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LET GOD BE TRUE



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CHAPTER VI

HELL, A PLACE OF REST
IN HOPE

"WHAT a horrible and disgusting subject! I do not want to discuss it. I have no desire to hear anything about that place of horror. We have plenty of hell here. Please do not start such a subject," exclaimed in disgust a woman with whom one of Jehovah's witnesses was conversing.

2 Do you blame this woman for expressing herself in such a manner? We don't. It is but natural not only for her but also for all those who have been taught from childhood to believe the God-dishonoring religious doctrine of a fiery hell for the torment eternally of conscious human souls. But you being an honest person, endowed by your Creator with an intelligent and inquiring mind, you will want to know what hell is. What does it look like? When, by whom and for what purpose was it created or discovered? Who go there, and for how long?

3 The first question that a reasoning and inquiring person will propound to himself is, From where does our English word "hell" come?


1, 2. What is the general view about hell? and what questions arise in the inquiring mind?
3. Where do we get our English word "hell"? and wherein does the mistake of the translators lie?
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The answer must be, It comes from the ancient Anglo-Saxon verb helan, meaning to conceal, and is akin to the Old High German word hella (modern German hoelle). There is just one word, and only one, in the old Hebrew Scriptures that is translated hell in the King James Version Bible, and that word is sheol. Throughout the sacred Hebrew Scriptures this word occurs 65 times, but the translators in the King James Version rendered it 31 times "hell", 31 times "grave", and only 3 times "pit", and this without any good reason. The Catholic Douay Version Bible translates sheol as "hell" 63 times, as pit once (Job 17:16), and as death once (Hosea 13:14). Where sheol is not used, at Psalms 94:17 and 115:17, in which places the King James Version says "silence", the Douay Version (93:17 and 113:17) says "hell"; and at Proverbs 2:18 and Ecclesiastes 9:3, where the King James Version says "the dead", the Douay Version says "hell"; and at Isaiah 7:11, where the King James Version says "depth", the Douay Version says "depth of hell". In the Apocryphal books or writings in the Douay Version the word hell occurs 19 times more and is translated from the Greek words taphos (burial-place), hades, and ábussos (abyss). If you were to translate a book from a foreign language into English and there you found the foreign word for bread 65 times, would you translate it 31 times bread, 31 times fish, and 3 times meat? Of course not. Why? Because if you did your translation would not

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be correct. For what is bread cannot at the same time be fish or meat and vice versa. The same holds true with the word sheol. If sheol is the grave, it is impossible at the same time to be a place of fiery torture and at the same time a pit.

4 But you might ask, How do we know that sheol means the grave and not a place of torture? The Bible, God's Word, interprets it so. At Genesis 37:35; 42:38, Jacob, one of the patriarchs and forefathers of Jesus, mourning for his son Joseph, whom he thought dead, said to his sons and daughters who came to comfort him: "I will go down into the grave [sheol] unto my son mourning." And again, "Ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave [sheol]." (The American Standard Version leaves the word sheol here untranslated; the King James Version renders it "grave"; and the Catholic Douay Version translates it "hell".) Now, stop for a moment and think. Did Jacob believe that his son Joseph went to a place of torment and excruciating pains, to spend eternity there, and did he want himself to go there and meet him? or rather was it that he merely thought his beloved son was dead and in the grave and he himself wanted to die? If he were to go to such hot and fiery place his gray hairs would not last long. Stop! Think! Reason! whether Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or of other religion.


4. (a) How do we know that sheol means the grave? (b) Give an illustration supporting the truth of the matter.
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5 Do good people go to hell? Yes, if by hell you mean the Bible hell. Who does not know about Job or has not read in the Bible about his faithfulness and integrity toward God! In the midst of his affliction and under pressure on the part of Satan and his supposed friends Job offered to God the following prayer: "0 that thou wouldest hide me in the grave [Hebrew, Sheol; Douay, "hell"], that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!" (Job 14:13) If sheol means a place of torment and fire, would Job wish to go there and spend his time until God remembered him? This question calls for the use of our reasoning faculties rather than blind credulity. Evidently Job's desire was to die and go to the grave, that his sufferings might cease. — Psalm 139: 8.

WHERE HELL IS

6 But where is hell located? you might ask. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, under the word "Hell", states the following: "Holy Writ seems to indicate that hell is within the earth, for it describes hell as an abyss to which wicked descend. . . ." But read what the Bible says about the location of hell. When the prophet Jonah was swallowed by a big fish to save him from drowning he prayed from the belly of the fish in these words: "I cried by reason of


5. (a) Do good people go to hell? (b) How does faithful Job's prayer prove your answer?
6. According to religion's teaching, where is the location of hell? but what does the Bible teach?
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mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell [marginal reading, "grave"] cried I, and thou heardest my voice." (Jonah 2:2) Where was Jonah? In the belly of the fish which God prepared to swallow him. That cramped dark place would have been the grave of the prophet had not God 'spoken to the fish and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land'. But until that time he was in hell, in his grave or tomb; he was as good as dead in sheol. Plainly hell is not at the hot center of our earth, for it is no deeper than the grave.

7 And how about the soldiers who die in carnal warfare? Do they go to hell or to heaven? The answer is found in the following scripture: "The mighty that are fallen [in the battle] of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living." (Ezekiel 32:27) Here the prophet clearly states that the soldiers who die in the war are cast into hell or the tomb, and not only they but their weapons too are laid with them in hell under their heads. And again: "Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them." (Amos 9:2) How can men dig into hell if it is a place of literal fire and brimstone in the bowels of the earth? It is so plain that the Bible hell is the tomb, the grave, that even an


7. (a) Do soldiers who die in battle go to hell, or to heaven, or where? (b) Is it possible for men to dig into hell?
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honest little child can understand it, but not the religious theologians.

8 It is written, at Numbers 16:32, 33, about those who rebelled against Moses that the earth "opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and . . . they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit". Here is one instance where sheol is translated "pit", and it means the grave, down to which the earthquake brought those rebellious ones.

GETTING OUT OF HELL

9 Is there any example in the Scriptures of a man's having gone to hell and being delivered therefrom! Yes; Jonah was one. But the Bible gives another example, that of Jesus. He went to hell and stayed there for three days, and then by the power of the Almighty God he was resurrected. Hear what the apostle Peter states about the martyred Jesus Christ. Quoting from Psalm 16:10, he says: "His soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." (Acts 2: 31,32) The Hebrew word at Psalm 16:10 translated "hell" is sheol; but in the Greek quotation it is hades. So we see that hades is the Greek equivalent for sheol. The original word in both languages means grave, a condition where nothing can be


8. Can a man, descending to the Bible hell, take his belongings with him?
9. Is there any example in the Scriptures of a man's having gone to hell and been delivered therefrom? and in the Greek Scriptures what is the equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol?
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seen; and there is where the Son of God went for three days.

10 But do they not say that Satan the Devil with his demons are in hell keeping up the fires and making it hard for those who are therein? Yes, this is what is taught by the religious leaders ; but you will be surprised to know that the Devil never was in such a place. The Devil's servant, the king of Babylon, went to hell, the Bible hell. The prophet Isaiah, speaking to unfaithful Lucifer or Satan the Devil under the figure of "the king of Babylon", says to him: "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." (Isaiah 14: 9) If the Devil had been constantly there, how could hell be moved to yet meet him? And again, at verse 15, it is prophetically said to him, "Thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." Clearly, therefore, Satan goes there for the first time at the battle of Armageddon to meet the dead, and hell corresponds with the abyss where he is bound then for a thousand years.  — Revelation 20:1-3,7.

11 Many religious denominations believe that for all those who have the misfortune to go to hell there is no hope whatever that they will ever come out therefrom. The Scriptures, how-


10. Is it true that Satan has always been in hell keeping up the fires? and what does the prophecy of Isaiah state about him?
11. (a) Will hell last eternally? (b) What, then, is the "lake of fire" according to the Bible's own interpretation?
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ever, teach differently, at Revelation 20:13,14, where we read: "And death and HELL delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Here the record states that 'hell delivered up the dead who were in it and that those dead ones were judged according to their works. Now, it is a case of choosing who is right, God or the clergy? And in the 14th verse it is stated: "And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." This is highly symbolic language. Death and hell are conditions and reasonably they cannot be cast into a literal "lake of fire". Death itself, Paul says, will be destroyed. "Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:54,55) None would be able to understand this symbolic language if the Bible itself did not give us the interpretation by saying: "This," that is, the lake of fire, "is the second death"; from which condition there is no recovery or resurrection. And then the gladsome statement is made in the tenth verse that the Devil himself is "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" which, according to the Bible, is "the second death", from which condition the Devil will never return to molest the subjects of the King of the New World. The Devil's 'torments' in the "lake of fire" mean he will stay in the "second death" forever.

GEHENNA

12 Some will ask, How will you explain Jesus'


12. What is the text seized upon by the hell-fire screechers in their futile effort to prove that hell is a place of torture?
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words at Mark 9: 47,48? The text reads as follows: "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: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." This text is seized upon by hell-fire screechers to prove that there is a place of torture and where the wicked are suffering conscious pains and torment. But a close examination of the text reveals that that which is undying is not the creature man, but the worms. And so according to their theory the worms are immortal; which is wholly unscriptural and unreasonable. Jesus says nothing about creatures being conscious and suffering in that fire.

13 What, then, did Jesus mean? The meaning of Jesus' words is that it is better for a man to be deprived of anything that is as dear to him as an eye or hand or foot than to hold on to that and be destroyed in Gehenna. Here the Greek Bible text uses, not the word hades, but the word Gehenna, which is mistranslated "hell fire" but which according to the Hebrew Scriptures has reference to the "Valley of Hinnom". This valley lay on the outside of the south and west walls of Jerusalem and was used as a crematory or incinerator where the Israelites dumped the city's offal and garbage as well as the dead bodies of animals and of vile criminals to be destroyed by burning. No live crea-


13. (a) What, then, is the meaning of Jesus' words in Mark 9:47,48? (b) What was Gehenna, and how was it used by the Jews?
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tures, however, were cast there, as this was against the Jewish law. These fires were kept burning continually, and the Jews, in order to increase their intensity, added sulphur, or brimstone. For this reason, Gehenna, or the Valley of Hinnom, became a symbol, not of eternal torment, but of the condition of everlasting condemnation or eternal "damnation". Its flames symbolized the everlasting and complete destruction to which all the demonized enemies of God and his kingdom will go and from which there is no recovery or resurrection. Hence, Gehenna is otherwise spoken of as a "lake which burneth with fire and brimstone". (Revelation 21:8) Hades, however, represents the condition from which a resurrection is possible. If we were to take the words of Jesus as meaning literal fire, then only the literally one-footed and one-eyed men will ever get eternal life. Compare Matthew 23:33, where Gehenna is used.

14 In all places where hell is translated from the Greek word Gehenna it means everlasting destruction or extinction. Note the following words of Jesus: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but father fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Greek, Gehenna]." Notice here Jesus says that God can destroy, not torment, body and soul; which is conclusive proof that Gehenna or the valley of the son of

14. (a) Is everlasting torment or everlasting destruction the punishment reserved for those who go to Gehenna? (b) How is this corroborated by the parable of the "sheep and goats"?
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Hinnom is a picture or symbol of complete annihilation or extermination, and not of eternal torment. This is the meaning of the verb destroy. The same thought is expressed in the parable of the "sheep and goats". There, after Jesus pronounced judgment on the "goats", the opposers of God's kingdom and those who sin against full light, he declares: "And these [the goats] shall go away into everlasting punishment [Greek, kólasis]"; meaning everlasting cutting off, and not everlasting torment. (Matthew 25:46) The Emphatic Diaglott renders this verse: "And these shall go forth to the aionian cutting-off; but the righteous to aionian life."

15 The question now may well be asked, What have you to say about the "rich man" whom the Lord Jesus described as having gone to hell and "Lazarus" as being "carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom"? (Luke 16:19-31) Doesn't this show that there is a fiery hell with conscious people in it? Not at all; for this is a parable, and a parable is a symbolic and figurative statement that pictures some reality. It is unreasonable to suppose that one goes to hell because he is rich, wears good clothing and has plenty to eat; for nothing is charged against Dives, the rich man. On the other hand, it would be ridiculous to believe that in order for one to go to heaven he must be a beggar, lie in some rich man's gate, eat crumbs falling from his


15. Why is it unreasonable and ridiculous to believe that the "rich man" went to a hell of torment and the "beggar" to the literal "bosom of Abraham"?
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table, be full of sores, and have the dogs come and lick him. How many such men are there in the world today? And again if the rich man were in the midst of a burning lake, how could Lazarus cool his tongue with just a drop of water on the tip of his finger?

16 By this parable Jesus uttered a prophecy which undergoes fulfillment in its modern setting since A.D. 1918. It has its application to two classes existing on earth today. The rich man represents the ultraselfish class of the clergy of "Christendom", who are now alienated from God and dead to his favor and tormented by the truth proclaimed. Lazarus depicts the remnant of the "body of Christ" and also that class of persons who are of good-will. These, on abandoning religion, receive God's favor and comfort through his Word. For a detailed discussion of this parable we refer the reader to the book The New World, pages 359-361, and also the booklet Refugees, which will be a great consolation and a satisfying answer to all readers thereof.

17 And now, who is responsible for this God-dishonoring doctrine? and what is his purpose? The promulgator of it is Satan himself; and his purpose in introducing it has been to frighten the people away from studying the Bible and to make them hate God. Imperfect man does not torture even a mad dog, but kills it; and yet the clergymen attribute to God, who is love (1 John


16. Explain, in brief, the meaning and application of the parable.
17. Who, then, is responsible for this God-dishonoring doctrine? and what is his purpose?
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4:16), the wicked crime of torturing human creatures merely because they had the misfortune to be born sinners. The hell-fire doctrine was unknown for 4,000 years since Adam's fall. It, as well as the doctrine of "purgatory", is based upon the other false doctrine of the "immortality of the soul". To suffer eternal torment in consciousness after death the human soul would have to be immortal and indestructible.

18 The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons: (1) Because it is wholly unscriptural; (2) because it is unreasonable; (3) because it is contrary to God's love; and (4) because it is repugnant to justice. From this it is clearly seen that hell or sheol or hades means the grave, the tomb, the condition where all, good and bad, go, awaiting the day of resurrection; while gehenna is the condition of destruction where the Devil, his demons and all opposers to The Theocratic Government of Jehovah God will go and from which condition there is no recovery or resurrection.


18. For what four reasons cannot the doctrine of hell fire where the wicked suffer everlastingly be true? and what is clearly seen from this short treatise?


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