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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 19

11. The Lake of Fire



“The two had been cast alive into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone".

A lake is a tract of standing water. The lake into which the Beast and the False Prophet are to be cast, is not, however, of water, but of fire. A lake of fire is a tract of land in a state of fiery ignition. A tract of land may be in a state of conflagration, or it may not. When a country is in its normal state, it is Apocalyptically neither a lake of water nor of fire, but simply "the earth," out of which the Beast came; but, if that country be thrown into a state of destructive conflagration, it becomes Apocalyptically a lake of fire. Hence, the lake into which the Beast and False Prophet are cast, is all that tract of country upon which they exist as the secular and ecclesiastical constitution of the inhabitants. To cast such into the lake of fire in which they are destroyed, is to kindle an intense conflagration in the territory of their dominion, which is not extinguished, or quenched, until they are consumed; and the remnant of their subjects, who survive the fiery ordeal, transfer their allegiance to the tormenting and conquering power.

The Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet, with their officials, are the symbols of what the Lord Jesus in his discourse recorded in Matt. 25., styles "the Devil and his Angels;" for whom to pur to aionion, the fire of the aionian judgment has been prepared. The Beast and the False Prophet are symbols of relation, and comparatively modern developments upon the original Dragon-territory. Their essential spiritual attributes are the same   Sin-Flesh Iniquity in secular and ecclesiastical manifestation upon the Roman Habitable. This is the Apocalyptic arena, with a dominion, however, considerably augmented in modern times. The title, "the Devil and his Angels" is, in effect, inscribed upon the Dragon in the words, "the Dragon, the old Serpent, who is Devil and Satan". His origin is enrooted in rebellious human nature, and therefore he is "Devil;" and being always, in whatever form he may exist, the enemy of the Truth and righteousness of the Deity, and the adversary of its adherents, he is "Satan". Upon these principles, the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet, with their Horn-appendages, are "the Devil and his Angels". These are the fuel of the fiery lake, or "TOPHET ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; YAHWEH hath made it deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood: the breath of Yahweh, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it" (Isa. 30:33). The effect of the fire upon the Dragon-king, or power, is its suppression for a thousand years; upon his horns, the appropriation of their kingdoms by the Saints, and the destruction of all armies; but upon the Beast and False Prophet organizations, their utter annihilation and eternal extinction.

The things represented by these symbols, however, are not the only wood, or fuel, of the lake of fire. The reader will remember that before the Judgment Seat of Christ in the wilderness of Teman, there were two classes of saints in Christ Jesus constitutionally; the one class consisting of "the called, the chosen, and faithful;" or as Paul styles them in 1 Cor. 3 12, "gold, silver, and precious stones," which are made manifest as such in the day when things are revealed by fire; and the other class consisting of "the called," but not "chosen," because not "faithful;" or, as Paul styles them in the same place, "wood, hay, and stubble". The constitution and destiny of these two classes, though originally built upon the same foundation, is widely divergent. The gold, silver, and precious stones, of the New Jerusalem community, are fire proof. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they can dwell with devouring fire, and with the burnings of Olahm; fire having no power over their bodies to singe a hair of their heads, nor to leave its smell upon them. Not so, however, the wood, hay, and stubble. They cannot continue to exist in fire, being in nature destructible. The judicial inspection of his house-hold, having separated the refuse and the vile, from those "accounted worthy to obtain of the aion, and of the resurrection;" the rejected, by virtue of the sentence pronounced upon them by Christ, saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the aionian fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels," forthwith enter upon their journey to the place of exile or torment; or, in the words of Jesus, "they go away into ajonian punishment;" while the righteous, by their being quickened, enter into aionian life.

It may be well to remark here, that aionian punishment, is so called, not as expressive of its duration, but of its epoch of execution. The epoch of judgment is the forty years of the Seventh Vial, which precede the commencement of the thousand years. These forty years are the course of time, or aion, constituting the epoch in which punishment is inflicted upon resurrected individuals, and the living worshippers of the Beast and his Image. It is therefore styled aionian, or the punishment pertaining to the aion of judgment.

Neither is aionian life so called because of its duration, but because it is the life pertaining to a course, or aion, which circles around the kingdom of the Deity. Of this there is to be no end (Luke 1:33); so, therefore, the course will be always circling. The life is, consequently, eternal; not because the word aionian signifies essentially unlimited duration; but because the thing to be possessed, and to which the course belongs, is declared to be endless. Hence, aionian life is life pertaining to the aion, or course of the kingdom into which the Saints, approved and immortalized at the tribunal, go away and enter upon, in its dispensational developments, when they have established the kingdom

When the wood, hay, and stubble, as unprofitable servants, are cast into outer darkness, they disperse themselves over the countries of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet; which, by the judgments coming upon them through the second and third angels, are to be kindled into a lake of fire. Thus the fuel of the fiery lake is increased. "Now will I rise, saith YAHWEH; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. And the people shall be as the burnings of lime; as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire"  in the European lake of fire (Isa. 33:10-17). Because of poverty, famine, pestilence, war, and the consciousness of what they have lost by their unfaithfulness, they will find there only "weeping and gnashing of teeth;" and though they may call upon Abraham to send a Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool their tongues, tormented in the flame; were Abraham to reply to them he would not grant their request; but addressing them as sons, would say, Remember that in your lifetimes ye received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and ye are tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence" (Luke 16:24). Abraham being in the kingdom when this answer is returned, shows that the place of torment is not accessible at will, nor territorially continuous with Palestine; in other words, the Mediterranean Gulf separates the Lake of Fire countries from the kingdom of Israel. They are the countries invaded by the King of kings upon the white horse with his hosts of the heaven, styled, inch. 14:10, "the holy angels and the Lamb;" in whose presence the countries are kindled into flame; and the resurrected exiles, and the worshippers of the Beast, are all tormented with fire and brimstone; and made to drink of the unmixed wine of the wrath of the Deity, poured out into the cup of his indignation. Thus "Death and Hades," or the condemned resurrected exiles, are cast into the lake of fire, which is to them "the Second Death;" for by the fiery judgments of the lake, death and corruption overtake them a second time, and their "sorer punishment" is consummated according to their works (ch. 20:13-15; 21:8; Heb. 10:26-29).

Such is the locality and the fuel of the lake of fire; the fire itself that consumes the wood, hay, and stubble, or "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars" (ch. 21:8), is the burning anger of YAHWEH'S Name, as it appears in Isaiah 30:27, saying, "Behold, the Name of Yahweh cometh from far, his anger burning, and the burden heavy; his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire. And he shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of anger, and the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones". As Paul, therefore, truly saith, "our God is a consuming fire".

Such is the fire  the anger and indignation of the Deity, descending with consuming effect upon the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, in the form of pestilence, famine, and war. The furnace from which this stream of devouring fire is poured forth, is the capital of the Great King, "whose fire" saith the prophet, "is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem". From thence, when he hath established himself there, "he will send a fire into Magog, and among them that dwell confidently in the isles; and they shall know that I am YAHWEH" (Ezek. 39:6). He that rides the white horse, and the hosts of the heaven riding the same troops, are "the Angel having power over fire" (ch. 14:18), whose face is as it were the sun, and his feet, planted upon the sea and upon the earth, are as pillars of fire (ch. 10:1,2) which he mingles with the sea (ch. 15:2). Thus, "the beast is slain, his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame" (Dan. 7:11).




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