Could Satan and Hell be Closer Than You Think?
Author : Tom Graneau
Depending on where you start reading the Bible, Satan seems to appear from nowhere as an independent, self-governing character with a purpose. When he does emerge from his hiding place, his presence can’t be ignored because of his massive influence. Apart from God, he is the greatest force in the universe, and his evil nature presents a challenge for both God and man.
The day that Lucifer lost his elevated position in heaven and was sent into hell, as described in the article—Evil: Where Did It Originate? —several things transpired that changed the course of the universe forever. One of them was a change in his personal identity. He was no longer recognized by his angelic name—Lucifer. Instead, he is now referred to various names in the Bible, many of which are titles that convey specific aspects of his personality. Some of them are listed below:
- Abaddon or Apollyon (Revelation 9:11)
- Accuser of our Brothers (Revelation 12:10)
- Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2)
- Ruler of this World (John 12:31; 14:30)
- The God of this Age (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- The Wicked One (1 John 5:19)
Additionally, the Bible describes him by other names that are not included here. Among them are Satan, which means the grand adversary of God and man (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33); and the Devil, meaning the slanderer (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:2; John 8:44). These two names have become more popular than most because of brevity.
Satan, of course, is alive and well today. But where is he? Most people believe that he lives in hell. But is hell a real place? Where is it in the universe?
The kingdom of Hell
There is a religious belief that attempts to allay people’s fears of hell through appeasement. The doctrine promotes the idea that hell is no more real or dramatic than the actual life we live on earth. The reasoning is based on the personal hardships that people go through each day, compared to the anticipated bliss they expect to experience in heaven.
Even so, the dogma can only provide so much comfort for those who are confused or misguided about biblical concepts. In this case, when “hell” is equated to hardship in this life, the conditions can appear to be manageable with moderate stress, which means that the best is yet to come. The danger with such an association, however, is that it leads some individuals to the wrong conclusion about the meaning of hell. More so, the information is far from being accurate, which prompts questions such as these: What is hell? If it exists, where is it located? For what purpose was it made? Who lives in there? Will some people end up there?
A real Place
All biblical portrayals of hell speak of it as a real place, one isolated from heaven and earth. The term hades which means the unseen world is also used to describe the place. Like heaven, hell is a spiritual medium in the universe designed for the dwelling of spirits (evil ones), and it’s impossible to be detected by humans through any physical apparatuses. In other words, as long you and I occupy our physical bodies, hell will never be within our reach. Besides, no human-made tools, even those with long-range capacities such as telescopes, drones, rockets, etc., will ever have access to hell because of their physical limitation or composition.
In addition to being undetectable through natural channels, the state of hell is in direct contrast to the tranquil conditions of heaven. Biblical references depict an environment of inconceivable dread. The imagery is one that is associated with unquenchable fire and burning, suggesting a place of unconditional torment (Mark 9:45; Luke 16:23). This means that being there automatically translates into three conditions: absence from righteousness, separation from God, and the anticipation of final judgment. These conditions further clarify one thing: All occupants of hell should anticipate even greater disciplinary consequences from God who is the final authority of its content.
A place of proximity
Like heaven, the exact location of hell is hard to pinpoint. Though the Bible speaks of it regarding being “down” in a direction to heaven and earth (Ezekiel 31:15-16; 2 Peter 2:4), it provides no specific location of the area. Contextually, the place seems closer than we realize. It is at least within speaking distance between those who live in heaven and those who dwell in hell (Luke 16:24-29). Near Death Experience individuals have related similar accounts. Immediately after death, they claim to have been exposed to both places instantly and could tell which one was hell and heaven based on their specific conditions. While they desired to be in one place rather than the other, they were miraculously transported back into consciousness with distinct images of both places remaining permanently etched in their minds.
There is something else worth mentioning regarding the proximity of hell and heaven. Despite their closeness, occupants of hell can’t commute to heaven and vice versa. The Bible makes mention of a “great gulf fixed” between the two localities that bars all movement from one area to the next (Luke 16:26). The imagery is one of an infinite gap that may not be thick but spiritually impenetrable, except for visual contact and communication. This means that although occupants of hell are spirits, they can’t arbitrarily leave their languishing environment and move to heaven. Their specific conditions are eternally fixed and restricted in the tormented environment.
A habitat of retribution
Hell is an environment of retribution, meaning that it is an infernal world that was created specifically for the Devil as a place of temporary justice for his direct opposition against God’s authority. Unfortunately, it’s also a holding location for all his followers, including unredeemed mankind. Suffice it to say that it’s a dreadful thing to die in sin (Ezekiel 3:18).
The Throne of Satan
Despite the biblical reality that some people will end up in hell after death, the place is predominantly occupied by Satan and his supporters, specifically those who were once angels but are now classified as “demons.” Together, they formed a well-organized force of evil that is in direct opposition to God’s plan for humanity. Even Jesus gave credence to the group’s effectiveness, suggesting that they’re not working against themselves but toward a common goal (Matthew 12:26; Luke 11:18).
The number of demons that reside in the hell is difficult to say. The Bible gives no specific count, except to mention that one-third of God’s angels were banished from heaven during the time Lucifer was displaced (Revelation 12:4). Even then, the number is still vague. In this case, it’s safe to assume a figure of extreme proportion. For example, some biblical references emphasize the term “legion” to describe the number of demons that occupied the body of one person at a given time (Luke 8:30). This means that beyond the cited situation, there had to be many more demons available for similar tasks. This leads us to believe that the number is incalculable, and most, unfortunately, they pose an immediate threat to man even though they appear to be isolated.
What is most amazing is that the dismal conditions of hell present no hindrance to Satan’s mission, which is to disrupt communication between God and man, among other things. Hell stands as his formidable throne from where he commands all acts of evil against humanity. Furthermore, though the Bible gives us no indication that he is omnipresent like God, nothing happens on earth or in heaven without his knowledge. This means that he remains well informed about everything in the universe and stays actively involved in the affairs of both worlds.
How is this possible knowing that his movement is restricted? The only attributable aspect that can lead us to a reasonable conclusion is that he relies heavily on a persistent staff of demons that stay busy around the clock. Like the angels of heaven who respond to God’s command, demons take their marching orders from Satan. They work in unison, and some of them have specific responsibilities like angelic beings. Consider the following conditions about their mission:
- Some are used to oppose good angels from their godly responsibilities in connection to human beings (Daniel 10:12-13; Zechariah 3:1).
- Some are used to exert pressure on mankind for a specific purpose, as in the case of Job (Job 1:12-19; 2:7).
- Some are used to inflict disease on people (Luke 13:11, 16; 2 Corinthians 12:7).
- Some are used to tempt mankind to sin (Matthew 4:3-11; John 13:27).
- Some are used as possessive beings, especially “demonic possession” (Mark 5:9; Matthew 8:16; John 13:27).
Given the number of people on the face of the earth at any given time, Satan seems to have more than enough demons to antagonize everyone for every possible situation. What is especially noteworthy is that they are focused on nothing else but creating adversity in the lives of people, including you and me.
This is made clear in the Bible. Realistically, Satan resides in hell, yet he can control a lot of human activities through his influence. Jesus depicted him as the ruler of the world (John 12:31; 14:30). Another verse echoes the fact that the entire world is under his power and control (1 John 5:19).
People’s reaction to hell
The word hell has become highly impressionable in the English language. This is because it conjures thoughts of abandonment or isolation as the result of wrongdoing. It also raises a certain degree of trepidation related to potential torment in the afterlife—a thought that most people would rather sidestep as they go through their journey in this life. More frightening is the fact that hell and the Devil have become synonymous, which further incites negative emotions in people’s hearts as they think of life after death.
Even so, the word conveniently finds its way in our every-day vocabulary to project certain feelings that we can’t seem to express any other way. “Go to hell!” is a common phraseology that we throw around when we get angry with others. “Hell, this is not as bad as I thought” is another statement that suggests some degree of surprise. There are others: “I’m going through hell down here,” or “If this is not hell, I don’t know what is.” The interesting fact is that these comments usually convey unpleasant emotions that are closely related to the dread we feel in connection to the meaning of the word.
Despite its horrific connotation, hell is not a place that we should fear. As indicated earlier, God created the environment for a specific purpose—for the Devil and his angels. Unfortunately, many unredeemed human souls will end up there as well because of the choices they make in this life. That said, if you do what is right and morally good in the sight of God, you should have no fear of hell or the Devil himself.
For more information about the intriguing relationship with God, the Devil, and mankind, consider reading The Devil in Modern Eden. Discover how you’re being influenced daily by these two major forces and how your reaction can determine your spiritual destiny.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
Is it possible for people to avoid the torment of hell? How can this be done?
If you believe that the Devil is only a symbol of evil…think again.
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