PLEASE READ THIS FIRST: Mark 9:42-50
What do you sense the Lord saying to you in this passage?
“Where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:48)
Jesus does not use the word ‘hell’ (a later English word), but the word ‘gehenna’.
Gehenna, or the valley of Hinnom, was an actual valley in the city of Jerusalem.
In Israel’s past, it was used as a place of child sacrifice (Jeremiah 7:31–3).
Isaiah speaks of a place outside the city where the rebels will be punished (Isaiah 66:24).
It seems that Jesus is using the imagery of his day to describe the final judgment.
Jesus also uses ‘Hades’, the Greek god of the underworld (Matthew 16:18).
Is Hades real, is there actual worms and fire, or an actual millstone?
We can take Jesus’s warnings about final judgment very seriously, yet not literally.
Sin (selfishness, cruelty, greed, lust, etc) has actual consequences that burn like fire.
When we persist in folly, it leads us to misery and destruction, for us and for others.
I believe that a day will come when it will be too late, and the consequences will be final!
In the end, God will give us over to our folly if that is what we preferred in this life.
Jesus calls us to take our sins seriously now, not to ignore their consequences!
As a Jesus follower, I need to hate sin, how it hurts God and others, and how it will hurt me.
Lord, help me to dwell less on the imagery, and more with my sin and folly. You took my sin so seriously You died so that I might be rescued and restored. May I take it as seriously.