This is Part 5 of 6 parts answering the question, “How long does God allow suffering to continue?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 6 will be posted tomorrow.
Unbelievers Face the Judgment of Darkness Forever
As a boy, my parents once took me on a tour of Alcatraz. I remember walking through the solitary confinement portion of the prison and into one of the cells, which was behind two doors. When the second door was shut, it was pitch black inside. The tour guide said that most people could not handle this darkness very long. This reminds me of the horrible punishment the unbeliever will experience in the future. Peter said that darkness was reserved as punishment, “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (2 Pet. 2:17 NKJ) Jude also highlighted this punishment, “…raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (Jude 1:13 NKJ) Darkness is the opposite of light, which is why it fell over the earth when Jesus became “sin” (2 Cor. 5:21; Matt. 27:45).
God’s Judgment on the Unbeliever is Never Quenched
The unbeliever suffers during his time and throughout all eternity. Scripture describes that this judgment is never quenched. Isaiah recorded in the Old Testament that the punishment never ends, “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Is. 66:24 NKJ) And Jesus uses exaggeration to describe the never ending nature of punishment for those who reject the grace of God,
43 “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched– 44 “where` Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’ 45 “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched– 46 “where` Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’ 47 “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire– 48 “where` Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’ 49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. (Mark 9:43-49 NKJ)
Even if Jesus had described this punishment only once, it would be a horrible warning and judgment. But the fact that He repeated the judgment several times multiplies its dreadfulness. Furthermore, no one has any say on how long the (eternal) suffering will last!
Part 6 will be posted tomorrow.