I recently read a book by Rob Bell called Love Wins. It’s super controversial and it completely challenged a lot of my ideas of what Hell is. Here (Matt 18), I read a passage where Jesus is talking about temptation, sin and Hell. He starts off by saying “Woe to the world for temptations to sin!”, then he continues saying that it’s necessary that temptations come. I’m using the English Standard Version of the Bible and it uses the word “Woe”. What the heck, we don’t use that word anymore! I have an idea what it means, but I had to look it up anyway. It’s basically saying, that it sucks to have temptation, but we don’t have a choice.
I wondered, first of all, why we have to have temptation. I kinda get it. We have to make the choice to do the right thing. And by doing the right thing, we show our love for God. We are Christ’s bride and He wants us to choose Him. By sinning we choose against Him, but we have the choice. That’s why temptation is here, I guess. The state of why things are the way they are bring a ton of questions, and when one question is sort of answered, then I get another question… So, God wants us to choose Him, and He loves us a lot. Why does God need to love us? Does God need anything? My goodness, my brain fills up with all sorts of questions and not a whole lot of answers. The framework makes a little sense to me, though. God created humans in His image, and here we are. He decided that we would have the choice to love Him or not love Him, and he decided that it would be better to make us than to not make us.
I just read a chapter in Proverbs today that applies to this, I think. Proverbs 8 is an interesting chapter. The author is speaking as if wisdom is speaking. Wisdom is talking about what it’s like to be her. Wisdom is given a female gender. This is one of my favorite proverbs because of how it’s written. Wisdom is there with God when the Universe was being created.
“22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.”
So, God knew. God knew that some people would choose against Him. He also knew that some people would choose Him. What happens next? Well, Jesus then talks about sin. He talks about if your hand or foot causes you to sin, then to cut it off and throw it away. You’re better off with one hand or one foot than to have both limbs and to be thrown into “eternal fire”.
In the beginning of creation, God knew that there was a risk that someone He loves without limit would be “thrown into eternal fire”. This is super hard for me to swallow. God loves you so much, and if you reject Him, then it’s fire for you. True, you made the decision to reject God, but why an eternal fire? That sucks! Forever!
Before I was married, I was terrified of rejection. I didn’t want it at all. I was petrified. I would not even talk to women because of this fear. Let’s just say I did get some courage. Well, one time I did, and I ended up marrying her. But, what if Lindsey rejected me? I wouldn’t want her to burn for all of eternity. I would eventually get over it. I don’t get the eternal fire part here.
I’ve searched on this topic a little. I’ve read a book (Love Wins), and I’ve listened to some podcast episodes about it. People have different ideas of what Hell is. Some think that it’s not real, some think if you reject God, then you are just annihilated. Some think that there is something else that isn’t written, that maybe there’s a second chance, or a third, or a fourth chance. God will give you infinite chances until you finally get it and choose Him. Because, God is God, and God loves His creation, and He will eventually have you, it just might take Hell to convince you.
I don’t know. The language looks pretty plain here, and I know I’m on board for the overall picture of who Jesus is and who God is. Dang it, there are so many darn questions.