WHAT IS THE DISTINCTION
BETWEEN SHE'OL AND GE.HEN'NA?
SHE'OL or HA'DES is
of gloom, a land of deep darkness"
to which Godless evildoers are
to return, a land of gathering shadows, of deepening darkness, lit by no ray of
light, dark upon dark."
(Job 10:21,22 NEB). In this unsettled
abode they roam
"in torment grief and sorrow"
waiting for the final Judgement of them by Almighty God. (2 Esdras 7:79,80
they exist only as shadowy and non-personal entities, whatever their previous
status was on earth. (Isaiah 14:9-11). Reflecting only a faint semblance of
their former selves, they are bereft of all personality and strength, and exist
in a monotonous underworld without the powers associated with human life. Having
"lost their last
chance of making a good repentance and so gaining
(heavenly) life", they are
reserved for the Judgement Day of God.
7:80,82. See 2 Peter 2:1-19 NEB).
GE.HEN'NA is a place of blackest darkness. Symbolically described as a
it is a place of everlasting spirit torment*
where Godless evildoers are hurled after the final Judgement and abandonment of
them by Almighty God Jehovah:
"And I saw
a great white throne and the One seated on it. From before him the earth and the
heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great
and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another
scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of
those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave
up those dead in it, and death and Ha'des gave up those dead in them, and they
were judged individually according to their deeds.
And death and Ha'des
were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of
fire. Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled
into the lake of fire."
(Rev 20:11-15. See Jude V.3-19).
THE DESTINY OF GODLESS EVILDOERS.
"But now to
speak of death: When the Most High has given final sentence for a man to die,
the spirit leaves the body to return to the One who gave it, and first of
all to adore the glory of the Most High. But as
for those who have rejected the ways of the Most High and despised His Law, and
who hate all that fear God, their spirits enter no settled abode, but roam
thenceforward in torment, grief, and sorrow.
And this for seven reasons. First, they have despised the Law of the Most High.
Secondly, they have lost their last chance of
making a good repentance and so gaining life.
Thirdly, they can see the reward in store for those who have trusted the
covenants of the Most High.
Fourthly, they begin to think of the torment that awaits them at the end.
Fifthly, they see that angels are guarding the abode of the other souls in deep
silence. Sixthly, they see that
they are soon to enter into torment.*
The seventh cause for grief, the strongest cause of all,
is this: At the sight of the Most High in His
glory, they break down in shame, waste away in remorse, and shrivel with fear
remembering how they sinned against Him in their lifetime, and how they are soon
to be brought before Him for Judgement on the last day."
(2 Esdras 7:78-87
THE DESTINY OF SERVANTS OF GOD.
"As for those
who have kept to the way laid down by the Most High, this is what is appointed
for them when their time comes to leave their mortal bodies. During their stay
on earth they served the Most High in spite of constant hardship and danger, and
kept to the last letter of the Law given them by the Lawgiver. Their reward is
this: first they shall exult to see the glory of God who will receive them as
His own, and then they shall enter into rest in seven appointed stages of joy.
Their first joy is their victory in the long fight against their inborn impulses
to evil, which have failed to lead them astray from life into death.
Their second joy is to see the souls of the wicked
wandering ceaselessly, and the punishment in store for them.
Their third joy is the good report given of them by their Maker, that throughout
their life they kept the Law with which they were entrusted.
Their fourth joy is to understand the rest which they
are now to share in the storehouses, guarded by angels in deep silence, and the
glory waiting for them in the next age. Their
fifth joy is the contrast between the corruptible world they have escaped and
the future life that is to be their possession, between the cramped laborious
life from which they have been set free and the spacious life which will soon be
theirs to enjoy for ever and ever. Their sixth joy will be the revelation that
they are to shine like stars, never to fade or die, with faces radiant as the
sun. Their seventh joy, the greatest joy of all, will be the confident and
exultant assurance which will be theirs, free from all fear and shame, as they
press forward to see face to face the One whom they served in their lifetime,
and from whom they are now to receive their reward in glory."
(2 Esdras 7:88-98 NEB).