to twist and shrewdly reject the scriptures. They will not accept what the Lord says. So they “interpret” for us what God really meant to say. As someone acutely asked, “If God didn’t mean what He said–then why didn’t He say what He meant?”
Author J. Sidlow Baxter, in The Other Side of Death, furnishes us a classic example of “interpreting” what the Lord really meant in his massacre of Ephesians 4:9 and Matthew 12:40:
“No one would argue that by ‘the heart of the earth’ our Lord meant no more than the sepulchre in which his corpse was deposited . . . Neither our Lord nor Paul meant that hades [hell] is a ‘lower part’ inside the solid earth itself. They meantthat the grave, deep-dug in the earth, represented that unseen ‘deep’ which lies just beyond.”
(Baxter, J. Sidlow. The Other Side of Death, :Tyndale House: Wheaton 1987 p. 34)
Baxter’s comments about Ephesians 4:9 and Matthew 12:40 are disingenuous and false. The standard depth of the grave is a mere six feet down. Considering the earth’s diameter is over 8,000 miles, to imply six feet is “deep-dug” and in the “lower parts of the earth” is laughable. And we have already verified, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was not placed in a “grave, deep-dug in the earth” but “in a tomb rock.” Mr. Baxter also states a scientific error. The earth is not “solid,” but filled with a liquid “lake of fire and brimstone” called hell.
Ephesians 4:9 gives us another account where the Lord descended after His death. Ephesians 4:9 plainly reads that Jesus Christ “descended into the lower parts of the earth” before “He ascended in heaven.” Again, the “lower parts of the earth” is not the grave. Ephesians 4:9 defines a specific part of the earth, not just in the earth, but “the lower parts of the earth.”
Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Ephesians 4:9 does not passively say “His body” was placed into the lower parts of the earth. But the verse actively states, “he (not his body) also descended first into the lower parts of the earth.” The Lord Jesus, Himself [He] actively descendedinto the lower parts of the earth. The first part of Ephesians 4:9 reads, the Lord Jesus actively and literally ascended into heaven, but first He actively and literally descended into the lower parts of the earth.
Bodies do not “descend” into the grave. Someone else places the body in the grave – the body does not descend. The body is dead and motionless. To “descend” requires the action of moving or motion. Webster’s Dictionary defines descending as:
1. To move or pass from a higher to a lower place; to move, come or go downwards; to fall; to sink; to run or flow down; applicable to any kind of motion or of body.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16 describes the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus as “descending” from heaven. This event is an active, visible moving of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1 Thessalonians 4:16
The body does not descend into the grave, it is simply laid there.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new tomb. . .
The Bible presents many verses that emphatically locate hell in the center of the earth. And not vague verses that are open to self-interpretations, but clear and precise references. For a Christian to reject or disregard this extremely important Bible fact is inexcusable. Until the last fifty years, most Christians knew hell was a real place of fire in the center of the earth. With the murky confusion sown by the plethora of new Bible versions and Christian relativism, the literal place of hell is classified as archaic fantasy. Virtually every modern book on hell consists of nothing more than murky mud wallowing in the mire of Greek and Hebrew word studies. And yet, the simple Word of God gives us crystal clear details of hell.
The following verses designate the physical location of hell. The direction of hell always references down or beneath. The Bible never refers to hell in any other direction.
Eleven times the Bible reads the direction of hell is “down.”
“. . . let them go down quick into hell. . .”
Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
“. . . when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit:. . .”
“They also went down into hell. . . ”
The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.
“. . . which are gone down to hell. .”
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell. . .”
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell. . .”
2 Peter 2:4
Twenty-one times the Bible says the location of the pit [hell] is “down.”
. . .they go down quick into the pit;. . .
They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit. . .
They shall go down to the bars of the pit. . .
Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
. . . I become like them that go down into the pit.
. . . that I should not go down to the pit.
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? . . .
But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit. . .
I am counted with them that go down into the pit. . .
. . . lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
. . . as those that go down into the pit:
. . . they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
. . . them that go down to the pit, . . .
They shall bring thee down to the pit. . .
. . . with them that go down to the pit.
. . .when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit:. . .
. . . them that go down into the pit.
. . . them that go down to the pit.
. . . them that go down to the pit:. . .
. . . them that go down to the pit.
. . . them that go down to the pit.
Two times, the Bible states hell is “beneath.”
The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
In Isaiah 5:15, the Bible records that people “descend” into hell. Descend means “To move or pass from a higher to a lower place;”
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
Twice the Bible states that people “descend” into the pit.
When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit. . . .
. . . them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.
Seven times the Bible distinctly locates hell or the pit in the “lower” or “nether” [nether means lower] parts of the earth. Ezekiel 26:20 and 31:16 also record people “descend” into the pit. To descend requires downward action— to the nether parts of the earth–not simply laid in the grave. This is not the body or the grave.
But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;
The following three verses in Ezekiel 31 (verses 14, 16 and 18) that reference “trees” are referring to men and kings, in particular the judgement of Pharaoh (verse 2) and the Assyrian (verse 3).
To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.
I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.
To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.
Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. . .
There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit.
Job 11 uses the comparative phrases “as high as heaven” and “deeper than hell.” The comparison of “deeper” obviously refers to “descending far downward” while “as high as heaven” goes in the opposite direction or upwards.
7 Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
8 It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?
Amos 9:2 is very interesting. Amos makes the astonishing statement, “Though they DIG into hell. . .” Webster’s Dictionary defines “dig” as “To open and break or turn up the earth with a spade or other sharp instrument.” Amos certainly believes hell is in this earth. Either you discount Amos as foolish metaphor or clearly, inside this earth contains a lake of fire burning with suffering souls of the damned.
Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
Sidlow Baxter, in The Other Side of Death, writes about the Hebrew word “sheol”:
“Sheol is never spoken of as digged by man. ..”
(Baxter, J. Sidlow. The Other Side of Death, :Tyndale House: Wheaton 1987 p. 180)
Do you know what the Hebrew word for “hell” is in Amos 9:2—”Though they dig into hell”? It is “sheol.” Baxter shows how Christians disregard the simple text, in this case, both the English and Hebrew, to prove their own private mis-interpretation.
Reading the scores of precise and clear scriptures the Lord provides, how can Christians who have even casually read the Bible, deny the location of hell?
But they do. . .
In the popular book, Whatever Happened to Hell?, author John Blanchard, incredibly writes:
“The Bible gives many different descriptions of hell and consistently refers to it as a specific place . . . As to its location, we are given no details—though perhaps there is at least one important clue. . . This word “outside” is the one that Jesus used frequently when speaking about hell and almost certainly lays to rest the notion that hell is located somewhere in the center of the earth.” …
“As far as its location is concerned, we have almost nothing to go on. Not even statements which say that heaven is ‘above’ and hell is ‘beneath’ tell us very much. The clearest clue we have is that hell is ‘outside’.”
(Blanchard, John. What Happened to Hell?, Crossway Books Wheaton, Illinois 1995 pp. 131-132)
How can anyone who has read the Bible truthfully say, “As to its location, we are given no details. . .”? The answer is simple. The human psyche of mankind, even among Christians, refuses to accept the reality of hell. If they ignore the evidence long enough and loud enough, maybe it is not really there. But it is there. . .
As far as Blanchard’s assertion that “the clearest clue we have is that hell is ‘outside’”–completely ignores scores and scores of clear scriptures, in favor of three “outer” references (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). How can Blanchard write, “. . . Not even statements which say that heaven is ‘above’ and hell is ‘beneath’ tell us very much?” Why don’t they? Why did God write them? Over a hundred verses describe hell as “down”; “in the heart of the earth”; “beneath”; or “lower parts of the earth” and yet that doesn’t “tell us very much!” How can a man stand in such judgment of the Word of God by telling us God’s Word does “not tell us very much”? No wonder they ripped the Bible from our schools — preachers have been ripping it apart for years.
The three verses in the Bible that mention “outer darkness” plainly refer to earthly judgments during the millennium. Not hell. Here are the verses:
Matthew 8:10-12, says, “That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” The “sitting down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob” occurs during the millennium. The “kingdom of heaven” refers to the earthly millennial reign.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 22:10-12 has someone (Friend) walking into a wedding without the proper garment (salvation). Obviously, no one can “die” and casually “walk” into heaven, but they can “walk” during the millennium into the Lord’s presence. Again, we are plainly dealing with the earthly millennium.
10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
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.
The last “outer” occurs in Matthew 25:28-31. The context of (verse 31), “When the Son of man shall come in his glory. . . then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”—no question is the millennium. Verses 28-29 teach “earthly rewards” by working and talents. Again, this can only be the millennium.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
Aren’t you glad the Lord wrote the Bible where any dummy can understand it—if they’ll just read it! The Lord Jesus gives the “key” to understanding the Bible in Matthew 24:15, “. . . whoso readeth, let him understand. . .” Read and understand. Not read and say, this doesn’t “tell us very much.” What it says – is what it means.
Another sad case of Bible rejection occurs in Sidlow Baxter’s The Other Side of Death. Baxter conveniently dismisses the reality that God placed hell inside the earth with feeble human logic:
“I cannot see how a vast cavern somewhere deep inside the physical earth could confine nonphysical, disembodied human spirits. If this revolving physical orb could imprison purely spiritual beings, then contradictorily enough it would burn them to nothingness by the intense internal fire which becomes increasingly hotter toward its center.”
(Baxter, Sidlow L. The Other Side of Death, Tyndale House Wheaton, 1987 p. 187)
How can a Christian reject the scriptures with the mindless reasoning of, “I cannot see. . .”? Beloved, there are many amazing things the Lord says and does that humanly speaking “I cannot see.” I cannot see the innumerable stars the Lord created. I cannot see the infinite wisdom of creation. I cannot see why He loved me so much to die for my sins. But what I cannot see with these frail physical eyes, the boundless spiritual eyes of faith can clearly see in the Word of God. Does not our Lord admonish us in 2 Corinthians 5:7 to, “walk by faith, not by sight:”?
Mr. Baxter also writes the reckless humanistic statement that the “intense internal fire” inside this earth would “burn them to nothingness.” First of all, if hell is a literal fire (which it is) it does not matter where it is located, as pertaining to “burn them to nothingness.” To follow Baxter’s explanation leads to the total elimination of the fire of hell.
I wonder has Mr. Baxter ever heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego of Daniel 3. These three Jewish boys were thrown alive into a furnace of literal fire that was heated seven times hotter than normal. Yet their hair was not even singed! The Bible says in Daniel 3:27, “. . .the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” The power of Almighty God is not limited, nor confined by the power of fire. To reject the scriptures on pathetic human rationale is disgraceful.
In Numbers chapter 16, the Lord silences all skeptics to the location of hell. You may have disputed or questioned the evidence thus far – but no further. . .
In Numbers 16, the Bible records the rebellion and destruction of Korah. As a consequence of their rebellion, the Lord opens the earth and they go down alive into the pit of hell. This is not the grave—verse 30 says, “. . . the LORD make a new thing. . .” There’s nothing “new” about “opening the earth” and going into the grave. Verse 33 also states, they “. . . went down alive into the pit. . .” Obviously, the “went down” does not refer to the shallow grave.
30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
34 And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.
What could the Lord possibly write in the scriptures that He could make the location of hell any clearer? For you to reject the fact that God prepared hell inside this earth, you must intentionally ignore many, many plain and detailed scriptures. The evidence of the scriptures is convincing. It is conclusive. And it is real.
TESTIMONY OF OTHERS •
We’ve listed some quotes from various preachers throughout history that clearly understood hell was located in the center of the earth. These are just a few of the many quotes we could provide:Author and Bible-Believing scientist Dr. Henry Morris deduces from the scriptures, the present hell “is somewhere in the heart of the earth itself. . .” and the writers of the scriptures, “. . . certainly themselves believed hell to be real and geographically ‘beneath’ the earth’s surface.”
“So far as we can tell from Scripture, the present hell, Hades, is somewhere in the heart of the earth itself. It is also called “the pit” (Isa. 14:9, 15: Ezek. 32:18-21) and “the abyss” (Rev. 9:2). . . the Biblical descriptions are quite matter of fact. The writers certainly themselves believed hell to be real and geographically ‘beneath’ the earth’s surface. . .
(Henry M. Morris, The Bible Has the Answer, p. 220)
“Both Hades and Gehenna were believed to be underground, and both were places of suffering. ”
(Russell, Jeffrey Burton, Satan, The Early Christian Tradition, London: Cornell University Press, 1981, p. 120
This star, like Wormwood, is a messenger from God, but the judgment it brings is even more terrible. It does not strike the earth or poison the waters, but with the key to the shaft of the Abyss (v. 1) opens a pit [the bottomless pit] into the very heart of the earth. From the pit, or Abyss, comes smoke like the smoke from a gigantic furnace, darkening the sun and sky
IVP New Testament Commentaries :: Revelation 9:2
“Though they dig into hell, into the centre of the earth, or the darkest recesses of it, yet thence shall my hand take them, and bring them forth to be made public monuments of divine justice.”
Matthew Henry (1662-1714) Bible commentator and author of the popular Matthew Henry Commentaries.
Matthew Henry, The Complete Matthew Henry Commentary on the Bible, Amos 9:2
Christ, as Lord of all, took possession first of the earth the unseen world beneath it (some conjecture that the region of the lost is in the central parts of our globe), then of heaven
Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown Bible Commentary, Ephesians 4:9
Though they dig into hell–though they hide ever so deeply in the earth
Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown Bible Commentary, Amos 9:2
Hades [Hell] is a place in the created system, rude, a locality beneath the earth, in which the light of the world does not shine; and as the sun does not shine in this locality, there must necessarily be perpetual darkness there. . . And in this locality there is a certain place set apart by itself, a lake of unquenchable fire. . .
Hippolytus, Against Plato, on the Cause of the Universe Ante-Nicene 5.222
By ourselves the lower regions (of Hades) are not supposed to be a bare cavity, nor some subterranean sewer of the world, but a vast deep space in the interior of the earth, and a concealed recess in its very bowels; inasmuch as we read that Christ in His death spent three days in the heart of the earth, that is, in the secret inner recess which is hidden in the earth, and enclosed by the earth, and superimposed on the abysmal depths which lie still lower down.
Tertullian, Ante-Nicene Church Fathers 160 AD – 230 AD
(Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol 3 p 231)
Hence he says, If they dig for themselves passages to hell, that is, to the center of the earth. . .
John Calvin 1509–1564, French Protestant theologian of the Reformation
John Calvin, Commentary on the Prophet Amos, Amos 9:2
“So Job calleth hell the land of darknesse, and the reason thereof is plaine, because the nethermost hell is a bottomlesse pit in the heart of the earth. . . ”
John Boys, Dean of Canterbury (1571-1625)
Boys, John. The Workes of John Boys
Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them, . . .the utmost recesses of the earth, the very centre of it. . .
John Gill (1697 – 1771) Pastor, theologian and author
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Amos 9:2
The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. . .
that take of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. . .
Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering. . .
Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) Pastor and theologian.
Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
“Hell — The center of the earth. . .”
John Wesley (1703 – 1791)
(Wesley, John. John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, Amos 9:2)
At the same time it provides against that despair into which men would be otherwise plunged, when convinced of their sins, by revealing the immense love of God, the glory and grace of Christ, and inviting all to come to him, that they may obtain pardon, life, and happiness. In a word, it shows the pit of hell under men’s feet, and opens the gate and points out the way to heaven. An excerpt from a letter entitled, “Man in His Fallen Estate”
John Newton (1725 – 1807 Preacher and author of “Amazing Grace”)
“And Jesus after His return from ‘The Underwood,’ said—‘I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the ‘KEYS’ (of the Gates) of hell and of death.’ Rev. 1:18. To get these ‘Keys’ Jesus had to descend into the lower parts of the earth.’ Eph. 4:9 . . . Therefore Hades or ‘The Underworld,’ must be in the ‘heart of the earth’. . .”
Clarence Larkin (1850 – 1924) Pastor and Author of Dispensational Truth and many other influential books
(Larkin, Clarence, The Spirit World, Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, 1921, pp 47-48)
“The Bible locates Sheol [Hell] in the heart of the earth. . . Jesus then descended first into the lower parts of the earth (Ephesians 4:9). But we know that Jesus upon His death went into Hades [Hell]. . . And Hades [Hell] was in the lower parts of the earth.”
M.R., De Haan (1891 – 1965) Pastor, author, and physician. Founder of Radio Bible Class
(De Haan, M. R., Jonah and Christ, The Radio Bible Class, 1942 pp 21-22)
There is no doubt in my mind that hell is in the center of this earth. . . Amos describes hell in these words: “Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to Heaven, thence will I bring them down” (Amos 9:2). Certainly when we think of digging, we think of going down in the earth – we do not dig UP, we dig DOWN: we do not dig in the air, we dig in the dirt. Amos tells us as the Holy Spirit leads him to write – “Though they dig into hell, thence shall my hand take them.” Amos believed that hell is in the center of the earth. . . Without a shadow of a doubt, hell is in the center of this earth. . .”
Oliver B. Greene (1915-1976) Evangelist, author and Bible teacher of popular radio broadcast called The Gospel Hour.
(Oliver Green – Where the Worm Dieth Not)
I personally believe that Hell is in the heart of the earth. . . Scientists say that beneath the earth there is a boiling volcanic disturbance constantly going on in the heart of the earth. And so I personally believe Hell will be in the heart of the earth.
Dr. Jack Hyles: (1926 – 2001) Pastor of First Baptist Hammond, In and Hyles-Anderson
Dr. Jack Hyles, To Hell and Back, sermon
“Some scoff and say, ‘Where is hell?’ Well, that’s easy. It is under your feet. ‘They . . . are gone down into hell,’ Ezekiel 32:27. Hell is down under your feet, Isaiah 14:9. . . There is no doubt where hell is . . . it was in the heart of the earth where Christ went after He died. In Acts 2:31 and Acts 2:27 you are told that although Christ went through hell, He was not ‘left in hell.’ In plainer words, the Bible teaching on this is so clear that you have to go to Hebrew or Greek to get rid of it.”
Dr. Peter S. Ruckman
(Ruckman, Peter S., Theological Studies: Book Number 23, Bible Baptist Bookstore, Pensacola, 1987 p. 33)
Hopeless immortals! how they scream and shiver,
While devils push them to the pit wide-yawning
Hideous and gloomy, to receive them headlong
Down to the centre!
Isaac Watts 1674–1748, English clergyman and hymn writer
(Isaac Watts, Day of Judgment)
For more info on hell see our tract The Truth About Hell