Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is God in Hell?

A friend posed this question to me the other day. It caught me off guard and I was unsure of how to explain what I truly believed. I decided to research and pray for insight about what I believed. Having said all that, here's my stab at explaining what I believe . . .

God is omnipresent. Even though no form of the word omnipresent or omnipresence is found in the Bible, the biblical writer's provide many suggestions and shed much light on God being omnipresent. (Dt 4:39; Jer 23:23-24; Am 9:2; 2 Ch 2:6)

Additionally, God is not limited to or by time or space. Because God is everywhere present, He is aware of Hell and the people in Hell. It is for this reason God has broken fellowship with the occupants of Hell. In something that we cannot understand or fathom, God lets the people in Hell live [even though the condition is horrific] instead of snuffing them out; because God values everyone, even when they have turned from Him. It is amazing that God's mercy continues even after death. God values us so much that He would rather we have something than nothing because having a life, no matter the condition, is better than having no life (Landstrom, 2006). In my opinion, God's presence in Hell both sustains the occupants and punishes.

If I were to answer the question that God is not present in Hell then I cannot argue that God is omnipresent. Because even though we have portraits of what Hell will be like, it is hard for our finite minds to grasp God ever being present in a place like Hell. Psalm 139:8 reveals clearly an answer to this question. David states, "If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. (AMP)" We also need to look at Matthew 25:41. People often translate this as meaning that the person is leaving God for good and going to a place where God is not. The actual Greek word for depart is πορεύομαι—Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary poreuomai. The translation means a journey or to travel. And in this particular instance it is a traveling away from God in Heaven not a total departing from God. A final look at Scripture turns us to Isaiah 59:2 and Proverbs 15:29. Both tell us that there is separation from God by sin. However, if we look at the verses in the context of God's omnipresence, then it does not tell us that God is not present at all, merely that His presence is not made known because we have lost the gift of His blessings. Just as God is present with you at this moment, you might not “feel” his presence manifest in the same way as it is in a worship service or while praying. I think it is safe to say that God is just as present in Hell as he is in Heaven, but in Heaven his glory is much more visible and clear than it is in Hell, where that presence will be at a minimum. Just because God doesn't make His presence known, doesn't mean that He is not there.

God is present in every part of His creation.......and this includes Hell.

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