Why bring this up? If I cannot free you from the fear of sin, and give you a tool to remove the fear of punishment from people, then I am remiss on promoting freedom.
Let’s look at the words that get translated to hell
I don’t know why this word show up as Hell, but it does. The word is a person’s name. I would say that is a sucky name, but I suspect that the Hebrew scholars out there would have more useful information. Occurs once.
A hole in the ground, for the dead. There is a useful note though, Deuteronomy 32:22, Burn into the pit. If you read this in full context, this isn’t hell in the fabled way, but the absolute destruction of the area. I would try to visually equate it to Mt St Hellen or a Meteor Impact. If hell is a pit for the dead, then the lowest hell in this would be the deepest burial pit. The destruction would be so intense that even the long dead would be consumed. Occurs 65 times.
Grave, for death. Remember sheowl is well known to these people, and it was common to enclose the burial area with a fence and gate. Thrown down to hell is tossed into the hole as if you were dead. Also you could consider it, to be discarded as if you were nothing but a dead body. Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (grave pits) delivered up the dead which were in them. People got up from the dead so they could be judged. Simple. Occurs 11 times.
A fire that is large enough to look like a lake of flame. Occurs 12 times.
A dark holding cell, a place to hold people for judgment. AKA Tartarus. Note that this place was for Angels that sinned. Tartarus is not a human destination. Occurs once.
Did you see that? There is no literal hell that is called an eternal hell, a torturous hell, a flaming pit of hell. In fact, the flame, when it comes to a punishment, or an eternity is the lake of fire. That is all mythology taught by people trying to scare you into obedience, rather than teaching you the love of God so that you are willing to share that love out of compassion. Fear is bondage. Stop fearing punishment, and start learning the love of God.
Let’s look at the burning lake Gehenna aka Gehinnom
There was a temple in Gehinnom where children were being sacrificed, and that was was burned down; a place where an invading army was burned away; and (questionably: https://bbhchurchconnection.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/was-gehenna-a-smoldering-garbage-dump/) a place where trash was heaped up continually and burned as a continual lake of fire.
So what is lesson to take from this? Who are the armies that attacked God’s people? Who are the priest who were burning the children as sacrifices? As for the garbage dump, whether that is real or whole cloth, we do know that scripturally, the geography was considered diametrically opposed to life. It is where you would equate the end of life to. Meaning the army was defeated, then burned. The temple was burned to the ground. It is where you use fire to burn away those things that are counter to the purpose of God.
Now, is the lake an eternal torture? No, but I will say that it is a somewhat eternal result.
As for the gnashing of teeth and the outer darkness are happening now in unbelievers. How do we know this? Ask someone who fears the lake to the point where they denounce God. The have wandered away from the Light, God, and into the outer darkness. The gnashing of teeth is their spite that they spit out at God for making His plan known, but not consulting them. They claim that they would rather party in hell, than to rejoice in heaven. I tell you now, this is a poisonous misunderstanding of the scriptures. You who spit bile against the God who you warship are now standing in the outer darkness, gnashing your teeth against God. You who go to a church, fearing the lake of fire, but don’t accept Christ Jesus as Lord, are gnashing your teeth against God while standing in line to jump in the lake of fire. Don’t you see it? You are the reason that you are in line for punishment. You are the reason that you are in the outer darkness. It is you. You took the words of dogma over the grace message, and you carry the fruit of it.
If you are a Christian, Paul has already said that you are no longer an enemy of God. You are at peace with God. Peace here is the opposite of war. Even Romans 10:9 – 10 state that you have been saved. Saved from what? If it isn’t the punishment of the judgment of God, then what is it then? If you are justified, then you are righteous. If you are righteous, then you are right before God. How can you be punished for being right?
9 For if thou shalt confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart, that God raised him from the dead, then thou shalt be saved. 10 for with thine heart thou believe unto righteousness, and with thine mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10: 9 – 10
Why did God destroy so many people either by His hands or by the hands of His people?
25 “When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27 The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations
where the LORD drives you. 28 There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them. Deuteronomy 4: 25- 31 NASB
Let’s break this understanding down. 25 – 28 man will turn from God first. Meaning, first they didn’t believe Him, and chose their own god. The witness of Heaven and Earth is a claim that as immutable as the heaven and earth is, these things will just happen. But when we get to 29 through 31, all a person has to do, is to earnestly return to God.
If you have been following the pattern here, and you believe in the wisdom of God, you will see that he is expecting people to walk in His wisdom, and he will protect them. This isn’t man’s wisdom, and expect God to protect him.
With this added bit of wisdom, let’s remember back to Romans, the law could never make you righteous. So what is God’s wisdom? Abraham had it before there was the law. Moses had it before there was the law. Jesus worked within the law without condemning a single man to death under the law. So it isn’t the law. It is simply, believe God. He says something, believe him. Jesus even proved that the law’s punishment wasn’t for those who walk by sin, but as evidence of his coming, it was The Prophesy of him. Under the law, all sin could be forgiven by the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish, Jesus was that perfect Lamb of God.
10 Then the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals5.” 11 The LORD said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? 12 Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. 13 Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” 15 The sons of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.” 16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer. Judges 10: 10-16 NASB
This is an example of people turning back to God, after confessing their idolatry. What is this confession? It is being honest before God. That is the root of all confessions. It isn’t before men, it is before God. It is called repentance.