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Isa. 9:18-21,

"18 For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.

19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.

20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:

21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (KJV)

This speaks of wicked actions of living people. The people are the fuel for the fire while they are living wicked lives on earth. Devouring their brothers depicts the actions of thieves and murderers, the ones who steal what another has to convert it to their own use.

Today, we call these people parasites and zombies, who feed off the productive sector of society. This wicked activity goes on during life, and the fire is God's anger.

Lam. 2:4, "...He hath poured out as fire His fury." (KJV)

The wicked are bringing forth the column of smoke before the Lord during their lifetime because of their actions. Their wicked actions... their torment of the people...are the fuel of the fire of God's wrath.

Not that the wicked are being tormented, but that they are tormenting the people. And, their wickedness comes up as a smoke before God, and causes His anger and fury.

Therefore, in Rev. 14:9-11,

"9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

"10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." (KJV)

isn't this the same language as Isa. 9:18-21? The smoke of their wicked acts... their torment of the people...rises up before God. This is not something that happens after they die.

Isn't the action of worshiping the "beast" an action during life on earth? The beast is a ruler or authority that preys upon the weak and the young, that devours those whom they should be protecting (Isa. 56:11; Jer. 25:34; 50:6-7, 17; Ezek. 34:2, 8, 10, etc.).

Since these actions of the wicked who worship the beast, and who receive the mark of slavery/ ownership occur during their mortal lifetimes, then they have not yet died. And, isn't this the same burning torment of those living wicked people spoken of in Isa. c.9?

Therefore, isn't the wrath of God (the fire) being poured into the cup of His indignation while they yet live, continuing to fill it until it overflows?

I am wondering if this highly figurative passage of a prophetic image in Rev. c.14 is not speaking of eternal torment after death, but of the torment they cause while they yet live on earth?

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    'Ascendeth up for ever and ever' seems conclusive to me that this is an unending state, not a matter of this present life, in time.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 30, 2017 at 13:18
  • Nigel, I rephrased it to better understand "their torment" as the torment that the wicked cause against others. See if you see what I see now?
    – Gina
    Nov 30, 2017 at 16:30
  • Nigel, we also have the problem of the English translation.."for ever and ever".. is in the Greek "to ages of ages", and we make too many assumptions. Ages have time elements, a beginning and an end.
    – Gina
    Nov 30, 2017 at 16:47
  • Aeons of aeons is unimaginable. Each aeon is multiplied by an aeon. And they are tormented throughout all of it.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 1, 2017 at 8:31
  • Isaiah 34 seems to be the background of the image: biblehub.com/niv/isaiah/34.htm
    – Ruminator
    Dec 1, 2017 at 15:05

1 Answer 1

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The Torment

According to the Bible, a dead person has no knowledge, no feelings, no awareness of anything that might be going on--so it is not possible to be tormented after death.

5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, KJV)

If a dead person has no "portion" (part) in anything that is done "under the sun," this clearly means a dead person could not be tormented, since to be tormented would be to have "a portion" of something (torment).

The Smoke

Smoke ascends from something that is already burned. Smoke can linger for hours, days, or longer, even after the fire is out. In Revelation, the smoke of their punishment is said to ascend forever, which indicates that the punishment itself is final, and will never be reversed.

The Fire

The fire in which these wicked are punished and burned is the everlasting fire of God's presence.

For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24, KJV)

For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29, KJV)

Although the fire itself is eternal, the torment is not. The wicked are to be burned to ashes, and destroyed.

The Death

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23, KJV)

Sin brings death as its consequence--not eternal life, tormented or otherwise.

Jesus' own teaching about the everlasting fire, paralleled to hell fire, is found in Matthew 18.

8Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:8-9, KJV)

The fire is everlasting because God is everlasting--but the fire is a "consuming" fire because it does just that--consumes its subject(s). Those cast into the fire are tormented only for as long as their life remains.

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  • Ecclesiastes doesn’t negate consciousness after death, the dead “know nothing” is a truth to the reality of what is “done under the Sun” - not what comes after, and Ecclesiastes 9:10 doesn’t reinforce annihlationism either because the lack of “knowledge, wisdom, work, etc” are things done under the Sun, not in the afterlife. וְדַ֣עַת Just means “knowledge” - יָדַע means: “to know“, or “aware”. So to postulate that Ecclesiastes implies a denial of torment after death is untenable. “Eternal life” isn’t part of the second death, but pain is: (Rev 2:11).
    – Cork88
    Apr 24, 2023 at 18:30
  • @Cork88 The dead cannot be in heaven either, because "The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence." (Psalm 115:17). Dead people are just exactly that--dead. They are not alive, in any form. They know nothing, they feel nothing, they sense nothing; they have no awareness.
    – Biblasia
    Apr 25, 2023 at 0:53

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