The Unseen World of God
Part One: God
Biblical Research Monthly, January 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
We are to study together the subject of THE UNSEEN WORLD. In this series I shall discuss the following subjects: GOD, ANGELS, SATAN, DEMONS, SHEOL or Hades, GEHENNA, and HEAVEN. These are subjects of paramount importance. In the mad rush of everyday life, we become accustomed to dealing with the hard facts of reality and lose sight almost entirely of the spiritual realm in which we are moving. A subtle materialism with its deadening and devastating effects has gripped the world and has blinded the eyes of most people. We need therefore to have our attention called to the reality of the spiritual sphere in which we live and move and have our being, not only in time but also throughout all eternity. To this study therefore let us address ourselves.
The Scriptures nowhere attempt to prove the existence of God. On the contrary, they assume it. The reason for this attitude of mind on the part of biblical writers is that the Almighty's existence is an axiomatic truth. We do not have to argue with a small child that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. He knows this fact instinctively and proceeds upon this principle. The same child realizes that the whole consists of all its parts. For instance, if he has an apple and someone takes it from him and takes a bite of it, the child frequently cries, for he realizes that a part of the whole has been taken. Thus all axiomatic principles are self-evident and need no demonstration. Nevertheless we can by scientific methods prove even some self evident propositions. As suggested above, the biblical writers assumed that any honest heart can recognize the existence of the Almighty. In the first chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul presents a picture of the Gentile world of his day and time. Man had sunk to the very depth of sin and degradation. A visit to old Pompeii, which has been brought to light by the spade of the excavator, shows the very things and the abominable practices of evil men which are mentioned by the Apostle in the first chapter of Romans. After telling us that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believeth, Paul shows that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all types of sin and unrighteousness. Hear him:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that knowing God, they glorified him not as God neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-23)
According to this passage, God has revealed the fact that His wrath is stirred against all unrighteousness of men who hinder the truth by their ungodliness. He has therefore sent the gospel, offering salvation to all who believe. In this quotation the inspired Apostle shows that there is no excuse for anyone's not believing, “For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.” Only those who are unthankful and puffed up with pride fail to recognize His eternal existence and almighty power.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). A glance at the heavens either during the day or at night will bring the conviction to any honest heart that there is a supreme, intelligent Being who is controlling all things. As a child at five and six years of age, I used to look into the heavens and meditate upon the causes lying back behind the things which I could see in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. In those early years I came to the conclusion that there was evidently a supreme, intelligent, omnipotent Being who was guiding and controlling all things. I was no different from any other child whose mind was not warped by improper teachings. Since the evidence for God's existence is overwhelming, I shall not argue further this question.
In thinking of the Creator we usually speak of Him as God, or the Lord, or the Almighty. Some philosophers speak of Him as the “Uncaused Cause of all things.” We thus use the word God in the singular and think of the Divine Being as one person. This conception is erroneous. Let us turn to the Word of God and see what it says relative to the nature of the Divine Being. In the first sentence of the Scriptures (Genesis 1:1) we have this statement:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In the original text, the word rendered “God” is plural, and literally means “Gods”. Whenever this term occurs — and it appears hundreds of times throughout the Old Testament — and the context shows that it refers to the Supreme Being, our translators have rendered it as if it were a singular noun. On the contrary, wherever it occurs and refers to idols, it is translated correctly “gods”. If it is in the plural, as it is, and is correctly rendered “gods” when it applies to idols, could it not be understood correctly as being in the plural when it refers to the Almighty? Reason answers in the affirmative. But our translators have rendered it as if it were a singular noun in order to avoid the idea of polytheism, many Gods.
This plural noun in Genesis 1:1, as in practically all places, is used with a verb in the singular number. This unusual grammatical construction is without doubt used by design lest a person might be led off into polytheism. By the use of the verb in the singular number, the unity or oneness of God is asserted. The combination of the plural noun with the verb in the singular, therefore, presents both the plurality of the Divine Persons of the Godhead and at the same time sets forth their unity, their oneness.
Israel's great confession — Deuteronomy 6:4 — presents a very clear picture of this subject. Rendered literally it reads as follows: “Hear O Israel Jehovah [the Eternal One] our Gods is Jehovah a unity.” This statement shows that there is a plurality of Divine Personalities and asserts that they constitute a unity. The word in the original rendered one in the usual translation of this verse simply means a unity.
This usage is seen in such a passage as Genesis 2:24 in the statement, “... and they [the woman and the man] shall be one flesh.” Adam was one individual and so was his wife; nevertheless the two, according to this statement, were a unity flesh. They became a unit. In this same manner the three Divine Personalities of whom we read throughout the Scriptures are a unity. They are one in substance, essence, and being, though they are three distinct personalities. They are Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, and Jehovah the Holy Spirit. Being one in nature, substance, and essence, they cooperate in all things and are one in all their designs and works.
In Matthew 3:13-17 we see Jesus at the time of His baptism on earth, God the Father in heaven speaking to Him, and God the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove and coming upon Him. Again we see the Holy Trinity in the baptismal formula as it appears in Matthew 28:19,20:
Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the world.”
Throughout both the prophets and the writings of the New Testament we observe frequent references to different persons of the Trinity and at times to all of them; but the passages given will suffice to set forth the doctrine that there are three persons constituting the Holy Trinity.
And we read of the Godhead, which is only another term for the Trinity, in Acts 17:29:
Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold,
or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.”
We again see a similar reference in Colossians 2:9:
For in him [Christ] dwelleth
all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
This triune God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. These are theological terms and express great and marvelous facts.
God is all powerful. He is the one upon whom the entire universe depends. This truth is seen from the fact that He is the creator of all things. He is the beginning and the end. All things consist, or hold together, in Him. Without Him there has nothing been made which has been brought into existence. There is no other Being in the entire universe except Him; that is, there is no other spiritual being who has life, power, or existence beside the true God.
God is omniscient. He knows all things. This fact is revealed by the statement in Isaiah 46:10 regarding God, which states that He is the One, “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” When this statement is studied in the light of all related facts, it becomes evident that Isaiah was speaking of that part of eternity which we call time, and which began with the creation of the world and will end when the present material universe passes out of existence at the end of the Millenium — the judgment of the great white throne (Revelation 20:11). Since God sees the end from the beginning, it is clear that He sees and knows everything that occurs during time. Since He knows all of these things in detail, we may infer that He knows all things throughout eternity. It is obvious that He knows all things that have occurred in the eternity of the past. From hints here and there, we may be certain that He knows all that will be throughout the ages of the ages of the future.
God is omnipresent. This fact is evident from a study of Psalm 139. From this passage we see that it is not possible to get away from the presence of the Almighty. Through Jeremiah the prophet the Spirit declared:
Am I a God at hand, saith Jehovah, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him? saith Jehovah. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith Jehovah.” (Jeremiah 23:23,24)
The Lord speaks of Himself as inhabiting eternity as one lives in a house. See Isaiah 57:15. From these and many other passages we see that God is omnipresent — throughout the universe. We may be unable to understand the full import of such assertions but we can accept them by faith.
Throughout the Word we learn much about the character of God. One of the fullest statements concerning Himself is found in His own utterance to Moses, which is as follows:
And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth; keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the children's children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6,7)
This passage is indeed one of the most fundamental of all scriptural statements, because it sets forth most clearly and accurately the character of our God. We praise Him because He is what He is. Because of His real nature and character we who have fled to Jesus for refuge have an anchor that is sure and steadfast and that will hold during the most trying times of this life. May we ever walk and live, being conscious that we are in His presence, that He is keeping the records of our lives, and that He will reward us according to our deeds.
Part Two: God
Biblical Research Monthly, February 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
In the first installment of this series, we learned something of the existence of God back in eternity of the past, of His creating the universe, and of His triune nature. Furthermore, we learned that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Of course, in a short article we could only take up the major points. In this present installment let us look at some other phases of the study concerning the Almighty, who is invisible to mortal eyes but whose presence nevertheless is just as real.
The original faith of man was monotheistic. This word means that there is but one true and living God. It is opposed to polytheism, which term connotes the belief in many gods. The psalmist David asserted that the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen by the things which are made, even His everlasting power and divinity, so that man is without excuse. Atheism is indeed one of the most unreasonable positions that an intelligent person can assume. In Genesis 1:1-2:3 the word “Elohim” appears about thirty four times. In each instance it refers to the Holy Trinity; but, as we have already seen, the three divine Personalities constitute the one Supreme Being. In this Genesis passage appears the account of the creation of the material universe, of the earth's being destroyed by some catastrophe, and of the Lord's labor during six days in repairing the wreckage, which was wrought, in order that the earth might be a fit dwelling place for man, whom God created on the sixth day. The psalmist David, in speaking of the heavens — sun, moon, and stars — said that they are “the work of thy [God's] fingers ...” (Psalm 8:3). From these and many other passages we see that the faith of primitive man was indeed monotheistic.
This biblical position is corroborated by discoveries of the late Dr. Langdon of Oxford, England, who did archaeological work at Kish in old Babylonia about one hundred and fifty miles northeast of the ancient site of Babylon. From the facts which he brought to light, he came to the absolute and unequivocal position that the primitive faith of man was monotheistic. This light, thrown by scientific investigation, is indeed welcome, since it is given to us by a scholar of the first magnitude. We always delight to learn of evidence that corroborates the biblical account. We accept it gladly, not because we doubt the scriptural narrative, but because we receive additional confirmation of its accuracy from indisputable facts.
Although the evidence was crystal clear to primitive man that there was but one Supreme God — the Holy Trinity — man soon became a polytheist, worshiping gods of his own creation. The Apostle Paul in Romans 1 asserts this fact. As we have already seen from Romans 1:20, the evidence for the existence of the Supreme God is overwhelmingly convincing to the honest heart. Man is therefore without excuse. According to verse 21, primitive man recognized God and had a definite knowledge of Him. For some reason, not given by the Apostle, he took the first step from His Maker, which was a refusal to glorify Him as God. In other words, he disavowed God and declined to render to Him the praise and adoration which were due Him as the Creator and as the Sustainer of life. This attitude was nothing but the pitting of his will against that of the Almighty.
The second step which man took in departing from his God was his refusal to give thanks to the Lord for life, breath, and all things. Ingratitude is indeed base and sordid. It has the most unwholesome reaction upon the one who thus assumes it. This is what is stated of man originally and is what we see of him at the present time.
As a result of refusing to glorify God and to return thanks, man became vain in his reasoning, and his heart and conscience became seared — senseless. His spiritual eyes became dim, his ears grew heavy, and his heart was hardened. Naturally he became conceited and, professing to be wise, he became a fool (Romans 1:22). This was the third step which he took in departing from the Almighty.
The fourth and final step was changing the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of corruptible man, and of birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things (Romans 1:23).
In the way just described by the Apostle Paul, the human family departed from God originally, and then polytheism developed. Man is, as we have always heard, incurably religious. After he refused to worship the true and living God, his instinct toward the one in whom he lived and moved and had his being found expression in creating gods of his own design to worship and serve.
Many of the scientists, ignoring the biblical account of the origin of things and accepting the unproven theory of the evolution of man, assert that polytheism was the original religion. According to this view, men saw that they were dependent, from the human standpoint, upon so-called nature for their food, water, and sustenance. In their vain manner of thinking, they imagined that there were spirits residing in and controlling the fountains, trees, fields, groves, and all material objects. In fact, all nature by them was thought of as being animated by various spirits. From this conception there rose the idea of different gods who were later made into the form of creatures. Thus arose polytheism.
In the days of Enosh, the grandson of Adam and son of Seth, “began men to call upon the name of Jehovah” (Genesis 4:26). By an examination of this statement in the light of what has already been said, one logically concludes that God revealed a name of Himself to this patriarch in order to differentiate Him from the false gods which were arising in the minds of the people. As time developed, names were given to these various idols.
God therefore had to reveal a name in the primitive language by which His faithful servants could call upon Him, and which differentiated Him from the various pagan deities.
In the days of Abraham and Melchizedek, the Supreme God was known by these patriarchs as “God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). Soon after this time, the Lord revealed Himself to Abraham as “God Almighty” or “El Shaddai.” This title signifies God as the one who nourishes or sustains His people. He became known therefore by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as “God Almighty.” When God called Moses to go to Egypt in order to deliver the Hebrews from the slavery of that country, He revealed Himself to the great lawgiver as “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Since God was the speaker who was making the revelation, He naturally used the first person, I AM. Moses in giving the historical account of the revelation declared in Exodus 6:2-3:
And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac,
and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah I was not known to them.”
From this quotation we learn that God did not reveal Himself to the patriarchs as “Jehovah.” Notwithstanding this clear testimony, we see the name “Jehovah” appearing in the record from Genesis 2 onward. Thus in the historical account of events from Creation to Moses, we observe the word “Jehovah”, although it was never revealed to anyone until it was given to Moses at the time of his call and commission to deliver the Children of Israel.
What is the harmony between these facts? It seems to be this: In the primitive language which was in use in those early centuries, God chose the word by which He wished to be worshiped.
When Moses gave us the record which we have, he substituted for this word in the original language the term “Jehovah” in the Hebrew — the natural thing to do.
This hypothesis fully accounts for the appearance of this name in the early narratives of the Scriptures.
As stated before, polytheism swept over the world. Israel was the only monotheistic nation. Constantly idolatry invaded the ranks of the Chosen People, and many of them turned and worshiped pagan gods. At times the worship of the true God among them was eclipsed by heathenism. Prophets arose and denounced every phase of idolatry. One of the great champions of the truth, who fought idolatry as few men have ever done, was Isaiah the prophet. His majestic sermons and denunciations of paganism are especially found in the second half of Isaiah chapters 40-66. One should read the discourse found in 40; 43:8-13; and 44:6-8, as well as chapter 46. Idolatry with all its attendant evils finally made the captivity in Babylon a stark reality. Israel as a nation, however, was cured of idolatry by her servitude in Babylonia to a pagan power. After the restoration under Zerubbabel, though at times she lapsed into sin, she never went into gross idolatry any more.
Finally, the one true and living God revealed Himself to the world in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word become flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth ... For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son [God only begotten], who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:1-18). When Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father and said that such a revelation would satisfy him, the Lord Jesus responded, “Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?” (John 14:9). God is seeking man. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself ...” (II Corinthians 5:19). In worshiping Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we are worshiping the only true and living God. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
If the gospel of Christ is veiled to anyone, it is thus hidden to those who have been blinded by Satan; for in the face of Jesus Christ is to be seen the glory of the one true and living God. O sinner, repent and accept Him today!
Part Three: The Angelic Hosts
Biblical Research Monthly, March 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
In the two former installments of this series we have learned some few facts about the unseen, invisible, eternal God. We must hasten on to the consideration of the angelic host of which we read throughout the Scriptures.
In Job 38:1-7, we see several questions which the Almighty put to Job regarding the creation of the world. He ended this special list of queries with the following one (Job 38:6,7):
Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened?
Or who laid the corner stone thereof,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
Who are the “morning stars” mentioned in this quotation? Since this is Hebrew poetry, the fundamental principle of which is thought rhythm called Hebrew parallelism, we see that the “sons of God” are here spoken of under the symbolism of stars. But who are they? When we turn back to chapters 1 and 2 of this book, we see that the angelic hosts who are carrying out the divine will are thus designated.
These angels, or sons of God, evidently were created before God spoke the universe into existence. This fact is clear from the passage quoted above. They were present and were thoroughly conscious, realizing the beginning of the unfolding of the divine plan of the ages. Hence, when the various universes came forth from the hand of God, these holy beings sang aloud and shouted for joy, delighting in the glories of God's beneficent and glorious plan.
As to how much time intervened between the creation of these angelic hosts and the Almighty's calling the universe into existence, one cannot say. If one were to hazard a guess on this point, one might say that probably the time was short; for they seem to be, as we shall presently see, the Almighty's assistants in carrying out His government of the universe; but the facts are not sufficiently conclusive to warrant dogmatism on this point.
There are various ranks and orders of angels. As proof of this statement, all that one has to do is to note the fact that there are cherubim, seraphim, and the great rank and file of heavenly beings. We also read of the Archangel Michael. Moreover, we learn of Gabriel who seems to have a special place in the great economy of God.
An examination of Ezekiel 1 and 2 shows that the cherubim are connected immediately with the throne of God. The prophet saw a vision coming out of the north. To him it seemed as if it were simply a great flame of fire; but out of the midst thereof came the appearance of cherubim, each of which had four wings. They also had four faces. Hence, when they wished to go in a given direction, they did not have to turn their heads or bodies but could move as desired. Above the heads of these cherubim was the firmament upon which was placed the throne of God. Beside each of them was a wheel that had wheels within wheels. Over them was “the cherub that covereth.” It seems that this covering or anointed one had the supreme command over the other cherubim. In the tabernacle, and also in the temple which later displaced this primitive sanctuary, we see the cherubim which covered the mercy seat. There also were woven into the curtains of the most holy place pictures of cherubim. When man disobeyed God in Eden and was driven out from the presence of the Almighty, cherubim were placed to keep the way of the tree of life, lest man should partake thereof.
From all of this data one concludes that the cherubim hold a very high and exalted place in connection with the Almighty and in the execution of His government of the universe.
The vision which was granted to Isaiah, chapter 6, brings before us a picture of angelic beings whom he called seraphim. These creatures had six wings each. With two they covered their faces. With two they covered their feet, and with two they did fly. All the time they were singing, “Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” In the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we see four living creatures who are before the throne of God. These likewise have six wings each, and they are engaged in singing, both day and night, a similar note of praise — adoration to the Triune God. John in his message does not call these beings seraphim, but he simply speaks of them as living creatures (Unfortunately in the Common Version, they are called beasts, but this is the wrong translation; correctly rendered, the Greek word is “living creature”). These seraphim, these living creatures, are represented as singing a triple note of praise and glory to the Holy Trinity. It seems that in the beginning of the Tribulation they will have something to do with the starting of the first four judgments which are found in Revelation 6. From these facts one would gather that they assist the Lord in His administration of government — at least of the judgments which will come in the Tribulation.
In addition to the cherubim, the seraphim, and the Archangel Michael, there are vast hosts of angels whose name might properly be called “Legion”, for they are many. Daniel, in chapter 7, spoke of ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of them. John, in Revelation, likewise spoke of them as innumerable. Since the Lord is a God of order, it is quite likely that these hosts of intelligent created beings have creatures superior in authority placed over them to direct their activities.
One catches a glimpse of the throne of God in such passages as I Kings 22 and Job chapters 1 and 2. Another excellent picture of the court of heaven appears in Psalm 89.
An investigation of Job 1 and 2 reveals the fact that the various angels who appear before the throne of God are there to give an account of their ministrations at different places in the universe. This fact is in harmony with what we learn in Psalm 103:19f. Here we read that God's throne is established over everything else and that the angels are His ministers who do service for Him throughout the vast expanses of His domain. Some scholars have concluded from thoughts found here and there in the Scriptures that these angels have charge of the various heavenly bodies and cause the machinery of the universe to run smoothly according to the plan and purpose of God. On this point, however, we cannot be dogmatic, but we may be certain that all of the angels are usefully and profitably engaging in some service that glorifies and honors God and that assists Him in the administration of the government of the universe.
Not only do the heavenly hosts render this service, but, according to Hebrews 1:14, they are God's ministering spirits who serve those who are to inherit eternal salvation. We may not be able to understand all that these angels do for us at the present time but when we come before our Lord and see things as they are, we shall then learn that all of these heavenly beings are but servants who are doing the will of God and who are constantly engaged in some profitable labor in our behalf.
Because of the abuse of the doctrines regarding angels made by certain ones, many of us shrink from the idea that angels do render a service to us. The abuse of some scriptural teaching however should not cause us to deny anything that the Scriptures assert. Let us thank God for whatever service these angelic hosts render to us.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago, that event was announced by a small band of angels to the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks in the field of Boaz, northeast of Bethlehem. When He makes His second advent into the world, all the angels will come with Him. This fact we learn in Hebrews 1:6. As stated before, Daniel saw the Almighty, the Ancient of Days, taking His seat upon the throne in heaven to pass judgment upon the Antichrist and all his lieutenants during the Tribulation — especially at the end. Great hosts of angels stand at attention in the presence of God when He thus pronounces judgment upon these wicked, evil men who will be satanically inspired against God and against His people. When however the Lord Jesus shall come, as stated above, in His glory, all the angels of God will appear with Him (see Matthew 25:31; also Revelation 5).
During the Millennial Era, and in the ages of eternity, we who are saved and suffer with Him shall be exalted to high positions of authority and power, and shall judge or control angels (Romans 8:17; I Corinthians 6:15).
Part Four: Satan
Biblical Research Monthly, April 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
WE HAVE, in the preceding articles of this series, discussed in a general way the subjects: The Almighty and The Angels. It is therefore proper for us to consider the biblical teaching regarding Satan, the great adversary of God and man.
In the preceding article we learned that prior to the beginning of the world, the Lord created the angelic hosts. These sang together and shouted for joy when the Almighty brought the material universe into existence (Job 38:7). The chief of all the created beings was Satan. In Job chapters 40 and 41, we have a very vivid, graphic description of this sinister spirit. In 40:15-24 he is spoken of under the symbolism of “behemoth” or “the hippopotamus.” Of this one the Lord declared (vs. 19):
He is the chief of the ways of God:
He only that made him giveth him his sword.”
The word rendered “chief” means primarily head, first, or beginning. Thus this one of whom God was speaking was the first of the Almighty's ways. That statement means that this one was the first one whom God created.
In Job 41 this same one is represented as “leviathan” (vs. 1). The description of this one goes far beyond any animal, although the term leviathan or crocodile is applied to him. What is here said of him could be spoken of no animal. For instance, when he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid (vs. 25); he counts iron as straw and brass as rotten wood (vs. 27); clubs are considered by him as stubble, for he laughs at the rushing of the javelin (vs. 29); and he is king over all the sons of pride (vs. 34). Similar conceptions of him are employed by the sacred writer in Psalm 74:13,14. An examination of verses 12 to 17 of this passage shows that the psalmist was speaking about the disaster that is recorded in Genesis 1:2 and of the work of the second, third, and fourth days which are mentioned in Genesis 1. Without doubt Isaiah was speaking of Satan in 51:9,10. Here again the same imagery is used. When Satan was created he was given the highest position in the universe under God. A marvelous study concerning his original station is set forth in Ezekiel 28:11-19. In the first ten verses of this chapter the prophet addressed the King of Tyre, the sovereign of the city which became the leading commercial power in the ancient world during the Persian period and up to the time of the conquests of Alexander the Great. After his day, Carthage, one of the colonies of Tyre, played the role of the mother-city to a great extent and even vied with Rome itself. The King of Tyre, whom the prophet addressed, by his shrewdness and manipulations in the commercial world, caused much of the wealth of the nations to gravitate to himself. He became proud and haughty as a result of his accumulated treasures and his unchallenged power. By the time the prophet reached verse 12 of this chapter, he ceased to move in a purely human realm and began to traverse a sphere whose limits by far transcended those of any mortal man. For instance, in this verse he spoke as if he were still addressing the King of Tyre; nevertheless he said, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God ...” This language means that the one whom the prophet was addressing possessed the perfections of wisdom and beauty in the highest degree; yet we are to understand that he was a created being, for in verse 13 he is spoken of as having been created. This one was therefore the very highest type of being possible. Moreover, he occupied the most exalted position in the great economy of God, for in Ezekiel 1 and 2 we have a vision of the throne of God which was supported by cherubim who were engulfed in thunderous flames of fire. Over and above these cherubim was this “anointed cherub that covereth.” This language can mean nothing but that this one of whom he was speaking was occupying the highest position of authority and power over, not only the cherubim supporting the throne of God, but also all other angelic beings. From these three chapters Ezekiel 1, 2, and 28 we conclude that this one, the anointed cherub that covereth, was the highest type of being that could possibly be created, and that he possessed authority which was not delegated by the Almighty to any other being. Satan's position therefore was as head authority over all the created beings. As such he was first under God in command. At that time he walked up and down in the stones of fire upon which the firmament rested that was the support of the throne of God. This seems to have been Satan's position prior to the creation of the world. After the calling of the universe into existence, it appears from Ezekiel 28 that Satan was assigned a special duty — that of ruling this earth. In placing him here the Lord did not demote him but rather gave him additional duties and responsibilities. He was therefore in what might properly be termed the crystal palace in Eden, the garden of God, during the period of time which lapsed between the creation of the world and the catastrophe which reduced it to the waste conditions mentioned in Genesis 1:2. Thus during those long geological periods, which we know intervened between the events of the first and second verses of Genesis 1, Satan was the god of this world (for a full discussion of this point see “Eternity or the Plan of the Ages” by Dr. David L. Cooper). A careful study of Ezekiel 28:11-19 leads one to believe that Satan as the prince of this world, while still in fellowship with God and in obedience to His will, directed the traffic of the universe. Finally, unrighteousness, because of his accumulated riches and increased power, entered his heart.
As suggested in the sentence above, after Satan had exercised sovereignty over this world, under the supervision of God, of course, he became proud and haughty, thinking that he could throw off the yoke of the Almighty's authority and could take the world into his own hands and run it for himself. As proof of this position one should study Ezekiel 28 and then read carefully Isaiah 14:12-14. From this latter passage we see that there was a time when Satan felt that he could exalt himself above God and could overthrow the authority of the Almighty. He therefore led a rebellion among the angelic hosts in an attempt to dethrone God. There are certain reverberations of this historic rebellion found here and there in the Scriptures. For instance, this is echoed in Job 25. The occasion of Satan's downfall seems to have been his pride as is stated in I Timothy 3:6. One sees another glimpse of this uprising against the Almighty in Revelation 12:1-4. At that time Satan influenced one-third of the angels to join in his revolution against God.
Although Satan was cast from his high estate and has been shorn of much of his great authority, he is yet powerful and is continuing his plottings against the Almighty and against His people. By the sufferance of God, he is permitted to inhabit the air together with his hosts. Paul, in Ephesians 2:1f, spoke of him as “the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience.” The Apostle Peter thought of him as a roaring lion which goes to and fro throughout the earth, seeking whom he may devour. Satan is constantly plotting against the people of God today. They have neither the wisdom nor the strength to match swords with him and his great hosts. The Apostle Paul, realizing these facts, urged the Ephesian Christians to put on the whole armor of God and to set their heart to stand against him. Of course, man cannot do this in his own strength. He is therefore urged to be made strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Then he is to take the offensive against Satan. If one will only resist the devil, strong in his faith, the latter will flee from him. We can, through the power of Christ, be made to stand and can become more than conquerors through Him.
While Satan is very powerful, he is not all-powerful but is limited in his strength and activities. He must first obtain permission from the Almighty to approach any one of the Lord's people. When God does grant him permission to test any of His people, He always imposes restrictions and places barriers around His child. Satan must respect these (see Job 1 and 2; also I Corinthians 10:13).
Eventually Satan, together with all the wicked host under him, will be incarcerated in the pit of the abyss. This will take place at the end of the Tribulation, for in Isaiah 24:21-22 we see a prediction of their imprisonment. This prophecy of Isaiah is confirmed by Revelation 20:1-4.
Finally, after the Millennium has passed, at the judgment of the great white throne Satan will be cast into the lake of fire where he, together with all of those who reject the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, will spend eternity (Revelation 20:8-10).
Thanks and praise to God who gives us the victory over Satan.
Part Five: Demons
Biblical Research Monthly, May 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
In the preceding article of this series, we studied the subject SATAN, who, as we learned, was the highest created being whom God called into existence, who rebelled against God, whose transgression has brought all the misery that exists into the world, and whose doom and final incarceration in hell will be accomplished at the proper time. In the present article we are, to study the subject of DEMONS. This is such a big theme that it will be impossible for us to enter into an adequate discussion of any phase of it, but we can note the highlights.
As stated above, Satan was the highest creature whom God called into existence. He was “the anointed cherub that covereth” and, as we learned in a former article, was, after the creation of the universe, in Eden, the garden of God (Ezekiel 28). A careful study of this chapter shows that Satan at that time was in control of this earth. He caused all the traffic and trade to gravitate toward himself. From various hints here and there in the Scriptures, it becomes apparent that when unrighteousness entered his heart, Satan accomplished a rebellion against God. This was caused, of course, among the angels, who were created free moral agents. That there was such a revolution against the government of God is quite evident from an allusion to it in Job 25. There the statement is made, “He maketh peace in his high places” (Job 25:2). He could only make peace by putting down rebellion and insurrection. But the whole chapter is dealing with that subject. We see another allusion to it in Revelation 12. In this passage the serpent is the one who drags one third of the stars of heaven down. Since this serpent is none other than the dragon, the devil, the adversary of God, it is quite evident that the stars mentioned there are not literal bodies but are used as symbols of intelligent beings whom Satan dragged down from their high estate.
This rebellion against the government of God on the part of Satan occurred before the creation of Adam. It is quite possible, though we may not be dogmatic on this point, that it occurred at the time of the disaster mentioned in Genesis 1:2. Originally God created the heavens and earth perfect (Isaiah 45:18). Later the earth was reduced to a state of desolation and waste — it was made void and without form. But the literal translation is: “The earth became a desolation and a waste.” The mighty struggle that took place at that time between Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, and Satan (Isaiah 51:9) could account for such universal wreckage.
There seems to have been another falling away of the angels during the days of Noah prior to the Flood. This is seen in such passages as Genesis 6:1-7. There we are told that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair. They came and formed unions with these women. From these marriages there sprang a race of giants — men of renown. Both Peter and Jude speak of these who at that time sinned by leaving their holy estate, by going after strange flesh, and by committing fornication (Jude 5-7; II Pet. 2:4-12). These who rebelled in the days of Noah have been incarcerated in the underworld and have been kept bound with everlasting chains.
Those angels who first fell in Satan's original rebellion are the powers in the air — the host of wickedness in the heavenly places — which are hovering around this earth, being under the strict leadership and control of Satan himself.
These demons, or evil spirits, inhabiting the air, have been especially active during great crises in the past and will continue so in the future. It seems, from a the study of the biblical account, that they are permitted to invade the human realm, especially at times when God steps forward in His unfolding of His plan of the ages. Someone has expressed the thought that when God breaks through into the human realm, He allows Satan to do the same. This doubtless is due to the fact that God does not want to force upon man evidence which will be overwhelming. The Lord wants to allow a margin for the exercise of faith on the part of man, because without it no man can please God. These considerations lead to the conclusion that the demons, as well as Satan, are under the control of God and that they cannot act unless the Lord permits them in His wisdom to do so.
The Lord moved forward in His plan of the ages at the time when He brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage. At that time He, figuratively speaking, burst forth into the human realm and wrought many miracles. He worked especially through Moses and Aaron. An account of their activities in the name of God is found principally in the Books of Exodus and Numbers. When Moses performed a miracle such as turning his rod into a serpent, the magicians of Egypt who opposed him duplicated this wonder. Moses wrought his miracles by the power of God; the magicians performed theirs by the power of Satan and demons. When Moses turned the waters of Egypt into blood, the magicians did likewise. When, however, Moses brought the plague of lice throughout Egypt, the magicians were unable to duplicate this miracle. Then they confessed, “This is the finger of God.” “And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken” (Exodus 8:19). From this we see that the magicians by the power of Satan and demons were able to duplicate the miracles performed by Moses up to this point. Beyond this one they could not go. When one takes all the facts into consideration, he comes to the conclusion that the Lord permitted Satan and the demons to duplicate His miracles up to a given point in order that the Israelites might not be forced by overwhelming evidence to believe, but that they might have a margin for the exercise of their faith.
Another time in the history of Israel when Satan was permitted to be especially active was during the personal ministry of our Lord. Of course, when one scans the period intervening between the days of Moses and those of our Lord, he sees that at various times Satan and demons did figure prominently in the history of Israel. A glance at the Gentile world, however, shows that demon activity has been prominent among pagan worshipers, but in Israel during the Lord's ministry Satan was especially active. This is to be seen in the Gospel records. A glance at the Acts of the Apostles also shows that demon activity was in great evidence, even during the Apostolic Period.
According to Paul's prediction in I Timothy 4:1-5 demons will be especially active in the last days of this dispensation. A glance at conditions throughout the world shows that spiritism and other forms of demon activity are becoming more prevalent as the days pass. All cults and many off-color religious groups are the work of demons under the leadership of Satan.
A perusal of the Book of Revelation shows that demon activity will be in great evidence during the Tribulation Period; especially under the blowing of the fifth and sixth trumpets will this be true. In Revelation 9 we see the infernal regions being opened up and those demons which fell in the days of Noah coming forth to plague the peoples upon the earth. Again in Revelation 16:12f we observe three evil spirits that are like frogs and that go forth throughout the whole world to bring the kings of the world for a conference at the place that in Hebrew is called Har-Mageddon. Satan with all of his hosts will be in battle array against God and the tribulation saints and will do everything that they can to wreck the work of God in the final war but will be defeated.
At the end of the Tribulation Period, according to Isaiah 24:21,22, all of the hosts of the high ones on high, the demons, together with Satan, will be incarcerated in the pit of the abyss where they will be held for “many days” — during the Millennial Age. At the expiration of this Kingdom Era, Satan will be unloosed and will be permitted to come back and to deceive the nations of the earth again. It is quite likely that the demons will also be unloosed and will return to assist Satan in his machinations and evil designs.
Finally, Satan, and we may believe demons also, will be cast into the lake of fire where they shall be tormented forever and ever — without any cessation or letup.
Dear Christian friend, let me insist that you study all you can in the Word of God about the activities of Satan and the demons. Have nothing to do with anything whatsoever that has any connection with demonism. Satan and his hosts will transform themselves into angels of light in order to deceive, if possible, the very elect, but we are not in darkness but in the light. Let us therefore walk as children of light, redeeming the time.
Part Six: Sheol
Biblical Research Monthly, June 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
In this series thus far we have studied the subjects of GOD, ANGELS, SATAN, and DEMONS. In this installment we shall examine the scriptural teaching concerning that place which in the Old Testament is called “Sheol” but in the New Testament “Hades”. The next phase of this general theme to be discussed will be GEHENNA, or HELL, and the last of the series is to be an examination of the subject HEAVEN, or the eternal state of the blessed.
Everyone who takes a sober view of life immediately arrives at the conclusion that there is an existence beyond our earthly pilgrimage. The cravings of man's innermost soul lead to this conclusion. The inequalities of life the punishment of the wicked and the rewarding of the righteous must be thoroughly adjusted in a future time. The justice and the righteousness of God demand such an arrangement as this. Thus from every angle we are led to the conviction that there is a life beyond this one. The Scriptures give us much information along this line. They tell us, as suggested above, that there is an intermediate place to which the wicked, at the present time, go after they depart this life and before they are consigned to their place of retribution throughout eternity. As we shall presently see, the righteous prior to the victory won by the Lord at Calvary went likewise to this place. But we shall study more minutely the various phases of this subject.
SHEOL IS A PLACE IN THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. As proof of this assertion I call the reader's attention to the rebellion of Korah and his company, the record of which is found in Numbers 16. These men rebelled against Moses and his regime. As judgment upon them, the Lord caused the earth to open up and they sank into Sheol:
But if Jehovah make a new thing, and the ground open its mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down alive into Sheol; then ye shall understand that these men have despised Jehovah.” (Numbers 16:30)
These men did not die a normal death, but they literally, when the earth opened up, sank down alive into Sheol.
SHEOL HAS AN ENTRANCE. Hezekiah was informed by the Lord through Isaiah that he should put his house in order and prepare to depart this life. Whereupon Hezekiah, filled with the Spirit, prayed to God and said:
I said, In the noontide of my days I shall go into the gates of Sheol:
I am deprived of the residue of my years.” (Isaiah 38:10)
According to this statement there is an entrance to this place through which one passes in order to enter. In keeping with this thought is the statement made by the Lord to Job: “Have the gates of death been revealed unto thee? Or hast thou seen the gates of the shadow of death?” (Job 38:17). These questions demand the answer that there are gates or an entrance to Sheol.
SHEOL IS A DARK AND DESOLATE PLACE. Job, racked with pain in his body and disturbed in mind said to the Lord:
Are not my days few? Cease then, And let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, Before I go whence I shall not return, Even to the land of darkness and of the shadow of death; The land dark as midnight, The land of the shadow of death, without any order, And where the light is as midnight.” (Job 10:20-22).
According to this statement it is clear that Sheol is a place of disorder and of darkness.
SHEOL IS A PLACE OF NON-ACTIVITY. In support of this proposition I wish to call attention to Psalm 30:9:
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit?
Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?”
From this passage we see that there is no such thing as the proclamation of God's truth or the rendering of worship and praise to Him by those who are in Sheol. In perfect accord with this statement is the one found in Psalm 88:10-11:
Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall they that are deceased arise and praise thee?
Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or thy faithfulness in Destruction?”
From these two statement we see that there is no such thing as worship and praise and the proclamation of the truth of God in Sheol. The general impression which the Scriptures make upon the mind of the reader is that there is no activity of any kind carried on in Sheol.
SHEOL IS A PLACE TO WHICH THE LOST GO. This fact is seen in such passages as Isaiah 14. In this chapter we read of the descent of the Antichrist into Sheol:
And it shall come to pass in the day that Jehovah shall give thee rest from thy sorrows, and from thy trouble, and from the hard service wherein thou wast made to serve, 4 that thou shalt take up this parable against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased! 5 Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the sceptre of the rulers; 6 that smote the peoples in wrath with a continual stroke, that ruled the nations in anger, with a persecution that none restrained. 7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. 8 Yea, the fir-trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid low, no hewer is come up against us. 9 Sheol from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. 10 All they shall answer and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? 11 Thy pomp is brought down to Sheol, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and worms cover thee.” (Isaiah 14:3-11)
An examination of this passage shows that the one of whom the prophet was speaking can be none other than the Antichrist who in the future will oppress all the world. In these verses is his funeral dirge as he goes down to Sheol.
In Ezekiel 31 and 32 we get another glimpse of the lost who go down to Sheol. In these chapters appear oracles spoken against the King of Egypt who was warned by the judgments brought by the Almighty against the King of Assyria. In a very dramatic and graphic manner the prophet foretold the descent of the King of Egypt into Sheol. I would ask the reader especially to examine very carefully Ezekiel 32. There he will get a clear picture of the lost who are in companies in the lower parts of Sheol.
Further confirmation that the wicked go to Sheol is seen in Proverbs 9:18. In chapter 9 of Proverbs (as well as in chapter 8) wisdom is speaking and is warning men against the evils of this life. Especially in verses 13 to 18 inclusive in chapter 9, she warns men against going to the houses of ill-fame. She concludes her remarks by saying:
But he [the man being beguiled by a harlot] knoweth not that the dead are there;
That her guests are in the depth of Sheol.” (Proverbs 9:18)
Notice in this last sentence that God says those who visit the houses of ill-fame and prostitution are the guests in the depths of Sheol.
SHEOL IS THE PLACE WHERE THE RIGHTEOUS WENT UPON DEATH PRIOR TO THE ATONEMENT AND THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. As proof of this proposition one needs only to notice that such saints of God as was Samuel went to Sheol (see I Samuel 28). Moreover, saved men such as King David died and were gathered to their fathers. Jacob, we well remember, said he would go down to Sheol unto Joseph whom he at that time thought had been slain by wild animals. These statements and other facts in the Old Testament show that prior to the death of Christ the righteous went to Sheol.
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WHEN HE GAVE UP THE SPIRIT WENT TO SHEOL.
I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
My flesh also shall dwell in safety.
For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.
Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fullness of joy;
In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:8-11)
From this passage we see that the Lord Jesus went to Sheol when He died. Moreover, He foretold that He would go into the very heart of the earth upon death and be there three days and three nights: “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale — so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39,40). The Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost quoted Psalm 16 as proof that the Messiah, who upon death went to Sheol, arose again.
SINCE CHRIST'S DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION ONLY THE WICKED GO TO SHEOL; WHEREAS THE RIGHTEOUS UPON DEATH GO INTO THE IMMEDIATE PRESENCE OF CHRIST. These facts are shown by the statements relative to the rich man and Lazarus. Both lived before the death of Christ and upon death went to Hades, which is, in the Greek, a term equivalent to Sheol in the Hebrew. But when Christ conquered the powers of the Unseen World, He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. The righteous no longer go to Sheol at death but instead go into the immediate presence of Christ. The Apostle Paul said that he was in a strait between two things, namely, to remain and help the Christians in their life-struggle and to depart and be with Christ, which he declared would be far better (Philippians 1:23). Moreover, in II Corinthians 5 the same apostle declared that for the Christian to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. The spirit of the Christian goes immediately upon death in the presence of the Lord, whereas his body is laid in the tomb to await the resurrection morn.
We have seen, in this brief study, only a few of the many facts regarding Sheol and Hades that are set forth in the Scriptures, but these suffice for our present purpose. In the meantime it is truly glorious to know that the believer can sing:
Love's redeeming work is done, Fought the fight, the victory won:
Jesus' agony is o'er, Darkness veils the earth no more.
Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Christ hath burst the gates of hell;
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Christ hath open'd Paradise.
Soar we now where Christ hath led, Following our exalted Head;
Made like Him, like Him we rise; Ours the cross, the grave, the skies!”
Part Seven: Gehenna
Biblical Research Monthly, July 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
Last month we studied the subject of Sheol and found that that is a place to which both the righteous and unrighteous went upon death prior to the death, burial, and triumph of our Lord. There were two apartments to this underworld which were separated by a vast gulf. Since the conquest of the Lord Jesus and His bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel, the righteous no longer go there but rather go into the immediate presence of God. The wicked, however, continue to go there where they await the judgment of the great white throne, which will occur at the conclusion of the Millennial Age.
In the present installment we are to study the subject of Gehenna or the “hell of fire.” This is not a very pleasant subject; nevertheless, since it is one that is treated in the Scriptures, we must come with open minds to see what God says about it. Unfortunately in the King James Version both Sheol and Hades are translated by the English word hell. Gehenna is also translated by this same word. These loose translations have caused endless confusion. The Revised Version, however, has removed the difficulty and presents the facts as they are embedded in the Scriptures. For instance, in the Old Testament Sheol appears as the place of departed spirits. This word is simply the Hebrew term spelled in English letters. In the New Testament the same place is called Hades. This word is the Greek term transliterated spelled with English letters. The word hell is reserved for conveying the idea that is expressed by the Greek word Gehenna. We must keep these facts clearly in mind as we proceed in our study.
Do the Scriptures teach the existence of a place which is designated by the English word hell? In Matthew 5:22 Jesus declared, “... and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire (the Gehenna of fire).” In the twenty ninth verse of this same chapter, Jesus declared that it would be more profitable for one to suffer the loss of an eye, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. A similar threat and warning occurs in verse 30. Jesus encouraged His disciples not to fear those who can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. He concluded His statement by saying, “... rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). A similar exhortation is found in Matthew 18:9. The Pharisees were very eager to make proselytes to their peculiar views. Concerning such converts Jesus said, “When he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15). In upbraiding the Pharisees, scribes, and hypocrites, Jesus addressed them in this language, “Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). In Mark 9:43 Jesus said that it was better for one to suffer the loss of one member of his body than having “thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.” This statement is repeated in verses 45 and 47 of this same chapter. According to Luke 12:5, Jesus warned His disciples saying, “Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” In each of these passages the word Gehenna is used and is translated hell.
What is the meaning of Gehenna? It simply means the valley of Hinnom. In the latter period of Jewish history, there was a fire burning perpetually in this valley where the garbage and refuse of the city was dumped. This continuous fire furnished the imagery of such passages as the ones which we have just studied. As we have already seen in Mark 9:43, Jesus, in speaking of hell, called it “the unquenchable fire.” The fire in the valley of Hinnom certainly was not unquenchable. But this fire concerning which Jesus warned people was one into which certain ones will go after death. It is not a fire that is connected with the present life and activity as was the one in the valley of Hinnom, which furnished the imagery used in these passages.
Having seen from the above discussion that there is a place which is called “the Gehenna of fire”, or hell, where the fire is unquenchable, we now wish to look at certain passages which give us a little glimpse of this place of horror. First let us look at an Old Testament passage. In Isaiah 66:22-24 we catch a view of the Millennial Era of our Lord's reign after the heavens above and the earth beneath have been created anew in fulfillment of Isaiah 65:17. People from all corners of the globe will flow in a constant stream to Jerusalem to worship Jehovah of hosts, King Messiah, the Great King. After having enjoyed the marvelous blessings of a visit to Jerusalem:
... they shall go forth, and look upon the dead bodies of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)
From this passage we learn that there will be a place outside of Jerusalem (but we do not know the exact locality) which might be called a miniature hell into which those who have transgressed against God will be cast and will suffer punishment. Here the worm shall not die nor the fire be quenched. This scene will prove an object lesson to those who are living at that time and are enjoying the blessings of the great Kingdom Age.
Let us now turn to the New Testament. John the Baptist, upon seeing the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, spoke to them saying, “Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Then he urged them to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance and not to rely upon the fact that they were descendants of Abraham. Following this warning, he sternly stated that the ax was lying at the root of the tree and that every tree that did not bring forth good fruit would be hewn down and cast into the fire. Remember that this language was spoken to the carping, criticizing Pharisees and Sadducees. Continuing his admonition to them he declared, “I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12). In this question John explained the purpose of his ministry, namely, that he was the forerunner of Messiah who was, by his preaching and his baptism, preparing them for Him who was coming after him and who would baptize them in the Holy Spirit and in fire. This statement he explained by speaking of a separation that this coming one would make. This idea he expressed in terms of the separation of the chaff from the wheat. In view of this prediction it is evident that one of these classes would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and the other in fire. In other words, those who would accept the Messiah would be saved, and those who would reject Him would be lost and cast into the fire. Speaking of the people in terms of the wheat and the chaff John declared that the Messiah would gather the wheat (the saved ones) into His garner, but the chaff (the lost ones) He would burn up with unquenchable fire. This passage indicates the doom of the lost as well as the blessedness of the saved.
We see another picture of Gehenna in the scene of separation found in Matthew 25:31-46. Let us remember that this is the judgment of the nations, which occurs when Jesus returns to the earth at the end of the Tribulation. Then will be gathered before Him those nations which survive that period of wrath and who are alive upon the earth at that time. In this connection it is well for us to remember that there is nothing said in this passage about a resurrection. There is nothing said about a general judgment. To see any such ideas in this passage is to read into it something that Jesus never intended. Those nations that survive unto the coming of the Lord will be separated into two classes by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Those who have been good to His brethren (because of their love for Him) will be permitted to enter the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. On the other hand, those who have been unkind, uncharitable, and inconsiderate of His brethren (and their actions and feelings toward the least of Jesus' disciples are an index of their attitude toward Him) will be put on the left side and will be sent off into everlasting punishment. The righteous at that time, as we see, go into the kingdom, entering into everlasting life; whereas the lost go into everlasting punishment. They immediately go into “the fire, the eternal, that is prepared for the devil and his angels” where they will be forever and ever.
This teaching is in harmony with what we find in Revelation 19 and 20. In the last part of Revelation 19 we see the false prophet and the beast (the Antichrist) cast alive into the lake of fire. At the end of the Millennium the devil is cast into the lake of fire “where are also the beast and the false prophet.” The Matthew passage taken together with the one in Revelation shows us that the lost who survive to the coming of Christ are all cast into the lake of fire when the Lord Jesus comes, but the rest of the dead are not cast into the lake of fire until after the Millennium is over (Revelation 20:11-15). Hell is an awful place. It is a reality. My friend, if you have not already done so, make your peace with God and be ready for the coming of the Lord for His saints to take you to bliss and to glory.
Part Eight: Heaven
Biblical Research Monthly, August 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
HEAVEN... Where is it? Who will be there? What conditions will exist? What will be our occupation in Heaven? Will we know our loved ones? These and hundreds of other questions have been asked with reference to this celestial place. On this page you will find the answer to some of the questions which are puzzling you.
Heaven is one of those words which, like the term “Mother”, stirs the Christian heart with great anticipation for the future. Everyone who takes a sober view of life realizes that he is a pilgrim and a stranger here, journeying through this life to the Great Beyond. Naturally we want to know about that place to which we are traveling. Where is it? Who will be there? What conditions will exist in that celestial home? What will be our occupation? Will we know our loved ones and be associated with them there? What will our relations to Christ be? Is it true that our natures will continually unfold and we shall advance in knowledge, grace, and power? These and hundreds of other questions have been asked with reference to this place.
Unfortunately, our ideas regarding heaven and the future life are very indistinct and hazy. Too many of us think that when we leave this life, we shall immediately enter into the heavenly home where we shall be forever and ever with our loved ones, enjoying the fellowship and the favor of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, we have very indefinite ideas of heaven. Instinctively, at the thought of heaven we look up or think in that direction. What is “up” to us is “down” to the Chinese on the other side of the globe. What is “up” to the man at the North Pole is “down” to the man at the South Pole. We must therefore become more definite and specific in our thoughts and in our terminology regarding heaven.
“The heavens are the heavens of Jehovah; But the earth hath he given to the children of men” (Psalm 115:16). The modern telescope and other astronomical instruments reveal that space is almost illimitable in every direction. The larger and better the instruments, the more extensive is space revealed to us. Where in all this vast universe is the place mentioned in the verse quoted above? The answer is very clear and specific in the Scriptures. God's throne is in the north, that is, in a position north from this globe. While it is true that He is everywhere and that one cannot flee from the presence of His Spirit, yet there is a definite, specific place in a position north from this world which is known as the “heaven of the heavens” where the Almighty has His throne. We are given various glimpses of this throne of God in different portions of the Scriptures.
In the heaven of the heavens is the tabernacle that was pitched by the Lord and not by men. “Now in the things which we are saying the chief point is this: We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2). The Tabernacle which Moses erected was a replica of the tabernacle in heaven. Because of this fact he was urged to build it exactly according to the pattern which was shown him in the Mount.
In the Book of Revelation several times we catch a glimpse of the temple of God in heaven. For instance, we see it in chapter 11:19: “And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there followed lightning's, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail.” This same temple appears again in 15:5: “And after these things I saw, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.” It is once more mentioned in 16:1.
That there is such a temple or tabernacle in glory, there can be no question. As to what constitutes it, no one can say. All that we can affirm about it is that it is a reality. Of what material it is constructed, no one knows. All who believe the Scriptures must accept this fact.
The Lord Jesus Christ, after His death, burial, and resurrection, ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high. He is the great High Priest in this temple, officiating and conducting the worship which constitutes the counterpart to the worship of the saints here upon the earth. This fact is brought out most clearly in the epistle to the Hebrews. Some commentators think that it is Jesus who conducts the worship mentioned in Revelation 8:3-5. On this point, however, I cannot be dogmatic. Yet in this passage we see that there is a service which is being conducted in heaven corresponding to and supplementing that which is offered by the saints upon the earth during the Tribulation Period. Jesus is now upon a throne of mercy and grace and may be approached at any and all times by His people in order to find mercy for the past and grace for the present (Hebrews 4:14 16).
Prior to the crucifixion of Christ, all who died went to Hades upon death. But there were two apartments in that place of departed spirits. One was for the righteous and the other was for the wicked. These places were separated by a great gulf over which one could not pass from the one place to the other. Since Christ defeated Satan and brought life and immortality out into the light through the gospel, the child of God does not have to go, upon death, to Hades as the righteous did prior to His triumph. Since our Lord's glorious triumph over Satan, the Christian upon death goes immediately into the presence of his Lord. This is shown by such a statement as that of Paul found in Philippians 1:23-24:
But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ;
for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake.”
In this passage the apostle stated that he was in a great difficulty, having two desires — one, to remain here upon earth and to assist the Christians in their life struggle; the other, to depart this life and to be with Christ which, he affirmed, was very far better. This he said to the Philippian church, having them specifically in mind. But his attitude toward those brethren was the same toward all other Christians of his day and time. Paul labored incessantly and unselfishly for the advancement of others and for the glory of God and Christ. It was his meat and his drink to make Christ known to others and to assist those who had already accepted the Lord Jesus with their problems and their difficulties.
On the other hand, he knew something about what was in heaven, and the glories which one shares in the presence of God. The reason Paul knew this is doubtless expressed in II Corinthians 12. He tells us in this passage of a man whom he knew fourteen years prior to the writing of that epistle, and who had been caught up into the third heaven, witnessing things which it was not lawful for him to utter. It seems plain from the context that he was speaking of his own experience. At some time he had been caught up in vision and had seen the throne of God and the bliss and the joy of those who are redeemed, around about the throne of God in heaven.
He therefore wanted to depart this life with all of its disasters, heartaches, and difficulties, and to be with the Lord Jesus Christ and the redeemed, enjoying their fellowship and communion. It is utterly impossible for us to conceive the bliss and the happiness of heaven at this present time.
In II Corinthians 5 Paul spoke about the Christian's leaving this life and being with Christ:
Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight); we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body; and to be at home with the Lord. Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him” (vs. 6-9).
At this time, dear friend, you and I are present in the body, but at the same time we are absent from the Lord. I do not mean to say that the Lord is not present with us in a spiritual sense at the present time, for He is; but in the sense in which the apostle was speaking, we, being in the body, are absent personally from the presence of God. When, however, we move out of these earthly tabernacles of ours and they are laid in the tomb, our spirits go immediately into the presence of Christ and we are at home with Him.
In the first quarter of the Tribulation there will be launched against the saints of that time a terrific campaign of persecution. Many of the faithful then will pay as the price of loyalty to the Lord their very lives. The days of the martyrs of Jesus are out ahead of us. These saints of whom John spoke in Revelation 6:9-11 are the tribulation martyrs. There will be many more martyrs after that time in the Tribulation, as we learn in Revelation 15:2-4. John saw the souls of these who will be beheaded underneath the altar in heaven. They will not at that time have their resurrection bodies. They will however be there in glory, longing to have their resurrection bodies. They are, according to this presentation, thoroughly conscious, knowing some of the things at least that are transpiring upon the earth during that time.
As stated above, whenever a child of God passes out of this life, his spirit goes immediately into the presence of Christ. At some moment before the Tribulation begins, Christ will descend from heaven to the air and will catch up the living saints who will be upon the earth at that time. These are the ones who never die and who can say to death, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting ... thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” These raptured saints will return with Christ to heaven and will be with Him and all the other saints who have preceded them, by death, throughout the Tribulation period.
At the end of that season of judgment, the Lord Jesus Christ will come with all his saints back to this earth (I Thess. 3:13). He will then set up His kingdom with His capital at Jerusalem, and the saints with Him will reign upon this earth. This kingdom will continue one thousand years. So far as we are concerned, this earth will, during that period, be our abode and will be to us heaven, or what heaven is to those who have already gone on before us.
As we shall see in the next and last installment of this series, at the end of the Millennial Age, the material heavens and earth will pass away (Revelation 20:11). Then God will create the eternal heavens and the eternal earth. At that time the eternal Jerusalem will come down out of the heavens and rest upon the eternal earth. In this city — the city foursquare — all the saints of all the ages will live with God and Christ forever and ever.
Part Nine: The Eternal Heavens and the Eternal Earth
Biblical Research Monthly, September 1943 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
As has often been stated in the columns of this magazine, the new heavens and the new earth mentioned by Isaiah in chapters 65 and 66 and by Peter in II Peter 3 are the millennial heavens and the millennial earth. An examination of the facts of each of the contexts in which reference is made in these passages shows that the writers were speaking of the Millennial Age, when the glory of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. On the other hand, the new heavens and the new earth that are referred to in Revelation 21 and 22 are the eternal heavens and the eternal earth. These must not be confused with the millennial heavens and the millennial earth. That this position is correct is immediately evident to the one who will read Revelation 20:11:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it,
from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;
and there was found no place for them.”
Jesus foretold the passing away of heaven and earth (Matthew 24:35). This prediction means exactly what it says, but Jesus did not inform us as to when His prophecy would be fulfilled. John, however, gave us that information, stating that the heavens and the earth pass away at the time the judgment of the great white throne is set. In Revelation 21:1 we see that there are “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away.” According to the statement in verse 5 of this chapter, God makes all things new, that is, after the millennial heavens and earth have passed away. We shall in this article study about this eternal order.
In Revelation 21:1-8 we see the new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Let us remember that the heavens out of which this new Jerusalem comes are the eternal heavens and that the earth to which it descends is none other than the eternal earth.
Following the description of the descent of the new Jerusalem out of the eternal heavens to the eternal earth, there is a statement that the “... tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” From the connection one gathers that the new Jerusalem is here called the “tabernacle of God.” Or it may be that the tabernacle of God is in the midst of this new Jerusalem. Of course we cannot be dogmatic, but I am inclined to believe that the latter interpretation is the correct one.
In speaking to men and women who have had sorrows, disappointments, and troubles, the Lord promises that He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and that there shall be death no more, neither mourning, nor crying, nor pain. The reason that none of these ailments will exist any more is that the first things — the things that pertain to the present order — will have passed away and all things will have become new.
The Lord reminds us that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the end. Being what He is, He promises that He will give unto His servants who are thirsty to drink of the water of life freely. The one who overcomes shall inherit all of the things mentioned — the things shown in the vision. In connection with this promise, let us remember that men are saved by the grace of God, but that they are rewarded according to their works. In keeping with this thought, the Lord foretold that there will be no people who are fearful or unbelieving, abominable, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, or any liars in that eternal home of the soul, for “their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.”
One of the angels asked the Apostle John if he wished to see the bride of the Lamb. Of course John wanted to see her. Then he was taken to a high eminence and shown the new Jerusalem. This language has confused certain ones. The difficulty disappears, it seems to me, when we recognize that the Lamb's wife, the church, will be in this holy city which is shown to John when he states that he desires to see the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
This marvelous, wonderful city, the new Jerusalem, will be, as we learn, a city foursquare. It will be fifteen hundred miles long, wide, and high — a perfect cube. Around it will be a wall, built upon stones of different kinds. In the wall will be twelve gates, three on each side. Above these gates will be the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, one over each gate. On the foundation of this wall will be the names of the apostles of the Lamb.
Since this new Jerusalem will be such an enormous affair, it is only reasonable to suppose that the proper proportion will exist between it and the eternal earth upon which it will rest. When we take these facts into consideration, we are justified in believing that the eternal earth will be indeed and in truth an enormous globe, in comparison with which this earth of ours at the present time will be but a speck.
In verses 19-21 is a list of the various precious stones that will enter into the construction of the eternal city. The gates entering into the city will be of pearl and there shall be a street of pure gold. The city will not have need of the sun nor the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God will lighten it and the lamp of it will be the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. “And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it” (21:24). Who are these nations that walk amidst the light of this city? The King James Version adds a clause, “who are saved”, which is not in the Revised Version; for it is not in the best manuscripts of the Scriptures. The translators of the American Standard Version therefore did well to omit this clause which crept into some late manuscripts. The people who will be in that new Jerusalem will be the saved from this earth. All of them will be there and they will live in that marvelous city. This being true, who will be the nations that shall live out upon this earth and whose kings will bring their glory into the city? It seems quite likely, in view of all the facts, that these nations will be a new race which God will create when He brings the eternal order into existence. They will increase and multiply and fill that enormous earth with inhabitants. But the glorious thing is that they will not sin nor do wrong. Neither will the devil have access to any of them, for he will have been cast into the lake of fire where he and all of the lost, together with his angels, shall be confined for ever and ever. Thus sin will never strike this new earth. There will be no sickness nor any disease.
It seems from the last verses of chapter 21 that this new Jerusalem will be the center of attraction upon this great enormous earth. There will be no night there. Day will reign supreme. The people of the earth will constantly bring their glory and their honor into it. In the closing statement of chapter 21, John informs us that the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem will be those only whose names have been written in the Lamb's book of life.
According to the first verses of Revelation 22, there will flow out from that city the river of the water of life which will be bright as crystal. The source of this river will be the throne of God which will be in this eternal city. As to how far the water will flow out upon the eternal earth the Scriptures are silent. It is quite likely, however, that they shall probably continually flow in various directions so as to make their waters accessible to all of the people who will be living upon the earth at that time. Upon either side of this river will be seen the tree of life. The term, tree of life, is a proper name which describes this special type or species of tree. It is a tree whose leaves are for the health of the nations. Because of this fact it is called the tree of life. Our translation says that its leaves are for the healing of the nations. The word rendered healing also means health. Since there will be no disease of any description upon that eternal earth, we are to conclude that this word here should be rendered “health,” that is, for the continued health and well being of the people upon that earth.
Those who are saved from this world will reign with the Lord for ever and ever. I presume that they will administer the government over the new race of people which will populate the new earth. There will be no idleness in heaven nor in the eternal Jerusalem. Service, work, and worship will be delightful and never laborious.
In Revelation 22:6 the Lord reminded John that “These words are faithful and true ... which must shortly come to pass.” And He added that He would come quickly. One who keeps the words of Revelation is promised a special blessing. John was so very grateful to God because of the Revelation which He sent by the angel that he attempted to worship him. This angel refused to accept the worship and directed John's attention to the worship of God.
The righteous will continue to grow and develop throughout all eternity. The wicked, being lost, will remain in the place of punishment, for those who are unrighteous will continue to be unrighteous and go from bad to worse. This growth in wickedness and in sin throughout the ages of eternity is set forth in 22:11.
The Lord promises to return and also promises a blessing to those who have washed their robes that they may have a right to the tree of life and enter into the city, the eternal Jerusalem. The Book of Revelation concludes with a warning against adding to or subtracting from “the words of the prophecy of this book.” The apostolic benediction and salutation closes this marvelous book. Let us, spurred on by the vision of this wonderful future home of ours, throw ourselves into the service of God as never before.
Soon will the Master come:
Soon pass away Our times of conflict, grief, and suff'ring here;
Our night of weeping end in cloudless day,
And sorrow's moment like a dream appear:
Eternity — with Jesus — in the skies — How soon that Sun of Righteousness may rise!
We shall behold Him, whom not seen we love,
We shall be with Him, whom we long to see;
We shall be like Him, fit for realms above,
With Him and like Him for eternity!
Is now to sit at Jesus' feet our choice?
How will fruition then our souls rejoice!”