Friday, 9 April 2021
And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:11
This verse provides the results of those who will be tormented with fire and brimstone that were mentioned in the previous verse. Not only will they be tormented, but it now says, “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.”
As noted in the previous verse, the symbolism here goes back to the Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah. But more, the words follow directly after Isaiah 34 –
“For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance,
The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
9 Its streams shall be turned into pitch,
And its dust into brimstone;
Its land shall become burning pitch.
10 It shall not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke shall ascend forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
No one shall pass through it forever and ever.” Isaiah 34:8-10
So far, the words could be referring to torture followed by the extinguishment of the person, but the smoke of their burning continues on. However, such a thought is negated by the next words, which say, “and they have no rest day or night.”
In other words, this is not speaking of simply being burnt up, but of a constant burning. It reveals that the punishment of those who reject God does not eventually end in annihilation, but it is eternal in nature. The term “day or night” is an idiom signifying something that is unceasing in nature. This is seen again in Isaiah 66 –
“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.” Isaiah 66:24
Jesus uses the same terminology from Isaiah 66 in Mark 9. Revelation 20 will, again, show the eternal nature of punishment for those who are not saved through the work of Jesus Christ. This includes those “who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
As hard as it may be for us to grasp the meaning of, and reason for, eternal punishment, it is a truth that is clearly laid out in Scripture. In the end, a finite offense against the infinite God will result in eternal punishment.
It is not uncommon for teachers of the word to claim that taking the mark can be forgiven, but this is not in accord with Scripture. Those who worship the beast and his image will not be spared. Those who receive the mark of his name will bear their guilt. This verse clearly reveals this.
Life application: The subject of hell is frightening and terrible stuff. This verse is rather clear – anyone who receives the mark of the beast and whoever worships the beast will be tormented forever and ever.
There are other views about the eternal nature of the torment that is coming. One view is that it brings about an immediate destruction (annihilationism). However, this fails to line up with verses, such as those cited above, which clearly state torment is eternal. It also fails to measure up to Jesus’ own words about the subject. Annihilationism is false.
A second view says that the punishment will result in the purification of the lost – burning away their sins – and so they will be saved after this torture (purification by fire). This negates the very reason for the cross. If there were another way to be purified, then Christ died in vain. Purification by fire is false.
There is one penalty for those who die apart from Christ. The sight of God at the final judgment is an eternal judgment because the memory of seeing God’s glory apart from the covering of Jesus Christ will destroy them infinitely. Such is the holiness of God. But Jesus speaks of greater punishment for some than others –
“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:47, 48.
Those who willingly receive the mark of the beast are really in for it. They will worship that which is less than God voluntarily, and they will receive the just punishment for their actions. For any who read this before that time comes, it is hoped that you will demonstrate wisdom and call out to God for salvation now. Call out to Him through JESUS.
O God, we know perfectly well what we deserve. We have lied, stolen, cheated, and been perverse in our hearts and in our words. We have thought wicked things, and we have been at strife with our fellow man. Our punishment is deserved… and yet You sent Jesus to the cross to pay our infinitely large debt. Thank You for restoration and reconciliation because of His shed blood. Amen.