Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Lake of Fire - post 2

Following the first Lake of Fire (LOF) post from last October .....

I have been tossing around some ideas about the Lake of Fire (Rev 20) and thought I would now toss one of them to you.

Many people, especially fire and brimstone preachers, have very firm views on what the LOF could be.  But since the book of Revelation is so chock full of symbols, what the LOF stands for will always be open to conjecture, depending on your view of God.

Those who view God as a vengeful judge see the LOF as a place of horrible torment in flames of fire for eternity.  Properly translated, "for eternity" becomes "for the ages of the ages", but that doesn't alter the ugliness of this view very much.
Those who view God with a bit more mercy than that see the LOF as a place where people are annihilated and removed from existence rather than tormented.
Those of us who view God as a loving Father and the Saviour of the world see the LOF as the place where the rebellious are purified and made ready to move into eternity in fellowship with God.

Using this last view, I am exploring some ideas on how the LOF might achieve this. Here is my latest.

Firstly, I don't think the 'fire' part is a literal fire, but a symbol representing purification or cleansing or changing of form.  Chemically, fire never destroys, it only changes the nature or form of things.  Wood in a lounge fire is never destroyed but is changed or converted to other substances like smoke, char, ash, heat, light, etc.  So fire in Rev 20 is a symbol for change or conversion of one form or nature into another.

The 'lake' part indicates the size of the operation to me - not a small fireplace, or a forge or even a commercial furnace, but a huge expanse of conversion.

I have been at this point for some time.  But today I have gone a step further in my thinking.  And would you guess what promoted this thinking?  Yes, the story of the prodigal son again.  (Boy, there is so much in this story I can write a whole book on what it has taught me.)

The younger son had such a bad attitude to his father.  He asked for his inheritance even before his father had died,  he wasted it in a way that disrespected his father, he worked in places which disrespected his father's religion, etc., etc.   Eventually he was in such a state of poverty, disgrace and torment that he came to his senses and decided to head home to his father.

Due to his own rebellion, greed and foolishness, the place where he was, the nightmare he endured and the final effect that it had on him could easily be described as a life-changing LOF experience for him.

What do you think? 

Could each person create their own mini LOF out of which they come when it has done its work of conversion?  And could all mini LOF's happening at the end of the ages collectively be the vast LOF of Rev 20 which brings everyone to bow the knee and be reconciled to God at the conclusion of the ages?


PS  The huge increase in church attendance that often occurs after disasters like cyclones, floods, droughts, terrorist  attacks, etc. shows that earthly horrors have the potential to turn thoughts to prayer, repentance and to God looking for something better.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All relevant comments are most welcome. However, please express any disagreement you might have without being disagreeable and with grace towards those who might not hold your point of view.