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Image by Milad Fakurian
  • Writer's pictureFirst Christian Church of Chicago

That Won't End Well

There is room for hope for those who Repent and allow God to complete his cleansing work!

But what of those who stubbornly persist in their spiritually adulterous disobedience? That part of the story is not so hopeful.

In Isaiah 1:29-31 the references to woods and gardens need to be understood in cultural context. It was within wooded forests and gardens that shrines were established for the worship of idols. These strolls in the park, or hikes in the woods, were to seek the favor of other gods instead of trusting in YHWH.

So God promises that those who appear as sturdy as hardwood lumber beams will ignite and be consumed like a matchstick. If you've done any wood burning, you know hardwood does start burning easily. It takes stoking with tinder to get the hardwood to catch. But matchsticks only take a strike.

While fire can be cleansing as it was in Isaiah 1:24-28, it can also be destructive. The fire will be unquenchable. It will consume both the person and their accomplishments.

It is passages with this kind of metaphor that set up the New Testament teaching which is understood as Hell is a place of fire and brimstone in which sinners writhe in torment for eternity. As metaphors go, I'm not sure how far we can literally push the image. But this I know - rejecting God’s offer of redemption to choose persistent sin will not end well.


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