The Unseen Mystery of the Realm of the Dead
This is how I *understand* it currently:
God Speaks (“no” escape):
“Though they dig into Sheol, From there will My hand take them; And though they ascend to Heaven, From there will I bring them down.” (Amos 9:2)
*Hell = Sheol in Hebrew (‘unseen realm of the dead’) or Hades (in Greek)
It’s commonly held that Sheol/Hades (this realm of the dead) is divided into ‘two parts’, namely,
(i) ‘a place of torment’ (may be called ‘Gehenna’ where the wicked are tormented according to what their actions have merited).
(ii) ‘a place of comfort’ (may be called ‘Abraham’s bosom’ where the righteous are comforted here —> may be called ‘Paradise?’)
When the English word *Hell* is used, it refers to the ‘place of torment’ located in Sheol/Hades.
The phrases ‘Gehenna’ & ‘Abraham’s bosom’ were used by Christ to describe this ‘divide’ where our Lord also mentioned that a ‘great chasm’ (gap/divide) exists between these two places where ‘no one’ may be able to cross either way.
However, the Good News of the Gospel is that Lord Jesus Christ “Crossed” this chasm and He is the Only One able to Deliver from *Hell* as even the earliest church ‘fathers’ have beautifully described in many ways, that’s why His Name means “Saviour”.
“The wicked do turn back to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)
Now, there are a couple of other names used which may actually refer to different things as follows:
Graves refer to the place on earth where the body returns to dust (for example):
“And the graves (mnēmeia – Greek) were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,” (Matthew 27:52)
“Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves (qiḇ·rō·w·ṯê·ḵem in Hebrew), My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:12)
(ii) Lake of Fire
Lake of Fire refers to the final punishment cum purification by God where the ‘second death’ occurs in which ‘all evil’ is destroyed (not just the evil in any wicked creature but also Death & Hades/Sheol as well):
“And the devil, the one deceiving them, was cast into the lake of fire and of sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet also are; and they will be tormented day and night to the ages of the ages.” (Revelation 20:10)
“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
“Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death–the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14)
The place which holds the angels who sinned against Him:
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but with chains of thick gloom, having cast them down to Tartarus, did deliver them to judgment, having been reserved,” (2 Peter 2:4)
*All of these are ‘not eternal’ (as so commonly erred within & without Christianity) but have their ‘end’ in Him who does it for the Ultimate Purpose of Good (which is, to ‘Save the World’ —> but it may be a ‘long time’ of the ‘ages’):
His Principle for Punishment never changes (where the ‘end’ outcome is ‘Good’):
“Come, let us return to the LORD, For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.” (Hosea 6:1 – 2)
“The bandages of a wound thou removest with the evil, Also the plagues of the inner parts of the heart!” (Proverbs 20:30)
Yup, even Death and Hades/Sheol (including Hell) will be ‘destroyed’ by Him after they have served ‘their purpose’ as He Himself declared this ‘end’:
“O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Note that only the ‘wicked’ are held in Death & Hades’ places of torment.
So, are the wicked destroyed together with Death & Hades?
No! simply because its ‘contents’ (the wicked caught within) are “ransomed/redeemed” by Him (I told ya, God is Good) as this verse reveals the ‘details’:
“From the hand of Sheol (Hades) I do ransom them, From Death I redeem them, Where is thy plague, O Death? Where thy destruction, O Sheol? Repentance is hid from Mine eyes.” (Hosea 13:14)
**’Repentance is hid from My eyes’ –> means —> God Will NEVER change His mind about doing this Last Great Act of Saving!
***Note that the ‘second Death’ (i.e. lake of fire) is “not” eternal since it’s also classified as ‘Death’ which shall be destroyed by Him at last plus even in Satan’s (the Devil’s) case, the punishment is for a ‘long but a limited time’, namely, to the “ages of the Ages” (not forever —> literally <—).
Nothing is ‘hidden from God’ (as He deals ‘fairly’ toward all):
“Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD, How much more the hearts of men!” (Proverbs 15:11)
Who/What is Abaddon (a mystery)?
“They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).” (Revelation 9:11)
There’s Hope only in Him as it’s written (the above is the ‘process’ needed to achieve His Good Purpose of making ‘All (created) things’ New, without sin nor the possibility of sinning again):
“And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are Faithful and True.” (Revelation 21:5)
Remember, there’s none other than the LORD Almighty:
“The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.” (1 Samuel 2:6)
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)
‘Blessed be the Name of the LORD’
Here’s the Immutable fact that ‘All creation’ (every tongue. every knee) will “return” (note the word ‘be saved’) to Him, Who is their Creator:
“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance [allegiance].” (Isaiah 45:22 – 23)
Nothing can stop the Good ‘Will of God’.